The Army Museum Bandiana, located just out of Wodonga, is one of the largest and most diversified military museums in Australia. The museum enjoys a close working relationship with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. About 5,000 square metres of display space contains a collection from 1863 to present day, showcasing
- 190 army vehicles including bikes, cars, trucks, heavy equipment and armoured vehicles.
- 150 weapons including anti-aircraft and field guns, machine guns and pistols.
- WW1, WW2 and present day uniforms.
- Medals and other items.
Apart from the exhibits, you can watch a video in the theatrette or get a souvenir from the museum shop. There are also 3 free covered electric barbecues with plenty of covered seating in the memorial gardens.
The original collection was established in 1972 at the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Centre in Bandiana and moved to the present site in 1976 when it grew too big. The museum was formally opened by the Director General of Supply-Army Brigadier J.A. Munro on 31 Mar 1976 and made accessible to the public.
The Army Museum Bandiana was formed on 1 Jul 1997 from the amalgamation of this museum with:
- Army Transport Museum from Puckapunyal
- Army Catering Corps Historical Collection from Puckapunyal
- Army Electrical & Mechanical Engineer’s Historical Collection from Bandiana
It was officially opened by the Deputy Chief of Army Maj General J.C. Hartley on 23 Oct 1997.
Welbike / Corgi Scooter (1940s)
The Welbike (video) is a collapsible motorcycle delivered in a pod by parachute, intended to be used by paratroops for rapid movement around a battlefield. It was produced during WWII specifically for the British army by Britain’s first motorcycle manufacturer, the Excelsior Motor Company of Birmingham. Well-preserved surviving welbikes are rare and there is one specimen at Bandiana. This was donated by Captain L. Jensen of the Royal Australian Airforce in 1981 and has been carefully restored by a local enthusiast.
This 32kg single-seat motorbike is designed to fit into a standard (130cm long x 30cm wide x 38cm high) parachute drop canister. The canister has a percussion head to minimize damage to the bike upon landing. Once it hits the ground, what is needed is to twist the handlebars into their locking position, pull up the saddle, fold out the footrests and then push start the 98cc single-cylinder 2-stroke Villiers engine. The aim is for the paratrooper to assemble the bike and be on the move in 11 seconds. The tiny fuel tank holds just 3.7 litres of fuel and can last for about 130km at 45km/h before the bike is broken up, abandoned or refuelled for further use. A total of 3853 Welbikes were produced from 1942-1945. While not terribly successful, some were used in battles including at Anzio and Normandy by the Royal Marine Commandos.
The Welbike could prove a liability in combat situations. The difference in weight between a parachutist and the canister meant that they often landed some distance apart. Some were captured by enemy forces or lost before they could even be used. The low power and small wheels also meant that they struggled to cope adequately with the often rough battlefield roads so were often abandoned by troops who found it easier to continue on foot. Another problem for the Welbike was that by the time it was in mass production, much larger gliders had been developed that could carry bigger and more powerful motorcycles.
Many of the later models never saw action and were disposed of at the end of the war, mostly exported to the USA where they were sold by a New York department store. The lack of a front brake meant that they could not be legally used on the road so most were bought by farmers for off-road use. The parachute bike concept would live on in the form of the Corgi 50 “Dinky Devil” scooter built from the late 1940s and the popular folding Honda Monkey bike of the 1960s.
Bell 47G-3B-I Sioux AI-407 (1965)
The Bell 47 (video) is a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It became the first helicopter certified for civilian use on 8 March 1946. More than 5,600 Bell 47 aircraft were produced.
The Bell 47 helicopter entered U.S. military service in late 1946. In the Korean War, it was designated the H-13 Sioux by the U.S. Army. It has served as the helicopter of choice for basic helicopter flight instruction in many countries. NASA had a number of Bell 47s during the Apollo program, used by astronauts as trainers for the lunar lander. Two helicopter types, the 47G and the 47J Ranger, were used in the popular television series Whirlybirds from 1957 to 1960. Batman used a Bell 47 as the “Batcopter” in “Batman: The Movie” in 1966.
