The Lightweight Land Rover

During the 1960s, the British Army realised that they needed a vehicle capable of being rapidly deployed world wide. To meet this role the vehicle would need to be transportable by the aircraft and helicopters of the day. The standard military Land Rovers of the day were both to heavy and wide to fit within a specification laid out by the Air Force. A new vehicle was required, and an invite for tenders was put out.

The base specification for the new vehicle was:

Overall width: 60" (1524mm)
Un-laden weight: 2500lbs (1134kg) 12 volt cargo

3100lbs (1406kg) 24 volt fitted for radio

Range: 300 miles (480km) 
Towing: 10cwt (508kg) trailer
Lifting points: to be provided all round
Payload: 1000lbs (455kg) including driver
 

The standard military 88" Land Rover of the day weighed in at 2950lbs, so 450lbs had to be shaved of the gross weight, if a standard 88" chassis and drive-train was to be used. If the weight wasnt enough of a problem, the width of the current vehicle had to be reduced by approximately 6". To meet these specifications various measures needed to be taken, especially to reduce the weight of an already aluminium bodied vehicle. The most obvious changes to the casual observer are the flattening of the standard Series IIas bulged sides, cutaway wheel arches, and the raised bonnet. A reduction of 2" was made to the main bulkhead, giving the Lightweight a much narrower internal feel than the contemporary Land Rovers. With the flattened sides, and bulkhead modifications, the vehicle almost met the 60" design requirement. Further work to the driving members on the ends of the axles and a slight reduction in track brought the vehicle within the specified width. Reducing the weight proved a harder proposition, and despite cutting away the wheel arches, minor chassis modifications and removal of non essential trim the weight limit was not achieved. To further reduce weight it was decided that sections of the body could be removed for initial deployment, to follow on later. These items included doors, windscreen, upper body, spare wheel and tilt. With all this equipment removed the vehicle weight was brought down to 2690lbs, Land Rover submitted this vehicle for trials, and the design was accepted by the military, despite being heavier than originally specified as helicopter lifting capacity had increased since the brief had been issued. After trials were completed in 1967, the first order was delivered to units of the Royal Marines in 1968.

These early Lightweights were fitted with the then standard centre mounted headlights, but were superseded by wing mounted lights (Series III) to meet changing lighting regulations. Specification and mechanical changes to the Lightweights generally follow the same pattern as standard military Land Rovers.  The last Lightweights were probably produced in 1984.

Lightweights remained in service with all branches of the British military until the late 1990s when the entire fleet of series IIa/III were replaced by modern diesel powered vehicles.

Original Technical Specification

Engine 2286 cc straight petrol producing 69bhp @ 4000rpm, or diesel
Transmission 4 forward 1 reverse gear, Two speed transfer box, Part time 4x4
Clutch Single 9"dry plate clutch (later upgraded to 9")
Chassis 88" all steel box section
Suspension Semi elliptic leaf-sprung with hydraulic dampers
Wheels Steel
Tyres 6.50x16 or 7.50x16 option
Service brake Hydraulic, 10" drums all round
Parking brake Mechanical transmission brake
Steering Manual Re-circulating Ball
Electrics 24v Fitted For Radio, 12v General Service
Bodywork Full length tilt (some fitted with hardtops)
Seating front 2+1, rear optional 2x2bench seats

Dimensions

Turning Circle 6.4m
Fording Depth 0.5m (deep wading kit available enabling vehicle to be almost completely submerged)
Maximum gradient 115
Fuel Capacity 90 litres (80 litres on Dutch vehicles)
Maximum range 600km
Approach angle 49
Departure angle 36
Overall height 1.95m
Reduced height 1.47m
Width 1.52m
Length 3.65m
Track 1.31m
Ground clearance 0.21m
Weight un-laden 1386kg