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It's Military Month!

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Military Feature - Standard Light Utility Vehicles - Part I

This article first appeared in Wheels and Tracks Issue No 46. Published by kind permission of "Classic Military Vehicles". 

Amongst the British Cars, '4 x 2, Light Utility' of WWII those produced by the Standard were the odd ones out. The "Tillies" from Austin, Morris and Hillman were direct derivatives from their makers' 10Hp monocoque-bodied saloons; the front half essentially the same, the back an integral pick-up type box.

The Standards were based on the somewhat larger 12/14Hp chassis with a separate frame and military pattern bodywork from the scuttle backwards. Like the others, they were used for carrying passengers and light cargo, running errands and other general-purpose work. In those roles they were more spacious and comfortable (and economical) than the jeep, but with a minimum of off road capability.

Upon the outbreak of the war, The Standard Motor Company had a full range of family saloons in production at its Canley, Coventry works: the Flying Eight, Nine, Ten, Twelve, Fourteen and Twenty ( ie 8 to 20Hp). In addition the company had started operating a highly automated so-called Shadow Factory for manufacture of aircraft engine parts ( later also complete aircraft) for the Air Ministry. Private Car output was soon halted, but not before the AM had taken delivery 0f 150 10 Hp saloons for use as staff cars. 

Below: the rear of the 10cwt successor

Above: the 5-cwt Van

10Hp chassis was used also for a 5-cwt van for the AM, Known as the series BB, these were bodied by Mulliner (a company later taken over by the SMC) and 481 were delivered before being superseded by by the 10cwt Series DC which was similar but larger, being based on the 12-cwt car chassis. It featured Independent Front Suspension with transverse leaf spring and wishbones. The AM was again the sole customer and took delivery of 3,345 9chassis DC8824 - 11190 and 11197-11274)

Meanwhile, following the Dunkirk evacuation Britain needed armoured cars for Home Defence, including airfoeld and aircraft factory protection. SMC was one of the suppliers and delivered some 850 Beaverettes MkI and MkII) based on the 14Hp chassis. This chassis was used also for quantities of 15-cwt (series FB) box vans and ambulances for use by the RAF.

From 1943 MV production was concentrated on one composite chassis type for all services - a kind of standard Standard. It comprised of the 14Hp frame with the 12Hp engine and military bodywork of only a few types. SMC's 12 and 14Hp engines differed primarily in cylinder bore size (69.5 and 73mm) and power output (44 and 48bhp). The chassis differed in length (8' 4" and 9' 0" WB resp.). The Flying 12 car had been available with either Independent Front Suspension or ( 'if desired by conservative customers') a rigid front axle with semi-elliptical springs, which the 14 had a s standard. This later chassis was sturdier and simpler and thus more suitable for military service.

The new military spec. 12Hp was in full scale production from 1943 until war's end in two main versions: the Series UV Light Utility and the Series EC Ambulance. Both were supplied as chassis for outside bodywork, however. The total ordered amounted to over 9000 and customers included the British Army, Air force, Navy and the Ministry of Supply. The chassis were numbered within the ranges UV1-9103 and EC1A-400A.

The Light Utility body, again by Mulliner was of wooden construction, panelled in sheet metal, with a waterproof tilt and a canopy sheet to cover the cab, both on a tubular framework. (The cab top was often replaced with a proper roof, especially after the war.) The tilt had a roll-back flap at the back. In the rear body floor there was a hatch for access to back axle and fuel tank. The two adjustable front seats had hinged backs. The windscreen was hinged at the top and could be opened and locked in position. The rear wheels were usually shod with knobbly tyres..

During its production run there were only few changes. Certain batches has civvy-type wheels with with hub cover plate (held by 2 screws) but after UV680 most chassis had the familiar Dunlop 53367 wheels with integral hoisting flange. At UV4103 there was a slight change to the radiator grille and from UV6107 the circular gearbox front cover was revised and a modified oil thrower fitted

Part II will continue with details of the two contracts under which over 9000 of these Utilities were supplied.