Brief history of the Austin Champ

by John Mastrangelo 


The Austin Champ was the British War Office’s [WO] answer to the USA 'Jeep' and its use during WWII. It should not just be seen as simply the British Jeep, but was in fact the WO view of an all-purpose light truck for all theatres of operation. The main designer of the Champ is said to be Charles Sewell who was a member/leader of the team that worked on the vehicle's development.

During World War Two a prototype 4x2 'jeep' was produced in the United Kingdom. The War ended earlier than anticipated and, in 1947, 'Project Car 4x4 5 cwt FV1800-Series' was launched. The new vehicle was first known as Car Light 5 cwt 4x4 Open for Various Roles. This title was carried on to production model in 1952 when it was renamed Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 CT [Combat]. The CT Range of vehicles was the British response to its experiences during WWII. These vehicles were special to the services and designed by government departments. The final design was then put out to tender and assembled by commercial manufacturers. Only three CT vehicles were eventually produced:

[i] Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 CT assembled by Austin and later known as Austin Champ.
[ii] Truck 1 Ton 4x4 CT assembled by Humber. No name was given to this vehicle.
[iii] Truck 10 Ton 6x6 CT assembled by Leyland and later known as Martian.

Note: The names 'Champ' and 'Martian' were the commercial brand names for the civilian versions of these CT vehicles. Humber did not produce a commercial version of their contract vehicle. However, these names were later adopted by the Ministry Of Defence.

The Pilot Model: Nuffield Gutty:

During 1947, it is believed two or possibly three vehicles, known as 'Gutty' were produced by Nuffield Mechanization. [I have only seen evidence of two assembled]. These were 4x4 field cars. The third vehicle may have had the civilian registration '370 OP' [It is very possible that this was in fact the WWII model 4x2 vehicle mentioned above].

The other two were JLR 490, surviving today and once exhibited at the Beverley museum in East Yorkshire, and the other one was JLR 491". JLR 490 had a vertical cut radiator grille, while JLR 491 had a horizontal one. Both were fitted with a flat four horizontal opposed petrol engine and four forward and one reverse x two transmission. This design did not carry on in the later vehicles.

The Prototype Model: Wolseley Mudlark:

On the 27 August 1948, contract number 6/Veh/2387 was signed with Wolseley Cars for a total of 12 Mudlarks 4x4 cars. All were fitted with the new Rolls-Royce B40 N0 1 Mk 2A petrol engines. One seems to have been fitted with a hard top [listed as a saloon] and another was fitted with the Turner 1 Ton Winch. The later 'Champ' can be recognised in the Mudlark. However, the Mudlark looked ugly with bulbous wings, protruding headlamps, horn/dip switch mounted on stalk fitted to steering column, crude layout etc.

Only recently have I had possible evidence of other Mudlarks produced with mention of Chassis P1, P3 etc. If this information is correct, then we may have a possible total Mudlark production of 33 and some if not all of these earlier models may have been assembled by Nuffield. [33 seems to be a favourite number with WD!?]

Back in 1977, I was offered a Mudlark and 6 Champs that had never been used since released by WD for the sum of £200. The vehicles were located some 200 miles from where I live and the cost of transport forced me to unfortunately turn the offer down.

At least two Mudlarks are alive today and a third is reported as abandoned in a field falling to bits with rust and neglect.

Mudlark Details - Contract 6/Veh/238:

WO REG/1948 WO REG/1950 CHASSIS No Struck Off Notes
M6279622 32 YF 75 P22 June 53  
M6279623 32 YF 79 P23 April 51 Sold Ruddington 8/12/64 Lot 853
M6279624 32 YF 76 P24 Engine No 532 September 55 MOS Still alive today. Civ Reg: 975 LGU
M6279625 32 YF 80 P25 September 55 MOS. To USA.
M6279626 32 YF 69 P26 September 55  
M6279627 32 YF 74 P27 September 55 MOS
M6279628 32 YF 73 P28 November 55 Scrapped
M6279629 32 YF 71 P29 December 54 Hard top
M6279630 32 YF 70 P30 April 57 Scrapped
M6279631 32 YF 77 P31 August 55 MOS
M6279632 32 YF 78 P32 September 55 MOS
M6279633 32 YF 72 P33 July 55  


[a] MOS = Struck Off by Ministry of Supply. Sold later through Ruddington etc..
[b] 32 YF 71 was listed as a saloon due to having a hard top..
[c] M6279625/32 YF 80 was lent to the US Government in 1951 for evaluation. The vehicle was seen as good but required further development. Oil seepage from difs to hubs was seen as one major fault. This was partly rectified on production models but still presents problems today for any Champ owner. Failure to check oil levels in axles will eventually lead to major damage. This is the main cause of axle failures with Austin Champs.
[d] 32 YF 79 was sold by the British Government in 1964 as a Wolseley Jeep.
[e] Some Mudlarks can be seen in the 1957 film 'Quatermass' driven by zombies.
[f] At least three are known to exist, and maybe a fourth.
[g] The military registration system was changed in 1950, vehicles registered before 1949 were re-numbered.

The Pre-Production Model:

Austin Champ of 1950/51 During 1950/51, Austin assembled a few pre-production Champs. These were very similar to the final design but carried some 'Mudlark' ideas, such as the suspension mountings etc... The engine type was the same as fitted to the Mudlark, a B 40 No 1 Mk 2/A.

I have seen two of these over the years. One, Chassis SP 201, is long gone [1975] and the other, a FFW, was for sale in Wiltshire during 1977. Two of these may have been fitted with the Turner 1 Ton Winch. None are known in preservation today. They were used for evaluation and testing to see if the final design was acceptable for military use. The total produced was at least 12, half were Cargo and the rest FFW models.

They differed from the final design in the following ways:
Aluminium steering wheel, fuel filter fitted behind rear axle, rear winch access panel rectangular, instead of triangular, generator panel in front of driver's seat [Cargo] and behind driver [FFW], cables to gen panel in different location, no pioneer tools brackets or mirror arm, torsion bar mountings, dash panel was similar but very crude compared to production model and the revolution counter recorded the total revolutions the engine had done while in use.

FVDE General Data of 10 October 1951 for Light Car 5 cwt 4x4 [FV 1801] listed an U/L weight of 3470lbs, average max road speed of 60 mph at 3750 rpm and safe max speed [road] of 50 mph, with fuel consumption of 15.7 mpg. Range of action on 20gallon tank at 50 mph was to be 300 miles. Wading was to be U/P to 3’ 0” and Prepared to 6’ 0”. What is interesting is that both types of engines are listed, B40 No 1 Mk2A/4 and Mk5A as well as 6.50 and 7.50 x 16 Dunlop tyres. Delco-Remy, Lucas, Simms and CAV supplied the ignition/electrics. The other suppliers were F & Ludlow [Body/ Upholstery], AC/Solex [Fuel System] , Morris [Radiator], Borg & Beck [Clutch], Exhaust [Chilcotts], Austin [Transmission], Girling [Brakes], to name a few.

Final Design & Quantity Production:

The production of the Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 CT was given to Austin Motor Company in 1951 and they used their factory at Cofton Hackett near Birmingham until 1954. That year the factory was required for something else and the whole Champ production was moved to Glasgow in Scotland. This change of factory information is from a worker at Austin during this period. However, others say different; the production never moved, only military model production was moved and so on. However, around that time Austin Champs started to be despatched to Eglington [Irvine] Vehicle Depot in Scotland.

The main customer was the British Army, with the one and only major Contract 6 VEH 5531, signed on 1 August 1951 for 15000 vehicles. FVDE issued Specification 9058 [2nd Issue] on 3/8/51 for production vehicle with later amendments No 1 [29/11/51], No 2 [27/7/54] and No 3 [31/3/55] to Austin Motor Coy. This was based on Ref 57/Vehicles A/1922, dated 12/10/48 for a Car Light 5cwt 4x4. The vehicle was required to tow a fully laden Trailer ½ ton Two Whld FV 2300 Series or, with reduce performance, a field gun. It was to be able to operate not only in temperate climate, but without any modifications, also under artic, desert and tropical conditions.

Fuel consumption was to average 15.1 mpg, but I understand the troops tried hard and managed to reduce this to under10 mpg! The best I have ever managed with mine [FFW] is 20 mpg doing 40 mph on the M4. Maximum speed was to be 45 mph [Governed at 62 mph] or 30 mph towing a trailer. Again, the troops managed to increase these figures! To have fully independent suspension, rack & pinion steering and pressurised cooling was very advanced for the time [1948/50].

Initially, the vehicles were provided with two x headlights, two x sides and taillights and one 1 x number plate light. Reflectors were introduced during production on 31/3/55 and three types were used during service: No1 Mk1, No 1 Mk1/1 and No 1 Mk 1/2 These were fitted on special brackets bolted to the rear light boxes. Earlier vehicles were modified using mainly the brackets mentioned earlier or just screwed to the boxes or in BAOR; fitted to hinges bolted to the rear bumpers. The electrics were 24volts Neg Earth when most British vehicles at the time were 6 or 12 volts Pos Earth.

The tow jaw was changed at chassis WN1-5589 due to the habit of loosing the trailer over rough ground. The vehicle was unusual in that it had the reverse gear in the rear axle transfer box giving five forward & reverse gears. The reverse gear lever was between the front seats and was also supposed to act as winch/PTO engagement.

These production models were now known as:

TRUCKS 1/4 TON 4X4 COMBAT [CT], part of the new CT Range of British B or soft skin vehicles. The CT range was re-classed as General Service [GS] in 1958.

The chassis numbers were to run from 001 to 15001. Chassis No 10000 was not to be part of this order due to the way the War Office registrations were to be allocated. Chassis No 001 became 00 BE 01, No 9999= 99 BE 99, No 10001=00 BF 01 etc. Chassis No 10000 would have been 00 BF 00! This chassis No was allocated to a civilian model [WN3] exported to Jeddah in Saudi-Arabia. Therefore, the full range of WO registrations was 00 BE 01 to 99 BE 99 and 00 BF 01 to 50 BF 01.

The contract originally called for 7702 Cargos [Item 1] and 7298 FFWs [Item 2] vehicles. The Cargo chassis range was WN1-001 to 7702 with WO registrations 00 BE 01 to 77 BE 02. The FFW chassis range was WN1-7703 to 15001 with WO registrations 77 BE 03 to 15 BF 01.

The cancellation of Cargo chassis WN1-1437 to 1500 [WO Regs 14 BE 37 to 15 BE 00] in 1952 reduced the Cargo total to 7658 [Item 1 Amendment No 1]. An increase of 574 Cargos [Item 3] was ordered in early 1954. This resulted in the Cargo chassis range increasing to WN1-8276 with the WO registrations 77 BE 03 to 82 BE 76 becoming Cargo instead of FFW.

