The first Rootes Group 15cwt, the Commer 'Beetle' infantry truck bore a striking resemblance to the Bedford MW. It went into limited production in 1935, and together with the Guy 'Ant' and Morris-Commercial CS8 entered military service the following year after exhaustive trials. Subsequently it was succeeded in production by other Commer 15-cwts.
The Beetle had a 6-cylinder 60bhp engine, weighed almost 2-ton, and was fitted with 9.00x 16 inflate tyres.
Britain's Ltd produced a 1:32 die-cast model of the Beetle in two versions; The Army version in khaki with driver figure and an RAF version in dark blue with driver and four figures sitting in the back. These models usually go for around £60 on e-bay.
Commer Q15, 15cwt, 4x2 GS
During the war Rootes Group produced two 15cwt trucks utilising many components from their very successful peacetime 'Superpoise' range of trucks. These two trucks were known as the Q15, which had a four- cylinder engine, and the Q2 which was larger and had a six-cylinder engine. The front end body pressings reveal the Commerial ancestry of these vehicles. The vehicle above is a Q15.
The Q15 was supplied primarily for use by the RAF to an Air Ministry specification. It was based on a standard 9'2" wheelbase 'superpoise' chassis and was fitted with a civilian style Diaflex cab unit. The body had fixed sides with a canvas sheet carried on four tubular hoops, a War Dept., type chain box was provided together with a petrol can carrier and tow rope box. The petrol tank, containing 1" gallons of fuel was situated under the drivers seat.
The van or load carrier body was constructed of a composite material with a wooden framework and floor, detachable wooden hoopsticks and canvas tilt, eleven-inch wheel arches, fixed canvas cab integral with the body, with a canvas curtain between the driver and the van body. The wheel arches were extended along the inside of the body to form lockers with upholstered squabs fitted to the the locker tops to provide seats. The spare wheel was fitted inside the body behind the driver and secured by straps to a half bulkhead.
These vehicles were mobile single-channel VHF/DF stations. A number of such trucks sited some thirty miles apart were used as fixr stations offering a direction finding and plotting position service to aircraft while also being in direct telephone contact with the control station and other fixer stations.
Similar vehicles were used as Homer stations for giving aircraft such data as Homing bearings, True and Magnetic Bearings and Controlled Descent through bad weather conditions.
Power was drawn from batteries carried on the vehicle and could be recharged by a 1260W 35V petrol driven generating set stowed in the body when not in use.
The 105-Type Signals body was fully enclosed, panelled. and insulated, with shallow wheel arches. The exterior of the body sides, front end and rear doors a d the right side quarter of the rear end were cancelled with half-hard sheet aluminium and lined internally with hardboard. The roof is cut away at the front to accommodate an aerial system type 60 which hinged at roof level to fold forward for stowage when travelling. Protection was given to the aerial array in the stowed by a wooden framework extending forward from the roof. Opening windows at the sides, and fixed windows at the front were all fitted with black-out blinds.
These vehicles were replaced by the Austin K9 1-ton 4x4 which was equipped in a similar manner.
The Britain's Ltd. model of the Commer Beetle. Nice paint job but a little short on detail. The tilt removes to display what little cab detail. I now own both versions of this, but the RAF one is going to need a serious rebuild.
Incidentally, Commer were the first vehicle to use the name 'Beetle', long before Dr Porsche came up with the people's car! The VW was designed in 1938, the Commer entered service in 1936! Yet another thing we beat the Chermans at!