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Austin K2/Y

Austin K2/Y Ambulance
An original fully restored Austin K2/Y ambulance
Type Military ambulance
Place of origin UK
Service history
In service Second World War and after in a number of countries
Production history
Manufacturer Austin and Mann Egerton
Produced 1939 – 1945
Number built 13,102
Weight 3 tons 1½ cwt (3124 kg) (dry)
Length 18 ft (5.49 m)
Width 7 ft 5 in (2.26 m)
Height 9 ft 2 in (2.79 m)
Crew 2–3

Armour None
Engine Austin 6-cylinder, 3462 cc, petrol,
60 hp at 3000 rpm, 153 lbfft (207.4 Nm) at 1200 rpm
Payload capacity 4 stretchers or 10 "walking wounded"
Suspension Wheels 4 × 2, 10.50 – 16 tyres
Speed 50 mph (80 km/h)

The Austin K2/Y is a British heavy military ambulance that was used by all Commonwealth services during World War II. Built by Austin, it was based on the civilian light truck Austin K30, differing mainly by having simple canvas closures in place of driver's cab doors.

The K2/Y could take ten casualties sitting or four stretcher cases. The rear body, known as No. 2 Mk I/L was developed by the Royal Army Medical Corps and built by coachbuilder Mann Egerton. The interior dimensions were approximately 2.6 meters long, 2.0 meters wide and 1.7 meters high. At the rear of the vehicle there were two large doors. From the driver's cab the wounded could also be accessed through a small door with a seat.

One veteran of the North African Campaign stated he once managed to carry 27 wounded, with passengers seated on the wings, bonnet, rear steps, and in extra stretchers suspended by rifles across the rear walkway; he was mentioned in dispatches for this feat.

A total of 13,102 Austin K2/Y ambulances (the front mudguards ended at the ‘doors’) were built at the company's Longbridge plant almost continuously from 1940 until the war ended. An estimated 50 or more remain today. The Austin chassis was one of three main designs fitted with Mann Egerton bodies, the others being Morris Commercial CS11/30F (the front mudguards ended underneath the rungs) and Bedford ML 54 (the front mudguards ended before the ‘doors’). It is estimated there are two remaining Morris Commercials, but no Bedford examples are said to survive.

The Austin K2/Y was generally regarded as having a widely spaced four-speed gearbox that needed to be "understood", but once mastered provided good service. Then Princess Elizabeth was trained to drive one during the war.[1][2][3] It had two petrol tanks, one on each side (total capacity: approx. 2 × 12 Imperial gallons (2 × 54.5 l)). The top speed was around 50 mph (80 km/h). The K2 (KTwo) was often affectionately nicknamed "Katy".

The design was popular with British and Common­wealth troops, as well as American forces which received them in reverse Lend-Lease.

It had a central role in the 1958 film Ice Cold in Alex (a WW II drama) featuring John Mills,[4] Sylvia Syms, Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews.

The K2/Y was also used in the Korean War.

Three Austin K2/Y ambulances participated in the VE-VJ days 50th anniversary parade down the Mall in London on 19 August 1995.[3][5]


K2/Y Interior and Exterior

K2/Y in Action

See also


  1. ^ a b Princess Elizabeth 2nd Subaltern 1945 (especially the first 20 seconds) (British Pathé).
  2. ^ a b Princess Elizabeth (1945) (especially from 3 minutes 10 seconds) (British Pathé).
  3. ^ a b THE MALL VE-VJ PARADE PART TWO (from 8 minutes 14 seconds to the end).
  4. ^ Sir John and Lady Mills in Colchester together with an Austin K2/Y Ambulance (1994).
  5. ^ THE MALL VE-VJ PARADE PART ONE (all of it).

External links

  • Wounded airmen are taken to an Austin K2/Y ambulance (1943).
  • Austin K2/Y war ambulance arriving at emergency services day 2014.
  • Vintage Austin K2/Y ambulance walk around (2014).
  • dk..Austin K2/Y Ambulance at armyvehicles
  • 'Ice Cold in Alex' Austin K2/Y at the Internet Movie Cars Database.
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