Tag Archives: Land Rover

Land Rover Lightweight – The Compact Land Rover

By John Quilter

All photographs by the Author except for the photograph of the real vehicle. 


By Dennis Elzinga (Land Rover Lightweight) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Land Rover enthusiasts may be unaware of a somewhat obscure, at least in the USA, Land Rover known as the Lightweight or AKA, Air Portable. Back in the early 1960s the British Army was using Westland Wessex helicopters often based on commando carriers. Their need was for a 4×4 vehicle that could be carried slung on a pallet underneath these helicopters. The early helicopters weight carrying capacity was rated at 2500 pounds. That was less than the existing Series II 88 inch wheelbase Land Rovers. So the diligent Land Rover engineers set about getting the weight down to tap into this new market niche. This was accomplished by narrowing the body and chassis by 4 inches and fitting narrower axles front and rear. The engine remained the trusty 2.25 litre petrol or diesel four cylinder. The diet consisted of redesigned front fenders which along with the doors, hood, windscreen, tilt hoops and upper sheet metal were removable. What exactly was done with the removable panels when the vehicle was in use is unclear. The best efforts of the LR engineers was able to get the weight down to 2650 pounds, still too heavy but luckily by then the Wessex helicopter rated carrying capacity was increased to accommodate this figure.

Initial production began in November 11, 1968. These were the Series IIA versions with a typical mesh grill. The front fenders and hood were the most notable styling differences. The entire concept put this Air Portable version much closer to the old WWII American Jeep. Width was five feet and the tires were either 6.50 X 16 or 7.50 X 16. The electrical system was 24 volt. Many were sold to NATO and were used in non RHD territories so some were made as LHD and some were even specified with the Land Rover 2.25 diesel, particularly but not exclusively the Dutch ones. In total the military in over 20 countries used these unique Land Rovers.

After about 1,500 to 2,000 were made the standard Series IIA was superseded by the Series III in 1972 and the Lightweight followed suit with some upgrades. Most notable is the use of the trapezoidal shaped plastic grill which also probably saved another pound or two. These units got the new advanced gearbox with synchromesh in second, third and fourth gear and some, particularly those used for radio communications tasks, were fitted with 24 volt electrics with alternators. In around 1980 the engine got two more main bearings bringing it up to modern standards.

As an interesting note, back in about 1965 the British Motor Corporation launched the Austin Mini Moke, a sort of utility version based on the ubiquitous Austin Morris Mini. This vehicle was offered to the UK military, and even to the US Army, as a helicopter portable vehicle. At less than 900 pounds it was well within the air portable weight limits. In fact, carrying two would be quite possible. Unfortunately, this micro sized utility vehicle was only 2 wheel drive and with only 10 inch tires was sorely lacking in ground clearance. Of course at only 900 pounds, four beefy solders could probably boost it out of any mired in the mud situation. Nevertheless, when the military took issue with the lack of four wheel drive, BMC pressed on by designing the Twini, which was a twin engined version, one engine in front and one in the rear thus achieving the 4 X 4 requirement albeit with considerably more complexity. Still, the UK and US Army did not buy it, but for students of British Leyland history one of the prototypes is carefully preserved at the British Motor Heritage Museum at Gaydon in the UK.

Now to accommodate collectors of really miniature Land Rovers in 1:43 scale, two scale model makers have introduced replicas of these Lightweights. For those unfamiliar with 1:43 scale it is, in this writers opinion the gold standard of miniature vehicle collecting largely because of the incredible variety of vehicles replicated in this size. These two Lightweights measure about 3.37 inches in length. Not one, but two separate model makers are now producing these. Best of Show (also known as BoS) a brand name of Model Car World based in Florsheim, Germany (www.BoS-Models.de) make the dark green Series III shown which has a hardtop in cream to match the wheels.

This version appears to be a civilian version as there are no military markings or extra external equipment fitted. Given its “light weight” this item appears to be made in resin, now a common modelling material used by many of the Chinese makers of scale models. As with all the Lightweight Land Rovers the spare tire is on the bonnet held in place with three straps. The grille is the Series III plastic type and the head lamps are mounted outboard on the wings along with the side and indicator lamps.