This increase in Cargo cut the FFW total by 574 and a further cut in FFW [Item 2 Amendment No 1] was ordered with the cancellation of chassis range WN1-11798 to 15001. The final cut in FFW numbers was 3204 + 574 giving a total of 3778, which reduced the final FFW numbers to 3520. The new FFW chassis range became WN1-8277 to 11797 with WO registrations 82 BE 77 to 17 BF 97.

Some FFW data plates have chassis numbers in the 7000 range, I have seen two such vehicles [scrapped during the 1970's] as well as two data plates removed from other scraped vehicles. The two Champs I saw were Cargo with the MOS data plate stating FFW. It would seem that there was a lack of sufficient MOS Cargo data plates available by the summer of 1954. Cargo and FFW vehicles were assembled together from July 1954 until July 1955. Before July 1954, production was all Cargo and after July 1955, production was all FFW.

The reasons for the amendments were:

[a] Item 1 Amendment No 1: Chassis Nos 1437 to 1500 [14 BE 37 to 15 BE 00] were cancelled due to the termination of the contract for Rolls Royce B40 No 1 Mk 2/A 4 [BSF] engines in 1952. This reduced the Cargo numbers from 7702 to 7658.

[b] Item 2 Amendment No 1: Chassis Nos 11798 to 15001 [17 BF 98 to 50 BF 01] were cancelled due to the decision to end the CT project and the eventual adoption of the Land Rover as the standard 1/4 Ton 4x4 Truck in British Army Service in 1953. This was due to the introduction of the new Land Rover 86" which became known as Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 GS [General Service] Rover Mk 3 to the military.

Between 1948 and 1952, the War Office had already purchased a total of 2331 Land Rover Mk 1 [80" with 1600 cc engine] and 2100 Land Rover Mk 2 [80" with 1997 cc engine]. The last of these had been delivered during the spring of 1952. The 80" Rovers were found to be suitable for military use but, like the civilian customers, the WD wanted a more powerful engine with a larger and stronger body. The new 86" Rovers were the answer and, for the price of one Champ, the government had realised that it could purchase at least two Land Rovers!

This is why 2400 Land Rovers Mk 3 [86" with 1997 cc engine] were ordered during 1954 with delivery commencing during the autumn of 1954. A further 3046 MK 3 were ordered and delivered during 1955 and 1956, followed by 1554 Land Rover Mk 5 [88" with 1997 cc engine] during 1956 and 1957. To this total must be added 1 Mk 3 [1955] and 20 Mk 4 [1956] [107" with 1997 cc engine] Land Rover Station Wagons and 655 Mk 5 4x2 and 20 Mk 5 Station Wagons 4x2 [1958], giving a grand total of 12127 Series One Land Rovers purchased between 1948 and 1958. The cut of 3268 Austin Champs from Contract 6/Veh/5531 had been replaced since 1954 by 7000 Rover Mk 3 and 5 [Two Land Rovers for the Price of one Austin Champ] if we ignore the Station Wagons and the 4x2 models.

[c] Item 3: Increase of Cargo numbers by 574 resulting in the reduction of FFW by the same amount was due to the reasons listed under [b] above for Item 2. The Land Rover was capable of being turned into a FFW quite easily. The idea of separate Cargo and FFW/FFR Trucks was kept on when the new Land Rovers 8 [Series IIA 88"] and 9 [Series IIA 109"] were manufactured for the WD as Cargo and FFR models from 1961.

The final production figures of Contract 6/Veh/5531 were:

Items 1 & 3: TRUCK 1/4 TON 4X4 CT CARGO: 7658 vehicles for Item 1 of contract. This was increased by 574 to 8212 on 1 August 1954 for Item 3 of contract. Each vehicle cost £1200. All Champs with chassis numbers below 8276 [inclusive] were Cargo. These were assembled from Jan 1952 until July 1955. The last Cargo to enter service was on 14 July 1955.

Item 2: TRUCK 1/4 TON 4X4 CT FITTED FOR WIRELESS [FFW]: 3520 vehicles, Item 2 of contract dated 5 January 1954. Each vehicle cost £1300. All Champs with chassis numbers 8277 and above were FFW. These were assembled between July 1954 and May 1956. The first FFW to enter service was on 5 August 1954. Production of FFW vehicles [Chassis WN1-8277 onwards] began circa Cargo Chassis WN1-7050 and resulted in delaying Cargo deliveries, which lasted until the summer of 1955.

The total production for Contract 6 Veh 5531 was therefore 11732 vehicles. They were delivered in batches to various Royal Army Ordnance [RAOC] Depots in the UK. The depots issued a Receipt Voucher [RV] when they accepted the vehicle and this indicated which depot received which vehicle. The RV form was Army Form General [AFG] 1033 and this was known as Issue & Receipt Voucher. This form was used to indicate when, where and who received and issued a military item such as a vehicle.

The depots are listed below with the abbreviation in brackets used by each on the RVs:

1st Vehicle Group RAOC HQ Ashchurch in Gloucestershire:
12th B Vehicle Depot Ashchurch [ASC]
13th A Vehicle Depot Ludgershall [LUD] in Wiltshire.
2nd Vehicle Group RAOC HQ Feltham in Middlesex:
21st B Vehicle Depot Feltham [FTM]
22nd B Vehicle Group Laleham [LHM] in Middlesex.
3rd Vehicle Group HQ Church Broughton in Derbyshire:
31st B Vehicle Depot Church Broughton [CBR]
33rd B Vehicle Depot Derby [DBY]
6th Vehicle Group HQ Georgetown in Renfrewshire:
61st B Vehicle Depot Georgetown [GEO]
62nd B Vehicle Depot Eglington [EGL] in Ayrshire.
7th Vehicle Group HQ Castle Donnington in Leicestershire:
72nd B Vehicle Depot Market Harborough [MKH] in Leicestershire.
75th B Vehicle Depot Turweston [TWN] in Buckinghamshire.

Also Bicester [BIC] in Oxfordshire which was a Base Ordnance Depot [BOD] until 1956 when it became a Central Ordnance Depot [COD].

Three vehicles, chassis WN1-215 [02 BE 15], 340 [03 BE 40] and 3100 [31 BE 00] have FVDE [Fighting Vehicles Development Establishment] and FVDRE [Fighting Vehicles Development and Research Establishment] on their RVs, which indicates that they either went straight to the Ministry Of Supply from Austin or were transferred later to FVDE/FVDRE [See 85 BE 35 below]. FVDE became FVDRE on 27 July 1954.

Dates Into Service [DIS]:

These are the dates the vehicles were accepted for military service. The first batch of Champs registered for service by the WD was 00 BE 05 [WN1-006] to 00 BE 19 [WN1-019] on the 28 March 1952 under Receipt Voucher ASC/R/6600.

The next batch, which included 00 BE 34, 00 BE 43, 00 BE 50 and 00 BE 53 to 00 BE 55, was not registered until 12 May 1952 under RV: ASC/R/1156. Austin Champ 00 BE 01 [WN1-001] was not registered until 23 May 1952 under RV-ASC/R/1252 with Champ 00 BE 59.

The last Champ to be registered was 17 BF 88 [WN1-11788] on 18 July 1956 under RV-CBR/R/2666/75. The last Champ to be built, WN1-11797 [17 BF 97], had entered service on 4 July 1956 under RV: CBR/R/2299/65. One vehicle, Chassis WN1-8535 [85 BE 35], was registered on 9 January 1957 by FVDRE under RV FTM/R/5535/196.

Dates Into Service:

Dates Registration Numbers Notes
1952 00 BE 01 to 17 BE 49 Many vehicles registered in 1953
1953 17 BE 50 to 50 BE 65 A few vehicles registered in 1954
1954 50 BE 66 to 82 BE 76 [Cargo]
82 BE 77 to 86 BE 00 [FFW]
Some late Cargos registered in 1955
1955 86 BE 01 to 11 BF 49 Some vehicles registered in 1956
1956 11 BF 50 to 17 BF 97 All registered in 1956.

Types of Austin Champs used by the military:

All were manufactured as standard Cargo or FFW, with four optional kits. The official versions were as follows:

Fighting vehicle code No Description of vehicle kit Generalinformationonkit
FV 1801A [as manufactured] Basic cargo, screened for radio Used by all arms of the army.
FV 1801A/1 [as manufactured] Basic FFW, radio vehicle. Used mainly for radio work.
FV 1801A/2 Ambulance, temporary. Few used in this form.
FV 1801A/3 Cable layer, temporary. Signals, more used.
FV 1801A/4 0.5” Machine gun mount, temp. Not Armoured.
FV 1801A/5 0.303 MMG-Armoured, temporary. 42 known conversions.

The Census Codes were:

FV 1801 [A]: 6035.10.005 changed to 301010.01.215 and finally 1620-0104.
FV 1801 A[1]: 6037.10.005, changed to 310650.01.215 and finally 1625-0094.
FV 1801 A [5]: 6035.11.005, changed to 301010.11.215. Deleted 1960’s.
FV 1801 A [2, 3 & 4] retained the code allocated from new Cargo or FFW. The fact that the Armoured version had a special code indicates that these vehicles were manufactured and delivered as armoured but later returned to basic Cargo.

Installation instructions may have been published under EMER D575 but I have no details. It is possible that Engineering & Miscellaneous EMERs I 100/1-109/1 was for Cable Laying GS kit on Champs, but again, I have no details.

The FV/CT conversion kits were based on Unit Equipment G1098 Specifications:

The ambulance came in two forms, the FV designed CT kit with a special hood etc.. and the later Carter Jeep conversion that retained the original hood but modified. Both versions carried the spare wheel on the bonnet. Weights: U/L 3868lb and L 4680lb.

The cable layer also came in two versions, the FV designed CT [ACL No 11] with drum mounted on rear of body using special brackets etc.. and the GS version used on Jeeps and Land Rovers with the drum mounted inside the vehicle. The drums came in 1 mile and ½ mile versions and a trailer was allocated to carry spare drums and kit. The spare wheel was mounted on the bonnet. Weights: U/L 3976lb and L 4732lb.

The 0.5” MG vehicle had either no hood or windscreen fitted or these were just lowered out of the way. This was a basic Cargo or FFW equipped with a MG. Weights: as Cargo or FFW.

The basic Cargo weights were U/L 3668lb and L 4480 lb while the basic FFW was U/L 3892lb and L 4704lb. All versions were screened for HF and VHF but the FFW had a two-speed generator, regulator box and PTO as standard as well as extra batteries under the driver’s seat. It is possible that some Cargo were modified to FFW/FFR by WD during service as I have come across quite a few Cargo Champs with FFW kit and the chassis number is genuine with a Cargo MOS data plate.


