British Army Gun Tractors, by Pat Ware

British Army Gun Tractors, by Pat Ware
Published by Military Trucks Archive in 2022, 98 pages. Softback - c.20cm by 27cm (N8303)

Brand New Book

In the beginning, field artillery was moved by horsepower alone, but during WWl the introduction of increasingly­ larger guns began to make this impossible. However, there were few commercial tractors available that could handle the size and weight, let alone move them across shattered ground nevertheless, the British Army experimented with both steam tractors and with tracked machines.

Neither was ideal. The typical steam traction engine was a slow, lumbering beast that lacked off-road performance, and whilst tracked machines offered better performance across rough terrain, most proved to be maintenance­ heavy and unreliable. And experiments with various half­ tracked designs were inconclusive.

It was the appearance of 'Hathi' - a four-wheeled artillery tractor developed by the Royal Army Service Corps and put
into production by Thornycroft in 1924 - that showed the way ahead. Named after the Hindi word for elephant, 'Hathi' proved that a modern artillery tractor could tow various types of artillery and, at the same time, could provide seated accommodation for the gun crew. In 1929, 'Hathi' was replaced by the FWD R6T, a 6x6 heavy artillery tractor that remained in service into the early years of WW2. By the mid-thirties, the British Army had decided that all artillery tractors should be wheeled machines with all­wheel drive.

This latest in the Kelsey 'Military Trucks Archive' series tells the story of the British Army's wheeled gun tractors. From the Morris-Commercial CD/SW, through iconic machines such as the Scammell Pioneer, the AEC Matador and the Bedford QLB, to the post-war AEC Militant and Leyland Martian tractors, and the medium-mobility Foden, the last of the big gun tractors that was desig ned to tow the FH70 howitzer. Smaller machines such as the Land Rover 101, the Pinzgauer 716M, and the Reynolds Boughton RB 44 are not forgotten and the story is brought right up-to­ date with General Dynamics' Mastiff that has seen valiant service in Afghanistan.

The book is illustrated throughout with black and white photographs