The War Archives - British Military Trucks of WW2

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British Military Trucks of World War 2

Founded in 1906, AEC supplied almost 10,000 all-wheel drive Matador medium artillery tractors to the British Army between 1939 and 1945, with more constructed in the ‘fifties. Other war-time trucks included the 6x6 Model 854/O854, and the 6x4 Marshal.

Although primarily a manufacturer of motorcars, Austin had launched a family of new trucks in 1939. The company supplied more than 92,500 trucks for the war effort, including a 5-cwt light utility vehicle, K2 fi eld ambulance, and the 3-ton K5, 30-cwt K30, and 3-ton K3 trucks.

Bedford was the largest supplier of trucks during WWII, with a total of almost a quarter of a million vehicles built. Most numerous was the O Series, with more than 72,000 examples constructed; others included the all-wheel drive QL, and the 15-cwt 4x2 MW.

Better-known as a manufacturer of agricultural tractors, David Brown modified their VAG1 industrial tractor to produce an aircraft and bomb-trailer tractor for the RAF. Some 1,250 examples were built and the VIG1, as it was described, became the RAF’s standard aircraft tractor into the early ‘fifties.

Founded in Clapham, London in 1905, Commer was the first British truck company to manufacture a 15-cwt military vehicle, with the Beetle of 1935. Other war-time products included militarised versions of the 1939 Superpoise Q range covering weight classes from 15 cwt to 3 tons.

During WWII, Ford produced around 185,000 military trucks, as well as tracked carriers, and 30,000 Merlin aircraft engines. The company’s major contribution was the WOT series of trucks, with 15-cwt, 30-cwt and 3-ton vehicles produced, some of which incorporated all-wheel drive.

Based in Wolverhampton, Guy Motors achieved some fame by producing Britain’s first all-wheel drive 15-cwt truck, in the form of the Quad-Ant. Other trucks supplied during the period included the 3-ton BAX, and its forward-control variant the FBAX, as well a 4x2 version of the 15-cwt truck simply described as the Ant.

Like Commer, Karrier was owned by the Rootes Group, and there was some standardisation of design between the products of the two companies from the midthirties. Karrier’s WWII military vehicles included the 3-ton 4x4 K6, the 3-ton 6x4 CK6, and the 4x4 KT4 field artillery tractor.

Although Leyland concentrated largely on building tanks during WWII, the company still found time to construct 6,500 6x4 3-ton Retrievers, which were bodied for a variety of roles, as well as the 10-ton 6x4 Hippo.

Along with Bedford and Guy, Morris-Commercial was another producer of the ubiquitous 15-cwt 4x2 truck, producing thousands of its CS8, and C4 vehicles between 1934 and 1944 when production switched to the 4x4 C8. Other Morris military products included the 6x4 CDSW, the 8-cwt PU and PU8/4, and some 8,000 light utility vehicles; the company also constructed the Thornycroft-designed Terrapin Mk I amphibian.

Watford-based Scammell Lorries produced what were arguably the largest and most impressive British wheeled military vehicles of the period, in the shape of the 6x4 Pioneer. Although the design was somewhat archaic, the Gardner-engined Pioneer was reliable and virtually unstoppable, and remained in production throughout the war as an artillery tractor, tank transporter, and recovery vehicle.

John I Thornycroft was established in Chiswick in 1862 and was one of Britain’s first commercial-vehicle builders. During WWII the company supplied some 5,000 Nubian 3-ton 4x4 trucks and around 2,000 Amazon 6x4 mobile cranes. The company also designed the 8x8 Terrapin amphibian, as well as supplying militarised versions of a number of 30-cwt and 3-ton civilian trucks.

Whilst companies such as AEC, Bedford, Ford, Morris-Commercial, Leyland and Scammell are wellknown, there were many smaller manufacturers who made an equally valuable, albeit more modest, contribution to the war effort. For example Crossley, Dennis, ERF, Foden, Hillman, Standard, and Tilling- Stevens; Humber also constructed many military vehicles using an 8-cwt 4x4 chassis with independent front suspension.