The Austin Champ Fitted For Wireless [FFW] becomes Fitted For Radio [FFR] when it has been modified under EMER D 577 Mod 29 [7/2/56], cancelled and replaced by Mod 43 [14/8/58]. The difference is the numbers of installations listed. These modifications [Mod Kit 18984] were to fit the kit required so that the New Range of Wireless Stations [Basically Larkspur] could be used with Champs. A FFR Champ is easily spotted from the holes left after kit was removed for disposal.

The idea being the FFR kit was to enable transfer of installation from one FFR Champ to another FFR Champ or Land Rover, or Austin K9 etc. without fuss. Each kit was self-contained with minor differences to suit different vehicles. FFW kit was made to measure locally for one vehicle only. An installation was for a particular type of unit. Ie: C13/C42 Station was for regiments of Royal Engineers, Royal Armoured Corps and REME.

The basic FFR-Champ modification kit was:

Item PartNo Use
Plate Stiffener F Wing Mk2 x 2 ZB 14988 For ATU
Cable Cleats as required   For leads etc.
Connector ZA 50325  
Disc Rubber Semi-Circular ZB 14980 On hood for aerial lead
Channel Semi-Circular ZA 49660 To protect cable along body
Mounting Base 18” No1 ZB 14939 Aerial Base Extention
Rear Seat Backrest [Wood] ZB 14896 Replaces Original Type
Disc for above ZB 14895 To hold Board upright
Battery Base & Clamp ZB 14743 Fitted under Radio Table
Table Radio ZB 15002 To carry sets
Runners x 2 for Table ZB 14899 To carry table.
Tool Kit with Spanners. ZB 14897 2x Open Jaw, 2x Box & 2x Tommy Bars

Also required was the drilling of the body side [s] to carry cables, rear body compartment for cables and dash compartment for “C” box. The Australian ATU mount was different in that it was fitted to rear light boxes instead of front wings.

Armoured Champs:

50 kits for FV 1801A/5 are listed as purchased at a cost of 100 pounds each. 42 vehicles are recorded as 'Armoured' [See Table below]. They were Struck Off between 13 July 1959 and 5 April 1968 by MOS, MELF, MEC, BAOR and at Ruddington and Bowhouse. It is fortunate that the Armoured Champs were recorded at the time and only two are known alive today [00 BE 30 in Cornwall and 12 BE 43 in USA], but neither are still armoured. They mainly entered service in two main batches [6 June 52 and 22/23 Jan 53], which could indicate they were armoured during manufacture. No armour kit has survived and t is only listed in a commercial parts list for Austin Champs issued to Austin agents. The only mention of armoured Champs seen in WD publications is in the Complete Equipment Schedule and GS Vehicles since 1946, both issued in 1960.

Chassis No [WN1] WO Reg DiS
020 & 021 00 BE 20 & 00 BE 21 6/6/52
023 to 030 00 BE 21 to 00 BE 30 6/6/52
033 00 BE 33 6/6/52
035 to 037 00 BE 35 to 00 BE 37 6/6/52
219 & 1045 02 BE 19 7 10 BE 45 11/11/52
265 02 BE 65 20/7/52
1243 12 BE 43 8/1/53
1387 13 BE 87 9/1/53
1532 15 BE 32 9/1/53
1592 15 BE 92 9/1/53
1656 16 BE 56 9/1/53
1671 16 BE 71 9/1/53
1693 16 BE 93 9/1/53
1724 17 BE 24 22/1/53
1774 17 BE 74 22/1/53
1816 18 BE 16 23/1/53
1834 18 BE 34 23/1/53
1851 18 BE 51 23/1/53
1869 18 BE 69 23/1/53
1891 18 BE 91 23/1/53
1913 19 BE 13 23/1/53
1917 19 BE 17 23/1/53
1924 19 BE 24 23/1/53
1930 19 BE 30 22/1/53
1940 19 BE 40 22/1/53
1948 19 BE 48 23/1/53
1952 19 BE 52 23/1/53
1955 19 BE 55 23/1/53
1971 19 BE 71 23/1/53
1990 19 BE 90 23/1/53
2011 20 BE 11 23/1/53

Engines fitted to WN1 Models:

Manufacturer Model Type From No Quantity & Details
Rolls Royce B 40 No 1 Mk 2A 500 30 for prototypes
Rolls Royce B 40 No 1 Mk 2A/4 835 1477 for early Cargo
Rolls Royce B 40 No 1 Mk 5A 2909 2363 for Cargo and FFW
Austin/Rolls B 40 No 1 Mk 5A 50000 Circa 12000

The nomenclature is based on the following system, for example B 40 No 1 Mk 5A:

[i] B indicates Rolls Royce [ii] 40 denotes the number of cylinders [4] and [0] the bore size 3.5". [iii] No 1 denotes the type of fuel system, carburettor. [iv] The mark number indicates the difference in major features such as Mk 5 [UNF], which is a simplified version of Mk 2 [BSF], with cast iron head and forged to size crankshaft and connecting rods. The suffix letter A denotes small differences to the basic specification such as reversal of the sump, PTO etc...All were 2838cc petrol powered units.

[a] B40 No 1 Mk 2A/4 [BSF] Unit: The early vehicles were fitted with a Rolls Royce designed and assembled B40 No 1 Mk 2A/4 [BSF Thread] unit. The earliest engine number is recorded as 407 fitted to chassis WN1-440 and entered service on 10/9/52. The next number up is 644, which was fitted to chassis WN1-289 and entered service on 29/7/52. These two engine numbers are the odd ones out as all others are above No 835.

The first Champ, chassis WN1-001 was fitted with engine 1270. The first Champ BSF engine number was 835 fitted to Chassis WN1-225, which entered service on 31/7/52 and; the last BSF engine is recorded as 2908 by one source and 2969 by another. However, it seems that engines 2909 to 2969 used the BSF rocker breather pipe and it indicates that they were UNF with BSF pipes. The last Champ with a BSF engine, no 2784, was chassis WN1-1436, which entered service on 20 November 1953.

Engine numbers for B 40 No 1 Mk 2A/4 units were 835 to 1834, 2462 to 2908, 3842, 3843, 3860 to 3879 and 10137 to 10148 inclusive. Engine numbers 3842 onwards seems to indicate that Rolls Royce had to find BSF blocks from other versions to complete the order.

The black colour, VAOS code No 10220 or 10431, is correct for these engines and were only painted Sky-Blue colour VAOS code is 10434 or 10222 after base overhaul. All UNF engines were painted Sky Blue.

The Ki-Gass equipment was not a standard fitting on these engines until a modification instruction was issued on 31 July 1959 to modify all B 40 No 1 Mk 2A/4 engines.

Note: The B 40 No 1 Mk 2B engines fitted to the 33 Land Rovers MK 1 [80"] in 1950 were numbered between 556 and 596. One is listed as 518, but this may in fact be 581 misprinted.

[b] B40 No 1 Mk 5A [UNF] Unit: The UNF engine was a simpler and cheaper engine designed by Rolls Royce. It came in two types, the Rolls Royce assembled unit and the Austin version. The first Champ with a UNF Rolls Royce engine, no 4069, was chassis WN1-1501 that entered service on 11 November 1952. Rolls Royce UNF engine numbers were 2909 [or 2969 ?] to 5891. The earliest engine I have come across is 3012 fitted to vehicle 92 BE 37, now scrapped.

Engine numbers for B 40 No 1 Mk 5A units were 2909 to 3461, 3848, 3850 to 3853, 3909 to 4640, 4829 to 5895, 10151 to 10153, 11293 to 11296, 13751 and 13752. Notice that the later numbers listed above for BSF engines overlap the numbers listed here. Engine numbers from 10000 were used for 10 kva Generators [B40 No Mk 5H] etc.. In other words, Rolls Royce was using any suitable block to complete its contract.

Incorporation of KI-GASS fittings on B 40 Mk 5A was from engine No 4829 and was also standard on Nos 4328 and 4640 . Apart from the two mentioned all earlier engines [ below 4828] were to be modified in service.

[c] B40 No Mk 5A [UNF] Unit: Austin UNF engines numbers ran from 50000 to circa 63519. The reason for these engines was due to the production facilities required for such a large order. Rolls Royce could not cope with the demand and Austin received the tooling required which, once the contract was completed, had to be returned to Rolls Royce. The first Champ with an Austin UNF engine No 50002, was chassis WN1-2001 which entered service on 9 January 1953. Engine No 50000 was fitted to Chassis WN1-2002, which also entered service on 9 January 1953. The next Champ to received one of these engines, No 50001, was Chassis WN1-2501 that entered service on 10 February 1953. Cargo engines ran from number 50000 to circa 58300. The last Cargo engine for Contract 6/v/5531 was number 57634 fitted to Chassis WN1-8274 [14/7/55]. The last Cargo Champ, Chassis WN1-8276 [14/7/55] received engine number 57633.

The Austin/Rolls unit was very similar in design and of the same quality as Rolls Royce units. They differed in minor details, Austin had pressed rocker and exhaust valves covers while Rolls had cast ones. Rolls stamped the engine No on the carburettor, cylinder head etc... Rolls carried an engine data ticket holder on the thermostat housing. Some Austin units were fitted with one at a later date [after repairs etc..] but these are rare. Some castings are different but still interchangeable.

Australian Cargo Champs engines ran from number 57700 to 58207. However, engine numbers 58506 and 58705 are also listed. As far as I can tell, no engines were numbered from 59000 to 59999. A few are listed in this range, but must be mistakes.

FFW Engines ran from number 60000. This engine was fitted to Chassis WN1-8279 [13/8/54]. The first FFW Champ, Chassis WN1-8277 [5/8/54] received engine number 60001.The last recorded engine, No 63519, was fitted to the last Champ, Chassis WN1-11797 which entered service on 4 July 1956.

Rolls Royce Production Difficulties: Austin had a problem with the supply of engine units from Rolls Royce, which resulted in some 30 vehicles being fitted with engines that had numbers out of sequence with the rest. The first 1500 Champs were to be fitted with a BSF engine, but the Royal Navy contract for 30 Champs and the supply problems from Rolls Royce which was getting ready to manufacture the UNF unit in favour of the now obsolete BSF unit, made this impossible.

Chassis numbers WN1-1437 to 1500 inclusive were cancelled, and others were fitted with engine numbers from the range allocated to non Champ BSF Mk 2 [400 & 600 ranges], UNF Mk 5A [3860 to 3879 range] and UNF Mk 5F & H [10130 to 10150 range] units. I have come across one such engine which had a Mk 5H engine number with 'H' replaced by 'A'.