A glance at the undercarriage shows front and rear axles on half elliptic leaf springs, and two propshafts and an exhaust system with a transverse rear silencer and tail pipe exiting on the left rear. There are seats for three across in the front with the driving position being RHD. The rear could accommodate another four on inward facing seats. This item is sold under the product code BOS43670.

Now moving on to the other version made by Oxford Diecast of the UK (www.oxforddiecast.co.uk) this is in United Nations livery in olive drab color with a lighter green fabric tilt. This is a Series IIa and clearly a military type with a shovel attached to the rear. Again, RHD but with only two individual seats in the front and no apparent seats in the rear. Union Jack decals appear on the bonnet and tail panel plus UNITED NATIONS and their logo on the flanks. The registration plate 5412 FL 91, is part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Judging by Oxford Diecast’s prior business practices, over time they make many versions of a given model cleverly using the base casting but with many colors, liveries and differing features. This United Nations one is just one of many that are planned, this one is marketed under their product code Product Code: 43LRL001. The tooling for this model, will be used to produce it with a Canvas back and also a hard back with and without side windows. The version without side windows will have a full rear door but the one with side windows has a tailgate and half door. Oxford have also produced a large number of extra parts – signs, battery boxes, beacons etc to enable them to release the model in a number of different liveries.

The subject of this report is the first model of this type produced by Oxford and is in a UN livery. Check the Oxford Diecast website for future versions later this year and in 2018. Indications are that this will be followed by two hard back models in Military Police and the RAF Red Arrows livery. Images can be found on the internet by model number 43LRL001/2/3 etc.

Building a collection of miniature Land Rovers can be almost as much fun as collecting the 1:1 versions and best of all, they require no registration or insurance and generally don’t need the mud washed off.

Editor: For anyone who is interested in Lightweight Land Rovers and who hasn’t the space for the 1:43 versions Oxford are also producing UN and Military Police versions of this in 1:76 scale these are scheduled for release in the first half of 2017.

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Promotional Military Land Rovers

By John Quilter

This article has been transferred from the old MAR Online area on the zeteo website in order to ensure that the most relevant content remains available to MAR Online readers. Any references to cost or availability will be out of date at this point in time. Please note that this was written sometime before the Land Rover Defender production ceased.

Over the decades Land Rover has been a supplier of vehicles to the military, primarily the British Army. The original Land Rover of 1948 was in fact a UK effort to produce their version of the ubiquitous US Jeep from World War II. The subject of this article is a purpose built military Land Rover known as the 101 for its wheelbase in inches. It was a forward control vehicle using a detuned version of the aluminum 3.5 litre V8 that Rover had acquired the rights to manufacture in the mid-1960s after Buick and Oldsmobile had decided their cars had grown too large for a 3.5 litre engine.

Rover developed a prototype of this forward control vehicle in 1968 but pre-production vehicles did not start to be made until 1972, a fairly long gestation period. It entered service with the British Army in 1975 and production continued until 1978 by which time 2,600 had been made. Fifty 101 vehicles were acquired by the Australian military and used to tow Rapier missile carriers. One experiment that did not prove successful was a two wheeled trailer powered by a prop shaft connected to the main vehicle’s power take off. The vehicle featured an unique centre mounted Nokken winch which could be used to pull the vehicle out of difficulty from multiple directions. The 101 was used in many guises: general cargo carrier, ambulance, and radio carrier. There were both left and right hand drive versions all of which used a four speed manual gearbox with a two speed transfer box. It weighed 4242lbs unladen and its width was 6 foot and half an inch. It used huge 9.00 X 16 tyres.

In the late 1990s the 101s were decommissioned by the British Army and many came into private hands and clubs grew for enthusiasts. As is sometimes the case some of these had very low usage with the Army. It is said that when the Ministry of Defence contract had been completed Land Rover offered to produce more but the MoD declined the offer. Later, in the 1980s when some of the initial batch needed replacement they went back to Land Rover for more but found that the tooling had been destroyed so no more were produced. The MoD bought some Defenders and Pinzgauer vehicles instead. With the ageing of the current Defender it remains to be seen if Land Rover under Tata ownership will continue to produce a product for military use.

