Bedford MWD

Time for another look at a workhorse vehicle, a “general duty” truck from the British Bedford brand.

This will be a quick look.

Bedford was a truck subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors. That means it was a part of the GM family of vehicles during World War II.

The early MWD had an open cab with canvas doors and roof. The “windscreen” is/are two separate glass panels that fold up or down. This led to the nickname “pneumonia wagon”. Later trucks had a full windshield, doors and side windows.

Design work of the MW, a military truck, started in 1935. It entered service in 1939. It was light for its size with a low center of gravity. Its 72 hp Bedford engine was considered powerful and reliable. This all made the truck popular in service, it had good handling and plenty of power. It was only a 4 x 2 so not really considered an off road vehicle, but performed well within that limitation. The MWD was the most common or “general” configuration as seen here. Others were tankers, artillery tractors and radio/command vehicles.

Early production models deployed with the British Expeditionary Force to France and were a major part of that force’s mobility. After Dunkirk the Wehrmacht found itself in possession of several thousand MWs. Germany of World War II actually had a fairly shallow manufacturing base and was always in need of trucks. As a corporate cousin to their own Opel Blitz the Bedford MW was a particularly useful addition to Wehrmacht inventory.
I didn’t see any particular unit assignment noted for this truck, except that it was among those attached to the BEF.

All told Bedford produced 66000 MWs during World War II. It served everywhere the British Army did, and was widely used by the RAF too. Several thousand were also delivered to the Soviet Union. Later MWs had more complete cab enclosures.
The MW remained in Army service until the 1950s. The corporate history looks more confusing; I believe the Bedford plant belongs to AWD/David Brown, but the Bedford brand now belongs to Stellantis.

The somewhat bigger Opel Blitz was a corporate cousin of the MW. Many served together in the Wehrmacht.

This is the Airfix kit. It was not an easy build, the most difficult I’ve seen of their more recent toolings. Fit and alignment are very sloppy. It does however include an amazing variety of alternate parts, making it possible to build an early or later truck; or the canvas top and sides closed up or rolled down.

The Austin Tilly was a slightly smaller, more car-like utility vehicle. These two often could be found on RAF airfields.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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8 Responses to Bedford MWD

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Thanks for the review. I have two of those.

  2. jfwknifton says:

    Bedford trucks weren’t the only bonus that the Germans got at Dunkirk:

    “68,111 soldiers were killed or captured. 126 merchant seamen were killed. 236 ships were sunk. The Germans were gifted all the heavy equipment of the British Army, 2,472 artillery guns, 20,548 motorcycles, 63,879 other vehicles, 416,940 tons of stores, 162,000 tons of fuel, 76,097 tons of ammunition, some 445 tanks and enough Player’s Cigarettes to last them certainly until the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, if not the Battle of Stalingrad. ”
    Dunkirk, Tobruk, Malaya and Singapore were the reasons that Churchill found it difficult to trust the army, and Dunkirk was the worst because it was only 25 miles from England.

    • atcDave says:

      Dunkirk was definitely a windfall of sorts for the Germans. The British Army often did not perform well, some serious institutional problems.

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