This helicopter on display was manufactured and placed into service in 1965. RAEME tradesman serviced and maintained this Sioux in the following units:
|161 Recce it-SVN||Apr 67-Feb 68|
|1st Aviation Regiment||Feb 68-Jun 69|
|182 Reece Squadron Singapore||Jun 69-Mar 70|
|1 Aviation Regiment||Mar 70-Dec 73|
It was retired into long term storage in Dec 1973 until issued to RAAF School of Technical Training Wagga Wagga as a Training Aid in Sept 1977. It was presented to RAEME Training Centre Museum (now Army Museum Bandiana) by the Museum of Australian Army Flying following refurbishment by tradesmen of Oakey Workshop Battalion.
The DUKW (colloquially known as Duck, video) is a 6-wheel amphibious truck developed in the US during WWII, primarily used to ferry supplies from ship to shore, to transport wounded combatants to hospital ships or to operate in flooded landscapes. It was initially rejected by the US armed forces. When a US coast guard patrol craft ran aground on a sandbar in Massachusetts, an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area. Winds up to 110 km/h, rain and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the 7 stranded coast guardsmen. But the DUKW had no trouble and the military opposition melted.
The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tire pressure from inside the cab. The tires could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surface, especially beach sand. This added to the DUKW’s great versatility as an amphibious vehicle. This feature is now standard on many military vehicles.
535 DUKWs were acquired by Australian forces. After WWII, Australia transferred many to Citizens Military Force units. Many DUKWs were used by civilian organizations such as police departments, fire stations and rescue units. The Australian Army lent 2 DUKWs and crew to Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions in 1948 for an expedition to Macquarie Island. DUKWs were used on Antarctic supply voyages until 1970. From 1945 to 1965, the Australian Commonwealth Lighthouse Service supply ship Cape York carried ex-Army DUKWs for supplying lighthouses on remote islands. Whenever a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs, DUKWs are well equipped for the land and water rescue efforts. Australian Army Reserve DUKWs were used extensively for rescue and transport during the 1955 Hunter Valley floods.
Ford GPA (video) was an amphibious version of the WWII Ford GPW Jeep. Also known as a “Seep” (Seagoing Jeep), “Duckling” or “Water Bug“, it was used in a beach reconnaissance role and as a general purpose runabout between ships and ship to shore. It was used by the American Army during WWII, Russia and by the Australian forces in New Guinea and later in Korea.
Unlike the GPW Jeep, the Seep was not a successful design being too slow and heavy on land and lacking sufficient seagoing abilities in open water. GPA would frequently get stuck in shallow waters, sink if there are significant waves and could not carry much cargo.
By 1944, GPAs were being sold as surplus and were purchased by farmers, ranchers, adventurers and others. By the 1970s, collectors had discovered them and started restoring them back to their original specifications. After WWII, several adventurers converted surplus GPAs into world-travelling machines. The most famous one was during the 1950s when Australian Ben Carlin (1912–1981) sailed and drove a modified Seep that he called “Half-Safe” on a journey around the world. A young American couple converted one which they called “Tortuga” and travelled from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. They later converted another one which they called “Tortuga II” which they used in the South Pacific. Replicas of the GPA are featured in the 2007 film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull“. Custom built by Ghostlight Industries of San Fernando, California, the fiberglass bodies were intentionally constructed 10% larger than the actual vehicle to ease filming.
Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo LARC-V (1964)
LARC-V is a single-screw, 4-wheeled, diesel-powered, aluminium-hulled amphibious cargo vehicle so called because it can carry 5 tons (video). The craft is capable of operation in temperate, tropic and arctic climates. It can transverse sand and coral beaches, unimproved roads, off-road terrain and maneuver through a surf of 10-foot breakers.
It was developed in the US during the 1950s for transferring personnel and stores between ship and shore. LARC-Vs were used by the Argentine Marines during the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands. They were introduced into Australian service in 1964 for both military operations and flood relief work including Queensland’s Operation Flood Assist in January 2011.
