Peter Sanders, United Kingdom

Ford C11ADF "Blitz Buggy" (SAS)

It is not clear where the SAS got this C11ADF station wagon came from, but it seems that there was a C11ADF with a damaged roof in Cairo and Col. Stirling “appropriated” it. The roof and windscreen were cut off and it was painted dark blue/grey, with a German recognition panel on the bonnet, to make it look like a German staff car (but with a large SAS emblem on each front door!). Originally, it mounted two concealed machine guns; in June 1942, these were replaced with 4 Vickers K machine guns. Affectionately known as the Blitz Buggy, it was an important component of the early SAS raids.

In March 1942, Stirling drove it from Siwa into Benghazi twice in unsuccessful attempts to mine shipping in the harbour. The SAS party passed Italian checkpoints by claiming to be German staff officers and parked the car in an abandoned garage.When challenged, they berated the guard commander, asking how it was possible for strangers to be able to walk around a guarded area with large equipment: “for all you know, we might be British saboteurs with loads of high explosive”. Later, they attacked Benina airfield with “Lewes” bombs.

In June 1942, the Blitz Buggy ran over a Thermos mine, but Stirling recovered it, towing it 400 miles to Siwa for repair. Early in July 1942, the SAS drove the Blitz Buggy, with other vehicles, to Bagush airfield where they destroyed 22 aircraft using Lewes bombs. Then, a few hours later, they drove the Blitz Buggy and a Jeep onto the same airfield and destroyed 15 more aircraft with their machine guns. The success of this “drive-in” raid later resulted in the famous SidiHaneish raid. On the way back across the desert from Bagush, the SAS party was spotted and attacked by Italian aircraft. After a long chase around rock outcrops and up an escarpment, the Blitz Buggy had to be abandoned and it exploded after coming under sustained machine gun fire.

Historical Photos

David Stirling's “Blitz Buggy”, a Ford V-8 staff car that he had converted to look like an enemy staff car, for use on the raid on Benghazi. It later hit a small mine, lost a wheel, was salvaged, and later shot up and burned by an Italian CR42 fighter. Left to right: Seekings, Rose, Colonel Stirling and Cooper. Note the SAS crest on the door. (Johnny Cooper photo from ONE OF THE ORIGINALS – The Story of a Founder member of the SAS.)

This second photo has obviusly taken for the same occassion:

It is not sure that the vehicle on the third picture is actually the Blitz Buggy, as the fittings are slightly different to the other pictures.

Peter Sander's Replica

Peter Sanders of the “Desert Raiders Association” explains how this unique vehicle was reconstructed:

This reconstruction, which took almost 2 years,is based on a civilian 1941 V8 Ford “woodie” station waggon, converted to C11ADF specification. It is as close to the original Blitz Buggy as possible, being based upon period photographs and recollections of North African veterans. As I was not able to find a Canadian Ford, a 1941 Ford V8 was imported from the USA and new timber panels were imported from Uruguay. New wheels, tyres and running gear and propshaftwere fitted and it was changed from Left Hand Drive to Right Hand Drive, so it was a major conversion!The final touches were to make all the fittings, source the Vickers Ks and add the yellow Luftwaffe recognition marking on the bonnet.

Details

Ford C11 ADF

As were so many Allied military vehicles, the Ford C11ADF was manufactured in Canada. Station wagons of this model were commonly used as staff cars with the British and Commonwealth Forces in the North African Campaign. Two versions were built, a 7-seater and a 5-seater, the latter having heavier axles and a bigger luggage compartment. This was therefore better suited to Operation Salam. The station wagon was also called “Woodie”, referring to the bodywork, that except for the engine covers and the mudguards, was made of wood instead of metal. The “F” in the C11ADF indicates that the vehicle had right hand drive
.
The 96 bhp 3.6 litre V8 petrol engine was made by Ford and gave the vehicle a maximum speed of 70mph (112 km/h). The manufacturer declared fuel consumption as 13 miles per gallon, that equals about 18 litres per 100 kilometres. It must be understood that such a value could not be matched with a fully loaded vehicle in the heat and over soft sand. Therefore it was necessary to do extensive testing before the beginning of an operation leading deep into the desert.

The C11ADF had a wheelbase of 114” (290cm), an overall length of 194” (493cm), a width of 79” (201cm) and a height of 72” (183cm). The vehicle was two-wheel-drive and was provided with 9.00 × 13 desert tyres. It was fitted out on the production line with blackout equipment (so that no light was emitted at night), rifle carrying stands, map container, map table and a first aid box. Also, for use in the desert, a water condenser was fitted at the front of the vehicle to reduce water consumption when the engine overheated (based upon the same principle as used by the LRDG). The unloaded weight of the vehicle was just less than two tonnes.

Text quoted from Operation Salam