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Bedford QL

Discussion in 'Allied Military vehicles used during WWII' started by Jim, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    Bedford’s involvement in four-wheel drive vehicles began in 1938, during the development stages of the square nosed 15-cwt Bedford. It was suggested that the War Office be approached with permission to proceed with this design, Some degree of interest was expressed, but as no immediate requirement was envisaged the matter proceeded no further. Then Bedford decided to undertake private development on a low-priority basis with an eye to future military orders. After the outbreak of war the War Office issued orders for large quantities of 4 x 2 vehicles and also told Bedford to proceed with a prototype 4x4 3-ton general-service truck. In October 1939 a specification was approved, and on 1st February 1940 the first prototype was completed and was out on road tests. Within a month two more had joined it for extensive factory and military tests. The usual army tests were completed and the fitments for special tools installed, and drivers began training to operate this new truck. It had taken one year exactly from the first prototype to the first production vehicles, a commendable feat in a time of great stress and shortages. The Bedford QL was designed to use its four-wheel drive on rough terrain, but could disengage the front drive for use on hard roads to ease the wear on tyres and gearbox, the change being effected by moving a lever on the secondary gearbox. Another feather in Bedford’s cap (and a surprise one) was the lack of normal teething troubles during the QL’s early use. It was only after about one year in service that the first sign of trouble occurred, and a rather peculiar one at that: a tendency for the vehicle to shudder when the brakes were applied slightly. These reports were followed up immediately, and it was found that only a small proportion of vehicles were showing this fault. After some time spent on investigation the fault was found to be simple, and the deep-treaded cross-country tyres were replaced by normal road tyres, whereupon the problem ceased.

    Used by the Army fire service, the Bedford QL fire tender was introduced in 1943 and saw service in North West Europe. It towed a trailer pump, and carried an integral water tank, hoses and PTO (power take-off) pump in the main body.


    The first production vehicle was the steel-bodied OLD issued to units of the Army Service Corps as a general carrier. From this model stemmed many variants, including the QLT 3-ton troop carrier with a modified and lengthened chassis to accommodate the extra long body to carry 29 troops and kit. The QLT was popularly known as the ‘Drooper’. The QLR wireless house type was used by all arms of the signals. The truck featured an auxiliary generator, and other variants on this house type body were command, cipher office and mobile terminal carrier vehicles. A special requirement for use in the Western Desert was a 6-pdr portée, a vehicle designed to transport and fire a 6-pdr anti-tank gun from the body. It was necessary to modify the cab by cutting off the upper half and fitting a canvas top, and when this type became redundant the surviving vehicles were converted back to general-service types after being re-bodied, The RAF was a major operator of, the Bedford QL, many being used as fuel tankers with swinging booms to refuel aircraft. Two experimental vehicles that never progressed beyond the prototype stage were the Giraffe and Bren. The Giraffe was designed for amphibious landings: all the major components were raised (along with the cab) on a special frame for deep wading. When fully elevated the vehicle’s automotive parts were raised 2.13m (7ft) and the driver 3.05m (10ft). The vehicle was approved for production in the event that the waterproofing system then in use failed. The Bren was developed by the Ministry of Supply by taking a standard Bedford QLD and replacing the rear wheels with components from the Bren Gun Carrier, thus creating a halftrack. The aim of this scheme was to reduce rubber wear. The vehicle was considered adequate during tests, but the shortage of rubber did not materialize and the project was dropped.

    Bedford QLD [​IMG]

    • Powerplant: one 53.7-kW (72-bhp) Bedford 6-cylinder petrol engine
    • Dimensions: length 5.99 m (19 ft 8 in); width 2.26 m (7 ft 5 in); height 3.0 m (9 ft 10 in)
    • Performance: maximum speed 61 km/h (38 mph); radius 370 km (230 miles)
    DEM likes this.

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