Categories
Irish WW2

Mk. IX Armoured Car (Standard Beaverette in Irish Service)

Ireland Republic of Ireland (1943)
Scout Car – 30 Purchased

The Standard Beaverette was a small armored car designed and built in Great Britain during World War Two, in the early 1940s. In 1943, halfway through World War Two – or ‘The Emergency’, as it was known in Eire – the Military of the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Defence Force (IDF, Irish: Fórsaí Cosanta, officially: Óglaigh na hÉireann), purchased 30 of these light armored cars to supplement the Irish Military’s rather small inventory of armored vehicles.
Ten Mk. III and twenty Mk. IV Beaverettes were purchased by the Irish Army. The vehicles were designated as the ‘Mk. IX Armoured Car’ in the Irish Military, and were distributed amongst the Motor Squadrons of the Cavalry Corps (Irish: An Cór Marcra). The Cavalry Corps are the operators of the Irish Army’s armored vehicles.
In theory, the Beaverette’s small size made it perfect for operation in a small country such as the Republic of Ireland, which is dominated by small villages and narrow country roads. However, much like its service in the British Army, the vehicle became somewhat loathed for its poor reliability, cramped interior and sluggish handling.

Men of the 3rd Brigade HQ staff, June 1945, Collins Barracks, Dublin. The car on the left is a Ford Model 81A saloon car, the car in the center is a Chevrolet Model EM40 saloon car. On the right is a Mk. III Beaverette in its original configuration with machine gun turret on the roof. It is this very car that now sits in the Cobatton Combat Museum in England. Photo: Irish Army Vehicles, Karl Martin

Ireland in WW2

On 1st September 1939, Nazi Germany launched its invasion of Poland, kickstarting the Second World War. In Ireland, this became known as “The Emergency” after the state of emergency that was imposed by the Irish Government and which was to last for the duration of the conflict.
Officially, Ireland was a neutral party during the War but had slight leanings towards the Allies. Although Ireland as a state never joined the war, Irish individuals did fight in the war. The island of Ireland was also not untouched by the war, however, as both the Republic’s capital, Dublin, and Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, were bombed by the German Luftwaffe.
During this time, the Irish Army had few new armored vehicles to its name. Its inventory included, among other things, two Swedish L-60 light tanks produced by Landsverk, a small amount of British Rolls-Royce armored cars, and a large number of Universal Carriers, also from Britain.

Eager Beaver

The Standard Beaverette was something of an emergency measure. With the British retreat from Dunkirk in the Summer of 1940, the British Army lost most of its armored vehicles, which were simply abandoned in France. To compensate, a plan was hatched to produce a simple, easily made armored car. Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, went to the Standard Car company with the idea of producing these vehicles, based on their existing saloon car chassis. These cars were called the Standard Beaverette, named after Lord Beaverbrook. The ‘ette’ part of the name was a play on the word tankette, a small tracked armored vehicle armed with at most a machine gun. Almost 3,000 cars were built spread between Mk. Is to Mk. IVs. It was the Mk. III and IV Beaverette that was purchased by the Irish.
The Mk. III and IV were small, squat, boxy cars. They consisted of a projecting, jeep-like bonnet attached to a larger box section that formed the two-man crew compartment. Armor on the vehicle was just .4 of an inch (12mm) thick. This was enough to protect from small-arms fire and shrapnel, but not much more. They were light vehicles, weighing in at 2.9 tons (2.6 tonnes). They were 10 feet 2 inches (3 meters) long, 5 feet 8 inches (1.7 meters) wide, and 6 feet 10 inches (2.1 meters) high (including the small turret). This turret would carry the vehicle’s main armament of a .303 machine gun. This would usually consist of a Bren, Vickers or Lewis light machine gun. The car was powered by a 46hp Standard 4-cylinder petrol engine. The vehicle managed a top speed of just 20 mph (32 km/h) and had only front-wheel drive. A special reduction gear was added to the rear axle to try and compensate for this, but it had a detrimental effect on the vehicle’s overall speed. The vehicle rolled on heavy 9 inch (22 cm) wide tires. These were excellent for grip but made steering heavy for the driver.
The only real difference between the Mk. III and IV was the front of the cab. The Mk. III had a flat front with two vision ports for the driver and gunner. The cab of the Mk. IV was stepped and featured three vision ports, one for the driver, two for the gunner.
Across Britain, the Beaverette was parceled out to Home Defense units of the British Army, airfield security units of the Royal Air Force (RAF), and finally, the Home Guard. It was found to be obsolete by 1943, and as such sold on to other countries including Ireland.

