Thornycroft Bison Concrete Armoured Lorry (E1992.210)
Manpower Services, United Kingdom
There was no such thing as a standard Bison. Redundant lorry chassis of every shape and size were pressed into service so long as they could take the weight. Our exhibit, which is part original and part replica, uses an ex-War Department 3 tonner, a pre-war Thornycroft Tartar powered by a 74bhp, four-cylinder engine. Concrete was used to cover the engine and cab at the front and create a separate pill-box at the back. Armoured shutters were fitted over the rifle slits but protection for the crew was not good. Thick concrete might keep out rifle fire but it was easily chipped and would be smashed by heavier weapons.
Due in part to the weight of concrete, and to the fact that the lorries were mostly quite elderly, they were relegated to airfield defence, there being no hills on airfields. In the event of an enemy landing by glider, troop transport or parachutists, the Bison would deploy to various parts of the airfield and probably fight from static positions. The pillbox crew entered via a trapdoor in the floor (not on this replica) while the driver and his mate could only leave the cab by climbing over the top.
Recreated at Museum of Army Transport, Beverley, using original Thornycroft chassis, original pillbox body and artificial cab