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Alvis Saracen


FV603


Overview


Saracen

A Saracen in a museum in Israel.
Source: Bukvoed - © GNU Attribution - Share Alike license

Origin
United Kingdom
Type
Armored personnel carrier
Entered service
Early 1950's
Status
Obsolete
Development
1947 - 1952
Developer
United Kingdom - Fighting Vehicles Design Department
Production
1952 - 1972
Producer
United Kingdom
Number produced
1.838
Designations
FV603 (UK service designation)
Notable users
United Kingdom

Description


Introduction

The Saracen is an early Cold War era armored personnel carrier of UK origin. It is also known as the FV603. It was developed just after World War 2 to provide British forces with with an armored personnel carrier, a concept which had proven valuable during the war. The Saracen was developed in the same program as the Saladin armored car and several other vehicles called the FV600 series and shares many automotive components with them.

Design

The Saracen is based on a similar chassis as the Saladin. The major difference is the position of the engine. In the Saracen the engine is mounted at the front in order to allow for a troop compartment at the rear. The driver is seated behind the engine and a one man turret is positioned in the middle. The troop compartment is at the rear and the troops enter and exit through two large doors.

Firepower

The Saracen is armed with a .30 M1919 machine gun in a one man turret. Additionally there is a ring mount at the rear which may feature another M1919 or a Bren light machine gun.

Protection

The steel armor protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters. The Saracen features much thinner armor than the Saladin in order to improve payload capacity. Later on some Saracen were fitted with additional armor for use in Northern Ireland. Two banks of three smoke grenade dischargers are fitted but there is no NBC system.

Mobility

The wheeled chassis with large wheels gives the Saracen good mobility on roads and dirt roads. The off road performance is average due to the high ground pressure and lack of tire inflation system. The Saracen is not amphibious but may use a fording kit to traverse shallow water. A Rolls Royce 160 hp petrol engine provides propulsion.

Users

The main user of the Saracen was the United Kingdom. It was also exported to many nations, mostly in the Commonwealth. In UK service the Saracen was replaced with the tracked FV 432 and wheeled Saxon. The majority of Saracen armored personnel carriers are no longer in service although a few hundred are in second line service or held in reserve by various nations.

Variants


Saracen

A Saracen Mk 6 in British service.
Source: Dennis Trowbridge @ www.warwheels.net - © copyright lies with original owner

The Saracen was produced or modified into several different versions that mainly differ in details and have a similar performance.

FV603 Mk 1
Early version with three door turret.
FV603 Mk 2
Most common version of the Saracen, with two door turret.
FV603 Mk 3
A Mk 2 with reverse flow cooling for use in hot climates.
FV603 Mk 5
A Mk 1 or Mk 2 fitted with additional armor.
FV603 Mk 6
A Mk 3 fitted with additional armor.
FV604
Command post version with map tables, radios, generators and in the troop compartment and a crew of 6.

Variants with high roofline


Saracen

A FV610 Saracen command post vehicle with increased roof line.
Source: Dennis Trowbridge @ www.warwheels.net - © copyright lies with original owner

A small number of Saracen were produced with a higher roofline to allow for more internal space.

FV610
Command post version similar to the FV604 but with more internal space.
FV611
Ambulance version with a crew of two and the capacity to transport six patients.

Details


Facts Saracen
General
Origin
United Kingdom
Type
Armored personnel carrier
Crew
2 + 10 (driver, gunner, 10 infantry)
Dimensions
Weight
10.2 t combat load
8.6 t unloaded
Length
5.23 m
Width
2.54 m
Height
2.46 m to turret top
2 m to hull roof
Main armament
Type
.30-06 M1919 (L3A3) machine gun
Mount
Small one man turret
Ammunition
3.000 rounds in total
Elevation
-12 to + 45°, manual
Traverse
360°, manual
Stabilizer
None
Secondary armament
Type
.30-06 M1919 (L3A4) machine gun
Mount
Ring mount
Ammunition
3.000 rounds in total
Traverse
Manual traverse and elevation
Stabilizer
No
Chassis
Chassis type
Wheeled chassis, 6x6
Ground pressure
0.98 kg/cm²
Tire size
12.00 x20
Tread
2.08 m
Wheelbase
1.52 + 1.52 m
Automotive
Engine model
Rolls-Royce B80 Mk 6A
Engine type
V8 petrol
Power output
160 hp at 3.750 rpm
Transmission
Preselector, 5 speed
Fuel
200 L
Mobility
Speed
72 km/h on road
Range
400 km
Turn radius
7.3 m
Power to weight ratio
15.7 hp/t
Obstacle crossing
Ground clearance
0.43 m
Wall
0.5 m
Trench
1.5 m
Gradient
42 %
Fording
1.1 m unprepared
2.0 m with kit
Protection
Armor type
Steel
Armor thickness
8 to 16 mm
NBC system
None
Smoke system
2x3 66mm smoke grenade dischargers
Equipment
Night vision
None

Related articles


Saxon

In UK service the Saracen was partly replaced by the Saxon, mostly in the infantry section carrier role.

Browning M1919

Most versions of the Saracen are armed with one or two variants of the .30 caliber M1919A4 machine gun.