This photo shows just how small and light the Beaverettes were. The photo was taken in 1974, the Beaverette is being prepared for decommissioning, and is being hoisted by an Army Berliet TBU 15CLD 6×6 recovery truck. Photo: Bob Cantwell, MMP Publications

Irish Service

For the majority of their service, the Beaverettes were painted in the standard, solid ‘Quaker Grey’ livery that adorned Irish Armoured Vehicles from the 1920s to the 1950s. The Irish Military considered them ‘Light Reconnaissance Vehicles’. Fourteen of the Beaverettes were placed in service with the 4th Armoured Squadron who, in 1943, replaced the Universal ‘Bren’ Carrier equipped Cavalry Corps Carrier Squadron. The remaining 13 vehicles were divided between the Cavalry Corps’ Motor squadrons. At the end of ‘The Emergency’, the 4th Armoured Squadron was disbanded, and its Beaverettes distributed between various units to be used in support, but mostly training roles.

An Artillery Corps 18-Pounder Field gun in operation during an exercise. In the background, you can see three Morris Quad tractors and, just in front, a Mk. III Beaverette in its original configuration with machine gun turret. Photo: Irish Army vehicles, Karl Martin
Between 1951 and 1953, all 30 Beaverettes went through a conversion program and were turned into ‘Scout Cars’. This was an easy modification which saw the roof and accompanying turret completely removed. As scout cars, they would have a completely open top providing excellent vision, but no protection from bad weather (a common feature in the Republic of Ireland), let alone bullets or shrapnel. The removal of the turret and roof cut the overall height of the car down to just 4 feet 10 inches (1.4 m). Under where the turret would have been, a simple map table was placed. This table could also carry a No. 19 wireless radio set.

Beaverette Mk. III scout car at Mckee Barracks, Dublin, in 1967. This vehicle is one of the only surviving today and is maintained by the Cavalry Corps. Photo: Peter Leslie, MMP Publications
The newly designated scout cars were spread around various Cavalry Corps units. Four were placed into service with the 1st Armoured Car Squadron and the 3rd, 5th and 11th Motor Squadrons. The remaining 14 were kept at Cavalry Corps vehicle depots.
The Beaverettes were finally retired in 1965. They remained in service for so long simply because the Irish Army had nothing better to replace them with.


A Mk. III Beaverette that has been converted into the scout car role with the turret removed. The vehicle is painted in the typical ‘Quaker Grey’ paint scheme of the period. This illustration was produced by Leander Jobse, based on work by David Bocquelet, sponsored by our Patreon Campaign.

Surviving Examples

Only a small number of the Irish Beaverettes survive today. The Cavalry Corps Museum, the Curragh in County Kildare, holds the only running example of an Irish Beaverette, a Mk. III that is often run in parades. They also have a preserved Mk. IV inside the museum with a preserved interior.

Surviving Mk. IV Beaverette scout car in the Cavalry Corps Museum, Curragh Camp, County Kildare. Photo: The Curragh
Interestingly, an Irish Beaverette can also be found in England. The Mk. III Standard Beaverette kept at the Cobbaton Combat Museum in North Devon was once used by the Irish Army. Like the rest of the Cars, this example had its roof and turret removed to turn it into a scout car. The museum manufactured a replacement roof and turret for the vehicle to restore it to its original configuration.

The once Irish Beaverette at the Cobatton Combat Museum. Photo: Author’s own

Conclusion

As it did in the British Army, the Beaverette simply filled a need in the Irish Military for a light armored car when little else was available. While it was a mostly loathed little car, it served its purpose in the Irish Military for over 20 years.

