Austin K2/Y

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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 Motor Company 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 was a British heavy military ambulance used by all services during World War II, built by the Austin Motor Company. It was based on the civilian light truck Austin K30, with the main difference being the simplified driver's cab. The cab had no doors, it was only protected by canvas. The rear body, known as No. 2 Mk I/L was developed by the Royal Army Medical Corps and built by coachbuilder Mann Egerton. It could take ten casualties sitting or four stretcher cases. 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 stated he carried 27 wounded at one point in the North African Campaign; this involved seating passengers on the wings, bonnet, and rear steps and even using rifles to suspend extra stretchers across the walkway in the back; he was mentioned in dispatches for this feat.[citation needed]

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

The Austin K2 was generally regarded as having a widely spaced four-speed gearbox that needed to be "understood", but once mastered provided good service. One person who did master it was the then Princess Elizabeth, who drove 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, Common­wealth and also American troops, being an example of reverse Lend-Lease.

After the end of World War II the K2/Y was also used in the Korean War.

This type of ambulance was the "star" of the film Ice Cold in Alex (1958) featuring John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews.

Three Austin K2/Y ambulances participated in the VE-VJ days 50th anniversary parade down the Mall in London on 19 August 1995.[3][4]


HRH Princess Elizabeth and the K2/Y [1] [2][edit]

K2/Y Exterior[edit]

K2/Y Interior[edit]

K2/Y in Action[edit]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ THE MALL VE-VJ PARADE PART ONE (all of it).

External links[edit]