The displayed LARC was used for resupplying the Australian Antarctic Research Bases at Mawson, Macquarie Island, Casey and Davis from 1970. This LARC was also used in the rescue mission involving the “Nella Dan”. This vehicle is painted in international orange depicting rescue. The shark’s teeth were painted by crew members prior to reaching Antarctica.
Light Armored Vehicle-Recovery (LAV-R)
The LAV-R (video) is an 8-wheeled amphibious reconnaissance vehicle, a derivative of the LAV-25 armored personnel carrier. It is in service with the US Marine Corps since 1986. The LAV-R has a raised roofline and is fitted with a boom crane and recovery winch to recover damaged or disabled vehicles, specially other LAVs. It is capable of uprighting overturned vehicles minimizing additional damage. It can also tow other LAVs with suspension and engine damage.
The LAV-R is an all-terrain, all-weather vehicle with night capabilities. The vehicle can be made fully amphibious within 3 minutes. On water it is propelled by 2 waterjets, mounted at the hull rear. It is capable of fording streams, rivers and inland waterways. This armored recovery vehicle can be airlifted by the C-130 Hercules or larger military transport aircraft. It can also be carried underslung by the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
The LAV-R has a crew of 3-4 men including commander, driver, rigger and one additional crew member. The only armament it carries is a pintle-mounted 7.62-mm machine gun with 1000 rounds, used for self-defense. It is also fitted with smoke grenade dischargers.
Searchlight 150cm (1941)
This searchlight has a 150cm diameter rhodium-plated parabolic mirror, reflecting a high intensity carbon arc dishcharge. It has 800 million candlepower with 1.25 degrees dispersion. These searchlights were fitted with radar and had a range of 80km.
Searchlights were first used in WWI to create “artificial moonlight” to enhance opportunities for night attacks, a practice which continued in WWII. Controlled by sound locators and radars, searchlights could track bombers, indicate targets to anti-aircraft guns and night fighters and dazzle crews.
Searchlights were occasionally used tactically in ground battles. One famous occasion was the Soviets’ use of seachlights during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945. 143 searchlights were directed at the German defence force across the Neisse River with the aim of temporarily blinding them during a Soviet offensive. However, the morning fog diffused the light and silhouetted the attacking Soviet forces, making them clearly visible to the Germans. The Soviets suffered heavy losses as a result and were forced to delay their invasion of the city.
AN/KPQ-1 Mortar Locating Radar (MLR) Set (1960s)
Manufactured in the USA, this MLR set was introduced into the Australian Army in the early 1960s. It was used to track the flight path of incoming, high trajectory projectiles and the attached computing system was then able to extrapolate back to the point of origin. This information provided the gun battery command post with an immediate target for counter-battery fire. The radar was capable of detecting incoming rounds out to a range of 8.515 km. While very capable when tracking individual mortar rounds, the computer tended to get a bit muddled when tracking multiple rounds from multiple sources, which reduced the system’s effectiveness.
The AN/KPQ-1 MLR detachment consisted of 11 soldiers – the Detachment Commander, 5 radar operators, 3 signalers (2 of whom also acted as drivers), a radar mechanic and a driver. The complete equipment was carried in 3 modified ¾ ton Land Rovers and trailers. The first vehicle carried the crew’s personal kit and towed a trailer carrying a generator. The second vehicle carried the various interconnecting cables on their reels and towed the special trailer with the tripod for the radar antenna. The third vehicle carried the antenna pedestal and towed a trailer carrying the antenna assembly.
The AN/KPQ-1 was successfully deployed to Vietnam during the 1960s and provided support for the task force at the Nui Dat base and various fire support bases throughout Phuoc Tuy Province. Upon returning to Australia, they were refurbished and upgraded until replaced by the more modern and capable AN/TPQ-36 Weapon Locating Radar in 1986.
Rapier Surface-to-Air Missile System (1980)
Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and Royal Air Force and which entered service in 1971. The quick response time and high maneuverability of the Rapier made it more formidable than any of the available weaponry and by 1977 had replaced them. It remains the UK’s primary air defence weapon after almost 35 years of service and is expected to serve until 2020.
