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Fv439 Ptarmigan


Dougy FV432
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Hi

 

Ime ex Royal Signals and have worked on both wheeled and tracked radio vehicles.

 

Before I foget the picture of the mast above is a Scam 12 with a set of C50 'FIN' antennas on

 

The radio equiment remained the same throughout the Signals however different vehicles were used for different roles.

During my 25 years I worked with Bruin and then Ptarmigan, using all types of vehicle from the Bull nosed Bedford RL (petrol) to the Bedford MK which was the main choice for everyday combat duty

The AFV family were used for Divisional HQ communications (Known as main and step up) the idea was they moved rapidly from location to location staying for short periods of time and contained the same equipment but scaled down...eg, the 439 would carry the 2 Scam 12 masts (one on the roof one in the back) 2 Onan generators (on the roof) and two banks of radio eqipment instead of the normal three, as you can imagine it was crammed in the back of a 439 anyway, add heavy Ptarmigan radios and all the associated gubbins, 2 soldiers and all their associated gubbins put them in the field for 3 or more weeks and all in all a not very nice experience :cry:

 

Looking back I can smile about it now but in the day the Eastern block were the enemy and we always moved at night so they couldnt see us, they just heard us instead, there is nothing more sedate than a convoy of overloaded 439's screaming down a road at 0400 !

 

Regarding the naming of the 43 family I can only presume the 430 was first on the list as a prototype and when the MOD were happy they named it the 432

REME used the 434 (recovery)

Signals used the 439

As for the others, i realy have no idea

 

At the end of the day the 43's were all identical albeit the 434 which had a well for the REME to drop a spare power pack in, the Army being the Army would keep the same model of whatever then boot , shove, nail, tape anything into a vehicle to trial different variants without spending to much money

Equal weight distribution on the Ptarmigan 439 was non existnt, ask any driver why he would hook his leg around the tiller when driving in a straight line for long periods of time...oh happy days :D

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a radio-rebroadcast vehicle would be used as a relay station, especially in the VHF band, to counter problems occasioned by weather conditions (dense layers such as rain effect VHF comms) and terrain (ditto for high hills etc) or range (usually caused by the curvature of our favourite planet!).

 

Radcon , or radio control, would be a control station. This was usually encountered in Signals units, rather than tactical formations. This vehicle could control several nets simultaneously.Usually found in the Divisional HQ net, possibly down to Brigade HQ level.This would be HF and VHF.

 

My expertise was radio-relay, ie multi-channel trunk communications. Mainly in softskin vehicles, occasionally in armoured vehicles, and trailer-mounted (airportable role). I was also a Bruin man - way before Ptarmigan came into service.

 

RR Rules....bet you have fond memories of the hot box on the C50 during Flying Falcons :nut:

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a radio-rebroadcast vehicle would be used as a relay station, especially in the VHF band, to counter problems occasioned by weather conditions (dense layers such as rain effect VHF comms) and terrain (ditto for high hills etc) or range (usually caused by the curvature of our favourite planet!).

 

Radcon , or radio control, would be a control station. This was usually encountered in Signals units, rather than tactical formations. This vehicle could control several nets simultaneously.Usually found in the Divisional HQ net, possibly down to Brigade HQ level.This would be HF and VHF.

 

My expertise was radio-relay, ie multi-channel trunk communications. Mainly in softskin vehicles, occasionally in armoured vehicles, and trailer-mounted (airportable role). I was also a Bruin man - way before Ptarmigan came into service.

 

I had a C50 Fish fryer when I was at 30 Sigs...utter s**e, tipped it ovr on Salisbury hill ;)

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Should do - our Ptarmigan box came with the key. Unfortunately we jacked in removing the safe as we couldn't find it, only for it to turn up once we got home :banghead:

 

It was in a brown paper envelope stuffed in with the Form 654 etc.

 

Stone

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Mine didn't have a key, but wasn't locked... all sorts of interesting paperwork and mission documents in there that I'm pretty sure probably shouldn't have been.
Hi, not anything from the 80's was there? would love to see copies if that is the case as paper work is very interesting and would add to our display from that period.

Know that when I took pics. of the 439's at Withams that some of the coms. cabins had stuff all over the place.

Andy.

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plus the two brigades that 3 Division reformed with when it lost it's airportability role and deployed to the Soest area

 

Roger

 

In 1977? That was during the days of the Task Force, 3 Armd Div comprising TF Echo and TF Foxtrot and divisional troops, joining the Orbat on 1 Jan 78.

 

When they reverted to brigades at the end of 1980 (after Ex Spearpoint) TF Echo became 33 Armd Bde, probably on 1 Jan 81. Cannot remember what TF Foxtrot had been / became. Google suggests it was probably 6 Armd Bde:

 

http://british-army-units1945on.co.uk/RoyalSigsSqns200_209.aspx

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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.

 

Same at battle group level, except that the recce battle group was as sharp as the armd div got, so that the advance-backwards movement of the step-up had to be extremely well-timed so that main could step back before being overrun.

