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Alvis FV601 Saladin Armored Car (1958)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/17/2013

The Saladin armored car was designed in the years following World War 2 but did not enter service until 1958.

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The Saladin Armored 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 Armored 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 drivetrain lessons as learned in the development of the Saracen. While the Saracen itself was billed as an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) at heart, the Saladin was categorized as a dedicated armored car system.

Externally, the Saladin was conventional in nature. The engine was fitted to a rear compartment with the driver maintaining his position at the front hull. The glacis plate was well sloped to provide for some ballistics protection from enemy projectiles. The sides of the vehicle were characterized by its six large road wheels (three wheels to a hull side). Ground clearance was excellent and allowed for good cross-country performance. The heart of the Saladin system was its 360-degree traversing turret that mounted a formidable 76mm main gun, capable of engaging early Cold War-era tanks to an extent. The main gun was backed by a pair of 7.62mm caliber general purpose machine guns (one coaxially-mounted in the turret) for anti-infantry/anti-aircraft duty respectively. The turret sported straight-faced side panels and a flat roof. Twelve smoke grenade dischargers (six to a turret forward side) could be used to cover offensive and defensive actions as needed. The Saladin was crewed by three personnel made up of the driver, commander and gunner.

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. The Saladin was built for reconnaissance and policing duties and was thusly lightly armored 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 armored 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" armored vehicles or had no need for such systems but instead could rely on inherent mobility and firepower of the armored 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 went on to see action 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.

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Specifications for the
Alvis FV601 Saladin
Armored Car


Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Alvis - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1958
Production: 1,200


Focus Model: Alvis FV602 Saladin
Crew: 3


Overall Length: 16.17ft (4.93m)
Width: 8.33ft (2.54m)
Height: 7.84ft (2.39m)
Weight: 12.7 US Short Tons (11,500kg; 25,353lbs)


Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce B80 Mk.6A 8-cylinder gasoline engine delivering 170 horsepower.


Maximum Speed: 45mph (72 km/h)
Maximum Range: 249 miles (400 km)


NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None


Armament:
1 x 76mm main gun
1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
1 x 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun
12 x Smoke Grenade Dischargers


Ammunition:
12 x Smoke Grenades


Variants:
FV601 Saladin - Base Series Designation


Operators:
Australia; Germany; Honduras; Indonesia; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Maldives; Mauritania; Oman; Portugal; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Tunisia; United Kingdom; Yemen