AEC Matador

The AEC Matador was a heavy 4×4 truck and medium artillery tractor built by the Associated Equipment Company for British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War. AEC had already built a 4×2 lorry, also known as the Matador (all AEC lorries received 'M' names).

AEC O853 Matador
AEC matador tows 3.7-inch gun, Caen, 7 August 1944.
TypeMedium artillery tractor
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Production history
ManufacturerAEC Motors
Mass7.75 tons
Length20 ft 10 in
Width7 ft 10 in
Height9 ft 7 in

EngineAEC 7.6 litre diesel
95 hp
Payload capacity4-ton
SuspensionWheel, 4×4
Speed30 mph


The Matador was distinctive with its flat fronted cab with gently curved roof, wheels at the corners and a flat load carrying area covered by a canvas or tarpaulin tilt. As an artillery tractor, rather than a cargo vehicle, the wooden sides were fixed in place without folding down, but did have a narrow crew door on each side.[lower-roman 1] Two transverse bench seats were provided for the gun crew, accessed through the side doors, at the 1st side bay on the left and the 2nd on the right.

The cab was framed in ash and clad in steel. It was equipped with a winch (7-ton load in its case) like all artillery tractors. The O853 provided the basis for the 'Dorchester' armoured command vehicle.

AEC also produced a larger 'Marshall' 6×6 vehicle (model O854) based on the 4×4 Matador which were generally, if not officially, also called Matador. The O854 also provided the basis for an armoured command vehicle, the O857.


About 9,000 Matadors were built, some going to the Royal Air Force (RAF).

For the British Army, it fulfilled a role between field artillery tractors (FATs) such as the Morris C8 Quad, which towed smaller guns such as the 25-pounder gun-howitzer, and the Scammell Pioneer, used for towing the 7.2-inch howitzer. It was commonly used to tow the 5.5-inch medium gun and the QF 3.7-inch AA gun. The Matador was found to be a generally useful vehicle and was adapted for other roles, including carrying a 25-pounder gun.[1]

The RAF used Matadors in the flat bed form for load carrying. The 6-wheeler Matador Type A with refuelling pumps and equipment by Zwicky Ltd, was used as a refuelling tanker, capable of carrying 2,500 Imperial gallons of fuel and also for towing ashore Short Sunderland flying boats at their stations.

Six armoured flamethrowers, the 'Heavy Cockatrice' on the 6×6 chassis, were used by the RAF for airfield defence.

In 1942/43, for the North African campaign, some Matadors mounted the 6-pounder anti-tank gun to give the AEC Mk1 Gun Carrier "Deacon".

The Canadian Army used the Matador during the Second World War.


Post-war, the Matador was found in civilian use as a recovery truck, a showman's vehicle, and general contractor use. It was also useful for forestry work because of its good off-road performance. When used as a bus fleet recovery truck, many were fitted with lifting jibs for suspended towing and re-bodied with semi-enclosed bodies, often based on bodywork from scrapped buses.

See also


  1. The Scammell Pioneer had a similar arrangement.
  • Steve Richards, AEC Matador: Taking The Rough With The Smooth, Japonica Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-904686-24-8.

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