The AEC Model (O)853 Matador and the Model (O)854

The AEC Matador Story by Steve Richards

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New books on British soft skin military vehicles are something of a rarity these days and when one looks back over the past 3 to 4 decades they have been in the minority compared to armour books. For this reason a book dedicated to one make and type of vehicle is a real breath of fresh air. Just released is a soft bound book on the AEC Matador 4x4 0853 and its larger sister the 6x6 0854 which I think it is safe to say have become one of the icons of British military vehicle history. Printed on A4 fine art paper the quality of the photographs is first class and the layout of the book proves to be easy on the eye. The story starts at the beginning of the Matador development and describes those involved and the reasons for the vehicle  through to the early artillery tractors purchased by the army and subsequent variants such as the armoured command, deacon SP 6pdr gun the tracked experimental and Hytser based recovery. The story then moves back to the later design models of the artillery tractor followed by RAF versions. An appreciation of the design and manufacture which includes the fore runner to the Matador the AEC Hardy 4x4 makes very interesting reading. It is common knowledge that the Matador served on well beyond its military service and good coverage is included on the civilian use of these vehicles. Section two of the book is based on the 6x6 model 0854 and once again carries a comprehensive look at this model and its variants which includes refuellers, mobile cranes armoured command and prototype artillery tractors. There are special sections on Military colours, the Irish army matadors, FWD Hardy and AEC, Douglas timber tractors and the heavy pump units and flame throwers. A feature worth pointing out is as you read through the text a number of personal accounts from matador users and owners are included which it has to be said gives a different view of the way matadors were received. The author Steve Richards has to be congratulated on the efforts put in to producing this self published book.

Military Machines International January 2010, Les Freathy, Kent

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