A surviving Mk. III on display in 2006. Photo: Bob Cantwell, MMP Publications

Specifications

Dimensions (Mk.II) 2.16 m x 1.76 m x 1.74 m (7ft 1in x 5ft 9.5in x 5ft 9in)
Dimensions (Mk.III) 2.16 m x 1.76 m x 2.13 m (7ft 1in x 5ft 9.5in x 7ft)
Total weight, battle ready 2 (2.6) tonnes
Crew 2 (driver, gunner/radio)
Propulsion Standard 4-cyl petrol, 46 hp (34 kW), 17-23 hp/t
Suspension 4×2 leaf springs
Speed (Mark III) 38 km/h (24 mph)
Range (Mark III) 300 km (190 mi)
Armament 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Bren MG or 0.55 (13.97 mm) in Boys AT rifle
Armor 10 mm (Mk. III) – 12 mm (Mk.IV)
Total Purchased 30

Sources

Irish Army Vehicles: Transport and Armour since 1922 by Karl Martin
Tiger Lily Publications, Irish Army Orders of Battle 1923-2004, Adrian J. English
Mushroom Model Publications, AFVs in Irish Service Since 1922, Ralph A. Riccio
The Curragh Museum
Cobbaton Combat Collection, North Devon, UK

Categories
Irish WW2

Universal Carrier in Irish Service

Ireland Republic of Ireland (1940)
Tankette – 226 Purchased

With approximately 113,000 built by the early 1960s, the Universal or ‘Bren’ Carrier is the most produced armored vehicle ever. To this end, it is perhaps no surprise that quite a large number of these carriers ended up serving with the Irish Defence Force (IDF, Irish: Fórsaí Cosanta, officially: Óglaigh na hÉireann) in the early 1940s.
The carrier was perfect for operation in a small country such as the Republic of Ireland, which is dominated by small villages and narrow country roads. Though rather mundane, the Universal Carrier became an important vehicle to Irish Armored units, as it was the first Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) type of vehicle to serve in the Irish Military.

Two carriers taking part in a parade in Dublin, the two vehicles behind are Ford Armored Cars. Photo: Irish Armor Online

The Universal Carrier

Produced by the Vickers-Armstrongs company, the Universal Carrier, often known simply as the ‘Bren Carrier’ after its common light machine gun armament, became a backbone vehicle of the Allies during the Second World War. It was widely used by the British, American, Canadian, Australian, and even Soviet armies. All made use of the unassuming little vehicle. Even the Wehrmacht made use of captured specimens and the Italians even copied it
The Carriers were powered by an 85hp Ford V8 petrol engine, propelling the vehicle to a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). The engine was mounted centrally in the vehicle with drive sprockets at the rear. It used a Horstmann type suspension with three-road wheels and idler wheel at the front. It was an extremely light vehicle at only 3.75 tonnes, and armor of only 7-10mm thick, sufficient to protect the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters
As mentioned above, over the course of its lifetime, 113,000 Universal carriers were built between 1940 and 1960, including a number of variants. To this day, it remains the most produced armored vehicle ever. Only the Soviet T-54/55 comes anywhere close to this record, at a predicted 100,000 built.
Three versions of the Carrier were used by the Irish Military. These were the Mk. I, Mk. II. The Mk. II was almost identical to the Mk. I apart from small differences such as a mounting for a spare wheel on the upper glacis, and the addition of a towing hitch on the rear. The Mk. I Mortar Carrier was also provided. The Mortar Carrier variant had the ability to carry a 3-inch or 81mm mortar. The mortar tube was carried at the rear of the vehicle, while the base plate was fastened to the front.

Irish Carriers in Dublin armed with a Bren light machine gun and Boys anti-tank rifle. Photo: SOURCE


The Irish Universal Carriers were painted in the same pale grey as most of the tanks that were in their service in the mid-Cold War era. Illustrated by Tank Encylopedia’s own AmazingAce, based on work by David Bocquelet.

