The Bison shows how desperate Britain was for any kind of armoured vehicle in 1940.
They were built by the Concrete Limited company, who took old, unneeded lorries and fitted them with concrete bunkers. There were three main designs, Type 1, 2 and 3, each heavier than the last. The weight of the concrete meant they were all underpowered, slow and unreliable. However, they were better than nothing and as they didn’t need steel, this could be used for tank production.
Bisons would have been used by the Royal Air Force and the Home Guard to defend areas such as airfields, where they wouldn’t have to climb hills or move very far. They were considered to be slightly mobile pillboxes-not fighting vehicles. Their most likely opponents would have been German paratroops, who had little artillery and no armoured vehicles of their own. Against them, a Bison would offer useful protection.
The Tank Museum’s Bison
The Thorneycroft Tartar lorry and the Type 2 pillbox on the back both date from 1940. However, this is not an original Bison as they were put together by the Museum of Army Transport decades after the war. The cab is a replica. As a reproduction, this truck does not have the hole in the loadbed that the crew used to get in and out.