Land Rover 101 Forward Control

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A Land Rover 101 Forward Control with the radio-vehicle body

The 101 Forward Control was a vehicle produced by Land Rover for the British Army.

The vehicle was primarily produced to meet the Army's requirement for a gun tractor, and was designed to tow a field gun (the L118 Light Gun) with a ton of ammunition and other equipment in the rear load space, giving it the alternative name of the Land Rover One Tonne. The vehicle was designed to be easily transported by air; the positioning of the 3.5 L Rover V8 engine beneath and to the rear of the cab eliminating the bonnet at the front, making the vehicle more or less cuboid, eliminating unused space in transport aircraft.

The official name of 101 Forward Control is derived from the vehicle's 101-inch (2,565 mm) wheelbase, and the position of the driver, above and slightly in front of the front wheels which used a fairly large 9.00"×16" tyre. To cope with the extra height above the ground, the wheels feature an unusual feature for a Land Rover (but used for many years on the much older and similar Mercedes Unimog S404); a flange around the centre of the wheel has an embossed tread pattern to allow the crew to use it as a step to enter the cab, otherwise known as a wheel-step.

Development of the 101FC started in the late 1967, with a design team lead by Norman Busby (14th October 1931 - 30th June 2005). Production took place between 1972 and 1978. As is common practice in the armed forces, many vehicles were not used for some years and it is not unheard of for military vehicle enthusiasts to pick up these vehicles after only a few thousand miles service. All the vehicles produced at the Land Rover factory at Lode Lane, Solihull were soft top ("rag top") General Service (GS) gun tractors, although later on many were rebuilt with hard-top ambulance bodies and as radio communication trucks. A rare variant is the electronic warfare Vampire body. It is thought that only 21 of these were produced and less than half of these survive today with one being rumoured to have been destroyed in the Buncefield Oil Terminal Fire.

The 101FC was manufactured in both left and right hand drive with either 12 or 24 volt electrical systems.

Some 101s were produced with a PTO powered Nokken capstan winch mounted on the chassis at the centre of the vehicle, allowing winching from either the front or rear. Another variation on a small number of pre-production vehicles was the addition of a trailer with an axle driven from the PTO, creating a 6x6 vehicle, this adaptation was abandoned before full production when it was discovered that the trailer had a propensity to push the vehicle onto its side when driven over rough terrain.

As of the late 1990s, the 101's were decommissioned by the MoD and were replaced with Defenders and Pinzgauer vehicles. Most have now passed into private hands, although some examples may still be lurking in Ex-MoD Stock dealers yards. The Ambulance variant makes for an excellent Camper conversion although the cost of running such a vehicle can be frightening due to the high fuel consumption from the Rover V8 engine. Because of this, conversions to diesel engines are common, sometimes Land Rover's own Tdi units (2.5 litres, 107 or 111 horsepower), or more often engines taken from large Japanese 4x4s, such as 2.8- or 4.2-litre turbodiesels from the Toyota Land Cruiser). Dual fuel, retaining petrol but with the option to switch seamlessly to LPG (Liquid Petrolium Gas) is also a popular and environmentally friendlier option for many owners.

Film career

Thirty-one 101s were converted by Land Rover with artistically styled bodyshells for the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film Judge Dredd. Land Rover is supposedly the world's only surviving vehicle manufacturer in 2139 when the film is set, and the green oval logo can be seen on the front of the vehicles, known as "City CABs". [1] Several of these prop vehicles still exist in driveable condition and are often seen at Land Rover events.

A 101 also appears briefly in a non-military role, in the closing scenes of the Will Smith film Bad Boys II


External links

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