Irish Service

The first Universal Carriers to arrive in Ireland were Mk. Is. In mid-1940, 26 of these were acquired and placed in the newly formed Carrier Squadron of the Cavalry Corps (Irish: An Cór Marcra). In January 1943, however, the Carrier Squadron was disbanded with all vehicles handed over to infantry battalions. To fully equip the infantry battalions, a further 200 carriers were ordered. This consisted of 100 of the Mk. I Mortar Carrier variant, and 100 Mk. IIs. In total, 226 Universal Carriers were purchased by the Republic of Ireland. The Carriers received the typical dull grey paint scheme used on most armored vehicles in Irish Military Service.
Each infantry battalion was equipped with 9 Carriers. This consisted of 1 carrier for the battalion Commanding Officer (CO), four Mk. I Mortar Carriers for mortar platoons, and four carriers for reconnaissance platoons. It is possible that some battalions received as many as 37 carriers as a support company consisting of a mortar platoon, two medium machine gun carrier platoons and possibly even an anti-tank platoon with towed 2-Pounder guns. It appears that at some point at least two of the Carriers were converted into flamethrowers. Whether the design of these was anything like the Canadian Wasp project is unknown.
In the 1950s, a number of Carriers were returned to service with the Cavalry Corps. They were assigned to the Corps in the arrangement of eight carriers to each Motor Squadron. In the early 1960s, with Cold War tensions rising as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a small number of Carriers were stationed at McKee barracks for defence of Dublin Airport. At this time some were also converted in prime-movers for towed 6-Pounder anti-tank guns.

Restored Carrier on display at the Curragh in 2006. To the right is a preserved Cavalry Corps Comet, and behind is a Landsverk Armored Car. Photo: MMP Publications

Fate

In 1965, most of the Carrier force had been broken up for scrap. Just three of the 226 Carriers once used by the Irish Military survive. One example is on display at the Collins Barracks in Dublin. Another running example can be found in a running condition at the Curragh Cavalry Museum and is often run in parades and displays. The final Carrier is privately owned by a collector in Clonmel, but it is not in running condition.

Specifications

Dimensions 3.65 x 1.92 x 1.57 m (11.98 x 6.3 x 5.15 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 3.75 tons
Crew 2 (Driver, machine-gunner)
Propulsion Ford V8 petrol
85 bhp at 3500 rpm
Speed 30 mph (48 km/h)
Range 150 km at medium speed (93 mi)
Armament 7.92 mm Bren machine-gun (0.31 in)
Armor From 7 to 10 mm (0.28-0.39 in)
Total Purchased 226

Links, Resources & Further Reading

www.curragh.info
www.geocities.ws
Irish Army Vehicles: Transport and Armour since 1922 by Karl Martin
Tiger Lily Publications, Irish Army Orders of Battle 1923-2004, Adrian J. English
Mushroom Model Publications, AFVs in Irish Service Since 1922, Ralph A. Riccio

Categories
Irish WW2 WWII British Medium Tanks

Vickers Medium Mk.D

Ireland United Kingdom/Irish Free State (1929)
Medium Tank – 1 built

Ireland’s First Tank

The British company of Vickers was one of the biggest tank producers in the years leading up to the Second World War. In 1925, the company began production of their Medium Tank Mk.II and the Irish Free State (today the Republic of Ireland) were interested in purchasing a similar tank.
In 1929, Vickers built the Medium Mk.D, a derivative of the Mk.II built solely for the Irish Defence Force (IDF. Irish: Fórsaí Cosanta, officially: Óglaigh na hÉireann). Only one of these tanks was ever produced. It would be Ireland’s first tank and was adopted by the 2nd Cavalry Squadron of the Irish Cavalry Corps (Irish: An Cór Marcra).

