4th RHAR 7th Arm Div Germany 1957
1/76 Scale - OO Gauge
Our Austin Champ replica is based on the vehicle which the Austin Motor Company manufactured between 1951 and 1956 as both a military vehicle and subsequently made for civilian use as well. It was the British Armys answer to the famous US Armys Willys MB Jeep.
The Army version had the official title Truck ¼ ton, CT, 4x4, Cargo & FTW, Austin Mk I or Truck ¼ ton. The civilian version was named simply Champ, by which the vehicle was to become unofficially known. Developed by the Nuffield organisation in the late 1940s, it is interesting to note that the suspension was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis who later became most famous for his design of the Morris Minor and the Mini.
The Champ was an open four seater 4 x 4 vehicle which featured a Rolls-Royce 26.36cc 80 hp (60kw) 14 petrol engine. A light PVC coated hood, hinged doors and a set of weather screens were also available for use in deployments less weather-friendly. And Austin were commissioned to build 15,000 at their Longbridge plant although in the end, the vehicle proved so expensive to produce that the last 4000 were never made. Some were fitted out with additional equipment for deployment as field ambulances, telephone line-laying or even carrying armour and a .303 in Vickers Machine gun or .303 Bren gun. Most, however, served as cargo or personnel carriers and could be fitted with radios. Sadly, the Austin was out-classed by rival Land Rover on economic, performance and driver preference grounds.
This model is deployed by the 7th Armoured Division, also known as the Deserts Rats, in Germany in 1957. The Desert Rats are one of the most famous units of the British Army and made their name for their distinguished service in the deserts of North Africa in World War II. Their insignia, a red rat on a white background, can be seen on the front and the rear of our Champ, along with other military markings. Registered 10 BF 23, the Champ is decorated in a distinctive bronze green with dark beige interior seating and a lighter beige folded down hood. It also comes as a right hand drive vehicle. Intricate detailing includes the black steering wheel with silver spokes and a matt black finish to the radiator grille. Also faithful to the original is the large dark green petrol can on the back of the jeep, held in place with beige straps next to the spare wheel.
In real life, about 500 civilian models were made, some with left hand drive and costing between £750 and £1000 in the 1950s. There are almost none still around in the UK today, although you might find one in Australia. What a find that would be!