After the Second World War, the RAF and the then British Overseas Airways Corporation were in need of vehicles to transport passengers between airports and city centre terminals. A design specification was drawn up by the Ministry of Supply for a vehicle to accommodate 20 passengers carrying their maximum 60lbs of luggage. This led to the 1½ deck observation coach design with 180 cu ft luggage space. A total of 375 (later modified to 315) vehicles was ordered from the Park Royal Coachworks based on the well established Commer Q4 Commando chassis.
The Museum’s vehicle, XAT 368, was delivered to the RAF in April 1947 and served at various Yorkshire airfields until 1957, when it was bought by Hull Cricket Club who found it slow, causing the team to frequently arrive late for matches! From 1959 it was used first as a staff bus, then as a commercial coach by two operators until, in June 1962, it was bought by The British Automobile Motor Club and converted for use as a race control vehicle. In this role, it appeared at the Harewood Hill Climb, Castle Howard, Scarborough, RAF Church Fenton and Silverstone until 1972.
In 1978, a new owner, David Hardcastle, planned to restore the vehicle but eventually donated it to the RAF Benevolent Fund in 1993, in recognition of the help received by his mother from the Fund when her first husband was killed in a flying accident in 1937. The bus was then moved to RAF Cottesmore where restoration finally began.
Thanks to the volunteers at RAF Cottesmore and the most recent owners, the Panton brothers at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby, the Museum’s Crew Bus, believed to be one of only 5/6 still to survive, is fully serviceable with just some interior work outstanding.