A great stop off on your way to Normandy is the Overlord show, so as usual we headed south early to take in the show. There were two Leyland Hippo Mk II’s at the show, one belonging to Richard Salter the chairman of the SOE military vehicle club that organises the event. Richard also owns a Loyd Carrier, Half Ton Dodge and other military vehicles. He has told us that he is taking the Hippo to Normandy for the 75th anniversary, joining the MVT tour together with another locally owned Hippo, we look forward to seeing them there.
The Leyland Hippo Mk II design work started in 1943 with the first production models being produced the next year. A new modern design, unlike the Mk 1 version which was based on a pre-war commercial lorry with an open cab with canvas tilt. The Mk II was fitted with a fully enclosed steel cab, a very modern idea for the time. It also had a circular hatch in the roof of the cab on the passenger side. The top section of the cab could be removed for shipping thus reducing the height of the truck. Designed to carry heavy loads, the Leyland Hippo Mk II was fitted with the standard general service body which was steel framed with timber cladding with a canvas tilt.
The Leyland Hippo Mk II was powered by a slightly smaller six-cylinder diesel engine than the Mk I but with a bit more power it was rated at 100 bhp. The gearbox was a 5-speed with a 2-speed auxiliary box. The rear axle was the full floating type with 8.66:1 ratio, with inverted semi-elliptical springs. The wheelbase was 186 inches The Mk II had single tyres on the rear, the Mk IIA however was fitted with the narrower dual wheels on the rear, having the disadvantage of needing to carry two spare tyres one for the front and one for rear.