On Thursday, 21 September 2006, the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line Roll On-Roll Off ship “Talisman” arrived at Melbourne’s Webb Dock, and unloaded the first of the Australian Army’s new M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and M88A2 Hercules Armoured Recovery Vehicles. The following day, at an official ceremony at the dock attended by the Minister for the Army and the Chief of Army, the vehicles were displayed to guests and the media.
The Abrams and Hercules were painted in the standard US factory finish sand colour, and were adorned with the red kangaroo on the turret sides. The tanks will carry Army Registration Numbers (ARN) in the 2070** range,whilst the Hercules already have ARNs in the 20710* range. Bridge classification signs in black had been applied to the upper glacis plate. Other markings at this stage were limited to various lifting and / or towing points. One tank was named “Chauvel”, in honour of General Sir Harry Chauvel, a legend of the Australian Lighthorse, the predecessors of today’s Royal Australian Armoured Corps.
The Army’s new Heavy Equipment Transporter, an MAN 8×8 prime mover with a trailer designed and built by Drake Trailers of Brisbane, was also in attendance. Both prime mover and trailer were painted standard Australian Army olive drab.
During the following days, all the vehicles were transported to the School of Armour at Puckapunyal, where the vehicles are to be readied for use and training of crews will start.
These state-of-the-art vehicles will allow the Australian Army to maintain its tank capability, and will ensure inter-operability with our closest ally.
Further deliveries of Abrams and Hercules will be made directly into Darwin, where they will equip the Army’s only tank unit, the 1st Armoured Regiment.
The photos show the tanks and ARVs at the official ceremony on Melbourne’s Webb Dock and later unloading at Puckapunyal.
Photographed at: Webb Dock, Melbourne and RAAC School of Armour, Puckapunyal, Victoria. Photo Series © RAAC Museum and Memorial, Puckpunyal, Victoria, 2006. Text © Paul Handel 2006.
|Australia’s new Main Battle Tank, the M1A1 AIM Abrams.|
|Side by side. Current MBT Leopard AS1 next to Abrams M1A1 AIM.|
|M88A2 Hercules ARV. Note that this vehicle is already sporting the new ARN, as noted in the article.|
|M88A2 and Abrams loaded on the Army’s new heavy transporters ready to depart for Puckapunyal. Some good details evident here of the locally built trailers.|
|First Abrams ready to depart Melbourne docks. This image gives a nice view of markings and other details of the Army’s massive new 8 X 8 MAN Tractor.|
|Arrival and unloading at Puckapunyal.|
|First Abrams arrives at the RAAC School of Armour. Note equipment fit in turret bustle.|