A welded steel monocoque chassis houses the powerpack and drivetrain enclosed inside for protection and to give the vehicle a low profile, with the driver sitting between the driveshafts. It is more spacious than the Dingo predecessor and can be fitted with a turret. Run-flat tyres with permanent four-wheel drive, rather than tracks, made the vehicle faster and more manoeuvrable. There were six Marks of Ferret produced, listed here.
The hull of the Ferret is divided into three compartments: driving (yellow) and fighting (green), with the engine compartment (red) at the rear. The petrol tank divides these last two. The Ferret has a classic armoured vehicle ‘boat’ shaped hull incorporating sloped sides, designed to deflect mine blast and incoming bullets/shrapnel. Sometimes the side bins were removed in various theatres to prevent blast traps from mines.
The driver has three hatches, one to his front and one to each side, each of which contains an integral No 17 day observation periscope. The front hatch can be folded down onto the glacis plate for increased visibility and can then be fitted with an optional splinter-proof windscreen with a wiper blade. The two side hatches can be opened upwards on the outside for increased visibility when not in combat.
The manually-operated turret in the centre of the hull, fitted to the Mk 2, has a single-piece forward-facing hatch cover forming the roof which can be locked in three different positions. The rear part of the turret folds down horizontally enabling it to be used as a seat. Mounted in the forward part of the turret roof is a sight periscope AFV No. 3 Mk 1 used for aiming the turret-mounted 30-cal machine gun which can be elevated manually from -15° to +70°, turret traverse being a full 360°. A fire-suppression bar is fitted on the rear of the hull to protect the engine compartment. A total of 2,500 rounds of machine gun ammunition is carried. Mounted either side of the hull at the front of the vehicle are three 66 mm smoke grenade dischargers which are electrically fired as a bank of three from within the vehicle. The basic Ferret has no NBC system, no night vision equipment and no amphibious capability, although later models were equipped with a piped internal fire-fighting system. At the rear of the fighting compartment are two hatches for increased observation. On each side of the hull, between the front and rear road wheels, is a hull escape hatch. The left one is covered by the spare wheel and the right by a stowage box. The dimensions for the Mk 1 Ferret, the Mk 2/3, Marks 3-5 and the plan view are given here.
The engine is a fully waterproofed Rolls Royce B60 Mk 6A 4.2 Litre straight six dry sump, generating 130 horse power at a low 3750 rpm with fixed four-wheel drive transmission with coil spring suspension.
Drive is transferred through a fluid flywheel coupling, five-speed preselecting epicyclic gearbox, a transfer box, incorporating a forward and reverse mechanism and an H-configuration single centrally-placed differential unit via driveshafts and Tracta CV-joints to wheel stations with bevel boxes and epicyclic planetary reduction gears in each hub, essential to reduce transmission torque loads. The H-drive central differential eliminates loss of traction due to off-road wheel-slip. To the front of, and forming an integral unit with the gearbox, is the transfer gearbox which contains a differential drive and and gear selector. The five-speed gearbox can operate, via the gear selector and the transfer box, in forward as well as reverse.
Four bevel gears in the transfer box are connected via universal joints to the propellor shafts. Each propellor shaft drives, through a second universal joint, a bevel box connected to each wheel hub. Housed in each bevel box and roadwheel hub are constant velocity joints which form a flexible drive to the epicyclic gear trains in the hub. Therefore, the wheels are connected in pairs on each side front and aft, via the LH propshafts and the RH propshafts. The front wheels and rear wheels are not connected together via trans-axles. To relieve wind-up, the vehicle can be jacked up on each side to enable the LH wheel pair and RH wheel pair to rotate freely.
The suspension at each wheel station consists of a single coil spring which encloses a double-acting hydraulic shock-absorber, with upper and lower wishbone link assemblies mounted on a stabiliser bracket at the bottom and carried in a bracket at the top attached to the hull plates.
The fuel tank holds 21 imperial gallons = 96 litres. Fuel consumption is around 6 miles per gallon on road, dropping to about 4 mpg off road. With an electronic distributor, and good driving, it is possible to get up to 8 mpg. The Ferret has a top speed of 56 mph. A Mk1 will do 0 to 30 in about 3/4 minute. The ability to select reverse and get out of trouble at full speed is concomitant with the Ferret’s role of reconnaissance by stealth.
Electrical power is supplied by a 24 volt negative earth return system running from two 12v 60 amp-hour batteries in series located either side of the radio tray at the rear of the fighting compartment. A generator panel and distribution box are situated in the rear left-hand part of the fighting compartment. The electrical system is screened to prevent VHF radio interference. Further specifications can be found on this page.
From the outside the Ferret is surprisingly quiet, sounding rather like a Harley, comensurate with its recce role. Inside it is a different matter, particularly the enclosed Mk 2. Inside, a Ferret is noisy: the driver sits between the two forward drive-shafts and very near the sound focal point created in the fighting compartment by the reflections off the bell-shaped interior of the hull. Many drivers when operating alone choose to wear ear defenders*. Otherwise the intercom headsets give ear protection. It is possible to fit ANR headseats; for more information see the intercom & radio page.
which is very useful for checking the state of each of the oil-filled wheel hubs and the exhaust temperature.