 

We didn't have vehicles designated as main or step-up per se: we had two primary Saracens (later Sultans), Zero Alpha and Zero Bravo and an Int/NBC ACV, Zero Charlie. Usually, it was Alpha and Charlie that stepped back, taking the CO and half of the staff, including one of the rebro Ferrets with it, leaving either the 2IC or the Adjutant running the battle group from the back of Bravo right until the sabre troops were coming through the village and the crew of Bravo bombed out in extreme haste taking the 2IC's rover and the second rebro Ferret.

 

It was theoretically possible if the step back was going to be tight, to move the whole location and just leave one rebro Ferret behind to rebroadcast the battle group command net to the medium recce FHQs to ensure comms were never lost between RHQ and FHQ. A single Ferret was very easy to bomb out in a hurry and a significantly smaller asset to risk losing. We discussed it, but we never did it.

 

The RSM would have recced the new location in advance and would control the establishment of the new location. If it was a big step back, one or other of the rebro Ferrets might in theory be called upon to set up somewhere appropriate and do some work, but I never saw that happen.

 

I always found this bomb-out moment rather adrenalin-enhanced, though never as much so as being sat in a turret.

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a radio-rebroadcast vehicle would be used as a relay station, especially in the VHF band, to counter problems occasioned by weather conditions (dense layers such as rain effect VHF comms) and terrain (ditto for high hills etc) or range (usually caused by the curvature of our favourite planet!).

 

It is also possible to rebroadcast tactically as well as technically (as described above).

 

Battle group HQ might be particularly interested in what one of its combat teams was doing and the CO might request the combat team's FHQ to "rebroadcast your net". This would allow the CO to have direct control if he felt it necessary. It didn't happen, because the combat team commander was in command, but the appearance of the colonel's voice on the net did tend to focus the minds of the sabre troops.

 

Also, if a net was detected by the enemy (and they had a a lot of assets to do just that), apart from gleaning information (which is why so much traffic was in one code or another), they might decide to jam it, by broadcasting noise over the top, affecting comms and inhibiting the net.

 

If jamming occurred, the net might try to work through it if possible, or HQ would issue a nickname (like a codeword but less so) to change to an alternate frequency. If this happened, it was good practice to quietly rebroadcast the new frequency over the old frequency after all stations had been advised that this was an automatic rebroadcast net, which in this instance would imply to operators that they ought to continue using difficult working procedures.

 

The enemy would periodically stop broadcasting the jamming in order to listen in and see how effective the jamming was. If they heard stations apparently struggling to communicate, they might continue to waste resources trying to jam a now-redundant net.

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REME used the 434 (recovery)

Signals used the 439

As for the others, i realy have no idea

I think the armoured regiment had a troop FV438 Swingfire ATGM launchers. In the armoured recce regt, we had Mark 5 Ferrets, later Striker CVR(T) (but by then it was an RA asset attached to the battle group).

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It is also possible to rebroadcast tactically as well as technically (as described above).

 

Battle group HQ might be particularly interested in what one of its combat teams was doing and the CO might request the combat team's FHQ to "rebroadcast your net". This would allow the CO to have direct control if he felt it necessary. It didn't happen, because the combat team commander was in command, but the appearance of the colonel's voice on the net did tend to focus the minds of the sabre troops.

 

Also, if a net was detected by the enemy (and they had a a lot of assets to do just that), apart from gleaning information (which is why so much traffic was in one code or another), they might decide to jam it, by broadcasting noise over the top, affecting comms and inhibiting the net.

 

If jamming occurred, the net might try to work through it if possible, or HQ would issue a nickname (like a codeword but less so) to change to an alternate frequency. If this happened, it was good practice to quietly rebroadcast the new frequency over the old frequency after all stations had been advised that this was an automatic rebroadcast net, which in this instance would imply to operators that they ought to continue using difficult working procedures.

 

The enemy would periodically stop broadcasting the jamming in order to listen in and see how effective the jamming was. If they heard stations apparently struggling to communicate, they might continue to waste resources trying to jam a now-redundant net.

 

I, of course, left out the tactical bit as with my experience at Divisional level the technical reasons were more applicable. But you are right , the Warsaw Pact dedicated an awful lot of assets to Sigint and jamming. The NVA was known to have had a complete regiment dedicated to these tasks. A regiment was basically a short brigade, which was an awful lot of kit.

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  • 4 years later...
Hello again,

 

Roger, just to confuse matters, is this similar to what would be in a 439?

 

BedfordMJPtarmigan12.jpg

 

This inside a Bedford Ptarmigan Cabin.

 

BedfordMJPtarmigan11.jpg

 

 

Also there seems to be a generator type of Bedford aswell!

 

 

BedfordMJPtarmigan01.jpg

 

Bet you wish I'd given up

 

Regards

 

Dougy

 

Dougy - those generator sets are Plessey 20 Kw units - i used to build and test them - they were on Bedfords - i once saw 3 on 1 - out in the field....

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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

 

LOL - heres a post i recently put up about reports of Ptarmigan/wavell gennys not putting out enough...

Morning gents - i laughed my ******** off at this post at the part about generators - so I had to join your forum......