The problem with Rolls Royce engines lasted from September 1952 until October 1953. The start of Austin UNF production during late 1952 made Champ manufacture easier. However, those vehicles allocated a Rolls Royce UNF engine [Chassis WN1-1501 to 2500 inclusive] were delayed by several months. Ie: Chassis WN1-2500 with a Rolls Royce UNF engine entered service on 29/10/53, while Chassis WN1-2501 with an Austin UNF engine entered service on 10/2/53. Chassis WN1-2001 and 2002 were fitted with Austin UNF engines and entered service on 9/1/53. The dates speak for themselves!

Rolls Royce was still producing B 40 No 1 Mk 5A engines in 1956 as new replacement units. I have one, No 5862, fitted to my Austin Champ, which I purchased crated in 1977 for the sum of £60.

New Replacement Engine Units:

A certain number of new engines were crated as replacements. These were picked at random during production. The crates for the 'Rolls-Royce' units were larger than the 'Austin-Rolls' ones. The reason was due to the way the engines were crated. I have come across two WO contracts for spare engines: 6/Veh/5576 [RR] and 6/Veh/9197 [AR].


The engine was assembled and packed complete with carburettor, clutch , pipes etc... already fitted. The front engine mounts and spark plugs were in a separate box attached to the inner wall of the engine crate. The 'Rolls' exhaust manifold shield is small and only protects the distributor, this in hot weather can lead to fuel pump problems. This resulted in a wider crate to accommodate the carburettor. [see dimensions].



The engine was crated with two separate boxes. One contained the clutch and the other the carburettor, front engine mounts and spark plugs. The carburettor breather pipes were just left loose on top of the engine. The 'Austin' exhaust manifold heat shield is a wrap round affair and is much better. It draws cold air from the fan and carries it over the manifold and out the back. This prevents most of the fuel pump problems in very hot weather.

Dimensions of crates:

[a] Rolls-Royce: 38.5" high x 40.5" long x 34.5" wide.
[b] Austin-Rolls: 38.5" high x 40.5" long x 30.5" wide.
To be obtained from stores or removed from 'old' engine were the following:
[1] Rear engine mounts.
[2] Generator, and if required the oil pipes for the two speed fitted for wireless Champ.
[3] Rocker cover [Mk 2A/4] or cylinder block breather adaptor. This connects the pipe from the air intake elbow under the dash panel. The metal pipe was different from Mk 2A/4 to Mk 5A.
[4] Temperature Gauge thermometer sender unit.
[5] Cylinder block coolant drain adaptor and pipe to connect to lower right hand side of radiator. This is a very difficult item to remove/replace with engine out of vehicle. If you forget and have to do in situ, be prepared for a hard time !!!. A flat-sided socket is best.
[6] Clutch housing breather adaptor.

Manuals Relating to B40 Engines:

Publ No Title Date Notes
EMER S520 Data Summary 12/6/56  
EMER S521 Not Published    
EMER S522 Technical Description 29/8/58 Amend 30/6/66
EMER S523 Unit Repairs 25/8/67 Amend 28/6/68
EMER S524 [I] Field Repairs 1/9/61 Amend 20/4/65
EMER S 524 [ii] Base Repairs 25/7/57 Amend 12/3/58, 30/4/58, 17/3/61, 20/4/65, 1/1/68 & 12/74
EMER S526 Not published    
EMER S527 Modification Intr. Various No 1 to 14 for all B Series Engines.
EMER S527/1 Mod Instr B40 Only Various

No1-Sealing Plug & Oil Return Adaptor to Eng 51913 [8/10/56]
No2-Ki-Gass Fittings Mk5A to Eng 4828 [28/6/57]
No3-Drill Drain Hole in Carb Starter Cover [23/7/57]

EMER S528 Base Standards 29/6/61 Amend 31/7/64, 1/7/65, 28/2/66, 1/1/68 & 12/70
EMER S529 Misc Instr Various No 1 to 10 for all types of B Series Engines.
EMER S529/1 Misc Instr N/A None known.

Note: Other publications are known relating to B Series Engines such as Rolls Royce issues etc…but these are general to all types of B Series including commercial applications.
Manuals Relating
Like all WD vehicles, the Austin was issued with a the usual complement of manuals and publications. The WO publications were also used by the RN and the Australian military. The commercial publications were based on the military and contained military sections not found in WD publications such as the armour kit, the ambulance kit etc.

War Office Publications:

Publication No Title Date
WO 17759 Provisional User Handbook [RN No ADM/MTP/5200/2]-Cargo 03/52
WO 17826 Provisional User Handbook [RN No ADM/MTP/5200/2B]-Cargo 10/53
WO 17807 Provisional User Handbook-FFW 11/55
WO 11780 User Handbook [RN No ADM/MTP/5200/2]-Cargo & FFW 10/58
WO 11780 User Handbook Reprint with Amendments 1 to 3 02/67
WO 17940 Stowage Sketch 24/10/52
WO 10625 Servicing Schedule-Cargo N/A
WO 12278 Servicing Schedule-Cargo & FFW N/A
WO 13055 Servicing Schedule- FFW, but includes Cargo. 13/10/60
WO 33350 Complete Equipment Schedule-Cargo-FFW & Armoured. 10/60
WO 17760 Parts List-Not Illustrated. 9/52
WO 11647 Illustrated Parts List 5/56
WO 13577 Illustrated Parts List 5/3/62
WO 12798 User Handbook for Radio Installations in FFR “B” Vehicles. 01/63
WO etc Various User Handbooks for Radio Installations in Truck ¼ Ton 4x4 50-60’s
WO 12710 Data Book of WD GS “B” Vehicles since 1946 3/5/60
AMTS 75/1 Questionnaire Army School MT on Austin CT 08/54

Note: Radio Manuals were WO 827 [Prov] U/H for W/S 19/31 AFV in Trucks ¼ Ton [6/55], WO 11446 U/H for W/S 19/C42 & C12/C42 in Trucks ¼ Ton [12/55] etc..
AMTS 75/1 Questionnaire states that the silencer is likely to be damaged over rough ground and that the torsion bar bolts can work loose. It also states that the steering can become loose cross-country. The tyre pressures are listed as F-20 and R-25 [7.50x16] and F-25 and R-28 [6.50x16]. However, the actual TPs are F-24 and R-20 [750x16-Cargo & FFW] and F-24 and R-28 [7.50x16-FFR] Wheels were of the divided rim type.

Electrical & Mechanical Engineering Regulations [EMERs]:

Publ No
D 570 Data Summary N/A Covered by WO 12710
D 571 User Instructions N/A Covered by U/Handbooks
D 572 Technical Description 20/6/55 Amend 22/4/60 & 27/1/61
D 573 Unit Repairs 15/6/54 Amend 20/9/54, 1/5/56 & 6/3/57
D 574 [I] Field Repairs 18/4/55 Amend 29/7/55, 25/1/56, 31/3/58 & 22/7/64
D 574 [ii] Base Repairs 28/12/56 Amend 20/2/59 & 22/7/64
D 575 [I] Waterproofing Cargo 27/6/55 For fording to maximum depth of 6’ 6”.
D 575 [ii] Waterproofing FFW 1/5/59 For fording to maximum depth of 6’ 6”.
D 576 Not Published    
D 577 Modifications Instr   See details below
D 578 Field Insp Standards 11/1/65 A simplified Base Inspection Standards.
D 579 Miscellaneous Instr   See Details Below.
M etc.. Communications Various   See details below.

Note: EMER Communications Installation Intructions Series M310-319 [C42 in Truck ¼ Ton], M460-469 [C13/C45 in Truck ¼ Ton] etc…
Special modifications also existed that were not included in EMERs. One was Mod 967 Towing Structure Assembly to Austin Champ Rear to Tow Light Aircraft [Army Air Corps and RAF] Date not listed.
D575 could be also Installation Instructions for special equipment such as ambulance etc., but I have no details.

Details of EMER D 577 Modifications and D579 Miscellaneous Instructions:

