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Fv439 Ptarmigan


Dougy FV432
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The idiot's guide to BRUIN:

 

Bruin was a multi-channel , secure commuications system. This involved connecting users (HQs, WHA, WSP) together using communication centres (Comcens). The Radio Relay (RR) systems used were C50/R236 (which operated in the 225-400 MHz range) providing links from Brigade HQ to Comcen (hence the RR versiion of the FV439), and sometimes inter-comcen links (aka Inter-City). At divisional level the C70 was used (560-910 MHz), mainly from Division HQ to Comcen and from the comcen back to Corps level. The system was "secured" by the BID200 (Dakota) system, which gave 6 channels. Usually Channels 1-4 were used via the automatic exchanges (20 line at Brigade, 40 at Division), Channel 5 was "manual intercept" (via the telephone exchanfge in the Message Centre vehicle) and Channel 6 for multi channel telegraphy (Siemens T2100R teleprinter connected via the Telegraph Terminal Voice Frequency (TTVF4/12)).

 

There were a number of comcens, the main ones being:

 

Alpha & Bravo - Main Corps (7 Signal Regt - Herford))

Charlie & Delta - 1st Division (Verden)

Echo & Foxtrot - 2nd Division (Bunde)

Golf & Hotel - 4th Division (Herford)

Uniform (Rear Corps) (22 Signal Regt - Lippstadt)

Kilo - logistics train (16 Sig Regt - Krefeld)

Whisky - 3rd Division (Bulford, UK) (it was an airportable unit used for BAOR reinforcement then)

 

When 3 Div converted to the Mechanised role, it received another Comcen. Also 21 Signal Regt (Air Formation) had one to deploy with the harrier force in the field.

 

I'll try to do a couple of diagrams - that'll make it easier.

 

Basically - BRUIN was a tactical, multi-channel, secure trunk communications system, whereas PTARMIGAN, although providing secure, multi-channel capability is much more flexible in use, relying on NODES instead of Comcens.

 

ps WHA = Weapons Holding Area, WSP = Weapons Supply Point (references to tactical nuclear weapons dispersal points)

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Dougy

 

I've just looked at your pictures.

 

The one with the mast is the Radio Relay (RR) version, the other two vehicles looked identical from the outside. The internal view shows the Message Centre vehicle. The other vehicle, with the 20 line automatic exchange, didn't have a lot of room in it.

 

Also, BRUIN has absolutely nothing to do with LARKSPUR or CLANSMAN - these are "steam radio" systems. I'm onto the diagrams, so you'll be able to understand the complexities of the system we came to love and hate during the heyday of the "Cold War"

 

Roger

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Thank you everyone, I think it might be starting to make sense.

 

If we can just clarify, on Clives table

 

 

App1480.jpg

 

there are 2 each of the 3 types, would it be right to assume that there is still basically 3 "types" and they could be fitted to either mk1's or mk2's. So essentially the same "RR" kit would be fitted to a "mk1" and a "mk2" chassis. Or is it that when it refers to a "mk1" this is the "BRUIN" system and "mk2" is "Ptramigan"? Sorry for being thick!

 

Next if we stick with the RR version.

 

This vehicle would be in touch with Brigade HQ, either by "BRUIN" or "TRIFFID"

(depending on era), would it be operating phyically next to the "Exchange" and "Message Centre" ("NODES") vehicles??? and hard wired to them hence the large electrical connections under the armoured shroud?

 

Looking forward to your diagrams Roger.

 

Regards

 

Dougy

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Firstly , from the table you'll see the same equipment in both the Mk1 and Mk2/1 vehicles - ie just a vehicle upgrade, the equipment was still BRUIN.

the diagram below shows zhe interconnectivity between the three FV439s at Brigade HQ:

Bruin-Bdelink.jpg

 

the next shows how Bruin connected in the 1970s - within 1st Armoured Division

 

Just add a couple of Divisions (2 & 4), Corps assets, Air Formation, logistics tail and 3 (Airportable) Div and the TA on BAOR reinforcement - and you'll soon work out that it was somewhat complicated to manage.

 

Bruin.jpg

 

In "metal" terms, each Div comcen had some 20-odd vehicles, Corps 30+. HQs generally had 3 vehicles,other users just 2 vehicles.

 

Apply this to the "whole" 1 Corps picture, and you'll see that there was a lot of metal out there - and that's without the "steam radio" !!

 

Roger

Edited by schliesser92
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Thank you both for the pics, they prove that this is certainly a very complicated set-up. A whole hobby on their own!

 

Can i be as bold to ask what sort of "radio traffic" would these vehicles have delt with? Just a beginners guide for now if poss, to be honest not that familiar with the British Army's structure

 

Regards

 

Dougy

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Basically all telephone/telegraph traffic out of brigade HQ back to divison. This could be sitreps, stores requisitions, orders, you know life, the universe and everything.

