WW2 British Light Tanks WW2 Danish Armor

Vickers-Carden-Loyd Light Patrol Car

United Kingdom/Kingdom of Denmark (1932-1937)
Light Tank – 3 Built

The Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette was a huge commercial success. Many countries were eager to buy a small armored vehicle that was tracked, armored, and armed, providing the perfect cheap alternative to the expensive tank. In reality, the Mk.VI was far from perfect. Its mobility was inadequate, its armament had limited effectiveness, and its protection was far from adequate. In essence, the Light Patrol Car was to solve all these problems by providing a slightly improved suspension, armament in a fully traversable turret, and a fully armored roof. However, this made it more expensive, which was one of the main reasons just two of them were ever sold.

The first prototype of the Light Patrol Car. Several points of note are the armor, which is bolted except for the riveted turret, the suspension bogies with leaf springs, and the transmission housing positioned on the right side. Source: Beamish Museum via

The Carden-Loyd Mk.VI

The fashion of cheap armored fighting vehicles was initiated by Lieutenant-Colonel and engineer Giffard Le Quesne Martel when he built a one-man tank that was accepted for official trials in December 1925. The publicity that surrounded this vehicle sparked the interest of engineer John Valentine Carden, who had a joint business with Vivian Loyd. In March 1926, they delivered a tankette prototype for official tests, which began the development process that brought forth a large number of prototypes, culminating in the Mark VI in 1928. As Carden-Loyd anticipated large orders, for which the company was too small to fulfill, it was taken over by Vickers-Armstrong, under which the Carden-Loyd Tractors Ltd. trade brand was retained.

A picture of a British Mk.VI machine gun carrier from 1928, from which the Patrol Car was derived. While similarities between the two vehicles are easy to spot, there were quite some differences too. Source:

The Patrol Car prototype in comparison, seen here in Denmark in 1932. Source:

The Mark VI was exported to at least seventeen countries and copies were made in six countries. In 1929, Lieutenant-Colonel Andersen-Høyer of the Danish Army Technical Corps (Danish: Hærens tekniske Korps, shortened to HtK) made a trip to the United Kingdom to study these new military developments. After having observed the Carden-Loyd tankette from Vickers, he was promised the loan of a light tank by the company. The costs for this, £200, were to be refunded if tanks were bought after the loan.

It is unclear if the idea of a tankette with a turret was already discussed in 1929 with the Danish delegation. According to David Fletcher, the idea of a turret came later from the desire to have overhead protection, which was not a standard feature on the regular Mk.VI, although various export versions had overhead covers. It is known that the first prototype was not finished earlier than 1932. It is safe to assume that the decision to design the Patrol Car was Vickers’ own initiative and did not come from a special Danish request.

Two views of the initial prototype. It stands out through the simplicity of the design, with the basic turret, straight fender, and small leaf spring-suspended bogies. Sources: The Vickers Tanks / Foss & Mckenzie (left) and Armour in Profile no.16 / R.J. Icks (right)

The single surviving Danish Patrol Car is on display at the Military Museum in Copenhagen. It is placed on its original purpose-built trailer. Note the mechanism on the front that secures the Patrol Car to the trailer. Source: Wikimedia

Design of the Light Patrol Car

The Patrol Car immediately shows its Carden-Loyd lineage, with the characteristic design of the suspension and chassis. Each track system consisted of 129 links, a front-mounted sprocket with 32 teeth, a rear-mounted idler with a tensioner, a return roller which was identical to a regular road wheel, and two pairs of bogies with two road wheels each. The pairs were suspended with flat leaf springs. The bogies were mounted to the suspension beam, which itself was attached to the lower hull with two heavy duty brackets. The leaf spring bogies were soon replaced by new bogies, featuring a new coil spring suspension. This type of suspension was further developed into the Horstmann suspension by John Carden and Sidney Horstmann in 1934.

