the early years of the Second World War the British army had a severe
shortage of tank transporter vehicles. These were based on the Scammell
Pioneer 30 ton semi-trailer tank transporter or the Albion CX24S but
the latter was found by the War Office to be unreliable. As Scammell
were unable to increase production they turned to the U.S.A.’s Diamond
T based M19 tank transporter. But this consisted of a separate tractor
with a drawbar trailer. The War Office’s preference for a semi-trailer
was that with that configuration the weight of the load is transferred
to the driving wheels eliminating the need for a ballast load on the
Late in 1942 Shelvoke & Drewry were ask to
explore the possibility of converting the Diamond T to create a
semi-trailer tank transporter using the Scammell trailer. Often people
are surprised that the company that produced the somewhat eccentric SD
Freighter had the expertise for such an enterprise, but in fact the
Freighter was an ingenious design which demanded a high level of
engineering skill from the company. By December 1942 S&D had
produced a hybrid tank transporter with a Diamond T tractor unit and
the unmodified Scammell trailer. Tested against the Scammell Pioneer
the SD modification acquitted itself well. The ballast box had been
removed from the Diamond T and a simple adaptation carried the Scammell
ball joint trailer coupling just ahead of the bogie centre line. 100
examples of the tank transporter were ordered from S&D and the
company designed a semi-trailer which follows the Scammell design butb
also has elements of the contemporary Dyson 40 ton drawbar trailer.
major difference was in the treatment of the loading ramps. In the
Scammell design these were raised and lowered by a hand operated winch.
Talking to me in 2004 the late Vic Negus , who was an SD apprentice in
those War years could vividly remember the astonishment of the War
Office officials when one man stepped forward and lowered the ramps
which were cleverly counterbalanced by springs.
the initial order S&D received further orders for 120 30 ton tank
transporters. An interesting footnote is that towards the end of the
War the War Office tested a trailer with a 40 ton load and concluded
that they could carry that load in an emergency. The photos are from
those rescued from a recycling centre and kindly donated to me in April
2009. The information given here is based on an article in Classic
Military Vehicles April 2002.
Trailers under construction.
In 2006 Kevin Green informed me that surprisingly the remains of an SD
tank transporter trailer remained at a garage near Barnsley in South
Yorkshire. The garage had adapted it for use as a ramp for inspection,
steam cleaning etc. Vehicles were driven on to it up an earth bank and
the other end was sup-ported by a brick pillar. The running gear had
been removed, the central crossmembers had also been re-moved, the
frame had been cut off directly above the rearmost axle and the
triangular stop blocks at the front had been cut off. Soon after this
inspection ramp was dismantled and the remains disposed of.