 

Every unit had it's own telegraph address , so signals could be sent anywhere in the world over the system! There were, apart from the Bedfords with the radio-relay kit ,two special types of vehicle of which only 3 of each were built. But these were corps-level assets. One was the 200-line auto exchange, and the other was TARIF (Telegraph Automatic Routing In the Field)

 

It was a complicated system to manage, and as a detachment technician with 3 Div and 1 Div Main HQ, my job was to keep my system runnning with the minimum of outage time. The criteria on how successful a CPX was , was basically a summary of outage times due to equipment failure etc The whole system had "step-up" capability so communications and control were actually 24/7, with at least a third of the kit and caboodle on the road at any one time.

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Dougy, it's me again!

 

If you are confused by this main/step-up business - mit's quite simple really. Every command formation had two complete sets of equipment (both signals and commandposts). When "Main" was operational, then "step-up" was on the move - usually during the first phase of an exercise , legging it back towards the Rhine!

 

When "step-up" was up and operating, the staffies would jump into their Landrovers, hotfoot it to Step-up and then take over business. Once they were up and running, "Main" closed down and then moved. And so forth !!

 

This was happpening from Brigade all the way back to 1 Corps.Generally all movements were at night, with Brigade HQs moving their kit into location with a TOTAL blackout. At Division level we used convoy lights.

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Hi Roger,

 

This is fascinating stuff. Could we then say that the 439 was say at the centre of the hub and branched out?

 

What side of the system did you have to repair, I remeber reading a log book somewhere related to the 439, there seemed to be a lot of comments about the generators going down, sound like they weren't putting out enough!

 

Regards

 

Dougy

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Actually the FV439 set up was at the periphery. the Centre of the hub was the Corps Comcen (A and B), which then branched out back to the loggie chain, Corps assets, and Divisions.

 

The Division Comcen was at the middle of it's own little world, branching out to Div asets, back to Corps and the Brigades.

 

I was a radio-relay technician, and repaired the C50/R236 setup (amongst others in my lifetime!) - hence my contribution to the Sankey communication trailers post.

 

The generators were Onan 3.5 kVA, which was standard for trailer, Bedford and FV439 mounted radio-relay systems. The terminal equipment, apart from FV439, used 6 kVA generators - so I guess there wasn't enough juice for some people.

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Ptarmigan wasn't fielded until after my discharge! But that installation would now be in FV432s (or the original FV439s used in that role somewhat temporarily), as well as Bedfords and I saw somewhere that Mowag Duros are in use Incidentally, Ptarmigan was already obsolete at the time it was introduced!.

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Bet you wish I'd given up

It's worse than that, there's at least three different types of Ptarmigan fit and a couple more support veh ;)

 

From memory (lots of looking around Ptarmigan boxes before we decided on one, including a trip to 22 Sigs at Stafford) there are vehicle types:

 

Power vehicle - 2x Onan 20kVA genny

Power vehicle - 1x Onan 20kVA genny, space for stores (as you pictured)

Repair vehicle - large workshop body, desk space etc

Office vehicle - large office body (different layout, with side doors)

Relay vehicle - what we ended up with - interior looks like your pic; short comms body to rear and a pallet on the front containing 2xOnan 3.5kVA genny, 2x Clark SCAM12 mast (one affixed to rear of comms body), rack for jerry cans/batteries etc, cage containing different antenna heads/drums of cable. Drums of cable attached to Bedford along sides

SCRA vehicle - slightly different interior layout to relay vehicle, different kit in (this this acts as one end of the link where phone lines etc plug in to)

 

Might be worth just going to Withams and poking around, they've got hundreds of the bloody things :lol:

 

Stone

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Just when I thought I was getting there.

 

Does anyone know if these photos of the radio equipment actually "Ptarmigan", what would "Triffid" and "Bruin" look like? Any pics anyone?

 

Stone, is this the Radio Relay version of Bedford MJ Ptarmigan?

BedfordMJPtarmigan15.jpg

 

This is a different one i think one generator and cabin

BedfordMJPtarmigan03.jpg

 

one from the last post 2 generators

BedfordMJPtarmigan01.jpg

 

Yes I have spent many an hour at withams mouching about.

 

 

Have started share some on my 432 website

 

 

http://www.fv432.co.uk/wwwfv432couk/supportvehiclepages/supportvehicles.htm

 

Regards

 

Dougy

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Just when I thought I was getting there.

 

Does anyone know if these photos of the radio equipment actually "Ptarmigan", what would "Triffid" and "Bruin" look like? Any pics anyone?

 

Stone, is this the Radio Relay version of Bedford MJ Ptarmigan?