The independent movement of the coil spring-suspended bogies can well be observed on this photograph of a Danish Patrol Car, taken around 1935 in Copenhagen. Source: Museum of Copenhagen

The widely available Ford Model A engine was chosen for the propulsion. This was a 3.3 l straight-four engine which had a maximum output of 40 hp at 2,200 rpm. The same engine was also used by the Ford AA, hence the engine is sometimes referred to as Model AA as well. It was mounted on the right side of the rear compartment and coupled to the transmission in front of it. As seen on other Carden-Loyd designs, the differential bulged out of the frontal armor and was protected by a removable armored cover. The transmission could be accessed through a hatch. The exhaust protruded out of the transmission compartment just behind this hatch, and ran further down alongside the right side of the rear compartment.

Although data on the dimensions and weight of the vehicle is conflicting between sources, the Danish version seems to have weighed 2.1 tonnes. A figure of 1.93 tonnes is also given, but this may concern a later variant which was changed to make it cheaper. As indicated by the weight, the vehicle was very small for an armored tracked vehicle, with a length of just 2.9 m [figures of 2.59 and 2.75 m are also given], a width of 1.75 m, and a height of 1.65 m.

According to factory specifications, it was able to reach a speed of 45 km/h, but due to bad performance, it is unlikely it ever reached this speed in practical use. With a 45.5 l fuel tank, an operational range of 150 km was achieved. As evidenced by various photographs, it could climb slopes up to 25° [47%].

The prototype on the move, now outfitted with the new coil spring bogies. Source: Mechanised Force / David Fletcher

A less dramatic scene, showing the Patrol Car in all its might. Source: Beamish Museum via

Crew Layout

The left side of the rear compartment was reserved for the crew. The driver sat at the front and was provided with a single vision slit in the frontal plate, which provided just a limited view. The size of the slit could be changed by sliding an external armored cover up or down. If the driver needed a better view, his only way was to slide the top hatch open and stick his head out, blocking the firing arc of the turret and making himself vulnerable to enemy fire.

The commander, who also acted as the loader and gunner of the machine gun, was seated in the turret behind the driver. The turret itself was the most basic version of a design also seen on the commercial light and amphibious tanks. It was round with a square and offset extrusion to the front that housed the gun mount. It was turned by the commander with a manual traverse. An entry hatch was mounted on the turret’s roof and folded forwards.

This photograph finely illustrates the small size of the vehicles in comparison to the crew. Of note is also the special tracked carrier, which could transport additional equipment for the crew. Plenty of grass and mud is stuck to the suspension beam and the differential armor cover. Source:

Armament and Protection

In terms of armament, the Patrol Car was standard issued with a Vickers-Berthier light machine gun, but the eventual fitted gun was up to the choice of the customer. The Danish Army for example, as the sole customer, decided upon the locally manufactured and used Madsen 8 mm. This came at the cost that the regular gun mount was replaced by just two simple vertical slits. One was used to put the gun through and the other to aim through.

Most of the vehicle was protected by 6 mm thick armor plates, with the exceptions of the floor and roof plates, which were just 4 mm thick. The layout of the offset transmission and engine, in combination with the specific suspension, was also utilized by the Carden-Loyd B11E10 three-man carrier, which was delivered to the British testing agency in 1933. Apart from this layout, both vehicles were quite different from each other.

The vehicle seen from the rear right. Note the little chains on the fender supports that were used to mount unditching/trench crossing planks. Source: Wikimedia

Danish Interest in the Light Patrol Car

In 1928, Denmark bought its first tank, an Italian Fiat 3000, for testing purposes. It went through a large testing program, but unsure what to further do with it, it was removed from service in 1929. Around the same time, several business trips were made abroad to study new military and armored developments and, in 1930, the War Ministry gave the greenlight to begin new armored car trials in 1931. The vehicles tested in this program were known as a Forsøgspanservogn [English: Experimental Armored Vehicles]. The first two armored cars were built locally to keep costs down. A special testing unit was established and existed between July and October 1931.

In May 1932, the unit was reinstated and re-equipped with the two armored cars, which by this time had been modified. Additionally, other cheap armored vehicle solutions were sought and found in the L-210 armored motorcycle from Swedish Landsverk, designated FP3, and the earlier offer from Vickers to test one of their vehicles. In the first half of 1932, Vickers was working on the first Light Patrol Car prototype which was to be sent to Denmark. After some delays, it was finally ready in the summer and arrived in Denmark in August. It came accompanied with a special tracked trailer.

