Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Circuit breaker Day 43 pix: Singapore Army AMX-13 Light Tanks first National Day Mobile Column

Some of you here have enjoyed tracking the National Day Parade (NDP) Mobile Column rehearsals over the years.

Today, we'd like to share some colour pictures from the first NDP Mobile Column in 1969, which was the first time the Singapore Army displayed its French-built AMX-13 light tanks (above). A column of 18 AMX-13s led the Mobile Column at the parade to commemorate Singapore's 4th year of independence.

The AMX-13s served the Armour Formation for over 30 years. An upgrade by Singapore Automotive Engineering and Singapore's defence engineers gave the AMX-13s a new lease of life under Project Archer. ST Auto (now ST Engineering Land Systems) rebuilt the tanks to SM1 standard at its Portsdown Road workshop. The "new" tanks had better mobility with a new engine and gearbox, which also improved crew survivability as the engine was powered by diesel instead of more flammable petrol. The tank's firepower was improved with a new fire control system and an armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot round codenamed Spider.

If you've not to seen the Defence Technology Community's 50th anniversary book on Land Systems, please download your copy from this link. Chapter 4 outlines the development of AFVs by defence engineers from the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), DSO National Laboratories and ST Engineering.
AMX-13s on parade for the first time at NDP in 1969. Note the Mercedes-Benz Unimogs assembled in parade order behind the AMX-13s. Source: National Archives of Singapore

Four years after the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) was formed, the city-state's young defence force also showcased some of its newly-arrived hardware such as mortars mounted on Unimogs (below).

Jeep-mounted US-made 106mm recoilles rifles were also featured at the parade. These weapons served several cohorts of National Servicemen for decades and were replaced by the MILAN ATGM in the 1990s. Some People's Defence Force units continued using the 106 after the MILANs entered service. In trained hands and in closed terrain, the 106 is not a weapon one should discount.  

The b/w image below was probably taken by one of the photographers in the cherry picker. Looks like a sizeable contingent of 106 jeeps followed by marching infantry.
Source: National Archives of Singapore
Not part of the Mobile Column but still impressive and heartwarming to see. The soldiers in this photo would be in their late 60s or early 70s by now. Seen here are mortars (81mm?) man-packed by the mortar team - barrel, base plate, bipod and sight, then the ammo carriers.

1 comment:

PG said...

the last picture does look like 81 manpack. it's not fun to manpack the barrel and route march uphill through the secondary jungle in Safti. it's damn irritating that the barrel kept hitting the low branches while you are trying to navigate through the jungle. n those who manpack the baseplate, they look like ninja turtle LOL