Developed as a gun tractor to tow various-caliber artillery pieces for the British Army in World War 2 (1939-1945), the AEC "Matador" 4x4 wheeled military truck served British and Commonwealth forces well during the defining global conflict of the 20th Century. The vehicle arrived just in time for the fighting of 1939 and was designed to a specific British military request for an artillery mover. As much as combat tanks, warplanes and guns were a part of the war, so too were logistically-minded developments like the Matador - something of unsung heroes of the grand war.
The original medium-class design called for a mover of artillery pieces up to 152mm in caliber while also housing all available ammunition and operating crew. In this fashion the vehicle could move, at speed, the entire artillery unit without requiring additional support vehicles. Beyond the typical metal components used for the automotive parts, the truck was largely of wood including its cabin section with steel used for protecting more vital sections as needed. The cab featured a flat face and level roof, providing the vehicle with its highly identifiable appearance as wartime trucks went. Special thought was given to the flatbed passenger section in terms of loading / unloading artillery projectiles and crew. A 7-ton winch was integral which allowed the vehicle to pull artillery pieces out of deep mud and power to the vehicle was supplied by an in-house AEC 6-cylinder engine developing 95 horsepower allowing for road speeds to reach beyond 35 miles per hour. The chassis was suspended across its entire 4x4 wheeled arrangement.
Key qualities for logistical vehicles have always been robustness and reliability and the Matador excelled in both areas when pressed into combat service. As such, the series proved immensely popular to many and was featured wherever British and Commonwealth forces fought - from North Africa to Europe and beyond. Many in-the-field modifications were enacted to her base design by imaginative personnel which extended the Matador's usefulness in the field even more.
Matadors were in constant use up until the 1970s - well beyond the final shots of the war recorded in 1945. Also this served as a clear testament to their sound design and durability and manufacture saw as many as 8,612 examples completed from the span of 1938 to 1953 (other sources state over 9,000 units). Major marks included the "General Load Carrier" with its drop-down side panels and all-steel body and the "Dorchester" which served in the Armored Command Post (ACP) role. Beyond these there was the standard open-air flatbed type, a Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) carriage form (carrying a 6-pounder), and special mission models. The Royal Air Force (RAF) also appreciated the type enough to enlist it into its own inventory.
Before the end, the cab of late-production Matadors saw one unique revision - a section of the roof was cut-out with a circular shape for observing the skies above. This opening was covered by canvas when not in use.
Many Matadors found extended lives in civilian hands, either under private ownership or in defined business-oriented roles such as recovery.