Contributor: Alan Chanter
ww2dbaseThe prototype of the Bedford MWD, 15-cwt, 4x2 General Service Truck appeared in 1937 and throughout the War years provided the backbone of the British army's transportation. It was based on a commercial 2-tonnes (2-tons) truck with a modified chassis to increase the ground clearance. The British War Office ordered 2,000 15-cwt trucks from Bedford Vehicles (subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors, Luton, which is a subsidiary of American firm General Motors) in August 1939, the early deliveries being constructed specifically to carry the 2-pounder anti-tank gun.
ww2dbaseThe MWD had a flat, full length bonnet, designed to incorporate an extra-large air filter as per War Office requirements. Originally the vehicle was fitted with a canvas hood and doors and collapsible windscreen (which led to the vehicle being universally known as the "pneumonia wagon"), but this was replaced in 1943 by an enclosed cab with metal doors and a full-width windscreen. The trucks were powered by a 3,500cc Bedford six-cylinder OHV petrol engine developing 72 hp (53.7kw) linked to a four forward and one reverse gearbox.
ww2dbaseBedford produced over 200,000 Bedford 15-cwt trucks during the war. Simple to maintain and robust, it was used by every arm of the service as a general cargo and personnel carrier (including wide usage in the North Africa campaign as the standard transport for the motorised infantry in the armoured brigades), and the type remained in service with the British army until the late 1950s. It was also the vehicle on which thousands of military drivers would learn to drive.
ww2dbaseSources: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Military Vehicles (Ian V Hogg & John Weeks,-Hamlyn, 1980); Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Philip Trewbitt, Dempsey-Parr,1999).
Last Major Revision: Nov 2009
|Machinery||One Bedford 6-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 72hp|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945