WW2 British Military Vehicles
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This guide features several classic WW2 British vehicles.
AEC Matador 4x4 Artillery Tractor
In the medium Artillery class the British had a good vehicle in the AEC Matador, which first entered service in 1938. The Matador was developed from original FWD designs, by way of Hardy Motors 4/4 4x4 chassis which utilised many AEC components. The Matador was also pressed into service as a tank transporter in the Western Desert, towing Rogers trailers, often with the top half of the cab removed. Total production was 8,612, the last ones auctioned off as late as the mid-1970s.
Austin K2/Y 4x2 Heavy Ambulance
The most numerous British ambulance during WW2 was the Austin K2/Y 4x2 Heavy Ambulance. Affectionately known as the "Katie", some 13,000 were produced for the Allies. The body was of simple construction, a wood frame covered with leathercloth, well insulated, heated and accommodating four stretcher or eight sitting cases, or combinations of both, plus a medical attendant. The body design was the result of much pre-war development work by the Royal Army Medical Corps. It was produced by Mann Egerton, the specialist luxury car body builders.
Bedford QL Three-ton 4x4 Troop Carrier Truck
At the outbreak of World War II, Bedford was contracted by the British War Office to produce a 3-ton 4x4 general service truck, the first production vehicles arriving in early 1941. There were a number of variants on the basic design, including the GLT troop carrier with room for 29 troops and kit, popularly known as the Drooper and the QLR wireless truck, a vehicle specifically adapted to carry and fire the 6-pounder anti-tank gun from the body. The QL was probably the best known British 4x4 3-tonner.
Daimler Armoured Car Mk1
By 1938-39 the BSA Company had developed a light scout car, later known as the Daimler Dingo, and its good results on trials led to the suggestion that it could be scaled-up to become a full-sized armoured car. Work on this idea began in April 1939 and the prototypes were running before the end of the year. Due to initial troubles with transmission and other components, it was not until April 1941 that the Daimler Armoured Car Mk 1 entered service.
Guy Quad-Ant 4x4 Field Artillery Tractor
In 1938, encouraged by the successful development of 4x4 vehicles, a specification was laid down by the War Office for a field artillery tractor capable of handling the new 25pdr gun-howitzer. The first tractor to enter production was the Guy Quad-Ant, a quadruple-wheel-drive version of an earlier 4x2 15cwt infantry truck, known as the Ant. The name Quad became a generic term for this family of hump-backed multi-purpose bodied tractors that were to become a familiar sight on every battlefield. Total production of British Quads amounted to 5,000 units.
Hillman 4x2 Light Utility Car
In Britain, the lightest GS vehicles were classed as "Truck 5cwt 4x2 Light Utility", commonly known as Tillies, and were produced by Austin, Hillman, Morris and Standard, based on their individual 10 and 12hp pre-war passenger saloons. These vehicles lacked a reasonable cross-country performance and were largely replaced by the jeep in front-line units. Their light construction led to distortion of axles, chassis and suspension, and their low power-to-weight ratio led to excessive used of the gears, often causing gearbox failure.
Morris-Commercial C8 4x4 Field Artillery Tractor
Although the Quad gun tractor was originally developed by Guy Motors, by far the greatest number of vehicles to this basic design were produced by Morris-Commercial Motors. Designed for towing the 25-pdr gun-howitzer, it became the standard towing vehicle in all British field artillery regiments, and was widely used also by Commonwealth artillery and as a towing vehicle for the 17-pdr. anti tank gun. The peculiar shape and metallic sheathing of the Quad led to a common belief that it was bullet-proof - this was never so, the metal too thin to even keep out shell splinters.
Morris CS8 15-cwt 4x2 General Service Truck
The 15cwt GS truck was the first type of vehicle to go into mass production when full mechanisation of the British Army was undertaken in the 1930s. It was designed to carry the heavy personal equipment of an infantry platoon, such as blanket rolls, large packs, extra ammunition and rations. Morris-Commercial were first into production in 1934, with their CS8 Mk1, which was in quantity service by 1936. Minor changes were made to the front wings, bonnet and radiator during its production life before it was replaced by the C4 Mk 1, which had better weather protection.
Vickers Bren-Gun Carrier
The Bren Carrier began as a spin-off from the Vickers development work done on the light Dragon gun tractor. In 1934 this company developed a tracked vehicle which could double as a gun-tower or machine-gun carrier (for the Vickers medium machine gun) and also carry a complete four-man squad. Following the introduction of the Bren light machine gun in 1937 the concept was slightly changed. The Vickers gun was replaced by the Bren gun and the superstructure and interior armaments suitably modified. Issues began in 1938 on the scale of 10 carriers per infantry battalion, as the Carrier, Bren, No.2 Mark 1.