The Faolchú Armoured Personnel Carrier was a fully amphibious and airportable APC and IFV in service with the SDF-Army from 1960 to 1980, when the Sionnach-I Armoured Personnel Carrier took over all roles and the last Faolchús were decommissioned. A demiliterized version is still produced for the civilian market by Gabha Motorworks Limited. The low profile and maneuverability makes the Faolchu a difficult target, despite it's relatively large size.
The term faolchú means wolf.
The Faolchú was a tracked armoured vehicle of thirteen tons, designed to transport a squad of eight men to their destination and support them and the tanks like the Cosaint MBT and the Crogall Amphibious Armoured Vehicle there with fire from the heavy coaxial Machine Gun, Heavy, Model 1953 and the Gabha G-80 76mm Gun.
The G-80 was an anti-tank gun, which had been adopted into service in 1944, but with the proceeding mechanization of the SDF found less and less uses before being inserted into the Faolchú's turret. In addition to normal, armour-piercing ammunition, the Faolchú had been issued high explosive ammunition, grapeshot ammunition, phosphorous rounds and 76mm rockets, first unguided ones - in a service upgrade planned for 1975, the Faolchú was supposed to receive guided anti-tank missiles, but with the decomissioning of the Faolchú, that fell through.
The engine was located at the front of the watertight and NBC-protected welded steel hull with a turret on the rear, with a troop compartment for eight soldiers behind that. The driver, seated right of the engine, can look outside via a small periscope, which could be extended when needed. Two small vision blocks to the sides of this central periscope provide a good view of the surroundings. The centre vision block could, in earlier models, be replaced by a night vision periscope and had, in later versions, that already installed.
Behind the driver sat the vehicle's commander, with an infrared searchlight and three periscopes, one of them built to couple with the infrared searchlight, as well as a zoom function. The commander also had a radio set, which allowed him or her to hold contact with the rest of the troops without sticking the head out.
The turret was built for one man and one man only, who would work the Gabha G-80 76mm Gun. Equipped with an electric traverse drive, a manual backup and a fume extraction system beyond opening the top hatch of the conical turret, the turret was tight and, as larger people say, uncomfortable. The turret has a dead spot over the commander's position due to the infrared searchlight being in the way and prevents the troop compartment's top hatches being opened when facing backwards. For gun operations, the gunner is equipped with with a dual mode day/night periscopic sight, four smaller periscoped for day use, and, in later versions, a removable infrared or white light searchlight. The sight is equipped for stadiametric rangefinding.
The troop compartment, made for eight soldiers, is tight and located at the rear, without any firing ports in early versions (the 1975 Service Upgrade planned to add a total of five, but that was never done). The soldiers sit on padded benches back to back, with the centreline occupied by the fuel tank and a tool stowage above that. The roof of the troop compartment can be opened from below, but not from above, via four large hatches. The rear also contained two hatches for soldiers to mount and dismount from. However, the troop compartment was tight and cramped, with little space for personal equipment and quite low. Taller soldiers simply don't fit well and sit in discomfort.
The multifuel engine can be fuelled with diesel and kerosene, a four-stroke, six-cylinder engine, with cooling to the left and a radiator above. The manual gearbox has seven gears, one reverse, five forward and one for water drive (in practical application, the water drive gear was never used). The Faolchu can climb a slope of 35°, drive on side slopes of 25° and can cross 2.5 metre wide trenches, as well as climb 0.75 metre high obstacles. It can also cross snow-covered and boggy terrain easily. The first production run of the Faolchú had serious troubles with the engines, especially when kerosene was used, a problem, which was addressed with the Mark II Refit, completely new engines, which had been tested on the Crogall-AAV Mark I. While the Crogall Mark III would receive another engine update from 1975 to 1978, but by that time, it was already known, that the Faolchú would be decommissioned, the replacement relying on a more conventional diesel engine.
In water, the Faolchu uses its tracks to propel itself forward with a top speed in water of 7 km/h. A trim vane at the front of the hull aids in traveling. The vehicle is bow-heavy so that the troop compartment must be full or filled with an equivalent cargo to ensure safe sailing. The Faolchu can overcome currents one metre per second easily (the maximum is 1.25 m/s) and waves of 0.2 metres. Anything more and the Faolchu needs to be prepared by engineers. While it can participate in amphibious landings, the Faolchu is designed to cross rivers and lakes, not the high seas.
- Mark 0:
- Mark I:
- Mark II: New engines, 1966-1971.
- Mark III:
- Faolchú-AA: AA-vehicle on the platform, two Gabha G-116 30mm Revolver Cannons in turret. 90 vehicles.
- Faolchú-M1: Mortar vehicle, Mortar, Heavy, Model 1961, 180 conversions.
Replacement: Sionnach-I Armoured Personnel Carrier
Starting 1976, the Sionnach-I Armoured Personnel Carrier replaced the Faolchú in service, slowly but surely. By 1980, that process was done. While Faolchús were held in reserve and auxillary roles until 2000, the Faolchú was officially decommissioned from the frontline units in 1979. It would, however, enjoy a Second Coming with the Sensha-Do Teams of the Free Lands and abroad.
Upon its formation in 2016, the Naval School Sensha-Do Team was equipped with Faolchus.
The author Asteria Cleite of the Tribe of Waterford was gunner of a Faolchu during her time with the Seabhac.