Six by six of the best

The ADF is rev­el­ling in its new Mercs

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

Rover 110s they are re­plac­ing,

V6 turbo diesel Mercs have dou­ble the power, stan­dard air­con­di­tion­ing and three dif­fer­en­tial locks to help tra­verse the worst tracks they’ll en­counter in the bush.

The fleet has four-wheeled cab-chas­sis and wag­ons, along with two- and four-door sixwheel­ers. All use a re­in­forced chas­sis made of heav­ier gauge steel for air­drops and im­proved re­li­a­bil­ity, along with beefed-up front coil and rear leaf sus­pen­sion to cope with the de­mands of mil­i­tary life.

The work­horse 6x6 vari­ants were built specif­i­cally for the ADF’s re­quire­ment for a ve­hi­cle ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing two tonnes while still tow­ing an­other 1.5 tonnes. Aus­tralian engi­neer­ing com­pany G. H. Var­ley builds mod­ules rang­ing from an am­bu­lance that car­ries two stretcher pa­tients and a medic to a ca­nine trans­port and a lon­grange sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance plat­form.

Be­fore the ADF re­quested them, the last six-wheeled G-wag­ons were built in 1941 and are still oc­ca­sion­ally seen on re­peats of Ho­gan’s Heroes.

Mercedes spokesman David McCarthy says strong in­ter­est has come from other coun­tries for the vari­ant, with the Swedes al­ready putting in an or­der.

More than 60 coun­tries rely on the G-wagon to trans­port troops and equip­ment.

Ma­jor Tim Ke­effe has the task of rolling out the fleet and re­train­ing the troops to use the ve­hi­cles. Based at RAAF Am­ber­ley in Queens­land, he over­sees the train­ing of 24 staff each week and the de­ploy­ment of 60 ve­hi­cles a month.

‘‘ It’s a big tran­si­tion from the 110s,’’ Ma­jor Ke­effe says.

‘‘ Ev­ery­one had a soft spot for the Land Rovers, but the plat­form was 30-odd years old and tech­nol­ogy has moved on.

‘‘ Even the way we train the driv­ers is dif­fer­ent be­cause of the diff locks and ex­tra torque the G-wag­ons have. It’s a step up in ca­pa­bil­ity and com­fort for the ADF.’’

Ke­effe says com­fort is a key con­sid­er­a­tion and not just from a health and safety po­si­tion.

‘‘ These ve­hi­cles don’t put as much stress on the peo­ple in them, so they should be fresher and more alert when they reach their des­ti­na­tion.

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