John Nolan takes a look at this new title on one of his greatest loves....
AEC Matador - Taking the rough with the smooth
Author: Steve Richards
Softcover; A4, 80 pages
Steve Richards has produced a very well constructed 80 page book covering the life of the AEC Matador right down to listing the surviving ones. The book is a soft back and has gloss cover, with satin pages throughout, it is divided into two main sections, part one The AEC (O) 853 Matador, and part two The AEC (O) 854 there are lots of excellent pictures black and white, and colour of service vehicles, war time and post war years complimenting them with pictures of restored vehicles, and of course civilian vehicles, and converted ex-military into civilian usage as well.
In the forward Pat Ware military vehicle historian, discussed the longevity of the Matador having come a cross one parked by a wood, while out driving. Its original conception as an Artillery tractor, this hard working vehicle by the end of the war, some 10,000 examples had been produced. This much prized work horse, was eagerly bought up from military surpluses by many civilians.
Here Steve Richards’s talks about the many differing terrain the Matador had to cope with in its service life from hot deserts to the cold wet winters in and around this country, from the AA defences to airfield work. Then on through D-Day and
Part one covers the following, the AEC (O) 853* 4x4 Matador, the Armoured Command Vehicle, the Deacon SP Gun and civilian adaptations. Then we have, named Matadors, before the war and into action and other roles for the O853 chassis. This brings you onto Desert victory and on… the telling of their stories- the men in khaki. RAF service comes next and the telling of their story – the men in blue. Post-War production leads you into Design and Manufacture, the Civilian use and the telling of their stories- current operations.
Part two is a smaller section but covers the special vehicles used. The AEC (O) 854* 6x6 Refueller, Cole Crane, Mobile Oxygen-Nitrogen Plant, followed by 'what’s in a name?' Next up...Refuellers, Lift that Load, and 'It’s a Gas Working in Tandem'.
This one page explains the struggles AEC were having in 1939 with its oil engine, and what the company had to do to rectify it against its competitors. The 7.7 litre A.173 engine was to become the heart of the AEC range, and by the end of the war AEC’s reputation had been overhauled by the exceptional efforts of the company in war time production.
This has nine sections, Military Colours, AEC types referred to in the main text, The Irish Matadors, FWD, Hardy and AEC, The Douglas Timber Tractor- part of the Matador family,
Flaming AECs, AEC from 1912- 1979, Getting to grips with ‘all-wheel drive’, and finally Surviving AEC O853 / (O) 854 vehicles.
If you have a liking for British soft skin vehicles then you might want to add this one to your collection, there is something for everyone in this book. If you just like the history, then it’s a good read, it’s also for the modeller in the form of pictures and time lines for vehicle types. I will have to say that I have a soft spot for the AEC Matador, going back forty years right back to playing in one at my local army barracks, so reference material on wartime British soft skin vehicles are very rare, and much appreciated when they comes along.
My thanks to Justin at Bookworld for the review sample.