The FV432 is the armoured personnel carrier variant of the British Army’s FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Since its introduction in the 1960s, it has been the most common variant, being used for transporting infantry on the battlefield. In the 1980s, almost 2,500 vehicles were in use, with around 1,500 now remaining in operation – mostly in supporting arms rather than front-line infantry service.
Although the FV432 Series was to have been phased out of service in favour of newer vehicles, such as the Warrior and the CVR(T) series, they are now gradually being upgraded to extend their service into the next decade.
In light of the army’s need for additional armoured vehicles in the Afghan and Iraqi theatres, the Ministry of Defenceannounced in August 2006 that an extra 70 vehicles would be upgraded by BAE Systems in addition to the 54 already ordered as part of their force protection initiative. The improvements take the form of an engine upgrade, a new steering unit and a new braking system, as well as improvement in armour protection to a level similar to that of the Warrior. In addition, plates lined with Kevlar have been added to the bottom hull. This is intended to provide better protection against improvised explosive devices. It is intended that these FV432s will free up the Warrior vehicles for provision of reserve firepower status and/or rotation out of theatre. The updated version is called the Bulldog.
The FV432 was designed to be the armoured personnel carrier in the FV430 series. Production started in 1962 by GKN Sankey and ended in 1971, after constructing approximately 3,000 vehicles.
The FV432 is of all-steel construction. The chassis is a conventional tracked design with the engine at the front and the driving position to the right. Directly behind the driver’s position is the vehicle commander’s hatch. There is a large round opening in the passenger compartment roof, which has a split hatch, and a side-hinged door in the rear for loading and unloading. As in many designs of its era, there are no firing ports for the troops carried – British Army doctrine has always been to dismount from vehicles to fight, unlike Russian infantry fighting vehicles that largely incorporate ports. The passenger compartment has five seats on either side – these fold up to provide a flat cargo space.
An NBC system on the right side of the hull gives fresh air for the troops. Wading screens and a trim vane were fitted as standard and an extension went on the exhaust pipe. The vehicle has a water speed of about 6 km/h when converted for swimming and was propelled by its tracks. Most of these vehicles have had their amphibious capability removed.
FV432s in service with infantry regiments are equipped with a pintle-mounted L7 GPMG (if not fitted with the Peak Engineering turret). Vehicles with the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and Royal Signals were originally fitted with the L4A4 variant of the Bren light machine gun, but they now use the GPMG. When equipped with the GPMG, the vehicle carries 1,600 rounds of belted 7.62mm ammunition; when carrying the Bren LMG, the vehicle carried 1,400 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition (50 magazines, each holding 28 rounds). There are two three-barrel smoke dischargers at the front.
The FV432 has been produced in three major variants, the Mark 1 (with a Mark 1/1 minor variant) with petrol engines, the Mark 2 with a Rolls-Royce K60 multi-fuel engine and the Mark 3 with a diesel engine. The Mark 2 minor variant, the 2/1, has its NBC pack flush with the hull side. An uparmoured variant, for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, of the Mark 3 was known as Bulldog. This name now appears to be extended to all Mark 3 versions of the FV432.
The FV432 has proven to be flexible in use and can be converted from one role to another with reasonable ease using ‘installation kits’ (IK), or more permanently with minor modifications to the hull. Major or more significant modifications have usually led to a new FV43n number. In addition to the normal armoured personnel carrier role, it has been used as:
- a command vehicle, seven-crew has two mapboards and extra communications equipment (with an additional canvas “penthouse”)
- an ambulance, unarmed with spots for up to four stretchers or two stretcher and five seated patients
- a cargo carrier, for up to 3,600 kg
- a communications vehicle
- a recovery vehicle. Designated as the FV434, it includes a rear cutout to a “pickup-truck” box to carry a spare engine/other stores with tool store below, an internally mounted winch, and a 2.5-tonne lift arm. Frequently equipped with the canvas penthouse.
FV432s used by combat Infantry units have also been equipped with:
- the WOMBAT recoilless rifle
- an 84mm infantry gun mounted with a bar across the top of the troop compartment (firing from the roof hatch)
- an 81mm mortar on a turntable in the rear of the hull can be traversed through 360° firing through the roof hatch; 160 mortar bombs are carried; crew consists of a driver, commander and four men
- the Peak Engineering turret with the L37A1 variant of the 7.62mm GPMG, replacing the roof hatch.
- a 30 mm Rarden-gun equipped turret (taken from the Fox scout car; 13 converted) – Berlin (Below)
- a night-surveillance ZB 298 radar
- stowage for MILAN anti-tank missiles when used to carry two missile teams (deployed away from the vehicle)
FV432s used by the Royal Artillery have been equipped with:
- a battery command post with FACE fire control computer
- a battery command post with BATES battlefield artillery target engagement system
- Cymbeline mortar-locating radar
- sound ranging equipment
- observation post vehicle ZB 298 radar
FV432s used by the Royal Engineers have been equipped with:
- a towed layer for L9 anti-tank Bar Mine
- a launcher for L10 Ranger Anti-Personnel Mine
- a towed Giant Viper mine-clearing system
- a Thales Group SWARM Remote Weapon System
Within the 14th/20th King’s Hussars the main role of the FV 432 Armoured Personnel Carrier was that of the Armoured ambulance with one issued to each squadron. The REME detachment was also equipped with the FV 434 variant which was used to remove and replace main battle tank and other vehicle engines and to carry part of the REME detachment personnel.