Airsoft Action 07 - Mar 2012 - Page 44

Can I buy one? truck for the British forces. Although the Bedford candidate had performed equally well as its main rival in extensive testing, the contract eventually went to Leyland DAF – despite the Army expressing a preference to continue the trusted relationship with Bedford trucks. Personal experience with the MJ Going to show my age now, but when I was serving with 2nd Royal Tank Regiment our MT was made up of Series III Land Rovers, Alvis Stalwarts (one of my all-time favourites and a future article!) and Bedford MJs. Bear in mind that these vehicles had to cross terrain that regiments of Challengers, Chieftans and all manner of other heavy armour had churned up, in all-weather conditions, to replenish us with essentials such as fuel, food and other goodies (absolutely no beer, honest!). They always made it through. My first proper drive of an MJ was when I was spammed (sorry, volunteered) to do a stint in MT on an exercise. Fullyloaded, driving at night with just tactical lighting, we were to rendezvous with a tank squadron coming in for their fuel and food requirements. All we had to go on was a sixfigure grid reference on the Saltau-Luneberg training area and with little sleep, off we went. The Bedford MJ never missed a beat throughout the journey. The ride off road could best be described as bone shaking and between exercising my left leg working the clutch pedal and shifting gears, all I could see to follow was a tiny convoy light. The MJ 044 March 2012 had several steep muddy inclines to surpass which she crawled up faultlessly, and then picked up speed going down the other side crossing tank tracks. While it seemed like the whole thing was swinging from side to side with the tailgate chains chinking away you felt it wasn’t going to let you down, and no matter what the conditions or terrain you would get there in the end. After the replen and with no payload it was back to our start point to load up and get ready to do it all again. And so on it went, two weeks spent behind the wheel of an MJ. If I’m honest, at the time I really missed my Challenger and was glad to get back behind the tillers of a 70-tonne death and destruction machine, but retrospectively it’s an experience that has stayed with me. The 21st century Since a majority of MKs/MJs have gone through the MoD disposal procedure many trucks have found new lives both at home and abroad. In the UK, some have been converted into horse boxes and campers as well as used by farmers and other agricultural-based companies. Some have been bought and run by military enthusiasts (that’s us) and if you attend any military show you are guaranteed to see a Bedford or two. But many more have traded the roads and tracks of Western Europe for dust trails out in Africa and other far-flung lands after being purchased by United Nations charities such as Christian Aid, to get food, water and other humanitarian aid to disaster areas and throughout the Third World. The simple answer is: yes, you can! Withams recently sold off 12 MJs with HIAB cranes and there are plenty for sale on Milweb as well as other military/truck/private ad websites. Expect to pay around £4,000 for one in OK nick, going up to around £8,000 for a mint one. As ever do your research – don’t rush in and buy the first one you see because it has a great camo paint job! Parts are readily available and are still reasonably priced. Everything from wheel bearings to a complete backend (and everything in between) is for sale. I know I say this every month but joining an association such as the Military Vehicle Trust (MVT) is always a big help, not just with sourcing a vehicle and parts but also for help when it comes to insurance (membership will get you a large discount from some companies). Do your research and speak to owners to get their viewpoint. If it is a ‘team’ purchase and costs are split then day to day running costs are minimal – and how cool is it when a load of you arrive at your local skirmish site in something as awesome as one of these beasts. MPG is not outstanding (hey, it’s no Prius!) but on £100 of diesel you should see nigh-on 200 miles depending on how hard you work it and how much kit you are carrying. The last thing to say is that you will need an HGV Class 3 on your license to drive an unmolested one. If not then the only other option is to have it worked on and reclassified down into the same category as a 7.5-ton truck which you can drive on a car licence. Summary The fact they are still working in some of the harshest climates in the world, some 40 years after they were conceived, is testament to the Bedford’s design, British engineering, build quality and reliability. The Bedford MK/ MJ series are often overlooked for more glamorous military vehicles, but if you want an affordable, dependable and big piece of British military history, for less than £10,000, then these, just as in their 30 year military working life, will take some beating! ■ Military Vehicle Trust: www.mvt.org.uk MilWeb: www.milweb.net Witham Specialist Vehicles: www.mod-sales.com (at the time of writing, Witham was selling 50 (yes, 50!) Bedford MJ Series trucks, with a guide price of £4,500 plus VAT)