Use of Light Dragon Mark III Artillery Tractors in Desert 1940

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by DaveyJ947, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. DaveyJ947

    DaveyJ947 Member

    Does anyone know if 4RHA used Light Dragon Mark III Artillery Tractors in the desert in 1940. I have read C Battery's War Diary that mentions dragons but I have read other documents that turned out not to be accurate. So I am not sure if its correct or if it is someone using the name 'dragon' as a generic artillery tractor descriptor
    Any details would be greatly received.

  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Moving the Guns, Ventham and Fletcher, (HMSO 1989) mentions that the Light Dragon was adopted as the tractor for the 2 pounder anti tank gun and 3.7 Howitzers of the RHA. The RHA Brigade in Egypt this was 1st Brigade, which mechanised in 1934-35. In 1936 this brigade swapped with 3rd Brigade, which became 3 RHA. Command cars were Austin 7s replaced by Austin 10s and 30 cwt.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
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  4. DaveyJ947

    DaveyJ947 Member

    CL1 and Sheldrake many thanks for the information.
  5. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking, the regular RHA regiments converted from horse to tracked tractor pre-war, whereas RA regiments went from horse to wheeled tractor. At some point, the tracked tractors of the RHA were replaced by wheeled tractors.

    I am no tractor specialist, nor have any interest in becoming one, so cannot tell a Dragon I from a III from any other similar contraption. The same applies to the various wheeled tractors in service too. So the specific tractor used by a regiment on a given date is beyond my knowledge or interest.

    That having been said, the 1RHA war diary for early 1941 notes "tractors FWD" which are B vehicles (ie wheeled) in use. On the other hand, other diaries in early 1941 detail "Dragons" or "Light Dragons" being under repair or struck off. But who was using them is not noted.
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I hadn't paid much attention to the Light Dragon previously, presuming in my ignorance that they had all been replaced by Quads by the time war broke out. Most annoyingly I cannot find any technical info about the vehicle online, not even the speed.
  7. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Not wanting to go down the top trumps rabbit hole over relative speeds under various conditions, but it was understood in the desert that for tactical planning and decision-making, 25-pdr Field Artillery units moved at 8-10mph when pulled by FWD vehicles.
    TTH likes this.
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    You need to buy "Moving the Guns"...

    Dragons were derived from Vickers light tanks and two vehicles, a 2 ton tractor and an artillery observers vehicle were ordered in October 1929. They evolved into the AOP and Universal carriers.

    According to the manufacturers the Dragon Mk III had a maximum speed of 20 mph towing and 30 mph without a towed load. According to Moving the guns it copuld make an average of 18 mph opn roads and 16 mph cross country could go at a maximum of 30 mph towing a load but the gun tended to overspeed the carrier downhill at any speed over 8 mph! It was OK pulling an 3.7 inch howitzer (3/4 ton) but not a 25 pounder. (1.6 ton). It had a ford V8 engine generating 81 HP - comparable to that powering the entry level VW Golf or Fiat Punto. (However the FAT (quad) had even less power 70 HP - but was lower geared. These artillery tractors had the engine power of economy versions of small family cars.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
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  9. DaveyJ947

    DaveyJ947 Member

    TTH, I was the same, I assumed it was all Quads from the start in the Western Desert. Its only recently that I found out about the Dragons. I have found pictures of them in the Western Desert, at least some of which seem to be New Zealand. It was the War Diary of 4RHA that mentioned 'dragons' being burnt to prevent them falling into enemy hands, but as I said I wasn't sure if they actually meant dragons or it was a generic artillery tractor term.
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