The model reviewed appears to be some sort of promotional item as there is no branding other than the Land Rover oval logo on the handsome cardboard sleeve that fits over the Perspex display box. On the base of the model is only ‘Land Rover 101’, ‘made in China’ and ‘1/43’. In taking some measurements I find the 1:43 scale designation is approximate as the model is in fact slightly larger than 1:43 scale and according to my calculations comes in more like 1:41 scale. It appears quite wide, more like an American H1 Hummer. The model reviewed is the general service cargo version which has a removable canvas tilt which when removed shows facing bench seats for passengers. The cab has separate seats, one on each side of a rather high centre console that covers the engine and has a protruding gear stick. Behind the black right hand drive steering wheel is a nicely detailed pair of main instruments. The short front sloping bonnet is storage for a shovel, some other indeterminate tool and what appears to be a very, very long starting handle. Headlamps are mounted low in the body in recessed damage resistant pockets. Interestingly these vehicles were available with either a 12 or 24 volt electrical system. It appears that the side boards can be folded down rendering the vehicle capable of carrying large bulky loads. The base shows the engine sump, gearbox and transfer case and the offset propshafts to the front and rear axle. An aluminium exhaust snakes its way back to a very large rear transverse silencer and then to a tail pipe exiting around the left hand rear wing flap. Towing points are provided front and rear.

Although only the cargo version in a camouflage color scheme is shown other versions have been seen in pure olive drab and desert sand. There are also versions of the radio car and ambulance that have non fabric bodies which were created by the Army after purchase from Land Rover. These have been seen in many colours. All are nicely detailed models but the stickler for exact 1:43 scale might be disappointed.

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News from the Continent 12/2015: Wiking

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

Wiking releases from December 2015 are listed below with photographs provided by the makers. Most models are made in plastic in Germany and Poland with some models in larger scales made in China.

New Models

1:87 Scale
0378 10  Lemken power harrow Zirkon 12
0378 20  Lemken compact disc harrow Heliodor 9
 0646 07  Winter Service – Mercedes-Benz flatbed dumper with snow plough
0693 26  Mercedes-Benz NG with low-loading trailer “THW”
0861 34  Mercedes-Benz Short nose truck with flat bed “Fire Service”
0676 06  Volvo F89  artic. rear tipper
0678 49  Mercedes-Benz Arocs three-way-tipper
0536 03  Mercedes-Benz Actros artic. 30´tank container truck
1:160 Scale
0923 02  Land Rover
0938 03  Volkswagen T5 GP panel truck

 1:32 Scale

 # 17732    0778 19  Kuhn Big Baler LSB 1290 iD
 # 17733    0778 15  Valtra T174 with front loader
 # 17734/17735    0773 46  Amazone sprayer UX 11200
 # 17736    0778 16  Grimme bunker harvester SE 260

Updated Models

A number of models have been released in updated form including this rather nice set to 1:87 scale with petrol pump and kiosk along with another building and a petrol tanker and tow truck.
0990 89  Set “Gasolin gas station”

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News from the Continent: Schuco

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

Here is news of some of Schuco’s releases in the final quarter of 2015. All are produced in China for Germany and most are diecast.


450111400  Pop Art Edition I – “Studio1” – orange
450949900  Letter Case without content


450776500  Fuchs Excavator 301 – blue
17792 Schuco 450776500


450027700  Volkswagen T1 Box van “Märklin”
17793 Schuco 450027700


450657200   DKW RT 350 S Solo with spoked wire wheel rims
17794 Schuco 450657200


452613200  Ferrari 458 Italia
452613900  Porsche 918 Spyder
452614000  Porsche 918 Spyder “Salzburg Design”
452616500  Porsche 911 (991) Targa 4S


# 17799   403551646  Airbus A330-300 – German Lufthansa
 17799 Schuco 403551646


450502600  Land Rover Defender “Happy Birthday 2015” 450167800  Porsche 356A Coupe “Edelweiss Classic 2015”
450589600  MAN Racing car transporter loaded with 3 Porsche Spyders
450607101  Piccolo Collector Catalogue 1994-2014 – Paperback


