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Tractor Heavy Recovery GS 6 x 6 Scammell Explorer

Tractor Heavy Recovery GS 6 x 6 Scammell Explorer
Tractor Heavy Recovery GS 6 x 6 Scammell Explorer

During the early development of the Scammell Pioneer in the 1920s and 1930s, a few six wheel drive versions were produced and others were made experimentally during World War 2. The limitations on the Pioneer's cross country mobility were mainly to do with traction, if the four driving wheels were unable to grip on soft ground. So, soon after the War ended, experiments began with a 6 x 6 recovery vehicle. The outcome was the Explorer which bore a strong resemblance to its predecessor.

The rear axle and transmission layout was virtually the same but a shaft from the main gear box provided power to the driven front axle. In the late 1940s, when Explorer was under development, the Rolls Royce designed ‘B' Series of standardised petrol engines was being tested and the War Office decided that the front line would have petrol engines rather than diesel. The Explorer was fitted with a 10.3 litre Meadows petrol engine. The clearance needed for the driven front axle and the greater height of this engine required a much higher bonnet line and cab. The weight of the front axle dispensed with the need for additional ballast weights at the front.

The body and cab on the Explorer were very similar to those on the Pioneer, but the body side access was repositioned. The jib winch was powered instead of manually operated and a spare wheel carrier at the rear was an original design feature. Later in their lives most Explorers were fitted with additional small lockers on each side of the spare wheel.

Minor variants exist of the basic design of recovery vehicle. Early ones have the front mounted towing hook fixed to a leaf spring whereas others have it bolted to a solid cross member. Some vehicles were fitted with extra cab insulation and one, now in the Museum's collection, had been used in East Africa and was fitted with an air intakes on the cab roof to improve cooling.

There was a ballast tractor variant of the Explorer built in small numbers for the RAF. Another export version of the recovery vehicle was fitted with the more streamlined cab of the Scammell Constructor. Some of these versions were used in the New Zealand Army by RNZEME.

Scammell Explorers remained in service into the 1980s, the last ones with TA units. The intended replacement, the AEC Recovery Vehicle Medium, was itself eclipsed soon afterwards. In the 1960s, the advent of the Leyland, rated as a heavy recovery vehicle, had led to the downgrading of Scammells to the designation of medium recovery vehicles.


The Museum has three examples of the Explorer, two basic vehicles, one of which was the first production example after the trials vehicles, and one ex-East Africa, with tropical modifications to the cab.



6.28 m (20 ft 7 in)


2.59 m (8 ft 6 in)


3.16 m (10 ft 4 in)


3.50 m (11 ft 6 in)


15 tons capacity

Crane lift

4½ tons (max)


Meadows 6 cylinder petrol












Further information on Scammells is available at http://freespace.virgin.net/scammell.man/.

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