BedfordMJPtarmigan15.jpg

Spot on, that's a Radio Relay (aka TRIFFID), same spec as ours. Can see from the red genny casings that those are the 3.5kVA Onan ones - old as the hills but still not that bad. The last few in service had them replaced with much swisher and quieter units in about 2007 - all the vehicles went to Ashchurch and had the Onans removed and I think it was one in three got the new spec genny, as they were a lot more expensive. They had a very flush front panel and were fully enclosed, with a thick rubber exhaust hose propped up halfway along. That mast on the back seriously needs retracting, the bit of Withams yard they store them in has a load of leccy cables slung just above! :shake:

 

That one has a new-spec ladder on - the top 'loop' where it hooks on is all one piece. We have one old and one new, the old ones had a drilled hole with a pin fed through it which is always getting bent :argh: They're usually bent as anything because they leave them on the back of the boxes and park by listening for the bang, so if you ever get one make sure the mountings are straight or that ladder will only ever fit on the box it came off!

 

This is a different one i think one generator and cabin

BedfordMJPtarmigan03.jpg

Maybe SCRA© as per here? Ours is a hybrid of this type and the radio relay - we bought the box off one of these (small windows) and then later bought a complete vehicle and left the box behind when we needed to move it around.

 

one from the last post 2 generators

BedfordMJPtarmigan01.jpg

And that's the power veh.

 

These are all quite old ones 'cos they've not got the shiny new tyres on - if they were actively used they'd have had new tyres so these are probably reserve ones. Bribe a mechanic to come with you if you ever consider buying one, loads of them are absolute dogs! (even ours had lots of useful stuff loose, like the bolts holding the steering column on, and the rear diff drain plugs...)

 

Yes I have spent many an hour at withams mouching about.

Wind whips across it a bit ;) Last time I was there we had to dig 4" of snow off the roof of the truck we were grabbing bits off!

 

Stone

Edited by Stone
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Since I love you all I've dug out a couple of pictures I took way back when showing the new spec gennies. Much nicer than the Onan bricks!

 

Now, who can identify the smaller mast on the RR trucks - is it a PU12?

 

There's an article about the antenna design which some might find interesting here.

 

Stone

rr_new_genny1.jpg

rr_new_genny2.jpg

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Hello again All,

 

Yes the dreaded Ptamigan topic has reared up again.

 

Have seen a couple of pics of the interior of the Redio Relay version of the 439 now. Has similar set up as in the Bedfords down the right side.

 

BedfordMJPtarmigan12.jpg

 

The 1st webpage is up and running on the 432 website now. Just a couple of walk around shots at the mo, hoping to get some interior pics up soon.

 

http://www.fv432.co.uk/wwwfv432couk/variants/Fv439%20ptarmigan.htm

 

Thanks for the Bedford pics Stone.

 

Didn't think they allowed you to rob other vehicles up there.

 

Regards

 

Dougy

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Didn't think they allowed you to rob other vehicles up there.

They don't, it was a bit complicated...(we bought vehicle including box but left the box there as we already had our own fitted out as we wanted)

 

I have a couple of pics of the inside of the box on a relay somewhere, might be interesting to compare...

 

Stone

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Hi All,

 

Yes it would be good to see the set up. any chance of a pic of the interior of your Bedford?

 

Another question for you all! How many people would operate this system/ vehicles. How many would be in the Radio Relay, MSG and the Auto Exchange? Would the driver of the 439s be an operater aswell?

 

Regards

 

Dougy

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BedfordMJPtarmigan03.jpg

 

 

This Could be an ESV (Electronic Spares Vehicle) the generator is used to power this and the ERV (Electronic Repair Vehicle) which was in a container that ran the full length of the flat bed.

It could also be a command vehicle (can't remember the TLA, there must have been one) The generator would then be used to power the switch which was the centre of the trunk node as previously mentioned. Think of the switch as a telephone exchange.

 

Don't ask me too much about FV439's I was at the back, sinking in Belgian mud!

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Yes it would be good to see the set up. any chance of a pic of the interior of your Bedford?

Not ours, but inside the one with the generators as above:

(best I could manage, there was a Siggie chap breathing down my neck!)

 

Ours is in the car park!

 

I believe these were 3-man dets.

 

Stone

04092008035.jpg

DSCF1405.jpg

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My mates 439 (Message Centre) has the two Gennys on top, presumably the Onans (They have the screw-on silencers)

 

Has anyone got a link to any Instruction book for the Onans?

 

While I'm here, I'm fascinated as to how these vehicles were used. I've got images of the three types parked together, Onans roaring away, loads of cables joining everything together.

Was each Onan 'just' charging it's 'own' battery, or were each vehicles Gennys linked together, to share the load?

(Or were all three vehicles 'Linked' powerwise? That would mean a common 'Board', with each genny being 'phased' as it was 'Put on the Board' - sounds a bit complicated to me!)

 

As was said earlier in the thread, a fascinating subject, all in itself!

 

Cheers, Chas.

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My mates 439 (Message Centre) has the two Gennys on top, presumably the Onans (They have the screw-on silencers)

 

Has anyone got a link to any Instruction book for the Onans?

If they're the same as the ones formerly fitted to the Bedfords (before their upgrade) I posted the manual in the Plant/Equipment subforum, have a peek.

 

Stone

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