In 1968 The MOD bought 72 Series IIa 109s, officially known as Truck, General Service, 3/4 Ton, or FV 18064, which they had adapted for use by the Special Air Service in the desert. These vehicles were designed for long distance reconnaissance and special operation missions. Previously they had been using the 88 inch SWB Land Rover for their operations and in the late 1960s they were looking for a bigger load carrier. In 1968, Marshalls of Cambridge were commissioned to convert a 109 inch Land Rover for desert duties. Four fuel tanks allowed a capacity of 100 gallons to be carried. Heavier duty chassis, springs, sand tyres, guards to the differentials and a specially mounted spare wheel were also fitted. The doors and windscreen were removed. Equipment included a general-purpose machine gun (GPMG), anti-tank weapon, rifles, grenade holders, smoke canisters and navigation equipment such as a theodolite and compasses. When fully loaded with fuel, weapons, and other kit, the vehicle weighed in excess of 3 tonnes.
The vehicles were delivered in standard bronze green, but many were repainted in a pink colour, which at that time was believed to be the best camouflage in the desert. The pink paint scheme was said to be a highly effective desert camouflage, especially at dawn/dusk. It was as a result of their colour that they became known as ‘Pink Panthers’ or ‘Pinkies’.
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