A Cavalry Man sits atop the turret of the Mk.D. The Commander’s hatch is open behind him. Photo: Irish National Archives

Design

The Mk.D was almost identical to the Mk.C which was sold to Imperial Japan in 1927. Any differences between the two models are not very well documented, but it seems the only major difference with the Mk.D was the addition of a cupola above the commander’s position in the turret.
What we do know is that the Mk.D was an upgrade of the standard Mk.II. It had a more conventional design, with the engine relocated to the back of the vehicle. The engine in this new compartment was more powerful than previous models. This engine was a water cooled, 6-cylinder Sunbeam Amazon petrol engine, rated at 170 bhp. This engine gave the tank a top speed of 20 mph (31 km/h).
The tank was of bolted construction, but the exact thickness of the armor is unknown. It would not be too far-fetched to assume it had similar armor properties to the Vickers Mk.II, which had armor of up to 8mm (0.31 in) thick. Other upgrades incorporated on the Mk.D and C for that matter included a slight elongation of the suspension and improved mud-chutes. The suspension consisted of 6 pairs of double-wheel bogies connected to coil springs. There was also a single track-tension idler wheel (jockey-wheel to Americans) on a single coil-spring in between the leading bogie and idler wheel at the front of the tank. There were 4 track return rollers and the drive wheel was at the rear.

Troops are instructed on the operation of the tank’s powerplant. The turret is traversed backward. Note the missing 6-Pounder gun which would otherwise be pointing over the engine deck. Photo: MMP
Armament was also different from previous models. The main armament consisted of a low-velocity 6-Pounder gun designed to fire High-Explosive shells in an infantry support role. This was in contrast to the higher velocity 3-Pounder guns being used on other British Vickers tanks. It was also armed with no-less than four Vickers water-cooled .303 machine guns. Two of these were located on the vehicle’s flanks. There was also one mounted in the turret bustle and another one on the left of the upper glacis.
The Mk.D had a crew of 5. This was composed of the Commander, Gunner, Loader, and Driver. The role of the fifth man is unknown, but he likely had the role of machine gunner. The driver’s position was rather exposed, as it was located behind a bulbous ‘nose’ at the front of the tank. The driver entered his positioned via a large door on the right of the ‘nose’. The rest of the crew entered via hatches on the flanks of the tank.

Background

The Irish were relative latecomers to the idea of tank warfare. Prior to the 1930s, the only experience they had had with armored vehicles was with a few types of armored cars, which included the Rolls-Royce and Lancias.
The Mk.D was tested in the U.K. by Ireland’s foremost advocate of armored warfare, Lieutenant Sean Collins-Powell. The lieutenant was the nephew of the assassinated Irish revolutionary, Michael Collins. He was trained at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, USA in tank usage and application. Collins-Powell took delivery of the tank, then accompanied it back to Ireland.

The Mk.D at the Curragh. The Commander’s cupola is clearly visible atop the turret. Photo: Aaron Smith

Vickers Medium Mark D
Rendition of the Vickers Medium Mk.D by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Service

Unfortunately, not much is known about the Mk.D’s time in service with the Irish Army. We do know that it was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Squadron of the Irish Cavalry Corps, based at the Cathal Brugha Barracks (Irish: Dún Chathail Bhrugha) in Rathmines, Dublin.

Irish troops surround the tank, listening to the instructor who stands at the driver’s position. The man is wearing the traditional ‘Glengarry’ hat of the Cavalry Corps. The turret is traversed all the way so what we can see here is its bustle and vacant Vickers MG position. Photo: aviarmor.net
The tanks would have been used for gunnery and combined-arms training with infantry at the Glen of Imaal (Irish: Gleann Uí Mháil) in the Wicklow Mountains. 5,948 acres of the Glen had been used as an artillery and gunnery range since 1900.
In 1934-35, the Mk.D was joined in the 2nd Armored by two Swedish L-60 Light Tanks. The small and nimble light tank built by Landsverk surpassed the slow and cumbersome Vickers, which was now largely outdated in almost every way.

The Mk.D at the Curragh followed by one of the L-60. Photo: Aaron Smith

Fate

The tank was officially removed from active service in 1937. In 1940, the Mk.D was damaged beyond repair while attempting to cross obstacles constructed by the Engineering Corps in a training operation. There is evidence to suggest that the tank’s engine may have also caught fire.
Following this incident, the tank was scrapped. The 6-Pounder armed turret was kept, however, and placed as a static turret as part of defenses outside of Curragh Camp, Kildare, where the tank spent its final years. Only the gun still survives, it is currently on display at the Curragh Camp Museum.

