FV1620 Humber Hornet Malkara
Air-Droppable Wheeled Anti-Tank Missile Carrier
The Humber Hornet Malkara Tank Destroyer was later replaced by the Ferret Mk 5 system.
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The Humber Hornet Malkara was the product of Cold War necessity designed to combat the new generation of heavy tanks being fielded by the Soviet Union - particularly the Soviet Josef Stalin heavy tanks that saw their origin in World War 2. The Humber vehicle was developed as an air-portable / air-droppable weapon system for use by the British Army's now-defunct Parachute Squadron, Royal Army Corps. Though intended to replace the British Conqueror Heavy Tank as a frontline tank destroyer, the Hornet Malkara vehicle was limited to disbursement only to the Royal Army Corps.
The Humber Hornet Malkara was devised atop a 4x4 wheeled chassis utilizing the Humber 1-ton truck as its base. Two Malkara-type wire-guided anti-tank missiles were fitted to a retractable launcher assembly at the rear of the vehicle and the standard operating crew amounted to three - driver, commander and weapons specialist. Training and design allowed for the vehicle to be prepped for battle in as little as ten minutes from the time the vehicle was on the ground via six parachutes. The weapons operator was seated to the left in the fighting compartment and controlled launched missiles in flight via a joystick hand control (wire-guided), assisted by a roof-mounted periscope with integrated magnification. The weapon was also designed to be fired in a semi-remote fashion which allowed the operator the ability to launch missiles from up to 90 yards away from the vehicle via specialized equipment.
The Malkara missile was a fin-stabilize, two-stage, solid fuel anti-tank missile measuring over six feet in length. The warhead would become the largest type to ever be fitted to an anti-tank missile though this could be viewed as a required quality considering the level of armor protection of Soviet heavy tanks of the period. The warhead was of the HEAT (High-Explosive, Anti-Tank) variety and the missile unit weighed in at 200lbs each. Primary design and engineering of the missile itself was accomplished by several Australian concerns in conjunction with several English companies.
The vehicle was powered by a Rolls-Royce B60 Mk 5A series 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine developing 120 horsepower. This provided the Hornet Malkara with a top road speed of 64 kmh and an operational road range of 400 kilometers.
Hornet Malkaras served with both Australian and British airborne forces. The system entered service in 1955 and was retained until the 1970s until replaced by the Swingfire-equipped wheeled Ferret Armoured Car Mk 5 series. The formal British Army invantory designation for the Humber Hornet Malkara was "FV1620, Truck 1-Ton, Air Portable, Launcher, Hornet".