The prototype in Denmark, together with its trailer. At low speeds, such trailers could be useful, but were often a hindrance in active combat. Source:

Trials in Denmark

After being temporarily designated FP4 [Forsøgspanservogn 4], it was put to the test over the course of six weeks, but the results were disappointing, to put it mildly. Off-road performance was very poor, the tracks tended to throw themselves off, while steering on roads was practically impossible. However, these technical deficiencies were put aside, motivated by the optimistic idea that the vehicle had not yet been able to show its full capabilities in just six weeks of testing. Furthermore, the Landsverk armored motorcycle had yielded very little results too, so the Patrol Car was still favored over it.

Most importantly, though, was the financial side. Due to political decisions, the Danish Army had little money to spend. The cost for one vehicle was estimated somewhere around 20,000 kroner [circa £1,080] and operating costs were estimated at just 1 krone per kilometer driven, which were both very low for a tracked armored vehicle with a turret-mounted armament. In relative value, this would be roughly US$444,000 in today’s value, and US$22 per kilometer.

The prototype is seen here in a proposed transport configuration and placed on a Danish built Triangel 2T truck, fitted with a French P6 Kegresse half track system. Source:

An Order for Two

Without another cheap alternative, and hoping new vehicles were better than its first appearance had shown, an order for two was placed at Vickers. These differed in several ways to the tested prototype. The entire layout was changed, with the turret now offset to the right and the transmission and engine moved to the left. This was the most important change, but other differences included new fenders with less steep supports and a curvature to each end, a different gunmount in the turret and additional vision slits for the commander, an added handle on the right side of the hull, and two towing hooks mounted on the rear plate.

Shown here is Patrol Car FP5. Visible changes to the prototype are the swapped layout, the different transmission hatch, a curved fender with less sloped supports, and a handle on the side armor below the turret. Source:

These two vehicles arrived in August 1933 and were assigned the registrations FP4 and FP5 and equipped with a single 8 mm Madsen M1924 light machine gun, chambered to fire the Danish standard issue 8×58 mmR cartridges. Another addition were two ramps, carried on either side of the vehicle, which could be manually deployed to overcome trenches or similar obstacles.

It was quickly found that they were in very poor mechanical condition, even up to the point that the Danes began to consider this as a breach of contract. Engineers from Vickers had to travel to Copenhagen several times to fix errors and various teething problems. The main problems occurred with the suspension, the cooling system of the engine, and the exhaust. The training department found the vehicle’s performance hugely disappointing and doubted their usability. The HTK agreed with this, but pointed out that the army was in need of a cheap armored vehicle and for the price, the Patrol Car did its job well as a training vehicle until better alternatives would become available.

A relatively rare photo of both vehicles seen together. Note the ramps carried on the sides. Source: Om dansk rytteri 1932-1940, Del 3 / Per Finsted

Trailer Problems

During exercises, it was also found that the four-wheeled transport trailers which were delivered together with the vehicles had a problematic performance. An additional problem, although not directly related to the vehicle itself, were the Ford trucks assigned to pull the vehicles, which turned out not to be powerful enough. Trials with International and Fordson trucks resulted in the latter being chosen as a replacement for the Ford.

The Light Patrol Car in Army Service

From the delivery in August 1933, the Patrol Cars remained in service as training vehicles until 1937, when they were stored and designated as beredskabskøretøjer [English: Emergency Vehicles], only to be reactivated in case of special need. This never occurred and FP4 eventually disappeared, presumably to be scrapped. Remarkably, FP5 survived and is on display in the Danish National Military Museum in Copenhagen.

There is a rather amusing anecdote in which the Patrol Car was involved. During training, a conscripted hornblower from the reserves was assigned to the tank unit for communications, as these were not fitted with radios. He sat on top of one of the vehicles and was ordered to blow a signal if a bridge was found intact. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a bag filled with a chalk-water mixture landed next to the tank, giving the hornblower a proper whitewash. Bewildered, he looked up, only to spot a two-decker flying by with the sound of the loud laughter of the flight crew protruding from it, as the engine had been turned off to secretly approach the tank. The poor hornblower reportedly spent the rest of the exercise cleaning his uniform while the vehicle was ‘put out of action’ by the bomb.

