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Vehicle Type FV601 Saladin Armoured Car
Country of Manufacture United Kingdom - Alvis
Initial Year of Service 1958
Weight 11,500kg
Length 4.93m
Width 2.54m
Height 2.39m
Crew/Roles 3
Armour (Front/Side/Rear) -
Main Armament 1 x 76mm main gun
Secondary 1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
1 x 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun
12 x Smoke Grenade Dischargers
Engine/Fuel 1 x Rolls-Royce B80 Mk.6A 8-cylinder gasoline engine delivering 170 horsepower
Transmission -
Drive/Suspension -
Speed 72 km/h
Operational Range 400 km
Comments & Equipment -

Saladin FV601


The Saladin Armoured Car was a British multi-role vehicle appearing in the post-World War 2 years. It was brought online after a lengthy development period to replace the outgoing 4x4 AEC Armoured Car that was used throughout the British campaigns of World War 2, first beginning in North Africa, and went on to serve for a time thereafter. The Saladin was named after the Kurdish Muslim warrior Saladin who led campaigns against European crusaders and was ultimately ruler over what is today modern-day Egypt, Syria and Yemen as well as the regions consisting of Mesopotamia and Hejas. Despite development of the Saladin beginning in the post-war years, the type did not formally enter British service until 1958.

The Saladin was part of the Alvis family of FV600 series vehicles (all named with designations beginning with the letter "S"). Another vehicle in the line, the 6x6 FV603 Saracen, was also born from the FV600 family and used extensively in policing territories in Northern Ireland. Similarly, the Saladin was developed with a 6x6 wheelbase that made use of a 6x6 wheeled suspension system and borrowed some of the drive-train lessons as learned in the development of the Saracen. While the Saracen itself was billed as an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) at heart, the Saladin was categorized as a dedicated armoured car system.


In January 1946, the British Army issued a requirement for a new armoured car as a replacement for the Daimler Mk II and AEC Mk III armoured cars developed during the Second World War. Design work on this new vehicle, called the FV601 (A), began in the same year as the Fighting Vehicles Design Department (FVDD). This facility then became the Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) and then the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment Chertsey. Today the Chertsey facility is part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).

As originally conceived, the FV601(A) was to have had a crew of four and be armed with a 2-pounder gun fitted with a Littlejohn Adaptor to increase the muzzle velocity. But in February 1948 it was decided that the 2-pounder was not powerful enough so a new weapon, the 76 mm gun L5, was designed by the Armament Design Establishment at Fort Halstead (now part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency), but was not ready until 1953. In 1947, a contract was awarded to Alvis Limited of Coventry to build two prototypes of the FV601 which were completed in 1953. The first mock-up, fitted with a 2-pounder gun, was completed in 1948.

As the FV601 prototypes were being built, Alvis was also building the FV603 armoured personnel carrier which eventually became known as the Saracen. As the Saracen was urgently required for operations in Malaya it was decided that Alvis would concentrate on this vehicle and the six preproduction vehicles, the FV601(B), would be built by Crossley Motors at Stockport in Cheshire.

The FV601(B)s were completed in 1955 and had a slightly different shaped turret from the prototype vehicles as well as different vision equipment and different hatches for the commander and gunner.

Production was authorised in 1956 and the vehicle entered production at Coventry in 1958 with first vehicles delivered to the army the following year. Production continued until 1972 by which time 1,177 vehicles had been built. The vehicle was succeeded in the British Army by the Alvis Scorpion CVR(T) which is armed with a new and lighter version of the 76 mm gun of the Saladin called the L23. The Saladin is officially known as the FV601(C) Armoured Car 76 mm Gun (Alvis Saladin Mk 2 6 x 6).

The Saladin has been replaced in all front-line British units by the Alvis Scorpion CVR(T). More recently, the 76 mm armed version of the Combat Vehicle (Reconnaissance) Tracked family of vehicles, Scorpion, has been phased out of service with the British Army. All other members remain in service including the more recent Sabre which had the turret of the Fox armoured car armed with a 30 mm RARDEN cannon.

Kuwait Army Saladin armoured cars were used against Iraqi units during the invasion of Kuwait City in the Summer of 1990.


