Ptarmigan - one for the old - and even older sweats !

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by ex-Scaley, Sep 9, 2011.

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  1. Afternoon Gents

    Former RTG here interested in the 430 series and it's place in the Corps. Yes - I'm an old man and a total green cabbage to boot with nothing better to do as Alzheimers gets ever closer !

    A question or two for the old sweats rather than you nice shiny new members of THE Royal Corps.

    As I understand it Ptarmigan has now been backloaded into history and the FV439 is no more. So does this mean the FV436 has also bitten the dust or is it still in service ?

    And where did the FV435 and Wavell fit into the equation ? I have a copy of the Staff Officers Handbook for 1999 and there is no mention anywhere of either Wavell or the '435, yet I've seen a photo of a Bde Sig Sqn with a Wavell Processing '43 with a bloody great box on the top the size of a house (bigger than anything we had in the 70's / 80-'s) !!

    I can't believe all this was over a decade ago and Ptarmigan has now gone - I remember the bloody thing being introduced and thinking this sounds something to avoid at all costs ! Thank Christ my last posting was 244 in the good old Brize days - all radio and none of those nasty Relay types anywhere !!
  2. D Troop - cushy life at Upavon or did they move to Brize as well ? I was A Tp - what a fantastic posting even if it did mean wearing artic gear every effin demo / visit someone dreamt up - usually in the middle of summer in sweltering weather !!
  3. Ey up, I remember being trained on bruin then getting to Germany and it being ptarmigan. Ex RTG lots of HF dets early on but worked on armoured rebroadcast at 204 and 19 mech - horrible old 432s

    Maybe this is of use?

    As ar
  4. Thanks for that but I know more about '430's than Wikipedia does ! No I was hoping one or two of the great and good wouild share their personal experience and clear up a couple of questions regarding the '435 and Wavell !! The '436 I think I got a handle on and the '439 are, well, 439's !
  5. the last time my troops WPI(T) 435 moved in anger at 3 Div was around December 92, following the move back to UK in early 93 it sat there in the garages doing nothing waiting for someone to make a decision about it's future. Left to join 602 in 94 so no idea what became of it after that
  6. Stevie - thanks for the info - what does WPI (T) stand for please ? Sounds like the 435 bit the dust shortly after this timescale then ?
  7. that would have been my best guess too roadster. It's one redeeming feature was the ability to boil a kettle incredibly quickly.

    The first time I ever saw a Wavell variant was at a demo for the Nato COS in 1982 (ish) it was mounted in a LR with the storage being a multiple disk pack mounted on the passenger seat. Don't think that worked properly either.
  8. Wavell was a colossal waste of time and money.
  9. After Ptarmigan came into service in 1985 at 1 Div, I was unfortunate enough to be on one of the 436's with a Wavell terminal. This meant that, at endex, those dets lucky enough not to have Wavell, got to go home, whilst those of us thus afflicted had to stay in the field whilst the boffins from wherever fiddled with the system trying to get it to work. Of course, as a young siggy, we just shimfed about it and had to get on with it, but didn't really know what was going on.
    As far as I understand it, the major problem was getting the data to replicate around the various WPI's, whether wheeled or tracked, over the Ptarmigan bearer - which was something which I believe they never got to work - certainly not before I left 1 Div in 1987, and although I did end up on DEWO 1 Div at 14 Sigs, can't remember seeing much of the WPI(T) being in use much later than 1989 or so. Last time I saw one of the terminals was the variant used for Ptarmigan management whilst at 7 Sigs (PMIS??). I think the WPI(T)'s have all be sold off now and some may be in private hands - there is at least one pictured on homepage

    Hope that helps.

    Oh, and I think the WPI(T) was also FV439 - seemed to be a catch all generic for specialist communication vehicles (SAS(MC), RR and Wavell), as opposed to the 436, which, if I recall right, was correctly on the system as ASV436 (Armoured Staff Vehicle) - I spotted some user handbooks in the early days of Ptarmigan with that designation.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. I was Sgt Tech at 22 Armd Bde when Ptarmigan was introduced and was the Wavell det Comd in a FV 435. Roadster is right about the name and it was unsurprisingly nicknamed the Wippit. The humungous box on the roof was actually 2 boxes. The bigger one was the 11KVA generator, which almost never worked, and the other, smaller, box behind it was the Aircon unit. Although it was a bit of a white elephant, it was a major step forward in battlefield information sharing for 1 Br Corps, but was practically obsolete technologically before it came into service. I think it was dead by about 1990ish.

    There were 3 distinct advantages to working on the Wavell det. 1. It was the only vehicle in the Bde complex to have AC power (=kettles etc.). 2. It had aircon which was absolutely bloody fantastic all year round. While the rest of the squadron was freezing its tits off in minus 10, we would be sitting in the back of the det in our Bermuda shorts sipping cocktails. 3. There were only about 10 people in the corps who really knew how it worked. This meant we got left alone, apart from the occasional mad staff officer request.

    My det was 17EA00, and if you want to know any more, I'll see if I can get my synapses to fire.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  11. That would have been Wavell 1 which was a lash up that worked pretty well, and in many ways was better than the fully hardened, EMP proof, Wavell 2 which was in the 435's.

  12. That's really great and enlightening - thanks ! Obviously from the other posts it wasn't exactly a stellar bit of kit - what a surprise !

    So the FV435 Wavell vehicle was the one with the bloody great box (or boxes) on top even bigger than the 439's gene housings ?

    Can you remember the other R Sigs vehicles in the Bde HQ set up ? - obviously a SAS/MC and Radio Rebro, G3 Ops (or G Ops as we knew it), G3 Plans, Int/NBC Cell (the Staff Officers handbook lists this in a 436 but not who crewed it), and the SO Handbook lists "Comms Ops" as being part of the Diamond 1 complex (in my day Sig Ops was fucked off outside Diamond 1 elsewhere !).

    Where did the FV435 Wavell fit in ? And are the attached pictures the correct vehicle ?

    Many thanks

    Attached Files:

  13. So it was, in hindsight. A brave pioneering effort which I had some experience with. It is difficult to appreciate now when we are all so familiar with IT, but Wavell might have played its part in getting us used to IT concepts in time for Ops Granby, Resolute etc.

    In fairness, Wavell was quite rightly designed for an EMP and chemical environment to an extent which (we hope) no longer applies.
  14. The pictures look about right, but it was a long time ago and I couldn't guarantee it. On the other hand I can't think of any other Bde HQ veh that would have that signature.

    The Bde HQ was made up of 2 main complexes.

    The comms cruciform (or diamond 6 to the literalists) was Comms Ops, SAS/MC and Wavell.

    The ops complex was, G3 Ops, G2 Int/NBC, G1/G4, G3 Plans, Arty Ops, Air/Avn and Engrs. (I Think)

    The RR would be on the edge of the site somewhere, and the radios were built into the complex, Rebros were never in the complex as they were supposed to provide area support, so they would be where they could 'see' the BGs.

    Hackle - I now know who you are. I couldn't figure out at the time how a budgie got a job on a comms project as a SO2, but as the years went by I came to realise that even infanteers need proper jobs between command tours.
  15. Not guilty (well, not of that, anyway).