450759100  Porsche Cayman GT4 – indian red
450759200 Porsche Cayman GT4 – white
450759600 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS – sapphire blue metallic   450759700 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS – deep black metallic
450713600 IVECO Magirus HLF 20/16 THW “Facelift”
450211500 BMW Isetta Export with Caravan “1960s”


450899500 Hymermobil 900


452011300 Porsche 918 Spyder – silver
452011400 Porsche 918 Spyder – matt black
452011700 Mini Cooper – red and white
452011800 Mini Cooper – green and white


452615400 AC Cobra
452613600 Land Rover Defender 88
452615200 Mercedes-Benz /8 saloon with camper “Knaus Swallow Nest”
452616400 Porsche 911 S (991) Cabriolet – open
452617000 Porsche 911 S (991) Cabriolet with soft top
452206000 Mercedes-Benz Actros with articulated Curtain Canvas trailer
 452207000 Mercedes-Benz Actros with artic tanker “Schrader Unitas 2000”
 452207100 Mercedes-Benz Actros with artic tanker “Unitas 2000 ARAL”


450111600  Pop Art Edition I “Studio I” – blue
17829 Schuco 450111600


450579500 Ferrari 250 Le Mans
17830 Schuco 450579500


450036500 Volkswagen T1 Camper light grey and green
450018200 Volkswagen T2 Pickup with soap box racers


450008000 Volkswagen Beetle Jolly with soft top


452619900 Porsche 911 (997) Turbo
17837 Schuco 452619900

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Politoys Military Models

By Robin Godwin

Back in the old days of print, MAR 109 (March 1997) to be exact, I reviewed the long-obsolete Politoys range of 1:41 scale (as stated by the manufacturer) plastic military models. The 19 models in this series were mostly copied from other mainstream diecast manufacturers such as Dinky (UK and France), Matchbox, Corgi, FJ (France Jouets) and Solido. Where I had the original and the Politoys copy, a photograph was provided for comparison in the original article. As I added to my Politoys collection, updates were provided to MAR, in issues 120, 123, 145 and 198.

I have finally acquired the the elusive #11, Campagnola Rover Raf con Missile Thunderbird (to quote the box), after 20-plus years on my wants list. This model is a copy of the original Corgi Land Rover #351 and Thunderbird Guided Missile #350, or I suppose more correctly, Gift Set number 3 which included both models. MAR 148 and 149 had a two-part article on Surface-to-Air Missiles, which discussed the British-designed and built Thunderbird, so I won’t go into any real detail here.

The Politoys Land Rover (or Campagnola) is a simpler model than the Corgi, without windows or bonnet spare tyre, but it is an exact scale match (the Corgi is 1:46 scale, according to the Great Book of Corgi). Similarly, the Politoys missile itself is an exact scale match, except that the nose is hard plastic, and thus it is not susceptible to the melting or drooping typical of the Corgi model (see photograph). Neither company chose to model a launcher or to include the four booster rockets on the basic missile body. In fact, a ready-to-fire English Electric Thunderbird looked very similar to the other surface-to-air missile modelled by Corgi, the Bristol Bloodhound. A real discrepancy is the Assembly Trolley, where the Politoys model is made to a much larger scale and significantly simplified. Perhaps this was to give extra robustness to the all-plastic structure. Where the Corgi has two wire missile retainers on the trolley, the Politoys retainers are made of separate plastic pieces, pin mounted to the frame, which can easily go missing. The Corgi features two-axle, four wheel steering, via a wire link between the axles, whereas only the Politoys front axle steers. Neither company replicates the Assembly Trolley very well, judging by internet reference photographs.

All in all, the Politoys model is difficult to find in mint condition, so even though it is somewhat inaccurate it is a superb model to add to a military collection and to display alongside the Corgi original. I should add that these early Politoys plastic models are of a very stable compound, and are highly resistant to warping, so eBayers can have a reasonably high level of confidence in bidding (I bought mine from eBay in Italy).

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