Vehicles - British Army Line Layers

Line Layers were designed for laying, and retrieving landline cables over long distances for use with field telephone communications. The cable used was D10 twisted cable consisting of two joined wires, which can be easily split apart, for quickly wiring into whatever communications sets are used.

The first Land Rovers to be adapted for this role were the Series I in the shape of the Rover Mk3 and Mk5. These vehicles were used up to at least 1964 when the Rover 8 (SIIA 88") was adapted to the role using kits modified from the Rover Mk 3/5 line layer installation kits. This modification was however time consuming, taking 50 man hours for the conversion, and after the modification it had the disadvantage that the line laying kit could only be used on the Rover 8. With later kits designed for the Rover 8 it was possible to fit the installation kit without any drilling. The kit being designed to pick up on existing holes, for instance, the door hinges (the doors being removed) and the tilt frames in the body.

The vehicle could carry eleven miles of DC10 cable, four miles of which was carried in the dispenser rack on each wing. By pre-jointing each ½ mile pack in the racks, it was possible to lay a two-mile route. Cable could also be dispensed from an Apparatus Cable Laying (ACL), mounted in the rear load bed, but at a much slower speed. The superstructure was designed to accommodate a ladder, telegraph poles and crooksticks (similar to a shepherd's crooksticks, but for the retrieving of the wire). Two tool bins were located in the rear of the vehicle for stowage of loose tools, such as shovels and hammers, for ready use. A rack was fitted between the middle seat for the crew's Sub Machine Guns.

A ½ ton trailer was used to carry the ACL when not in use, and other essential stores, along with the crew’s personal kit. During operations the trailer was uncoupled and not towed. After the Rover 8 became obsolete, the Lightweight was converted to the role. Initially the SIIA (Rover 1) and later the SIIIs, some survived in use up into the early 1990s. There were variations of equipment fitted, for instance some had two cable dispensers in the rear, or some had one outside the vehicle. A special shortened canvas tilt was fitted to give some protection to the driver, even though many vehicles had their doors removed. But by this time improvements in communications in general had made landline obsolete except over small distances when runners could do the laying.

Publications applicable to Line Layers:

12434 Land Rover Mk 3/5 Line Laying Installation, User HandBook, Date unknown.

13964 Land Rover Mk 8 Line Laying Installation, User Hand Book, Dec 1964

EMER Engineering and Miscellaneous, I 107/2 Mod Instr No 1, Jul 1962

Cable Laying Installation in Truck, ¼ Ton, Rover Mk 3/5 and Tri 10 CWT, 2 WH Cargo, Modification to kit to improve stability.

EMER Engineering and Miscellaneous, 107/2 Mod Instr No 2, Mar 1964

Cable Laying Installation in Truck, ¼ Ton, Rover Mk 3/5 and Tri 10 CWT, 2 WH Cargo, Conversion for fitting in Rover Mk 8.

EMER Wheeled Vehicles, Q 027 Mod Instr No 61, Aug 1976. Installation of Cable Laying Installation in Truck Rover 1 (1/2 Ton).

If you know of additional info, photographs, technical specs or corrections to the Line Layers then we would like to hear from you. Article by Mark Cook, originally printed as an article in the February 1999 EMLRA Newsletter.