The FV603 Alvis Saracen is a six-wheeled armoured personnel carrier built by Alvis and used by the British Army. It became a recognisable vehicle as a result of its part in the policing of Northern Ireland.
The FV603 Saracen was the armoured personnel carrier of Alvis’ FV600 series. Besides the driver and commander, a squad of eight soldiers plus a troop commander could be carried. Most models carried a small turret on the roof, carrying a Browning .30 machine gun. A .303 Bren gun could be mounted on an anti-aircraft ring-mount accessed through a roof hatch and there were ports on the sides through which troops could fire. Although removed from active service, it saw extensive use into the 1980s in Northern Ireland and was a familiar sight, nicknamed ‘sixers’, during “The Troubles”. At times, they appeared on the streets of Hull, a less-hostile atmosphere for driver training in a city of similar appearance to Belfast, and only a few miles from the Army School of Mechanical Transport.
As a member of the FV 600 series, it shared a similar chassis with the FV601 Saladin armoured car, the Salamander airfield crash truck and the Stalwart high mobility load carrier. The chassis, suspension and H-drive drivetrain remained similar, but the engine, transmission and braking systems varied significantly.
The Saracen was produced both with and without turrets fitted. They are popular with collectors due to their price.
Alvis Saracen Specifications
Weight 11 t
Length 4.8 m
Width 2.54 m
Height 2.46 m
Crew 2 + up to 9 troops
Armour 16 mm Rolled homogeneous armour (RHA)
Main armament Browning M1919 machine gun or L37 GPMG
Secondary armament Bren LMG, 6-12 smoke grenade launchers
Engine Rolls-Royce B80 Mk 3A or Mk 6A, 8 cyl Inlet over Exhaust petrol
Suspension 6 × 6 wheel
Operational range 400 km
Speed 72 km/h(off-road 32 km/h)