Rapier entered service with the Australian Army in 1980. Its optical system, comprising a launcher and an optical tracker, can only engage aircraft during daylight hours. In this configuration, the operator uses a joystick to manually track the aircraft and guide the missile to the target. In November 2005, the 16th Air Defence Regiment fired the final missile at the Lake Hart Air Weapons Range, Woomera.
DN181 Radar Tracker “Blindfire”
Although accurate and simple to use, the original Rapier system clearly suffered from a lack of all-weather capability. This led to the development of the Marconi DN181 “Blindfire” radar which was introduced in 1970. A DN181 Radar Tracker was added to the Rapier fire unit or any other optical system, allowing an all-weather day and night engagement of hostile aircraft at ranges of 8 km and height of 10,000 feet. It can be used in darkness or under poor visibility when optical target tracking is not possible, thereby improving the accuracy of the weapon system.
To ensure accuracy, Blindfire used a very narrow “pencil” beam and tracks both the target and missile. The Blindfire trailer carries its own generator unit and a third land rover to tow it. Once the surveillance radar in the Rapier launcher detects a hostile target, the Radar Tracker commences a search pattern for the target. When the target is detected, the Radar Tracker “locks on” and produces a “target lock” tone to the operator. The operator can then fire the missile and allow the Radar Tracker to track the target and guide the missile in flight.
M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle (FSV) with Saladin Turret
Following the introduction of the M113A1 Family of Light Armoured Vehicles into the Australian Army in 1964-65, there was a requirement for an air-portable Fire Support Vehicle. To meet the requirement, the turret from the British-made Saladin Armoured Car was fitted onto the American-made M113A1 APC hull. The initial design work was carried out by the Army Design Establishment, with the Ordnance Factory Maribyrnong building the prototype. 15 vehicles were converted at 4 Base Workshops, Bandiana in 1970.
The resulting vehicle, commonly referred to as the “Beast” by Royal Australian Armoured Corps crews, combined the mobility and protection of the M113A1 hull with the firepower of the Saladin Armoured Car Turret while retaining the vehicle’s amphibious capabilities. The FSV concept was a success but it was not without problems. The extra weight of the Turret led to a slight decrease in the vehicle’s performance and reduced the life on some suspension components.
8 FSVs were sent to South Vietnam in 1971 and were in service until declared obsolete in 1986. The FSV was an interim vehicle and was replaced by the M113 Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle in the late 1970s. Following their withdrawal from service, 6 of the vehicles (without turrets) were sold to New Zealand to be converted to standard APC configuration. One of these vehicles, configured as an Armoured Ambulance and fitted with mine protection belly armour and uparmoured on the hull, saw service in New Zealand’s contribution to the UN force in Bosnia in 1994-96 and again in East Timor in 1999-2000.
Centurion Main Battle Tank
The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was British primary post-WWII battle tank. It was a successful tank design with upgrades for many decades. The tank development began in 1943 and manufacture began in January 1945.
It first entered combat in the Korean War in 1950, used by the British Army to support the UN forces. It later served in the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, where it fought against US-supplied M47 Patton tanks. It was introduced to the Australian Army in 1952 and was used in South Vietnam. Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War and during the 1975 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurion tanks first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973.
It became one of the most widely used tank designs, with some still in service until the 1990s. As recently as the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as APCs and combat engineering vehicles. South Africa still employs over 200 Centurions, which were modernized in the 1980s and the resulting model is known as the Oliphant.
An Australian Army Mk 3 Centurion Type K, Army Registration Number 169041, was involved in a nuclear blast test at Emu Field in Australia in 1953 as part of Operation Totem 1. It was placed less than 460 m from the epicentre and left with the engine running. Examination after detonation found it had been pushed away from the blast point by about 1.5 m and that its engine had stopped working, only because it had run out of fuel. Antennae were missing, lights and periscopes were heavily sandblasted, the cloth mantlet cover was incinerated and the armoured side plates had been blown off and landed 180 m from the tank. Remarkably, the tank could still be driven from the site. 169041, subsequently nicknamed “The Atomic Tank“, was later used in the Vietnam War and is now located at Robertson Barracks in Palmerston, Northern Territory. Although other tanks were subjected to nuclear tests, 169041 is the only tank known to have withstood atomic tests and subsequently gone on for another 23 years of service, including 15 months on operational deployment in a war zone.
BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun Mk 3 (1942)
The BL 5.5 inch Gun was a British artillery gun introduced during the middle of WWII to equip medium batteries. In January 1939, a specification was issued for a gun to replace the 6 inch 26 cwt howitzers in use with most medium batteries. The first units were equipped in UK in 1941 and in North Africa a year later. Subsequently it also equipped Canadian, Australian, South African, Polish and Indian regiments.
After the war, it was used by the Royal Artillery on operations in Korea, South Arabia and Borneo. It was also used by New Zealand, by the Indian Army in wars against Pakistan and extensively by the South African Defence Force in the early stages of the South African Border War. It was in Australian service until replaced by M198 in about 1984.
German Field 7.7cm Feldkanone 16 (1916-1918)
Soon after the start of the war, the Germans realized that their standard field artillery piece, the FK 96 n.A. had some serious drawbacks. Although it could fire above 5.600 m, the tail of the gun had to be dug down into a pit to allow the tube to be raised further. An interim solution is mating its tube with the carriage of the lFH 98/09, creating a hybrid gun called KiH which allows the tube to be elevated up to 40 degrees, making possible a range of 7.800 m. Work soon started on a new design which eventually became the FK 16.
Ferret Scout Car Mark 2 Daimler (1958)
In 1949, the British Army approached Daimler to upgrade its WWII light armoured vehicles. Having previously designed the Dingo Scout Car, Daimler created the Ferret. The Ferret was based on the Dingo design but had more interior space for the crew and could be fitted with an optional small machine gun turret.
It was built from an all-welded monocoque steel body, making the vehicle lower but also making the drive extremely noisy inside as all the running gear was within the enclosed body with the crew. The 4-wheel drive had “run-flat” tyres which kept their shape even if punctured in battle, thus enabling it to drive to safety. Its turret usually carried a 7.62mm general purpose machine gun and 6 smoke grenade launchers (3 on each side). It is fast and small enough to be used in an urban environment but strong enough to negotiate off-road rugged terrains.
The Ferret’s interior had 3 compartments, the driver’s compartment in the front, the fighting compartment in the centre and the engine compartment in the rear. The Marks 1 and 2 Ferrets could carry steel channels to form a bridge over trenches/ditches or for extrication when stuck in sand. Ferrets Marks 3 and 4 featured wrap-around floatation screens enabling them to cross rivers and lakes, propelled by their rotating wheels. During battles, 3 Ferrets were attached to each tank squadron. Each Ferret trio formed a reconnaissance troop which scouted forward of the heavy armour to locate an enemy’s position.
The Ferret is no longer in service in the British Army although several Commonwealth countries still operate them to this day. They were introduced into Australian service in 1953 and withdrawn in 1970. They have been popular with private collectors due to the compact size and affordable price. A total of 4,409 Ferrets were produced between 1952 and 1971.
M3 Scout Car (1941)
The M3 Scout Car was an armored car in U.S. service during WWII. It was also known as the White Scout Car after its manufacturer, the White Motor Company which first created it in 1938 based on a commercial truck chassis. It added an armoured body and called it the T7 but renamed it as the M3 scout car in June 1939. It was used in various roles including patrol, scouting, command vehicle, ambulance and gun tractor.
The windshield is made of shatter-proof glass and a 0.5″ thick armour plate (with slots for vision) can be swung down to cover it. A roller mounted in front of the bumper could be lowered to help it not being bogged down in soft ground. The front bumper was made from heavy sheet metal and the bonnet hood could be opened on each side. The battery was on the right side and had an armoured cover to protect it. Things such as axes, shovels and picks could be stowed on the outside and there was storage in the rear for ammunition, tools and spare parts.
Willys Staff Car (1940)
This vehicle has the same engine as the Willys Jeep and was a conventional rear wheel drive road vehicle. The vehicle was used by the Australian Forces as the standard staff car during WWII.