EMER No Subject Date Notes
D577-0 Suspension of Mod 6 14/12/54 To Ch 926 Inclusive
D577-1 Dynamo Breather Pipe 22/12/52 Amend 13/7/53
D577-2 Torsion Bolt Diameter 21/9/53 To Ch 1874 Incl.
D577-3 Front Sump Guard 29/9/53 All BSF Engines
D577-4 Clips to Jubilee 21/9/53 To Ch 1076 Incl.
D577-5 Starters No1 Mk 1 & 2 30/9/53  
D577-6 Steering Arms 17/11/53 To Ch 926 Incl
D577-7 Handbrake Compensating Lever 251/54 To Ch 2787 Incl
D577-8 Rear Axle Vent Plug 1/2/54 To Ch 3199 Incl
D577-9 Washer Pinion Housing 1/2/54 To Ch 2999 Incl
D577-10 Dowel Bolts on Transfer Casing 8/2/54 To Ch 3321 Incl
D577-11 Gearbox Front Cover Plate 8/2/54 To Ch 1829 Incl
D577-12 Torsion Bar Bracket Bolts 29/9/54 To Ch 2614 Incl
D577-13 Gasket on Inner Hubs 30/3/55 To Ch 2799 Incl
D577-14 Mirror Arm 7/12/54 To Ch 1425 Incl & 1501 to 1706 Incl.
D577-15 Gearbox Dipstick 20/9/54 To Ch 6896 Incl
D577-16 Reverse Link Adjuster 7/10/54 To Ch 4376 Incl
D577-17 Gasket on Transfer Casing Cover 12/2/55 To Ch 7179 [C] & 8276 [FFW] Incl
D577-18 Moving Speedo Cable through B/H 11/3/55 To Ch 6079 Incl, except 5077 to 5100 Incl
D577-19 Steering Arms 10/2/55 To Ch 7836 [C] & 8390 [FFW] Incl
D577-20 Backplate Brake Bolts 20/4/55 To Ch 3092 Incl
D577-21 Clutch Operating Lever 21/4/55 To Ch 4772 Incl
D577-22 Radiator Drain Plug 21/7/55 Fit tap.
D577-23 Slow Running Screw Washer 23/5/55  
D577-24 Spring Washers on Axle Casings 30/5/55  
D577-25 Tracta Forks 29/12/55 To Ch 5989 Incl
D577-26 Clutch Casings 20/7/55 BSF Engines
D577-27 Larger Wheels & Speedo Pinion 30/4/56 To Ch 2317 Incl & 2501 to 2570 Incl
D577-28 Body Filler Pieces 15/9/55 To Body 1640 Incl
D577-29 FFW to FFR Conversion 7/2/56  
D577-30 Tunnel & Heal Panel Mod 25/1/56  
D577-31 Petrol Pipes Unions 30/1/56  
D577-32 Chassis Reinforcement Plates 7/2/56 To Ch 10691 Incl & 10710, 10714, 10741 & 10753.
D577-33 Pivot Pin Bushes 14/2/56 To Ch 10048 Incl
D577-34 FFW Gen Panel 29/12/55  
D577-35 Tunnel Hole & Bung 16/5/56 To Ch 5076 Incl & 5101 to 6079 Incl
D577-36 Removal of Snorkel 17/4/56 To Ch 5438 Incl
D577-37 Exhaust Bracket 2/7/56 To Ch 2761 Incl
D577-38 Earth Bond 16/7/56 To Ch 4085 Incl
D577-39 Handbrake 3/8/56 To Ch 4805 Incl
D577-40 Hubs 3/6/57 To Ch 5018 Incl
D577-41 Duckboards 23/8/56 To Ch 6079 Incl
D577-42 F Axle Breather & Selector Circlip 28/8/56 To Ch 7137 [C] & 8280 [FFW] Incl
Circlip to Ch 10119 Incl
D577-43 FFW to FFR Conversion 14/8/58  
D577-44 Axle Support Plates 3/6/57 To Ch 7964 [C] & 8647 [FFW] Incl
D577-45 Crown Wheel Bolts 20/8/57  
D577-46 Shaft Nuts [Split instead of Washer] 27/9/57 To Ch 8152 [C] & 9500 [FFW] Incl [G]
To Ch 8162 [C] & 9585 [FFW] Incl [F & R Axles]
D577-47 Radiator Drain Tap 27/9/57 Tap leaks!
D577-48 Hub Bolts 6 to 9 16/9/57 To Ch 10272 Incl
D577-49 Spare Wheel Carrier 30/12/57 To Ch 11338
D577-50 Fuel Filter Move Position 29/1/58 To Ch 1303 Incl
D577-51 Battery Connectors FFW 1/5/58  
D577-52 R Axle Pinion Bearing 3/10/58  
D577-53 Choke Cable 20/7/59  
D577-54 Front Wing Stays 10/7/59  
D577-55 Ki-Gass Fittings 31/7/59 BSF Engines
D577-56 Hub Seals 11/9/59  
D577-57 Tracta Joint Housings 11/9/59  
D577-58 Handbrake 9/11/59  
D577-59 Conversion to MMG Role 19/4/62 MMG is listed here as 3” Mortar
D577-60 Carter Ambulance Kit 20/2/61 Ex Willys/Ford Jeep
D577-61 Axle Bearing Circlips 12/5/61  
D577-62 Clutch Relay Lever 13/3/62 Last D577 Modification Issued
D579-1 Redesignation of EMERS 31/12/53 New EMER Blocks
D579-2 Tracta Joint Housings 25/9/55 Ch 5077-5100 [C], 5498-7139 [C] & 8277-8425 [FFW]
D579-3 Exhaust System 1/10/56 To Ch 5282 Incl
D579-4 Gearbox Laygear 15/7/57  
D579-5 Rear Seat Backrest 29/11/57  
D579-6 FFW Hoods 13/12/57 Stitch extra strip on bottom.
D579-7 Tracta Forks 26/9/58  
D579-8 Declassification of EMERS 4/7/63 Champs EMERS no longer secret
D579-9 Cancellation of some EMERS. 25/11/63 Obsolete EMERS
D579-10 Cancellation of some EMERS 5/10/64  
D579-11 Radiator Tap 20/11/64 Replace Plug!!
D579-12 Cancellation of some EMERS 30/11/64  

Note: To Chassis 926 Inclusive etc..indicates that the later vehicles were modified on the production line at Austin
Now you can see that there is no mention of rear axle problems such as found with Bedford RL EMERS. The idea that back axles blew up just by starting the engine is a myth. People who worked in REME workshops do not remember Champs coming in with rear axle problems on the scale seen in civilian life. What is required is careful maintenance such as oil level checks every 1000 miles or 12 months whichever comes first.

The Snorkel:

Like all CT range of vehicles, the Austin Champ was designed to go under water with minimal preparation. In the case of the Champ, this was 6’ 6” deep. All Australian Army and Royal Navy contracts vehicles were fitted with a snorkel, the War Office was different in that it changed its specification in late 1953 and the snorkel was deleted from chassis WN1-5439 [54 BE 39]. EMER D 577 Mod 36 [17/4/56] was issued to remove the snorkel from earlier vehicles [Up to chassis WN1-5438] and UK and BAOR units did this. However, other commands such as MELF, did not and this is why a few Champs were sold off by the WD with its snorkel still fitted. The official reason given for the removal was “No longer required” but waterproofing/fording was still carried out for Suez 56, exercises etc… EMER D 575 WPF Instructions stated that the snorkel was to be obtained from RAOC stores with WPF Kit WPG/6883 and returned to stores when no longer required. WPF was to take some two hours and consisted of placing various fording caps, greasing fording seals, Bostik adhesive, Prestik, tape, grease, twine and silicone, and up to chassis WN1-1079 only the replacing of all wire clips with Jubilee type.

The Champ could shallow ford without preparation to a depth of 2’ 6”, reduced to 1’ 6” in 1963 after the cancellation of Austin Champ waterproofing. WPF was not unique to the CT range, the GS vehicles could also be WPF but at greater cost and time. However, WPF was very rarely required and most Champs never saw a snorkel or deep water.

And finally, remember that the Champ is waterproofed but still requires extra work to make it FULLY waterproof. Don’t think you can just drive into the water and come out the other end OK. Like the Champ manuals state “Good Servicing is Essential for Successful Fording”

British Army Of the Rhine [BAOR] EMERs:

Title Number Subject-Dates unknown but mainly 1950’s.
C147 Mod 1 Fitting Semaphore Trafficators [Manual Type]
C147 Mod 6 Fitting Rear Reflectors
C 907 Mod 1 Fitting Electric Trafficators [See D 577 Mod 5 Below]
U 117 Mod 2 Fitting Second Driving Mirror
D 577 Mod 1 Removing Front Of Sidescreens to Aid Entry & Exit.
D 577 Mod 2 Fitting Bracket for 3.5” Rocket Launcher
D 577 Mod 3 Not Known but could relate to enlarging rear window on hood.
D 577 Mod 4 Fitting Stop/Tail Lights.
D 577 Mod 5 Fitting 24v Electric Trafficators.
D 579 Misc 1 Checking Ground Clearance.
D 579 Misc 2 Checking Backlash on Rear Axle.
D 579 Misc 3 Fitting Steering Taper Pin
D 579 Misc 4 Checking Backlash on Front Axle.
D 579 Misc 5 Implementing D 577 Mod 43 in BAOR.

Struck Off [S/O] and Disposals:

The term Struck Off refers to the location and date the vehicle was removed from the army's vehicle census. In some cases this also indicated the date of sale either through auction or by private bids from dealers. Australian dealers seem to have struck quite a few private deals !!. The various locations and explanations are listed below.

The first Champ to be disposed seems to have been 01 BE 81 on the 30 June 1954 with British Troops in Egypt [BTE]. However, Chassis WN1-717 is listed as Struck Off? on 31 July 1953 after only a few months service, this is one of the few that are listed as S/O with no location. It had entered service on 21 Nov 1952. No mention of where and why this Champ was S/O so soon. The last Champ listed as S/O was 25 BE 54 on 8 April 1970 in BAOR. However, 51 BE 20 is listed as S/O in BAOR on 9 June 1970 if I read the Ledgers correctly.

The average length of WO use was circa 10 years, a few only lasted months due to crashes! Ie: 53 BE 09 which was S/O as scrap on 30/8/56 after it dropped by parachute!!. Most disposals were in the UK and Germany [BAOR]. I know of disposals in Africa[ Kenya, etc...], Middle East, the Americas, but none in the Far East. In other words, anywhere that was in the British Empire. Five Champs were sent to Korea during the war for troop trials, others might have followed. The only one I know the registration is 01 BE 00 [Chassis WN1-100] which entered service on 9/6/52 and is pictured in Korea with HQ, 29th Infantry Brigade, 1st Commonwealth Division in 1953 It was sold off at Long Kesh in Northern Ireland on 22/9/65 as Lot 61.

Special & Unusual S/O:

[a] Salvage: This indicated that the vehicle was scrap, crashed or had suffered from enemy action. The vehicle was beyond repair and therefore disposed as scrap. Ie: Vehicle 00 BE 47 was Salvage in BAOR on 31/1/57. Seven Champs were listed as Salvage in BAOR during the 1950's. Another similar S/O is Beyond Economical Repair [BER], which is basically the same as salvage. Ie: Vehicle 20 BE 29 was BER on 31/1/57, location unknown. Champ 15 BF 72 was listed as Scrap UK 12/5/66.

[b] Auction and Public Auction: This is rare but is found with no location. It can therefore indicate UK and overseas. Ie: 46 BE 75 26 October 1967 after it had been through Bowhouse on 15 July 1966 as Lot 709 and not sold.

[c] Central or Command Records [CR]: This is very common with BAOR and indicates the date the vehicle was S/O the CR of the command. Ie: 61 BE 83 by MEC CR on 30/6/61.

[d] Feltham [FTM], Market Harborough [MKH] and Marchington CVD [MAR] etc..: Only a few are known with these S/O locations. Ie: 39 BE 96 [MKH-30 July 1956], 39 BE 79 [FTM-30 April 1967], 03 BE 86 [MAR-3 July 1968] and 06 BE 54 [Irvine-21 May 1969]

[e] Ministry Of Public Board of Works [MPBW]: Only one is known, Champ 62 BE 88 which was re-registered as 406 FUV at Troon sometimes during 1963. It was off at Bowhouse on 15/7/66 as Lot 681 [Not sold] and again on 14/10/66 as Lot 541.

[f] Combined Cadet Forces [CCF], Territorial Army [TA] and Junior Leaders: Handed over to the Army Cadets, TA etc.. during the 1960's. Ie: 83 BE 54 S/O CCF on 19/3/66.

[g] Defence Nuclear, Biological & Chemical School [NBC]: One known, 36 BE 83, on 6 August 1965. This is located at Winterbourne Gunner in Wiltshire.

[i] Repayment: A few recorded as such and might indicate that they had been handed over, after a fee was paid, to another branch of the services. Ie: 03 BF 99 on 22/11/65, location unknown.

[j] Disposal Letter: 41 BE 01 dated 22 November 1957 in East Africa.

[k] Western Command: UK Command area, the vehicle 78 BE 66 was sold through Branston on 7 March 1967 as Lot 832. This command's HQ was in Chester.

[l] Army Form General [AFG] 1033: This is the Receipt & Issue Voucher form and seems to be only used on some Northern Ireland and BAOR S/O only. Ie: 42 BE 20 on 21/9/66.