So, on the subject of FV435 - Wavells - i really hope you enjoy this post.....and pls excuse my memory.....

 

I started my work life as an Engineer apprentice, for Plessey - who made the Ptarmigan comms systems.

One of my roles, was to visit GKN Sankey, in Wolverhampton, and install the EDGS (Engine Driven Generator System) - onto brand new FV43 series vehicles, and then test them.

The EDGS were made by us, Plessey Aerospace, at Titchfield in Hampshire.

 

From memory, the contract was for 13 FV 435. I went for one week, every month, for 13 months (approx.)

 

As GreenbaggySkin notes below - I helped the GKN boys lower, and fix the huge Box onto the vehicle - then craned in the EDGS - 11KvA was spot on !! - followed by the aircon unit.- Now, the engine was the same diesel as was fitted to London FX4 taxi's - with minor mods - and they did work - I know - cos i tested them - under full load with a load bank - which we used to have to transport to Wolverhampton for pretty much each build. - (but only in the factory!!)

LOL again at the "Kettle" comment by GreenbaggySkin - we test all the onboard systems under full load - AC - in the factory - kettles weren't considered...so read on !

 

I also used to go outImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=bNuO1SXgdEHNxqckZ3TGYqkADiYPYaSZ9kbEXtM3TWw%3d0&url=http%3a%2f%2fimages.intellitxt.com%2fast%2fadTypes%2ficon1.png to Salisbury Plain and other places to help teach Army how to maintain them, and pick up on any in service failure modes - as well as the smaller 3.5kva and the 20KVA Ptarmigan system generators - usually mounted back2back on a Bedford truck - although I clearly recall seeing 3 on one Bedford.....

So - couple of interesting stories....

We, indeed, kept getting reports of generators tripping, and overloading, in serviceImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=bNuO1SXgdEHNxqckZ3TGYqkADiYPYaSZ9kbEXtM3TWw%3d0&url=http%3a%2f%2fimages.intellitxt.com%2fast%2fadTypes%2ficon1.png - so was sent out to investigate - on a arrival, we noticed the "clip on" exhaust ducts for the 20KVA's snaked off into the woodlands - the idea was that if they were attacked, the heat sig would be at the end of the flex exhaust ducts, and the genny would be unharmed as it was some distance away. Anyway, the REME has them snaked back n forth through the tents - to keep them warm. Reme boys had also lashed together some heath robinson 3ph to single ph adaptors, and each tent was full powered up - with numerous kettles, radios, hi fis, lighting, etc etc - all being driven from the 20KVA's - which were also supposed to be running some battlefield comms systems - so YES - they often used to trip out !! cos all that stuff wasn't in the design spec.....

 

Anyway, enough about 20KVA's - and back to Wavell 11kVA's - on FV435's....

(oh, yes, and one of the voltage regulator controls required several Mods to get it to work properly......)

Every part was specially painted , and tested, to make it EMP proof - although even with my young years, and no experience in war, I questioned the effectiveness of this process...

Agreed, the aircon was 'kin brilliant - and again, we would often find a "schedule" on the rear door - clearly showing which members of the ArmyImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=bNuO1SXgdEHNxqckZ3TGYqkADiYPYaSZ9kbEXtM3TWw%3d0&url=http%3a%2f%2fimages.intellitxt.com%2fast%2fadTypes%2ficon1.png were due to "cool down" / heat up inside the FV435 - at various times of day/night .....

 

As I say - i was young - early 20's - and it was a bit of a revelation getting propositioned by prostitutes knocking on the company car window if we had to work late at GKN Sankey in Bilston - as we drove to the Penn Hall Hotel. I even had a girlfriend called Paullete who I met at that hotel.

 

So, Greeenbaggyskin, whilst I don't have a record of all the det - cos they didn't have registrations when I worked on them - , i hope this little piece of insight into how I helped build some of the kit you used to sit in and operate is well rec'd !!

 

For the first 4 or 5 - i worked alongside members of the support team, Brian, Suttie, Norman (RIP) - whip used to report to Dave - in the Product Support function - and then after that I had enough experience so would take another apprentice and go and do the job.

 

I also worked on a range of civil and military equipments - including Concorde, BAe146, Tornado, Harrier, as well as Boeing 747 etc etc.

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  • 1 year later...
Hello All,

 

I know it's a bit cheeky, but i seem to have got a bit bogged down with my 432 website. When I went to get some pics of the 439, there is obviously two different types.

 

A... Does any one know what the proper description for a 439 is.

 

B... What was it's purpose.

 

C... What is the difference between the two, in as far as what are thier roles.

 

I have asked as I want to get the site as accurate as possible as I seem to be getting a lot of interest nowadays.

 

Thanks in advance for any info.

 

Regards

 

Dougy

 

..if you require any info about the 439 then I can help...it's a radio relay vehicle used in bruin and then ptarmigan....I've seen a reference here somewhere about a 439 reg 17EA68 which used to be mine in Germany...so I know alot of its history as well ..

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  • 5 years later...

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