The all-welded steel hull of the Saladin is divided into three compartments: driver's at the front, fighting in the centre and engine at the rear.

The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle and is provided with a single-piece hatch cover that folds forwards onto the glacis plate for improved visibility. The driver has three No 17 periscopes, one in the hatch cover and one on either side of his position.

The all-welded turret is in the centre of the hull with the gunner seated on the left and the commander, who also acts as the loader, on the right, both with a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear. The commander has four No 17 periscopes arranged around the forward part of his hatch and a single swiveling periscope to the rear. The gunner has a periscope forward of his hatch cover, the lower part with a magnification of x 6 for fire control and the upper part with a x1 magnification for observation. On the left side of the turret, just to the rear of the mantlet, is an extractor fan. A small rectangular observation hatch is provided in the rear of the fighting compartment, just below the turret ring. Either side of the turret below the turret ring is a crew escape hatch.

The engine compartment at the rear of the hull is separated from the crew compartment by a fireproof bulkhead and is fitted with a fire warning system and a fire extinguishing system, the latter being operated by the driver.

Power was supplied by a single Rolls-Royce B80 Mk.6A 8-cylinder gasoline engine delivering up to 170 horsepower. This allowed for a top speed of 72kmh with an operational range of 400km. Suspension was spread out across all six wheels.

Air for the engine compartment is drawn in by two fans via six louvred engine covers and then passed through the radiator and expelled through grilles at the very rear of the hull.

The engine is coupled to a Daimler fluid coupling which in turn is coupled to a Daimler epicyclic preselective gearbox which transmits power to the transfer box consisting of a bevel and helical gear, incorporating reverse and a differential and enabling the five gears to be used in both directions. This transfers the drive direct to each centre bevel box and then via transmission shafts to the front and rear axles. Each wheel houses epicyclic reduction gears and is connected to the bevel box by a transmission shaft and two universal joints.

The suspension at each wheel station consists of an upper and lower link, with the upper attached to a longitudinal torsion bar which is splined to a tube and in turn is secured to the hull. Steering is hydraulically power assisted on the front and centre road wheels.

The Saladin does not have an NBC system or night vision equipment.

Main armament of the Saladin consists of a Royal Ordnance 76 mm L5A1 gun with a vertical sliding breech block and a hydro-spring recoil mechanism. A 7.62 mm (0.30) machine gun model M1919A4(L3A3/ L3A4) is mounted coaxially to the left of the main armament and a similar anti-aircraft weapon is mounted on the right of the commander's hatch. Six 66 mm smoke grenade dischargers lilted on either side of the turret are electrically fired from within the vehicle. The 76 mm gun fires the following types of ammunition: canister, HESH, HE, HE/PRAC, SH/P, smoke/BE and illuminating.

The 42 rounds of ammunition are stowed vertically: 11 between the commander and the gunner, 12 on the left and 11 on the right behind the driver and 8 at the left rear of the hull.

The 76 mm ammunition is manufactured by Royal Ordnance.

Saladin Repower

In 1991, it was announced that A F Budge Limited and Alvis Vehicles Limited had developed a repower package for the Saladin armoured car. The existing petrol engine is replaced by a Perkins 180 MTi diesel developing 180 hp.

Additional improvements have been made to the chassis including a modern cooling pack, a new electrical system, upgraded brakes, a fire suppression system and the replacement of the original transmission with a more modern automatic transmission.

The diesel installation requires only minor changes to the engine compartment and offers the advantages of improved reliability and simplified maintenance, lower fuel consumption, increased operational range and reduced risk of fire.

This conversion package has already been trialled in Asia together with an upgraded Saracen (6 x 6) armoured personnel carrier, while the Alvis Stalwart with the same has been evaluated by the UK.

In May 1994, Alvis Vehicles announced that it had been awarded a contract worth US$10 million for the supply of upgrade kits for Saladin, Saracen and Ferret vehicles from an undisclosed country in Asia, believed to be Indonesia.


The Saladin was the armoured car of Alvis' FV600 series, using similar suspension and drivetrain components to the Saracen armoured personnel carrier, Stalwart High Mobility Load Carrier and Salamander fire tender. It is named after the warrior Saladin, Alvis using names beginning with an "S" for the whole range of FV600 vehicles.