[m] D.A. Mullard etc..: These are very rare S/O and refer to the purchaser of the vehicle at auctions such as Ruddington etc.. [See Local Purchaser below]. Mr Mullard is the man behind the MFI furniture stores. Ie: 41 BE 69 to DA Mullard on 1/8/62, but later listed as sold through Ruddington by MOD on 4/4/67 as Lot 622.

[n] Local Purchaser: Mainly seen with Hilton in 1962 and refers to the purchaser picking up his vehicles from CVD Hilton after purchasing them at Ruddington etc.. The Local Purchaser dates are always about two weeks after the vehicles were sold off by WD. Ie: 58 BE 44 on 22/5/62 after sale by WD on 7/5/62 as Lot 1233 A.

[o] Henlys of Weston Super Mare in Somerset: Very few of these and all dated early 1960's. I was told many years ago that this firm had the contract for Base Overhauls on Champs for WD. Ie: Vehicle 03 BE 39 which was BER Henlys WSM on 18/9/66 after it was sold through Ruddington as Lot 96 on 22/11/61. This vehicle was modified into a very bizarre looking vehicle.

[p] Training Aid, Instruction Purposes etc..: Handed over to REME etc..for training mechanics. etc.. Ie: Vehicle 00 BE 44 which was S/O as Training Aid on 9/6/65.

[q] Ministry Of Supply [MOS] and Ministry Of Aviation [MOA]: The MOS vehicles are dated between 12 February 1956 and 3 November 1959 and included 30 Cargos and 10 FFW Champs. The MOA vehicles are dated between 5 January and 19 October 1960 and included 11 Cargos and 3 FFW Champs. The three FFW Champs, 84 BE 05, 95 BE 58 and 95 BE 89, were re-registered as YUV 832 to 834 in 1960.

[r] Joint Air Transport Establishment [JATE]: Only one recorded, 04 BE 42, on 21 September 1968.

[s] Census, Stolen or UK: Ie: 46 BE 90 is listed as 'Stolen' with no date or location. Others were 'Lost' mainly through poor record keeping by RAOC. Ie: 88 BE 25 S/O UK on 21/10/68 after it had been sold through Bowhouse on 29/11/63 as Lot 699.

[t] Authority of Mr Read as unable to trace vehicle 12/3/68: This was 83 BE 00 that had been sold at Ruddington on 21/6/66 as Lot 493!!

[u] Junior Leaders: This was 20 BE 56 on 14 April 1959.

United Kingdom S/O and Disposals:

Most Champs were S/O in the UK and sold through four main auction sites. These were:
[a] War Department [WD] Storage and Disposal Depot Ruddington in Nottinghamshire with Walker, Walton & Hanson as auctioneers. The first Champ known to have been sold here was Royal Navy vehicle 1785 RN on 11 August 1959 as Lot 73. The first army Champs were S/O by the MOS on 13 July 1959 and sold on 13 August 1959 as Lot 1288 A to H. The last Champ sold here was 83 BE 54 on 6 January 1970 as Lot 453. This vehicle had been S/O on 19 March 1966 when it was handed over to the Army Cadets.

[b] WD Storage and Disposal Depot Bowhouse, Hurlford near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire with Dixon & Wallace as auctioneers. Sales of Champs here ran from 1962 to 1967. One vehicle, 10 BF 59, was S/O at Bowhouse on 18/3/67 with 'To Mediterranean'.

[c] WD Ordnance Storage and Disposal Depot Branston in Staffordshire with Arnold and Son as auctioneers. Sales of Champs here are all dated 1967.

[d] Central Vehicle Park Northern Ireland Command [CVP NIC] at Long Kesh Aerodrome near Hillsborough, County Down with Osborne, King and Megran [OKM] as auctioneers. Sales of Champs here ran from 1961 until 1967. The S/O listed for NIC could read AFG 1033 155/211, OKM, CVP, NIC and Sales Catalogue.

Other locations for S/O, but not auction sites in the UK were:

[a] Central Vehicle Depot Northern Command Hilton in Derbyshire. Vehicles stored at Hilton and sold through Ruddington. All are dated 1961 and 1962.

[b] 311th 'B' Vehicle Sub-Depot Eggington in Derbyshire where at least one auction took place on 14 March 1961. The Champs were mainly stored at Hilton. All Champs S/O are dated 1961.

[c] Central Vehicle Depot Southern Command Ashchurch in Gloucestershire. Vehicles stored here were sold through Ruddington.

British Army Of the Rhine [BAOR]:

After the UK, BAOR was the second largest area of Champ disposal. At least 40% of all Champs were S/O in BAOR between 1955 and 1970 and to this must be added the Champs used in BAOR but S/O in the UK etc..Ie: Vehicle 10 BF 23 etc... The earliest date recorded is 31 May 1955 and the latest was 9 June 1970. A total of 189 Champs are recorded as S/O in BAOR during the 1950's. Vehicle 03 BF 19 entered service on 9 September 1955 and was S/O on 9/1/56 [Somebody must have had a crash!]

The chassis ranges S/O in BAOR were:

[1] Cargo Champs: Total was 2805. [2] FFW Champs: Total was 1333
[a] Chassis WN1-001 to 999: Total S/O 538 [a] Chassis WN1-8277 to 8999: Total S/O 286
[b] Chassis WN1-1000 to 1999: Total S/O 583 [b] Chassis WN1-9000 to 9999: Total S/O 520
[c] Chassis WN1-2000 to 2999: Total S/O 366 [c] Chassis WN1- 10001 to 10999: Total S/O 289
[d] Chassis WN1-3000 to 3999: Total S/O 339 [d] Chassis WN1-11000 to 11797: Total S/O 238
[e] Chassis WN1-4000 to 4999: Total S/O 240  
[f] Chassis WN1-5000 to 5999: Total S/O 326  
[g] Chassis WN1-6000 to 6999: Total S/O 207  
[h] Chassis WN1-7000 to 7999: Total S/O 133  
[i] Chassis WN1-8000 to 8276: Total S/O 73  

Another batch of BAOR S/O were ten Champs listed as "Allies BAOR 30 June 1964". All were Cargo and were in use by NATO members in Europe based within BAOR District. Ie: 47 BE 29.

A total of 66 Champs are listed as Recovered in BAOR during 1963. They are all Cargo and range between 80 BE 10 and 82 BE 67. They were all S/O on 30 August 1963 and Recovered on 30 September 1963. These vehicles were S/O for disposal but 'Recovered' for future use. Many served for several more years and a few returned to the UK.

Some BAOR S/O are listed as CPCO 153-36, ie: 71 BE 11 on 8/3/65, which stood for Chief Planning and Control Officer. Another BAOR S/O is listed as RVP that stood for Returned Vehicle Park. Ie: 95 BE 09 on 17/2/66. These RVPs were used for units to hand in their vehicle when issued with new ones etc... The 'Recovered' above were probably sent to a RVP and recovered.

Middle East Land Forces [MELF] etc:

[a] MELF was based in Egypt until 1955 when it transferred to Cyprus. It became Near East Land Forces [NELF] in 1960 until disbanded in 1962. A total of 36 Champs were S/O in MELF between 30 January 1956 and 30 May 1960. A further 21 were S/O in NELF between 31 March 1961 and 31 March 1962. Vehicle 00 BF 53 entered service on 8/8/55 and was S/O on 31/10/56. Another, vehicle, 17 BF 72 was S/O 31/3/59, taken back then S/O again on 30/7/60, taken back and finally S/O on 27/2/62 !!??

[b] Middle East Command [MEC]: In Egypt until 1955, then Cyprus until 1960. Moved to Aden until, disbanded in 1967. Three Champs were S/O in Egypt between 31/5/55 and 30/9/55 and a further 42 were S/O in Aden between 30/4/61 and 30/4/67.

[c] British Forces Arabian Peninsula [BFAP]: This was formed in Aden during 1958 and replaced by MEC in 1961. Three Champs are recorded as S/O here between 30/9/60 and 31/1/61. Ie: 60 BE 02 on 31/1/61.

[d] British Troops in Egypt [BTE]: One known, 01 BE 81, on 30 June 1954. BTE ceased to exist in 1954.

[e] Cyprus: One known on 21 October 1968. This was 63 BE 42, which had been 'Brought Back' on 30 September 1956.

[f] Malta: A total of 25 Champs are known as S/O in Malta between 31 August 1958 and 31 August 1962. This District was known as Malta & Libya District during the 1960's. Ie: 48 BE 37 on 31/8/62.

Far East Land Forces [FELF] & Far East Command [FEC]:

This is normally listed as FAR and only one is recorded as such on 30 June 1962 only to be sold through Bowhouse on 4 October 1967!!?? This area covered Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore etc.

British Guiana [BG] and Caribbean Command [CC]:

All are FFW and 4 are listed in BG on 25 July and 21 September 1963, while 6 are listed in CC on 19 June 1963. HQ Caribbean Command was in Jamaica until 1963. The 1st Battalion The East Anglian Regt was sent to BG for 9 months in 1962 with 12 Champs. 95 BE 36 crashed and was Beyond Local Repair [BER]. It was sold off locally on 21 September 1963.

East Africa Command:

This refers to Kenya, Uganda etc... and a total of 46 Champs are listed as S/O here between 31 December 1954 and 30 June 1963. Some of these were handed over to local command during 1957 when the War Office [WO] handed over control on 30 June 1957. Ie: 48 BE 11 on 30/6/57.

Brought Back:

These are often wrongly referred to as 'Bought Back'. These Champs were S/O overseas and then, after being struck off, but before disposal, brought back into service. The dates range between 31 July 1955 and 12 January 1966. Most are dated 30 September 1956 [Total 24 Champs] and 31 March 1957 [Total 35 Champs].

The 1957 vehicles are listed with 2nd Air Maintenance Company RAOC which took part in the Suez Campaign of November 1956. The 2nd Air Maintenance Coy RAOC was replaced by the 2nd Airborne Coy RAOC in 1957. It was made up of a Heavy Drop Platoon and an Air Maintenance Platoon. The Heavy Drop Platoon became the 16th Parachute Heavy Drop Coy RAOC, part of 16th Independent Airborne Brigade on 16 December 1961. The Air Maintenance Platoon became part of the Army Air Supply Organisation.

Ie: 63 BE 14, S/O by 2nd Air Maintenance Coy RAOC on 28/3/57 Location unknown and Brought Back [into service] on 30/3/57 and 64 BE 91 was S/O in MELF on 31/7/55 in Egypt, Brought Back [into service] on 30 September 1955 and S/O again by MEC on 30 September 1958 in Cyprus.

