United Kingdom (1956)
APC – 1700 built

A light APC with a long career

The Humber Pig left in the collective memory a trace, especially a vivid one in Ireland, as these vehicles often appeared in the medias back in the 1970s, roaming the streets of Northern Ireland during the worst of the Troubles. Technically these were merely light armoured vehicles more suited for police operations, patrols, or troop transport and supply in the rear lines. Not spectacular for modern standard APCs, the “Pig” did its job and was eventually retired in the early 1990s, their carrer encompassing all the cold war with years to spare. It was also the base for the 1955 Hornet Malkara missile launching vehicle.

Humber FV1612
Humber FV1612

Based on Rootes’s FV1600 truck

The base vehicle chosen for its development was the FV1600 four wheel drive 1-ton payload truck built by Rootes by the thousands for the British Army between 1952 to 1955. From this was derived the Humber FV1601 CT and FV1602 CT FFW Trucks. On them were based two armoured vehicles, respectively the FV1611 and FV1612. Both were initially designed to perform a large variety of missions with the RAC, RA, RE, RS, and Infantry. Basically these were seen as stopgaps before the heavier and more “military” Alvis Saracens could be delivered en masse.

Eventually the final vehicle Pigs FV1609A would be produced by later by Humber (final assembly), Rootes Group Limited (chassis and parts), Joseph Sankey & Sons Ltd and Royal Ordnance Factories for the armoured body. About 1,700 in all would be produced until the early 1980s, starting in 1956 with twenty pre-serie prototypes. These vehicles were open-top, intended to be used at the end of the trials in 1958 by the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), when ten of them were deployed in Northern Ireland. They were later retrofitted with a fully enclosed hull like production vehicles. About 500 “Pigs” would be seen in action in Ulster, especially in the 1970s, featuring number of improvements, and additional armour as troubles escalated.

Humber Pig interior
Humber Pig Interior

Design

As stated above, the Pig was merely a lightly armoured truck, as with one ton only its 6-7 mm overall, with slab-sided or lightly sloped welded plates that can barely stop small arms fire. In fact these were more of any help against improvised street projectiles than assault rifle military bullets. The naked chassis was one ton, but the whole hull was about 10,500 pounds (4.8 t) for the ealy Mk 1, and up to 14,300 pounds (6.5 t) Mk 2 of the late up-armoured version in the 1970s which degraded performances. The Pig was given indeed a Rolls-Royce B60 6-cylinder, 4.2 litre petrol I-6 which developed 120 hp. Nevertheless, with its all-wheel drive, big off-road wheels and reinforced heavy duty suspensions, the Pig has acceptable off-road characteristics, whereas it was not its primary vocation. Top speed was only 64 kph, range 400 km.

Preserved Humber Pig, Hillsborough
Humber Pig preserved at Hillsborough, notice the “semper Fi” on the hood.

The hull was given a classic double compartimentation, with a front engine, followed by the driver’s cabin, not separated from the rear troop compartment, large enough for a crew of 6, extensible to 8. There were two front armoured shutters, side slits in the cabin’s doors, two rear compartment armoured shutters, and storage boxes over the rear axle. The Humber Pig was not amphibious, nor protected NBC. There was no means of additional concealment like smoke dischargers. No specific means were provided for crowd control either like a turret, siren, megaphone or lacrymal discharger. Importantly enough, the Humber Pig was unarmed, except for the crew’s own firearms, only the turret equipped version has a permanent machine-gun, either a 7.62×51mm L4 Light BREN or a 0.30″ (7.62×63mm) Browning M1919 Machine Gun.

Variants

Of the 3,700 Humber trucks were derived about 1,700 Pigs (FV 1611 Mk.I or Mk.II) but also the FV 1609 Armoured Cargo Truck, FV 1610 Armoured Cargo Truck Fitted for Wireless (FFW), FV 1612 Armoured Truck FFW/Fitted for Radio (FFR), and FV 1613 Armoured Ambulance, plus the converted FV1611 Hornet missile platform.