FP4 during exercises in the countryside. Although barely visible, Giv Agt for Opbremsning! is written on the rear plate, which translates to ‘Be aware of braking!’ Source:

Commercial Failure

Besides Denmark, the Light Patrol Car attracted no further commercial interest, especially since its cost exceeded a £1,000, which was still relatively cheap, but more expensive than the regular Mk.VI tankettes. Therefore, the decision was made in 1933 to offer a cheaper version with thinner armor and the older and cheaper leaf-spring suspension. By this, cost was brought down to £700, while an optional cupola with bullet-proof glass visors was offered for £50 extra. Despite an advertisement campaign, showing a drawing with a dramatic deployment of a patrol car during a protest, none were ever sold.

The dramatic drawing of the Light Patrol Car during use against riots. A point of interest is the cupola on the turret with bulletproof vision blocks. This option would cost £50. Source:

It is sometimes suggested that Finland, Sweden, and Portugal also bought a prototype each, bringing the built number up from three to six vehicles, but this appears to be false information. Indeed, Finland bought three Vickers-Carden-Loyd tanks in 1933, but these concerned the Commercial Light Tank M1933, the Light Amphibious Tank M1931, and the Mk. VIB tankette. Similarly, Portugal acquired six Mk.VI tankettes in 1931 and Sweden two Mk.VIs in the early 1930s, including a unique variant, but neither bought the Patrol Car.

Poland is sometimes suggested as being yet another evaluator of the Patrol Car. Notably, the comparable TKW was developed there, but it appears that its development coincided, or even predated the Patrol Car and there is no supporting evidence that the Patrol Car was ever tested by Polish authorities.

A Political Scandal

In 1932, a small-scale scandal erupted when Vickers-Armstrong placed a page-sized advertisement for the Patrol Car in the German military magazine Militär-Wochenblatt. This was considered as a direct advertisement for Germany which was prohibited to own any tanks under the Versailles Treaty. After questioning in the House of Commons, the government had to clarify that no British arms were exported to Germany, while the Militär-Wochenblatt stated that the advertisement was aimed at foreign readers of their magazine.

This controversial advertisement was placed in the German military magazine Militär-Wochenblatt in 1932. Source: Militär-Wochenblatt


In the end, the Light Patrol Car was just one of many options developed by Vickers-Carden-Loyd and put up for sale in their ever growing commercial catalog of armored vehicles. While it seemed to deliver a promising upgrade over the original Mk.VI tankettes on paper, it turned out to be a technical failure in reality. For a turret-equipped tracked vehicle, it was cheap, but the more expensive light tank series was favored over it by many customers, which was certainly a better option. This was experienced by Denmark, whose two vehicles performed subpar and were considered useless in any tactical deployment. Nevertheless, their importance in the Danish Army should not be understated, as they provided good training experience. Unfortunately, they would never use this experience, as the Danish government capitulated almost immediately when they were invaded by Germany in April 1940.

The FP5 has survived and is displayed in the National Military Museum in Copenhagen on its transport trailer. This dark gray, almost black color, was the original livery, evidenced by various photographs. Source: Wikimedia

Seen on the front-left side. Source: Wikimedia

The Light Patrol Car in its Danish configuration. An illustration by Godzilla, funded by our Patreon Campaign.