French Connection:

The French military authorities were loaned an Austin Champ by the British government in 1953 in exchange for a VLR Delahaye. Letter No13-133 EMA/ARMET.SC. dated 8 Aug 1953 was the report on the French testing. The Champ was a Cargo version given French military registration W000887. No mention of its chassis number is listed apart from that the engine was a Mk5A. Pictures were included showing that it was fitted with a snorkel, jerrycan and a reversed bridge plate. The only item that needed to be replaced by the French was the gear lever rubber after the stick broke. The rubber used was not an original one. As far as I can tell, the Champ was returned to the British after testing. The winch is mentioned as a possible extra.

The Champ was compared to the WWII Truck ¼ Ton 4x4 Willys/Ford and its successor, the Truck ¼ Ton 4x4 Utility M38 Willys MC as well as the Italian Truck ¼ Ton 4x4 Alfa-Romeo 1900 Mata and the two French Cars ¼ Ton 4x4 Field Peugeot 203 RA 8CV & Delahaye VLR-C12.

However, the main testing was against the Delahaye and the results were as follows:
The Champ and Delahaye were each loaded with 400kgs and driven over roads and various ground conditions. The Champ was seen as very comfortable with an excellent performance. No major faults were found after 20,000 kms. The vehicle was well built and rugged making a good quality product, but expensive. Basic maintenance was found to be easy but the waterproofing slowed this down. The unusual design of the rear axle and the lack of dif lock was remarked but it all, the vehicle fitted NATO specifications for such a type of vehicle.

The Delahaye was found to have a dif lock and a better approach and departure angle. The Champ had more power, better ground clearence, better wheels & tyres, suspension, steering, fording capabilities, road holding, brakes and better off road. However, in typical French style, the Delahaye was seen as a better vehicle because it had a dif lock!?


Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 CT Utility FV 1802 A
During 1953, some standard Champs were modified to 'Land Rover' type body in an attempt to make these vehicles more useful.

One was 02 BE 15 [chassis No 215], DiS 7/7/52 under RV-FVRDE/SER/1400 [Fighting Vehicles Research & Development Establishment], Engine No 1183, S/O: BAOR 30/9/64. The RV being FVRDE instead of FVDE would indicate a post July 1954 date. The photos of the modified 02 BE 15 are said to be dated August 1953!?.

The modification of WN1-215 was crude, with the removal of the body and a simple flat-sided body fitted which looks very similar to the type fitted to some ex WD Champs by an unknown firm during the 1960's.

The result in August 1953 was the FV 1802A Utility model. One is known to survive in Germany today, but actual production total is unknown. Advertised in 1954 as an option to the open 'jeep' type bodied model, the cost put everybody off! . The body was 'fitted' on top of the modified standard chassis. This new body was similar, if not the same, as the type found on the Austin Gipsy from 1958.

The front seats were modified to accommodate three, the forward/reverse lever was just moved alongside the gearbox, the wiring was tucked away along the floor which resulted in a very 'amateurish' vehicle that in no way could compete with a cheaper and better designed Land Rover. The FV 1802 A did have flashing indicators and stoplights as standard, which in 1954 was very unusual

The production model had 5.50 x 16 divided rims with 7.50 x 16 tyres. Apart from the body, all other features were the same as the WN1.

As well as the FV 1802 A Cargo version, a FV 1802 A [i] FFW was planned. The designers even envisaged an Ambulance FV 1802 A [ii], Cable Layer FV 1802 A [iii,   Machine Gun Mount FV 1802 A [iv] and an Armoured FV 1802 A [v]!!!

The front hubs 'caps' on the early Gipsy were the same as Champ, and the idea of independent suspension was also carried over. The Gipsy was Austin's attempt to compete with the land Rover after the end of the Champ project in 1956. A simpler and cheaper 4x4 was what Austin needed after all the failed 'simplifications' carried out on the Champ!. To try and 'convert' a CT vehicle into a commercial success,[ and succeed!], would have been very difficult.

Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 [Austin Engine] Civilian Version WN-3:

Austin obtained permission in 1952 to manufacture a simpler civilian version of the Truck 1/4 Ton 4x4 CT. This civilian version was called WN3-Austin Champ and production started in July 1952. Orders were very few and the vehicle never managed to compete with the Land Rover.

The WN3 had the same chassis and basic body, steering and transmission as the WN1 and WN2, but was fitted with the Austin A90 engine unit and no waterproofing. The engine was 2660 cc and gave a BHP [gross] of 75 at 3750 rpm and a Torque [net] of 108 at 2000 rpm.. The B 40 unit fitted to the WN1 was 2838 cc and gave a BHP [gross] of 80 at 3750 rpm and a Torque [net] of 115 at 2150 rpm. The B 40 was governed at 3750 rpm while the A 90 was not governed.

The electrics were 12 volts with the battery mounted where the air cleaner is located on the WN1 and WN2. All lights were civilian pattern, the instrument panel was standard Austin and no distribution box etc..was fitted. The dash area was more open due to the lack of machine gun mount reinforcement.

The windscreen was a 'modified' WN1 with redundant holes welded over and the frame was bolted to the body preventing it from being folded onto the bonnet. Therefore, the bonnet did not have the windscreen rests fitted. The inner windscreen frame could be opened as per WN1.

The hood and optional sides were the same as the WN1. The front seats were the same as the WN1, but the rear seat was totally different in that the twin backrest was mounted to the base which could then be folded over giving a flat platform unlike the WN1 which had three piece backrest bolted to the body and got in the way if cargo was carried in the back!.

The fuel tank did not have the extra twin tanks mounted on top, which reduced the capacity from 20 gallons to 17 gallons. The rear light boxes were much simpler with no aerial mount or Warner trailer socket. The wheels rims [4.50 x 16] could either be divided or wellbased. The tyres were 6.50 x 16 with the option of larger wheels [5.50 x 16] and tyres [7.50 x 16] if required by the customer.

The suspension was the same as the WN1 and WN2 with the exception of the shock absorbers, which were smaller. However, the larger WN1 type could be fitted if required.

The WN3 was manufactured as RHD and LHD models. All known survivors are unfortunately RHD.

The Firefly Austin Champ:

Fire Armour Ltd of London W1 made the most common conversion of the WN3 during the mid 1950’s. Their product was called “The Firefly Austin Champ Fire Appliance & Light Rescue Vehicle” and was based on International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] & National Protection Association [International] requirements.

The equipment consisted of a Coventry Climax Featherweight Centrifugal Pump delivering up to 450 Gal p/m at 60lbs psi or 425 G p/m at 100lbs psi working on open water suction lift of 10’. Optional extra were a 60 gal tank fitted inside the Champ and a 200 gal tank on a trailer. A First Aid FOGNOZL was also supplied to hose reel to create spray together with a comprehensive tool kit for rescue work. Electrics were 12v linked to a 63ah battery.

Other options were spotlights and flashing siren lights, extra lockers and tow-hook. Gross weight was 4640lb [2099kg], U/L weight was 3470lb [1574kg], height 5’ 11” [1.80m] and its max speed was 60mph.

Alternative forms of Firefly Champ Fire/Rescue Applications were:
[I] Dry Chemical Unit: two x 150lb dry powder cylinders with hoses. Mechanical foam generator and foam tank can be added to work with 200 G tanker trailer.
[ii] Chlorobromomethane [CB] Unit: 17 G CB cylinder with hoses. 200 G trailer can be added.
[iii] Forcible Entry Unit/Light Rescue Unit: 5kva generator driven by PTO through two x V belts to supply power for metal cutters, lights etc.. Extensive tool kit as standard but others can be added.

Truck 1/4 Ton 4 x 4 Military Austin A 90 Engine WN2:

This was an attempt to reduce the overhaul cost of the military version of the Champ for potential overseas customers. Very few were manufactured and the WN2 has become the rarest of all Champs

The WN2 was basically a WN1 with an Austin A 90 engine. The vehicle was fully waterproofed like the WN1 with a Snorkel, FV air cleaner, 24 volt electrics etc.... Only on opening the bonnet could one see that it was a WN2. Chassis WN2-15002 was the very first manufactured and later sent to Australia for testing where it was given registration C-67996.

Technical Data for each type:

WN1: Height 6' 1.5", Length 12' 0", Width 5' 5", Track 4/ 1", Wheelbase 7' 0", Weight U/L 3640 lb and L 4480 lb. Maximum speed roads 50 mph and cross country 20 mph. Range of action 300 miles. Gross power-weight ratio [bhp per ton] 40 and maximum tractive effort, low gear [lb per ton] 1335 [100 % efficiency on nett torque].

WN2: According to the data I have here, the WN2 was exactly the same as the WN1.

WN3: Height 6' 0", Length 12' 0", Width 5' 5", Track 4' 0", Wheelbase 7' 0", Weight U/L 3470 lb and L 4030 lb. Maximum speed road 50 mph and cross country 20 mph. Range of action 280 miles. Gross power-weight ratio [bhp per ton] 37.5 and maximum tractive effort, low gear [lb per ton] 1250 [100 % efficiency on nett torque].

FV 1802 A: Height 6' 0", Length 12' 0", Width 5' 5", Track 4' 1", Wheelbase 7' 0", Weight U/L 3752 lb and L 4592 lb. Maximum speed road 50 mph and cross country 20 mph. Range of action 300 miles. Gross power-weight ratio [bhp per ton] 36 and maximum tractive effort, low gear [lb per ton] 1300 [100 % efficiency on nett torque]. The cancelled FVRDE 9136 Specifications for FV 1802 listed:
FV 1802 [A]-Utility, [Ai]-FFW, [Aii]-Ambulance, [Aiii]-Cable Laying and [Aiv]-5” MG Mount.

Types Manufactured By Austin:

Austin manufactured the Austin Champ in three different forms. The name 'Champ' was Austin's name for the civilian WN3 model and was later adopted for all three types.

Model code number Description of model
WN-1 Military, 24 volts, waterproof, Rolls-Royce B40 engine
WN-2 Military, 24 volts, waterproof, Austin A90 engine. [Very rare]
WN-3 Civilian, 12 volts, Austin A90 engine, quite rare

Quantity Production For Other Customers:

Model type Details of vehicles

Contract 6 veh 7176, qty: 30 FV 1801A Royal Navy vehicles,
Chassis range 15011 to 15040. RN reg: RN 1784 [15011] to 1789 [15016], 1791 [15017] to 1799 [15025], 1801 [15026] to 1807 [15030], 6945 [15031] to 6949 [15035], 6951 [15036] to 6955 [15040].
These were to be used by the Royal Marines. They entered service during 1952. They were S/O between 11/8/59 and 28/11/67 through Ruddington and Malta. Some were handed over to the Army by 42 RM Com and registered under the 'BT' range.
RN 1788-14 BT 64 [1/4/58], RN 1792-13 BT 80 [12/5/59], RN 1799-12 BT 97 [1/4/58], RN 1805-13 BT 81 [12/5/59], 13 BT 82-RN 6945 [12/5/59], 13 BT 83-RN 6946 [12/5/59], 12 BT 96-RN 6952 [1/4/58] and 13 BT 84-RN 6955 [12/5/59].

