“I changed the electrics from 24 volts to 12 volts because I tow a caravan”
insignificant number of base vehicles were also later converted to Battlefield Ambulances and Royal Signals hard tops, plus a small number of unit conversions were also undertaken for specialist roles.
I have yet to uncover definitive production figures for the One Tonne, but am confident it was well over 500 – if any reader can help with a precise figure, please get in touch.
Overseas, the vehicle was bought by Australia, as Rapier Tractors, and by Egypt as Swingfire anti-armour missile vehicles.
The vehicle featured this month is owned by Adam Cove. “I bought 68FL48 in 2011, it had previously been kept as a resto project. Since cast in ’92 as a complete non-runner, it had been through three owners who had all thought it was too good to break but didn’t do anything with it,” he explained.
If military Land Rover enthusiasts cast their mind back to 1992 they should realise that this was just a year or so after Coalition Forces, including Britain’s Desert Rats from 4th and 7th Armoured Brigades, liberated Kuwait from the grasp of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Massive quantities of military Land Rovers of all types were used by the British in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Operation Granby and the follow-on Operation Desert Sabre, so the traces of desert stone paint found in the nooks and crannies of 68FL48 suggest to me that it might have been one of the casualties shipped back in late 1991.
Adam picked up the story again: “It’s a 961 chassis prefix and it is chassis number 25 so is a very early one, built approximately in April 1975. I have changed the electrics from 24 volts to 12 volts for the simple reason that I tow a caravan with it but I have retained the original ignition system, because it’s waterproof and I like it. The vehicle was restored to ‘as delivered to [Central Vehicle Depot] Hilton’ specification rather than to represent any unit it served with.”
A little of its service history is known, including the fact that it spent most of its life assigned to the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, the first two years of which was with the Reme School at Bordon in Hampshire. Adam has also uncovered that it was attached to the Light Aid Detachments of The Queen’s Royal Hussars and the Queen’s Dragoon Guards for much of its service life.
“As to whether it has seen service in the Persian Gulf I don’t actually know, as I don’t know the movements of these units,” explained Adam.
My gut reaction, based on the traces of removable desert camouflage paint that can still be found on 68FL48 is that it quite probably served with a Squadron of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, who were the recce component of 7th Armoured Brigade during the 1991 Gulf War. Although this squadron primarily used light armour – 16x Scimitar and 4x Spartan according to my photobook Operation Granby, published shortly afterwards, and almost certainly a Reme Samson too – they also took many Land Rovers with them for support roles and I’ll bet their Light Aid Detachment used a One Tonne Land Rover as well.
“When it was cast it had some accident damage on it down the right-hand side and it was halfway through an engine change that hadn’t been completed” says Adam. “Major components such as the steering and steering box were in a Tupperware container in the back. The carburettors were in another one and so was all the ignition system. There were still red rubber bungs in the engine and the engine’s rebuild date is three weeks prior to it being cast. So I believe I’m the first person ever to have heard this engine run. I’m certainly the first civilian to have driven this vehicle under its own power since disposal and I’m enjoying every minute of it!”
The adjustable drop down towing ball (below NATO hitch) allows Adam to tow a caravan
A circular wheel-step bolted to the 9x16 six stud rim assists in climbing up to the cab
Red filler cap denotes petrol engine – it has the same 3528cc V8 as the early Range Rover
The small lockers behind the rear wheels were for tool storage – in this case the jack
Unique demountable and minimalist rear bumperettes are unlike any other Landie
Later in life the FC 101 was painted NATO Green but it left the factory in Deep Bronze