War on the Wheels

War on the Wheels
The story of the people

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Nuffield Motors

I wondered why I could find little about the group of motor companies headed by Lord Nuffield with factories in Birmingham, Coventry and Oxford (Cowley). The reason, I find, is like all the motor companies they were supporting the war effort in very many ways, but most particularly the RAF.
It became clear very early in the war that the RAF was 'wasting' a great many planes, in the sense that planes crashed and could no longer fly. Nuffield set up a network of Civil Repair Organisations which would collect the crashed aircraft, bring them to repair factories in various parts of the country and, largely by trial and error, put them back into airworthy condition. This was a massive operation that provided vital support in the Battle of Britain.
Nuffield also built tanks, first the Cruiser and then the Crusader and the Cromwell. These tanks were initially outgunned by Germany's Panzers, but later with a 6lb gun gave as good as they got. In the Desert War, at least initially, they proved unreliable, but Nuffield flew out a team of engineers to investigate and address the problems. In addition to tanks, Nuffield championed the self propelled gun, in particular, the Bofors. They manufactured ammunition and much else.
It was said that the motor companies were ideally placed to manufacture anything out of metal, and this they did.
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