All non-War Office [Contract 6 Veh 5531] Champ chassis numbers started from 15002, these included the WN2 and WN3 vehicles.

WN-1 Australian Army contract No 50039, dated 1954, Qty: 400.
Chassis range 15751 [AAR: 104732] to 16150 [AAR: 104737]. Records are not complete. Entered service between April and June 1955. Australian Army registration range [AAR] 104350 to 104749, allocation at random.
WN-1 Various orders, ie: 6/Veh/18563, 6/Veh/19049 etc.for British and other Governments, including Thailand, Egypt... Qty is unknown, but at a guess a few dozen. One for the MOS was Chassis WN1-16179 registered as RGX 524 [See photo]
One was Chassis WN1-15229, [ex FVRDE] PLF 500 that became 60 EP 44 and was struck off on 13/3/70; another was PLF 632 [WN1-15741] became 00 SP 02 and S/O 16/7/68.

Very few made, maybe circa six [?]. Produced from February 53, chassis No 15002 [To Autralia March 1953] and engine No 136976 onwards. Cost new 750 pounds. One survivor known in Japan, chassis No 15042, exported in 1953.

WN-3 Various customers all over the World, but mainly in Australia where most are to found today. Two survivors in the UK . Qty circa 500. Cost in November 1952: 750 pounds, Nov 54: 1000 pounds. Produced from July 52, chassis 15006, and, Engine No 136951 onwards. LHD models were available. However, one source states Chassis WN3-15003 to Australia July 1952.

Known Australian Army Publications relating to Austin Champs:

Publ No Title Date
AB 416 Veh Log Book Servicing Schedule Section 4 02/61
E-023-1 Unit Repairs 28/2/59
E-023-2 * Replacing Steering Wheel 28/2/59
E-023-3 * Oil Leaks 28/2/59
E-024-1 Field Repairs 28/2/59
E-024-2 Base Repairs 28/2/59
E-027-1 Pivot Pin Bushes 31/8/62
E-027-2 * Replacing Battery Connectors 15/9/61
E-027-3 Radiator Drain Tap 31/8/62
E-027-4 Additional Bolts to Axle Support Plates 31/8/62
E-027-5 Strengthening Chassis 31/8/62
E-027-6 Drive Flanges 31/8/62
E-027-7 * Rear Seat Backrest 20/11/59
E-027-8 * Replacing Grease Nipples 16/10/59
E-027-9 * Replacing Tecalemit with British LF3F Oil Filter 31/8/62
E-027-10 * Cutting Seat Boxes to aid removal Of Prop Shaft 28/6/63
E-027-11 * New Type Master Cylinder Shield 3/8/62
E-027-12 New Crown Wheel Bolts 3/8/62
E-027-13 * Door Seals 31/1/63
E-027-14 Not Published?  
E-027-15 Reinforcement of Front Wing Stays 31/1/64
E-027-16 * Reinforcement Of Handbrake Mount 31/3/65
E-029-1 * To Prevent Opening inner Windscreen Fully 15/9/61

Notes: Most of these publications are the same as UK manuals, but with different dates of issue. However, some are special to the Australians and are marked as such: *

Commercial Publications relating to Austin Champs:

Publ No Title Date
957/A Driver’s Handbook 04/55
1078/B Dismantling Instructions for Major Assemblies 11/54
1081 Parts List 05/54

Note: These are the issues I have in my collection and I know that reprints with amendments exist having different publication numbers.

Production Dates:

Years Manufactured

Chassis range [WN-1/2/3] not including contract 6/veh/5531 Total
1952 15002 to 15060 58 [incl. RN vehicles]
1953 15061 to 15580 519
1954 15581 to 15609 28
1955 15610 to 16186 576 [incl. Australian Army]
1956 16187 to 16247 55

Note: These figures are not to be taken as accurate due to many gaps in records.

Production Figures "ALL TYPES" according to Austin, which differ from WD records.

Years Quantity produced (1 August to 31 July)
1952 326
1953 3721
1954 4038
1955 3531
1956 1825, production ceased in May 56.

Total Production 13441:

Austin states the total was in fact 12991. Therefore, according to available figures, the production comes up with two different quantities for WN-1 [Non 6 Veh 5531], WN-2 and 3: The last chassis was 16247-15002 [non WO]= 1246, if we accept chassis No 16247 as the last one built and that all numbers were used. If we add the 11732 vehicles from Contract 6 Veh 5531, then the total becomes 12978.

The Winch:

The winch is something that is often mentioned by owners today but it seems it was never built in any quantity. It is mentioned in 1950 as a Turner 1 Ton Winch with a horizontal drum powered by a PTO fitted to the top of the transfer box and engaged by the forward/reverse lever moved into a special slot normally blanked off with a plate. The rope was 120’ long with a breaking point of 4.6 tons. The rear panel is removed from the body giving access to the winch. It is illustrated inside a Mudlark and as far as I have been able to find out, only 3 were made. The PTO was used for other things such as to power pumps on the Austin Champ WN3-Firefly. The winch is not listed in any commercial publications relating to the Champ and the WD publications only refer to “The possibility of a winch…” in the Prov U/Hs of 1952 and 1953. It is not mentioned in any EMER, parts lists or later UHs and therefore it is quite clear that it was never manufactured. I was informed some 30 years ago by an ex member of FVRDE that only three were made for testing. One was fitted to a Mudlark, one to a Pre-Production WN1 and one spare and the fates of these winches were: one lost at sea, one cut up and one mislaid. A lot of the CT/FV winch parts were later used to try and develop a winch for use on the Austin K9.

Basic Kit Carried & Markings:

The table below lists the basic kit carried on all WO & RN Champs as standard. The markings chart provides basic markings for all WO & RN Champs.

Item Part No Qty Where Stored
Veh Record Book c/w AFB 6533 & 6534 AFB 562 1 At MT Office
Trailer Lead 30” LV6/MT4-5995-99-505-0039 1 Rear Locker
Document Holder   1 Front Seat Map Case
Fire Ext. Pyrene LV6/MT1-4210-99-942-6905 1 On Bracket
Starting Handle LV9/BLC-FV 176079 1 Behind F Seats
Jack Type C6060 LV6/MT1-86893 1 Behind F Seats
Brace L Shape .937” AF LV6/MT2-90484 1 Behind F Seats
Padlock 1.5” 4 Lever G1-5340-99-910-8185 1 Jerrycan Holder
Padlock 1.5” 4 Lever G1-5340-99-910-8185 1 BAOR Fuel Cap
Oil Can 1 Gal LV6/MT1-8110-99-942-6968 1 Under Driver’s Seat
Case Spare Bulbs c/w Bulbs LV6/MT3-6240-99-942-6978 1 Rear Locker
Pick Axe Helves J1-5120-99-910-4746 1 On n/s of Body
Pick Axe Head J1-5120-99-910-5473 1 On n/s of Body
Shovel GS J1-5120-99-910-5934 1 On o/s of Body
Inspection Light No 2 Mk 1   1 In Rear Locker
WO Publications CES, SS and UH [1 of each] 3 F Seat Map Case
Screwdriver Cabinet F1-5120-99-910-5861 1 In Rear Locker
Screwdriver 3.5” Blade   1 In S/D Cabinet
Spanner Adjustable 6” F1-5120-99-910-5955 1 In Rear Locker
Tyre Pump Car Type LV6/MT1-12246 1 In Rear Locker
TP Gauge 5-90psi LV6/MT2-4910-99-942-6906 1 In Rear Locker

The CES also stated that full sidescreens were only issued to UK based vehicles. However, I have seen plenty of evidence that high-ranking in BAOR etc officers ignored this. On active service, the following kit could also be issued:

Item Qty Storage
First Aid Box Large 1 On Carrier under Dash
Camouflage Net 14’ x 14’ 1 Anywhere suitable
Rope Towing Light Mk1 15’ 1 On Front Bumper
Packs Large 4 In rear of vehicle
Ground Sheet Mk6 1 In Large Packs
Haversacks 4 In Large Packs
Blankets Brown Single 90”x60” 8 In Large Packs
Jerrycan Water 4.5 Gallons 1 In Carrier on Rear Body
Chains non-skid [Parsons DL 39a] 4 In Rear Lockers
Matchet 15” Blade [Tropical Service] 1 In carrier on n/s of gearbox cover
Rifles LE No 4 4 In Rifles Clips

The End of the Military Austin Champ:

The Austin Champ was finally withdrawn from military service in 1966 after 14 years. The Champs remaining in service after 1963 were mainly used by the Territorial Army [TA]. The TA had used Champs during the 1950's as well as Series One Land Rovers. Many remained in service with regular units in BAOR and other overseas commands. Since 1957, a large number of Champs were held as 'Warlike Reserve' [WR] until required for use. This was mainly due to cutbacks in troops numbers and not because they were seen as unreliable. The fate of many of these was to be sold off straight from storage during the 1960's.

It had lost its CT status in 1958 after the end of the CT Project in 1956 and the Land Rover had replaced it as the standard 1/4 Ton 4x4 truck during 1954. The cost of the Champ compared to the Land Rover is what finished the Champ Project. The Austin Champ was a high quality vehicle that proved to be expensive to use and replace for normal peacetime military use. Many have criticised the vehicle as unreliable, complicated etc...compared to earlier, contemporary and later vehicles. A good Champ can hold its own against any similar vehicle and, when compared to the Jeep or Land Rover, most people prefer the Champ!!

I have worked and driven all three types of ¼ ton 4x4 vehicles [Jeep, LR and Champ] and these are my feelings on them:

Jeep MB: Very light and fast but seem to be designed for short life; lack of removable floor panels. The fact that so many have survived to this day shows how well the vehicle was designed.
Land Rover Series One: Better design of body for general use, very simple to work on and take apart. Not very comfortable to ride in, I have discovered several new bumps on the roads since I have owned my Series One.
Austin Champ: Very well built, quality vehicle and very comfortable compared to other two. Very demanding on maintenance and difficult access to major components when repairs required.


Dated :12 January 1976
Amended: 14 April 1991, 3 February 1997, 31 July 1997, 19 August 2000, Mid 2006, September 2008.

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John Mastrangelo, Springfield Farm, Vinney Lane, Horton, Nr Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, UK. BS37 6PE

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