Matador Medium Gun Tractor at the War and Peace Show 2012

Prompted by the release of an excellent 1:76 model of the Matador from Oxford Diecast, I thought I'd add some more detail to it.  Their model is based on the example in desert colours that can be found in the Land Warfare Hall of the Imperial War Museum site at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

Some 9,000 examples of the Matador were built by AEC (Associated Equipment Company) during WW2 and they served with the Army, Navy and Air Force.  Some also served with the Canadian Army.  Equipped with a winch, they were used as a medium artillery tractor, commonly towing the 4.5 and 5.5in howitzers, or with the 3.7in anti-aircraft gun.  The example at Duxford is shown hitched up to a 4.5 in gun, which looks hard to distinguish from the 5.5in gun with which it shares the same carriage.  It could be used for smaller guns such as the 25 pounder, but these commonly used the smaller Quad tractors from Morris or the CMP types.  The larger guns such as the 7.2in Howitzer needed a heavier tractor, notably the Scammell Pioneer.

Quite a large truck, the Matador was able to carry the gun crew along with ammunition in the rear body.  In length  20 feet 10 inches, width of 7 feet 10 inches and a height of 9 foot 7 inches it weighed in at a little under 8 tons.  A four wheel drive truck it had good mobility and proved to be a robust and popular design

The Matador proved to be a very successful, with many going on after the war in a variety of guises, such as Fairground use carrying mobile generators, cranes, garage recovery vehicles and forestry vehicles.  During the war the RAF used it as a flat-bed load carrier and the larger 6x4 variant as a refueller, particularly on the bomber stations.  Another interesting use was as a 'tug' to tow Sunderland Flying boats out of the water at their bases.  These days they remain a popular military vehicle to restore and run, and they are a relatively common sight at military vehicle rallies around the country.

For those who have tried their hand at making plastic kits, then you may remember that a Matador plus a 5.5 in gun was one of the early Airfix releases in their range of 1:76 models back in the 1960s (a model still available today), while they later did the 6x4 Refueller as well, as part of their RAF Refuelling set.

The Matador chassis also provided the basic for a couple of armoured variants as well.  In North Africa, some were converted to the 'Deacon', with an armoured cab and on the back an armoured turret mounting a 6 pounder anti-tank gun.  Not made in large numberse.  In the same way it was also used for an armoured Command Vehicle, the Dorchester.  Also in North Africa, 3 of those were captured by the Africa Korps and they were used by Rommel for part of the campaign there.

So a very successsful truck design, and one we are luckily enough to still be able to see to this day.  Now Oxford Diecasts have done a very nice military version of it, with more to come, along with some post-war civilian recovery trucks as well.

Oxford Diecast do have civilian variants already in the range, and I believe a European camouflaged option, such as the real one seen in the phtos here, is planned, along with an RAF flatbed and one in Royal Navy markings as well.  I for one will look forward to these once they are released.