The Mk.Ds gun, the only surviving piece of the tank. Photo: Tank Archives

An article by Mark Nash

Vickers Medium Mk.D

Dimensions 5.33 x 2.5 x 2.4 meters (17.5 x 8.3 x 8 feet)
Total weight, battle ready 14 US Tons
Crew 5
Propulsion Sunbeam Amazon 6-cyclinder gasoline engine, 170 hp
Speed 20 mph (32 km/h)
Armament Low-Velocity 6-Pdr (57mm) Gun.
4 x 0.303 Vickers machine guns (7.7 mm)
Armor Unknown
Total production 1

Links, Resources & Further Reading

www.curragh.info
www.geocities.ws/irisharmoredvehicles
www.wikitree.com
www.historyireland.com
Tiger Lily Publications, Irish Army Orders of Battle 1923-2004, Adrian J. English
Irish Army Vehicles: Transport and Armour since 1922 by Karl Martin
Mushroom Model Publications, AFVs in Irish Service Since 1922, Ralph A. Riccio

Categories
Irish WW2

Landsverk L-60 in Irish Service

Ireland Irish Free State (1934)
Light Tank – 2 Purchased

The Irish were relative latecomers to the idea of tank warfare. Prior to the 1930s, the only experience they had had with armored vehicles was with a single Vickers Mk.D, a derivative of the Vickers Medium Mk. II, and a few types of armored car which included the famous Rolls-Royce model.
In 1934, the Defence Forces of Ireland (IDF, Irish: Fórsaí Cosanta, officially: Óglaigh na hÉireann) became interested in a new Swedish vehicle that was then in development, the Landsverk L-60 Light Tank.

L-60 1 in training. Note the distinctive ‘Glengarry’ hat worn by the Driver. This is the traditional headress of the Cavalry Corps. Photo: Irish National Archives

The L-60

Probably the most innovative tank in 1934, the L-60 was the first equipped with a torsion-bar suspension system, an invention bought from Ferdinand Porsche. It was quite revolutionary at the time, providing a far smoother and efficient ride than the old leaf springs, and proved more reliable and sturdy than the Christie system. It was largely based on the previous L-10 m/31, and no less than ten versions were drawn before the first prototype was built. It was a light tank, but with larger front drive sprockets, four double road wheels of the same diameter as the idler wheel, and two return rollers.
The hull was entirely welded. The L-60 weighed only 7.9 tonnes, with light armor (15 mm / 0.59 in max). It was propelled by a Bussing-Nag V8 7.9-liter engine developing 150-160 bhp at 2500-2700 rpm.
The most common weapon of the L-60 was the Bofors 37mm M/38 gun, but early versions, including the two ordered by Ireland, were armed with a 20 mm (0.79 in) Madsen QF autocannon. The turret also carried a .303 (7.7 mm) Madsen machine-gun. There was also an option to mount a Madsen MG on the roof.

Irish Service

A board of inquiry established in 1933 found that the L-60 would be most suitable for Ireland’s tank needs. This board included the Director of the Armored Car Corps, Major A. T. Lawlor, and OC (Officer Commanding) of the Cavalry Workshops, Commandant J. V. Lawless. Their choice of the tank was sound, as the L-60 incorporated many features that would become standard in tank design over the following decades. This included a welded construction, angled armor, and the torsion bar suspension.
The L-60s that were destined for the Emerald Isle was built in August 1934. One of the L-60s was demonstrated to an Irish delegation headed by Major Lawlor. The tests, for the most part, were a success and the Irish contingent was pleased. There was one major incident that occurred. While starting the tank, a case of driver error caused a catastrophic fire which engulfed the tank, destroying most of the vehicle. How this actually happened, though, we do not know, and a more extensive description cannot be found. Landsverk were made to pay for the replacement.
Due to a very small budget, the Irish were only able to purchase two of the tanks. The Swedes were happy to oblige but continued to look for countries that might make a large order, including Hungary and Switzerland. The first of Ireland’s tanks arrived in November 1934, at North Wall in Dublin. The second tank would not arrive until the following year, bolstering Ireland’s entire tank force a grand total of 3 vehicles. No further orders would be placed due to those budgetary shortages.
The tanks were to be part of the newly formed Cavalry Corps (Irish: An Cór Marcra) which began service in 1934. The L-60s were assigned to 2nd Cavalry Squadron, based at Cathal Brugha Barracks (Irish: Dún Chathail Bhrugha) in Rathmines, Dublin. The two tanks were known simply in Ireland as the ‘Landsverk Tank’. They were designated L-60 1 and L-60 2, literally meaning “Landsverk Tank, L-60, Number 1/2”.These identifiers were applied on the lower-left of the tank’s upper glacis in stenciled white paint. The L-60s were painted a dull grey and shared the 2nd Armoured Squadron with the Vickers Mk D.

