By Major James Augustus
The Dinky 688 Field Artillery Tractor (FAT) was based on the Morris Commercial C8 light 4x4 gun tractor with a sloping rear roof and all enclosed body. It was primarily designed to tow an ammunition trailer (limber) and a 25-pound howitzer. Inside it could carry a crew of 6 or more in relative discomfort. The basic idea was a carry over from early horse drawn trailers and cannons and was a very cumbersome but effective method of positioning men, artillery and ammunition. It was used extensively by British, Canadian and Australian units from the African deserts to the jungles of the Far East.
Coupled with its limber (No. 687) and 25-Pounder Field Gun (No. 686) it was advertised by Dinky as the No.697 Field Gun Set and proved to be one of their all time favourites. The novelty of a vehicle towing a trailer - towing a gun must have been irresistible to young collectors in 1957. Priced at only 8/9p it represented excellent value for youngsters who got 3 pieces for the same price as one Guy "Golden Shred" Van (No.919). If only they knew!
The Dinky 623 Bedford Truck was produced by the Meccano factory in 1954. It was known as the "Army Covered Wagon" and was based on the World War II Bedford QL truck which was the most common British-made 4x4 truck produced with a total of over 52,000 supplied to the British Forces between 1941 and 1945. Many of these later continued in service with the British Army in Cyprus, Korea and Malaya.
The first Bedford QL rolled off the assembly line at Vauxhall's Luton factory early in 1941. They were
powered by the reliable GM 3 ½-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. GVW was 6 tons 17cwt with a Tare around 3 tons.
In real life the Bedford QL was produced in many variations including:
- QLB -Tractor unit for Bofors 40mm AA gun
- QLC - Semi trailer with a 6-ton capacity
- QLD - Standard Covered Wagon (multi use)
- QLR - Wireless Truck
- QLT - Troop Carrier
- QLW - Tip Truck with winch
Today's manufacturers would have exploited these variations by releasing many models based on the same tooling and casting but 50 years ago young Dinky customers continually demanded new models that were different to those available in the shops only months before. They also had to be the first in their street with a new release.
Dinky had obviously foreseen (or created!) this demand because they very quickly released models of the 621 3-ton Bedford and the 622 10-ton Foden trucks.
The models 30sm (Austin) and 25wm (Bedford) were re-released in 1954 for the US market as numbers 625 and 640 respectively. This was also the case with the 151b Transport Wagon (620) and 30h Ambulance (624).
Why Dinky chose to do this is not known - particularly as these models were showing their age against the more modern looking trucks being produced for the UK and Commonwealth markets. It did however give some continuance to the numbering sequence. Only the evergreen! 626 Ambulance, with its rear opening doors, was left to come in 1956.
One can only wonder what was planned for numbers 627 to 639!