Light Patrol Car specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 2.9 (or 2.59) x 1.75 (1.96 with boards) x 1.65 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 1930 kg or 2100 kg
Crew 2 (commander/gunner, driver)
Propulsion Ford Model A engine, water-cooled, 40 hp
Speed (factory) 45 km/h [30 mph]
Range 150 km
Fuel tank 45.5 l [10 gal]
Armament 1x Vickers-Berthier MG or 8 mm Madsen M1924
Armor front, side, and rear 6 mm; roof and floor 4 mm
Climb 25°
Turning Circle 4 m
Total Production 3


Drostrup, Ole. Panser i Danmark. Træk af vort panservåbens historie 1918-1978, Lindhart og Ringhof, 1980 (2021 eBook version), ISBN: 978-8726582529.
Finsted, Per. Carden-Loyd kampvognen i Danmark,
Finsted, Per. “Om dansk rytteri 1932-1940, Del 1-4.”
Fletcher, David. Mechanised Force: British Tanks Between the Wars, The Stationary Office, 1991.
Foss, Christopher & Peter McKenzie. The Vickers Tanks: From Landships to Challenger, Haynes Publishing Group, 1988, ISBN: 978-1852601416.
Greve Sponneck, W. “Rytteriets Panservognskompanier.” In Danmarks Hær”, edited by Hektor Boeck, S.E. Johnstad-Møller, and C.V. Hjalf, 228-230. Copenhagen: Selskabet til Udgivelse af Kulturskrifter, 1934.
Seldes, George. Iron, Blood and Profits: an Exposure of the World-Wide Munitions Racket, Harper & Brothers, 1934. used to convert currency.

WW1 German Armor WW1 Mexican Armor

Protos Panzerauto

German Empire/United States of Mexico (1913-1914)
Armored Car – 2 Built

Before World War 1, armored vehicles had not yet come into fashion. Still early in their development, they could not yet prove their technical and tactical capabilities, but this did not prevent individuals and companies from building new vehicles. One of the companies that decided to build armored vehicles before the war was the German car manufacturer Protos Automobile GmbH based in Nonnendamm and subsidiary of Siemens-Schuckertwerke. At least two vehicles were built and sold to Mexico, the first German armored cars to be exported and see active, albeit limited service.

A Protos at the factory. Based on the external features, like the exposed rear wheels, this is one of the vehicles that was later sold to Mexico. The picture is dated 9th May 1913. Source: Wolfgang Fleischer

An Unknown Start

Nothing is known about the development of the Protos Panzerauto, but it presumably came to light as a private initiative, like many other armored vehicles before World War 1. The possibility that it was originally ordered by the German military is incredibly slim, as the armored car concept had been rejected some years earlier. When trials were held in 1909 with three armored cars, a German Daimler model and two French CGV 1906s, as well as one unarmored car, the German high command decided against their adoption. The armor was considered an unnecessary burden to the mobility of a vehicle, without providing sufficient protection. The lack of off-road capabilities and high maintenance costs were also decisive factors.

The Manufacturer Protos

The Motorenfabrik Protos was founded in 1899 by Dr. Alfred Sternberg. Initially, vehicles with small 1-cylinder engines were produced, but Sternberg started the development of larger and more powerful engines. Soon after, he introduced a 2-cylinder engine and in 1904, a 30 hp 4-cylinder engine. An improved model of this engine came out later and was able to produce 42 hp. This engine was used in E1 model cars. It seems that production of these models started in 1906 when the workshop moved to Reinickendorf, Berlin. In the summer of 1908, Oberleutnant Koeppen used a Protos E1 to win an automobile race around the world, leading Protos to become a renowned brand.

An E1 chassis. Supposedly, the armored car was based upon one of these. Source:

In October 1908, Protos was bought by the Siemens-Schuckertwerke [SSW] and became a division of that company. Manufacturing moved from Reinickendorf to SSW in Nonnendamm, Berlin. SSW had already been producing electrical vehicles and now, with the acquisition of Protos, also got a strong petrol car construction branch.

Protos cars being made in their plant in Nonnendamm, Germany, in 1913. Source: Siemens Historical Institute

Design of the Panzerauto

The design of the vehicle was quite simple and, in some ways, everything that is to be expected of an early armored car. It was based on a regular commercial chassis, a Protos 18/42 Typ E1 that was first introduced in 1906. The 4 cylinder, 4.56 l petrol engine produced 42 hp and was placed at the front, protected by armor. It could be accessed via hatches from either side, which hinged upwards. The armored louvers on the front could be closed from within the crew compartment by a special bar placed over the engine compartment. Two large headlamps were mounted on the front of the vehicle, while two smaller ones were fixed just behind the engine, on the crew compartment.