One of the L-60s follows the Mk. D in cross country training. Photo: Aaron Smith
The slow and cumbersome Mk D was largely outdated compared to the L-60. Irish crews tested the tanks rigorously at the Glen of Imaal (Irish: Gleann Uí Mháil) in the Wicklow Mountains. 5,948 acres of the Glen had been used by the Irish Military as an artillery and gunnery range since 1900. The crews fell in love with the tank, which was fast and nimble, perfect for Ireland’s countryside as it was small and unobtrusive. The tanks were transported to and from the Glen by means of a small trailer that could be towed behind a truck.
Having just the Mk D prior to this, it was very hard for Irish troops to train for anti-tank and cooperative tank-infantry operations. The arrival of the L-60s changed this, allowing for more extensive training to take place.

Links, Resources & Further Reading

www.curragh.info
www.geocities.ws
tank-hunter.com
Tank Archives
Irish Army Vehicles: Transport and Armour since 1922 by Karl Martin
Tiger Lily Publications, Irish Army Orders of Battle 1923-2004, Adrian J. English
Mushroom Model Publications, AFVs in Irish Service Since 1922, Ralph A. Riccio


Ireland’s L-60, seen here in the dull grey paint that they would’ve served in. Illustration by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Fate

Training at the Glen of Imaal would be the closest these L-60s got to combat. In 1941, Irish experience with tracked vehicles grew immensely due to a large order of Universal Carriers from the U.K. The carriers would be one of the most plentiful vehicles Ireland’s arsenal, with a total of 226 of the vehicles operated.

The L-60s crossing rough country. Photo: SOURCE
In 1949, the L-60s were joined by four Mk. VI Churchill tanks purchased from the U.K. These were assigned to the 1st Cavalry Squadron and would be Ireland’s first experience with a heavily armored vehicle. The L-60s would remain in service with the Irish army until 1953, when they were stood-down from active duty due to wear and a lack of parts. They were officially declared obsolete in 1968 because stocks of ammunition for the 20mm Madsen had run out.
There were plans to increase the service of the L-60 by introducing a new engine to replace the aging Bussing-Nag. The engine chosen was the Ford V-8. At the time, there were not adequate funds to introduce this upgrade. However, in later years, the Landsverk L-180 Armored Cars in service with the Cavalry received this very upgrade.

L-60 1 and L-60 2 in motion. Photo: Irish National Archives
In 1959, Ireland began to receive a small number of Comet Tanks from the UK, this would be their first delivery of a relatively modern tank which had a good balance of armor, mobility and firepower.
Both of the Irish L-60s still survive. L-60 1 is currently on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin. L-60 2 can be found at Curragh Camp Museum, Kildare. The tank at Curragh is still in a running condition and is sometimes displayed on parades.

L-60 1 on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin. Photo: Will Kerrs

An article by Mark Nash

Specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h) 4.80 x 2.07 x 2.05 m (15 x 6.9 x 6.8 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 9.11 tons
Crew 3
Propulsion Bussing-Nag V8 7.9-liter engine developing 150-160 bhp
Top speed 45 km/h (28 mph)
Range 270 km (168 mi)
Armament Madsen 20mm autocannon
Madsen cal.303 machine-guns
Armor From 5 to 50 mm (0.2-1.97 in)
Total Purchased 2