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the shorland

The Shorland is an armoured patrol car that was used during the conflict known as the Troubles.
It was constructed by two local engineering giants: Shorts Brothers and Harland & Wolff. The Shorland name is said to have been derived from the two company names.

Local & Global Significance 

Full length Shorland

The Shorland was in operation from 1966 to 1998 in Northern Ireland. It has also been deployed in conflicts across the globe, including the Lebanese Civil War (1975- 1990), Rhodesian Bush War (1964- 1979) and, the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983- 2009).

The Shorland continues to be used in 29 countries worldwide, including Argentina, the Netherlands, Portugal, Thailand and Turkey.

Of the first batch of 10 Shorlands produced by Shorts and Harland, the vehicle in our collection is the ninth Shorland to be produced.  

Our commitment to exploring narratives and experiences of the conflict through our ‘Troubles and Beyond’ initiative makes this Shorland a significant acquisition for the Ulster Transport Museum and National Museums Northern Ireland.

Design & Manufacturing

Shorland in Brochure
The Shorland, as seen in a Manufacturing Brochure

The Shorland was designed by Frederick Butler in the early 1960s, after a request from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for a vehicle fit for security duties and border patrols during escalating tensions in Northern Ireland.

The first design meeting took place in November 1961, with the third and final prototype completed in 1964. The first Shorlands were delivered in 1966. Shorts and Harland ran production from the Glen Works in Newtownards, but production soon moved to Belfast.

The Shorland vehicles were originally built using the chassis from the Series IIA Land Rover. The turret on the Shorland was often seen as threatening, with the media reporting that it looked like a "tank". In response to this, the RUC replaced the roof with a steel plate and had the machine gun turrets removed. The gun barrel that can be seen in the Shorland in our collection is a replica made by the former owner. 

The Shorlands were reallocated to the Ulster Defence Regiment in 1970. 


Battleship grey was the standard colour for many RUC vehicles. The Shorland in our collection was based on a grey Land Rover, and painted in an emerald-green satin finish.  

The Shorland has a maximum speed of 55 mph (88 kph), with an upgraded suspension to deal with the extra weight of the armour.  

Front of the Shorland

It was developed to carry a crew of three to a vehicle. Eventually, Shorlands were designed to be capable of carrying two people up front and six in the rear.  

This Shorland has two heavy metal windows which can be manually opened from the inside - one for each front passenger. When closed, there is a visor that the passenger can look through. 

At the back of the Shorland, there is a raised seat which allows an individual to operate the machine gun. In this seated position, there is a visor similar to the ones found at the front of the Shorland. This visor allows the operator to see from the machine gun's perspective. The machine gun turret can act independently of where the vehicle is pointing. 


Shortland Turret

The Shorland was withdrawn from police duties in January 1970, and this particular Shorland was placed into storage. 

In 1996, the Short Brothers sold the complete Shorland design to British Aerospace Australia. 

  1. Wheelbase | 2, 77m (109in)
  2. Track | 1,36m (53 1/2 in)
  3. Overall Length | 4,6m (181in)
  4. Overall Width | 1,78m (70in) including fittings 
  5. Overall Height | 2,29m (90in)
  6. Turning Circle | 17,75m (58ft 3in)
  7. Fuel Capacity | 64 litres (14 Imperial gallons); with long-range tank fitted - 128 litres (28 Imperial gallons) 
  8. Engine Type | Rover petrol
  9. Chassis | Land Rover 2,77m (109in) frame with improved departure angle
  10. Gears | 8 forward, 2 reverse using transfer box
  11. Electrical equipment | 12v negative earth 57AH battery capacity
  12. Brakes | Land Rover 0,28m (11in) dia.fitted with servo assisted brakes 
  13. Suspension | Heavy duty semi-elliptical leaf springs with telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars front and rear 
  14. Tyres | 9.00 x 16
  15. Steering (RH or LH) | Recirculating ball, worm and nut variable ratio, from 15:6 : 1 straight ahead to 23.8 : 1 on full lock 
  16. Weight | Kerb weight 2931kg (6,450lb), Operation weight including crew [3 @ 81.64kg (180lb)] 3360kg (7,400lb)
  17. Engine size | 2625cc (160.3cu in)
  18. No. of cylinders | 6
  19. Gross bhp | 91bhp at 4,500rpm
  20. Maximum torque | 17.9mkg (130lb/ft) at 1,750rpm
  21. Maximum speed (average) | Road 88.4km/h (55mph), Cross-country 48.28km/h (30mph)
  22. Range of action | Standard tank 257.2km (160 miles) 
  23. Gross power weight ratio | 28.75hp/ton
  24. Maximum tractive effort in low gear | 1,172lb/ton
  25. Maximum climbing ability | 1 in 1.7
  26. Maximum gradient for stop and restart | 1 in 1.7