Amphibious Land-Rovers

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This amphbious Land-Rover now belongs to the Dunsfold Trust. The underlying vehicle is a 109" air-portable Land-Rover with low bodywork made for stacking inside aircraft. A removable framework supports the vehicle on rubberised floats in water. When afloat, the Land-Rover is driven by a removable propeller on the rear-axle's propeller(!) shaft.

open
at Billing 1998

The Land-Rover is owned by Dunsfold Landrovers. It is one of many specialist, one-off and prototype Land-Rovers that they have. It is one of two which Dunsfold bought a number of years ago. The best bits from both were taken to make up the one that they have. The second was then bought by Robert Blunden. This one has undergone a very thorough restoration and has been going around the British military vehicle rally season for a number of years. It lacks the side hoops and rubber bags.

The vehicle itself is a Series 2A Land-Rover long wheelbase with standard engine and gearbox. The major changes are that the rear bodywork is widened. This starts just behind the front seats. There is no side canvas for the driver or the passenger and in bad weather you get soaked and frozen. The vehicle (inc. engine which has a breather pipe and one way valve in exhaust) is waterproofed and outfitted for deep wading. It is also fitted with 9.00×16 wheels and tyres although no modification has been done to the steering to take these larger wheels. This means that the vehicle has a large turning circle. (Mini roundabouts require at least two attempts.)

Inside it is equipped to carry ten soldiers (inc. driver) plus equipment. The rear seats run along the length of the vehicle. The backs fold down to form a flat cargo bed. It is airportable and as such it is designed so that the windscreen folds down flat and the vehicles can be stacked on top of each other.

Drive to the propellor is engaged and disengaged by a lever beside the gearbox. The flotation kit shown is the final form that it took. Many different variations were tried including one with rectangular bags front and rear as well as the side ones. The bags in all cases were filled by the exhaust of the vehicle. It was not taken into full service by the army as it was found that by the time it had been made ready to take to the water any advantage would have been lost and the fact that it was easy for a sniper to sink one. All it needed was one hit on the bags. However it is believed that some were issued to troops for trials and there are rumours that they saw service in the desert, although very little is known about this.

It is also interesting to know that a few years ago Land-Rover built a modern version of this machine. Basing it on a Defender 90 and taking it for a swim at Cowes week. It was built only as a publicity machine though.

It is thought that there are three S2A amphibians that run in the UK although only the one with full flotation gear. It is believed that approximately 23 were originally built. Although it is not known how many still survive. One of them is believed to have been fitted with a gas turbine [eek!] by Rover. - Ed Newman [10/1998]

And via Anthony Maeder: It seems that at least one came to Australia for test trials. It has a modified body and a screen as per pictures above, a standard engine, and British Army plates. [10/1998]

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