A Protos in Mexico. A person is just entering the vehicle. Presumably, this picture was taken on 16th September 1914 during a parade. Note that the louvers are in the opened position, allowing efficient cooling while driving, but they could be closed easily by the bar on top. The machine gun is covered by a tarp. Source: Félix Miret / Fototeca Antica

The headlamps were of the acetylene type, known as ‘carbide lamps’. They worked by putting a piece of calcium carbide on the bottom while water was placed in the top part. This would drip down on the carbide and the chemical reaction that follows would form acetylene gas, which was lit, producing the light.

The crew compartment was located behind the engine. The driver sat on the right and could see through two large hatches in the front and a small closable hatch on his right hand side. No vision slits were made in the front hatches, so they could not be fully closed during driving. To the left of the driver, there was space for another crew-member, likely a commander or observer, but he would have blocked the sole entry point of the vehicle.

A rare top down view of the Protos, showing a driver and seven soldiers within the vehicle. Based on the crowd and the use of umbrellas, this picture seems to also have been taken during the parade on 16th September 1914. Source: Mediateca INAH

The whole crew had to enter through a door on the front left side of the hull. Central in the crew compartment, on a raised platform, stood a water cooled 7.92 mm MG 08 machine gun on a pedestal which could also be used against elevated targets, such as potential aerial targets. When standing on the platform, the gunners and crewmembers would largely be exposed to enemy fire, but the machine gun was equipped with a gun shield to provide at least some protection. Furthermore, on both sides of the vehicle, two small closable hatches were located, which could be used by the crew to see through, or potentially to fire through with handheld weapons. Apart from the driver and commander/observer, there was room for at least six more men, including the gunners.

It is unknown what the rear looked like, since there are no photographs or descriptions of it, but photographs from the side and top seem to suggest that it was a flat vertical panel.

The wheels were shod with, what appear to be, regular pneumatic tires and suspended by leaf springs. The vehicles had common wooden spoked wheels, which were possible to be protected with an armored disk as seen on one photograph.

This unique photograph shows two vehicles together during a parade in Mexico. It is unknown if more than two were received. Source: Mexican Military Firearms on Facebook


In terms of armor, a figure of 3-4 mm is given. If this is true, this would have been inadequate to effectively act as armor, as many projectiles would be able to penetrate it. Without being able to provide proper protection, the weight of the armor would only act as a disadvantage for the vehicle, making it unnecessarily heavy. That said, a variety of early armored vehicles were very thinly armored, like the Austro-Daimler Panzerautomobil with just 4 mm and the Ehrhardt BAK with just 3 mm, to name a few.

In case the given figure is wrong, one expects at least 6 mm of armor, the minimal thickness required to expect decent protection against bullets, at least when high quality steel is used, like a chrome-nickel alloy. Most armored cars that were built since 1914, although not all of them, featured at least 6 mm of armor plating.

One of the first images taken of the Protos after it arrived in Mexico. Note that the text on the side reads “República Mexicana Ejército Nacional”. Later, “1er Regimiento De Artillería” was added below it. Source:

Transatlantic Export

In 1910, a revolution broke out in Mexico. Armed forces, led by Francisco Madero, Pascual Orozco, and Pancho Villa, engaged with government troops to contest the regime of President Porfirio Díaz following rigged Presidential elections. Díaz was forced to resign in May 1911 and went into exile. New elections in October made Madero the new president of Mexico. His presidency was tumultuous and, as former President Díaz put it, Madero had unleashed a revolutionary force he was not able to control.

During the Ten Tragic Days in February 1913, Madero and his Vice President were forced to resign and were assassinated after a military coup led by General Victoriano Huerta, supported both by the United States (until March) and the German Empire. In this context, at least two Protos Panzerautos were ordered by Huerta in early 1914. They were shipped to the port city of Veracruz, where they arrived either in July or early August.

