Faced with the prospect of invasion from the Japanese during World War 2 (1939-1945), Australia was forced to look to its own industry to shore up limitations of its stock of fighting equipment. This was the case with aircraft, small arms and armored vehicles which produced several notable ventures from local participants. In the latter, the "Rover" Light Armored Car (LAC) was developed with some haste and pulled from available stocks of Ford Canada 3-ton military trucks. Ruskin Motor Bodies was commissioned to apply a basic armored superstructure to the chassis and the LAC was born.
Design work began in 1941 and the Ford trucks on hand were the F60L and F60S 3-ton models. The armored superstructure was as basic as could be, featuring angled surfaces for ballistics protection against small arms fire (but little else). The 4x4 leaf-sprung wheeled arrangement was retained and the operating crew numbered five - driver, vehicle commander, two dedicated machine gunners and a radioman - in cramped fighting conditions. The superstructure held forward viewports for both driver and commander with hatches seen along the lower sides of the hull for entry-exit. Additional hatches were seated over the driver and commander positions. Buried headlamps in the bow provided lighting in low-light environments.
Armor protection reached 16mm thickness and armament was one 0.303" Vickers machine gun usually coupled with a 0.303 BREN Light Machine Gun (LMG). Power was served from the original Ford V-8 gasoline engine developing 95 horsepower.
In the end 238 of the design were produced in all and service entry was had in 1942. However, manufacture ended in 1943 owing to the fact that the Aussies now benefitted from a surplus of army equipment originating from U.S. factories. As such the LAC was never to see combat service in the Grand War and was relegated to training on Australian soil.
The effort produced two distinct variants - the "Mk 1" at 5.2 tonnes (40 built) and the "Mk 2" at 5 tonnes (198 built). These were built atop the Ford F60L and F60S chassis respectively so the Mk 1 was slightly longer at 20 feet against the Mk 2's 18.3 foot length. Width and height were equal in both designs, 7.6 feet and 7 feet respectively.
Manufacturing Ford Canada - Canada / Ruskin Motor Bodies - Australia
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