The Saladin was built for reconnaissance and policing duties and was thus lightly armoured but relatively fast on paved roads. Its inherent speed became an asset when needing to exit from a disadvantageous meeting with the enemy. However, its main gun armament was capable of knocking out most vehicles out of the main battle tank classification.

The Saladin armoured car went on to see use well beyond the British Army in UN operations as well as police and military operations with several different forces during her tenure. While no longer in service with British Army units, the Saladin legacy has still endured with operational duty being recorded as recently as 2009 with Sri Lanka and Honduras military forces.

The Saladin armoured car went on to see use well beyond the British Army. The relatively low cost of procuring the Saladin made it a tempting acquisition to those forces (military and otherwise) that could not afford "true" armoured vehicles or had no need for such systems but instead could rely on inherent mobility and firepower of the armoured car. This proved most effective in "keeping the peace" measures for many burgeoning states. Operators went on to include Australia, German Federal Police units, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen.

The Saladin was widely used by the Sultan of Oman armed forces throughout the Dhofar conflict and saw extensive action during the period 1972 to 1976, supporting ground forces and on Convoy patrol etc. Often crewed by British servicemen (Loan Soldiers) / Omani servicemen, the Sultan's Armoured Car Squadron consisted of an estimated 36 Saladins. They saw extensive action supporting troops from the British SAS, Oman Firqa, Oman regulars and Iranian forces in the conflict with the Adoo. The Squadron's vehicles were regularly attacked by Katyusha rockets, anti tank mines, Rocket Propelled Grenades and light and heavy machine gun fire. Many vehicles were mined and repaired and after the end of the conflict in 1976 the Saladin remained in Service until the early 1980s. An unpublished account called " The Tinned Equivalent" was written in 1977 and details many of the events of that period of conflict.

The Saladin was used by B sqn 16/5 Lancers during their defence of Nicosia airport in 1974 and subsequent armed recce operations under the banner of the UN. During the invasion of Kuwait, Saladins were filmed on the Streets of Kuwait City defending Kuwait against Iraqi forces during the 1990 Invasion.

Indonesian Army (TNI AD) use the Saladin for "KOSTRAD Cavalry Battalion", "KOSTRAD Recon Company" and Armoured Car Company.

The Australian Army mounted Saladin turrets on M113A1 APCs to produce the Fire Support Vehicle. This was later renamed as the Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle after the somewhat unreliable turret was replaced by the turret from the FV101 Scorpion Light Tank. Royal Australian Armoured Corps(RAAC) personnel referred to them as "Beasts". The Sri Lanka Armoured Corps used Saladins extensively during the early stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War and remained in reserve status till the end of the war in 2009. It forms the Tank Crew pin of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps.

Saladin armoured cars could be seen in the streets of the Honduran Capital Tegucigalpa in the 2009 coup against President Manuel Zelaya

Surviving Australian Vehicles

The Saladin Armoured Car was introduced into the 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse during the period 1965 – 1966. This vehicle offered greater firepower and mobility than had been previously provided by the Staghound Armoured Car and was effective in its reconnaissance role

The Saladin was supplied in small numbers to the Australian Army in the early 1960's, and were used only in the training role. In 1969-70 all 15 vehicles had their Turrets removed and these were fitted to the M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle - eight of which saw service with the RAAC in South Vietnam in 1971

Numerous Saladin are surviving in Australia, one example is on display at the RAAC Memorial and Tank Museum Puckapunyal Vic.[ and another complete operational, privately owned ex-British Saladin exists in the lower Blue Mountains 40 miles West of Sydney. Many ex-Australian Army Saladin remain turretless because of the fitting of Saladin turrets on M113 carriers to make the Fire Support Vehicle (M113-A1 FSV) used in the Vietnam conflict.

The vehicle on display at the Tank Museum Puckapunyal Vic is one of the 15 operated by the Australian Army. Its Turret was removed in 1969-70 for fitting to the M113A1 FSV and the vehicle was taken out of service. Following the withdrawal from service of the M113A1 FSVs, six were sold to New Zealand without their Saladin Turrets. One of these Turrets was obtained by the Museum and refitted to the Saladin's hull.