The Pig variants:
-The FV1609 1956 preserie Prototype APC had a removable rear roof, canvas roof, and removable windscreens.
-The Mark I (counted FV1611 and FV1612 and FV1609 converted vehicles) was given a fully integrated rear roof and armour.
-The Mark II (FV1611 and FV1612) had add-on armour for military-class bullets fire and RPGs, were fitted with “barricade removers” (heavy-duty bull bars), and often turrets, which came into a variety of improvised, fen unofficial fashions.

Turret variants – All the turrets came from the Shorland ISPV (based on the Series IIA Land Rover) and these vehicles were tailored to be used in Northern Ireland. These variants names were unofficial.

  • Flying Pig: Extending riot screens either side and roof
  • Holy Pig Rooftop hatch surrounded by perspex screen (Popemobile-like)
  • Kremlin Pig Wire screening added to deal with rocket propelled grenades (RPG-7)
  • Squirt Pig: Water cannon beside the driver for riot control
  • Foaming Pig: Foam generator to diffuse bomb blasts
  • Felix Pig: Bomb disposal vehicle

The “Pig” in action

As stated above, 487 Pigs in total were deployed in Northern Ireland, Ulster province, especially in the context of the September 1972-July 1973 political tensions and IRA actions. The “Pigs” were the backbone of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland and other police units, but also many military units like paratroopers.

Humber Pig at Parola museum, Finland Humber Pig at Parola museum, Finland
Humber Pig at Parola museum, Finland

The others were used by the Army and took part in many exercises before being replaced in the 1980s by other vehicles.
It must be added (but it would require a whole chapter) that many other armoured vehicles were used in this context, like the Land Rover Tangi (1957), Snatch Land Rover (1992), Shorland (1961), Hotspur Hussar (1987) among others. From 1992 onwards, the Pigs were replaced by the AT105 SAXON APC Developed by GKN Sankey, based on the Bedford 4×4 truck. The latter were an unpopular design, replaced in the 2000s.
It must be added the “Pig” surname, that eventually stuck came from its low power-to-weight ratio that made the vehicle hard on brakes and having poor performances for top speed and acceleration, plus chassis and suspensions issues.
Nowadays a large numbers of these vehicles are stored, were acquired by private collectioners due to their low price, and restored. One can be seen, in running order, at the Aldershot Military Museum, another in Bovington.

Links

The Humber Pig on wikipedia
On warwheels.net
PIG IN A POKE – the Humber issues with suspensions and chassis (pdf doc)
Clive Eliott article about the Pig
Additional photos

Humber FV1611 specifications

Dimensions 4.95 x 2.04 x 2.12 m (16’2” x 6’8” x 6’11” ft)
Total weight, battle ready 6.5 tons (Mk.2)
Crew 2+6/8 (driver, cdr, infantry)
Propulsion Rolls-Royce B60 6-cyl 4.2 litre petrol I-6 120 hp
Suspension 4×4 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 64 km/h (40 mph)
Range 400 km (250 mi)
Armament 7.62mm L4 Bren LMG, 0.3 in Browning M1919
Armor 5-6 mm sides(see notes) (0.21-0.25 in)
Total production 1700 in 1955-1980
Humber_PIG-prototype
Prototype of the Humber Pig, 1955Humber_PIG-Mk2-ExplosiveordnanceDisposal
Humber Mark 2 Explosive Ordnance Disposal

Humber_PIG-Mk2
Humber Pig Mark 2

Humber_Kremlin-PIG
“Kremlin” Pig Mark 2

Humber_Holy-PIG
“Holy” Pig Mark 2

Humber_Flying-PIG
“Flying” Pig Mark 2

Humber_PIG-UN
Humber Pig UN, Irish Military Police

Humber_PIG
Hornet Malkara, the tank hunter variant

Video (restoration)


Gallery


Web References


Humber FV1612

Humber Pig Mark 1
Humber Pig Mark 1

Churchill Toad, FV3902 Flail Tank
Alvis Scimitar FV107
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2 Responses to Humber Pig

  1. Roger Greenaway says:

    The name “Pig” was also unofficial, nicknamed as such due to its looks and road handling. The later uparmouring came to pass after PIRA gunmen started using tungsten-tipped ammunition. The Pigs were withdrawn to be uparmoured and temporarily replaced by Saracen APCs.

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