The Austin K2 ATV Fire Engine from WW II, history and models.

During WW II an assortment of commercial vehicles were pressed into service as fire vehicles. They were to tow the 20,000 trailer pumps that were expected to be needed. This proved to be a mistake as the vehicles were unreliable and not cost effective. In a raid on Manchester so many were out of service that pumps had to be pushed to the bombed areas by hand.

In 1941 2000 custom built Austin K2 vans were ordered these were fitted with seats for the crew and hose storage. After the war they were termed auxiliary towing vehicles or ATV’s. Many fire services used them including private companies. 1941 was also the year that the fire service was nationalized, becoming the National Fire Service.

The Austin K2 Van conversions

The Austin K2 short wheelbase 2 ton chassis was used, with a steel body and reinforced roof to deflect shrapnel. The engine was a six cylinder 3650cc, 28 HP, unit. Storage was available under the bench seats that ran down each side.

The officer in charge and driver sat upfront while the crew sat in back, which was open. A tarpaulin was provided to keep out the rain! Some Austin K2’s remained in service until the 1970’s.

National fire service vehicles were painted grey to conform with British Standard Shade No. 32.

The models

The Austin ATV has been produced by Oxford Die-cast in a range of liveries. The scale is 1/76 suitable for 00 model railways. These are great little models with fine detail at a great price.

The original NFS ATV in Grey.

The RAF also used the K2 at airbases.

The RAF version of the Austin K2 ATV.

The London Salvage Corps was tasked with saving as many goods as possible at fire scenes. Oxford also produced a model of this version.

WW II London Salvage Corps Austin K2

In 1938, the Auxiliary Fire Service was formed. Its main aim was for Civil Defence and to aid the regular fire service. Volunteers manned the service. It was absorbed into the National Fire Service in 1941 and reformed after WW II. It was not disbanded until 1968. The green livery became well know in the 1950’s when the Green Goddesses were introduced.

The Oxford Diecast AFS Austin K2.

Finally the Austin K2 was also used as a service vehicle to maintain the other appliances.