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Australian Fire Support Vehicles

Peter Brown

Australian Fire Support Vehicles - Military Briefs No.1 by John Myszka  Published by Mouse House Enterprises, Woden, Australia ISBN 0-9577586-0-X   Large format, soft covers, 76 pages. Aust $22.95

The Australian Army has used two unique vehicles to give its reconnaissance units extra firepower. Both have been based on the American M113 series armoured personnel carrier, fitted with a British turret mounting a 76mm gun, but there the similarity ends.   First of the two used turrets from Saladin armoured cars which had been in Australian service. Fitting these to the M113A1 hull was not as straightforward as it might seem, as not only had the two parts to be physically connected which meant the original vehicle roof had to be cut open and a new plate fitted to take the turret, the vehicle electrics had to be altered as British and American systems were incompatible. These entered service in the early 1970s and served until requirements changed and a new design was produced mounting a Scorpion light tank turret. This made the new vehicle lower and easier to transport by air, as well as incorporating the Scorpion's night vision capability, and improved buoyancy was achieved by fitting extra floatation cells.

Entering service in the late 1970s, this type served for some years but is no longer in full service.  Officially known as "Carrier, Fire Support, Full Track M113A1 (FS)" with the later type having "Scorpion Turret" added to avoid confusion, both types were known as "Beast" to their crews, or FSV in more formal language. The Scorpion turret version was renamed "Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle" or MRV in the 1980s. Both types served with Cavalry regiments, with the original version being deployed to Vietnam in 1971-72. Both these unusual vehicles had been the subject of model kits in 1/35th scale. Tamiya produced the early vehicle as kit 3607 "M113 Fire Support" some years ago, and that kit is as far as I know not currently in production. There is an Accurate Armour conversion set for the Scorpion type, and AFV Club released their kit AF35023 of this variant in late 1999 which should be readily available. As is so often the case when this earlier basic models are updated with extra parts, some shortcuts have been take, so extra reference will be useful to make them fully accurate. This makes this book very useful to the point of being all but invaluable for the modeller. Aimed directly at them, it has descriptions of both types but is of great value for its illustrations. These include well over 100 large, clear photos showing both vehicles, many of them closeups taken inside as well as outside. Special attention has been paid to small details and modifications made while in service, especially area the kit designers missed. Two dozen line drawings taken from the vehicle manuals show other details including cross-sectional views.

Anyone wanting to model the original series will find the series of photos of Vietnam vehicles very useful, and names and specific markings for them are listed. Basic colour and marking schemes for both type of vehicles throughout their working lives are also included, including details of when these schemes changed. If you want a good model of either of these unusual vehicles, you would be well advised to use this book to help you. Few people will have access to the original Beasts and even if they have will be unlikely to be able to examine them as closely as the photographs here have. Now you do not have to bother, as it has all been done for you and all you need to do is get hold of the book.

It can be bought direct from the publishers at PO Box 1174, Woden ACT 2606 Australia, email mousehouse@start.com.au Payment by Bank Draft or International Money Order, or Australian Dollar cheque / money order made payable to John Myszka - Credit Card cannot be accepted - for $22.95 PLUS postage/packing, Australia $5.00, New Zealand $8.00, Economy Airmail (10 days delivery) to USA, Canada and Israel $9.00, UK, Europe, South America and rest of world not detailed above $10.00 per book

Alternatively, purchases by Credit Card are available from the following distributors.

In Australia, try -

Modelworks - mworks@fhills.starway.net or tel 03 9751 2166

Military Hobbies- tel 08 8231 4772

Hylands Bookshop, Melbourne - tel 03 9654 6883

England - Barabarossa Books - barbook@dircon.co.uk

Taipei - Aeroindex - aeroindex@ms19.hinet.net

USA - Baseline Models, New York - dmzl@juno.com

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