However, on 15th July, Huerta was forced out of office by a coalition of several revolutionary forces that included the Constitutionalist Army of Venustiano Carranza, the Zapatistas of Emiliano Zapata, and the Villista of Pancho Villa. The Federal Army was officially dissolved on 13th August. Therefore, the Protos never saw any service with the Federal Army of Huerta. When the vehicles were transported from Veracruz to Mexico City, where they were unloaded at the Buenavista Railway Station, they fell into the hands of the Constitutionalist Army of Venustiano Carranza, which had entered Mexico City on 20th August. On 16th September, a Protos was used during a parade through the streets of Mexico City.

The Mexican Protos as it was being transported by rail. Note that this time, the louvers are fully closed. A colorization by Johannes Dorn. Source: Mediateca INAH

Shortly after the defeat of Huerta, the revolutionary coalition was dissolved and the Constitutionalist Army of Carranza saw itself fighting against the Conventional Army of Pancho Villa and Zapata. Based on photographic records, the Protos did not see much fighting. Instead, one seems to have broken down as, in one image, attempts can be seen to tow it away, while in another image, the rear axle is visibly broken. This was probably because the chassis was overloaded by the combined weight of the armor, machine gun, and the crew. Eventually, the vehicle was stripped of its accessories, including the headlamps and the armament. In this sorry state, it was likely captured by the Conventional Army when they entered Mexico City in December 1914. The vehicle disappeared afterwards and was probably scrapped. If the second armored car saw any service beyond 1914 is unfortunately unknown.

The abandoned vehicle, still with its headlights and armament. The ropes attached to the front suggest an attempt has been made to tow the vehicle, either to this place, or away from this place. The location is the Buenavista Railway Station. In January 1917, this picture was widely published in US newspapers under the caption “Carranza’s Armored Motorcar”. A colorization by Johannes Dorn. Source: IFS / Dutch National Archives
The Protos in a later state, still at the same location as the previous image. The broken rear axle can clearly be seen from this angle. The headlamps and armament have been removed, since they would not have any more use on this broken down vehicle. A colorization by Johannes Dorn. Source: Secretaría de Cultura [inv. 465619]
Two from the same group of men are now posing within the vehicle, which had broken down and stood abandoned for quite some time at the Buenavista Railway Station in Mexico City near the end of 1914. Source:

The Protos and Other Armored Vehicles in Mexico

The role of armored vehicles during the Mexican Revolution is very obscure and unfortunately ill-documented. It is for sure that by 1913, at least one armored train was used and that by 1914, three armored cars were in use, including two Protos in Mexico City and another armored vehicle in Northern Mexico that was used by the Brigada Zaragoza. This particular vehicle was also capable of traveling by rail. Later, the Salinas tank was built in 1917 by TNCA. Furthermore, around 1920, at least two other armored car designs were produced, and several features of these show a striking resemblance to the Protos. Both Protos vehicles, like most of these other armored vehicles, seem to not have been used extensively, probably due to the early breakdown of one.

One of the two armored vehicles that was built around 1920. The shape of the bonnet is similar to that of the Protos, which could suggest some inspiration. Source:
Another armored vehicle, designed by General Alfonso R. Gomez, which was built in the early 1920s. How many of this type were built is unknown, but possibly quite a few. Again, there are some features strikingly similar to the older Protos, like the presence of two large vision hatches in the front, small gun/vision ports in the sides, and the cutout in the armor for the rear wheel. Source:

A German Vehicle?

For a while, it was thought that a third Protos Panzerauto was built and used by Germany against the Russian Empire in the First World War. A wartime Russian publication called The Mirror published two photographs of a Protos, reportedly after capture. There is, however, no further evidence to support this claim, and these appear to be pre-war photographs. The photographs appear to show a unique Protos, with protective discs put over the spoked wheels and armor that extends over the rear wheels. However, this could well be explained by the notions that the discs were easily demountable, while the rear armor was maybe an earlier or later design iteration proposed by Protos, but never adopted. Provided the relatively poor quality of the pictures, contemporary manipulation of the photographs should be taken into consideration as well.

There is clear evidence for at least one armored vehicle that was present in East Prussia in the early days of the First World War, namely an armored truck of the Benz-Werke Gaggenau. The Protos joins the list of two French Charron Girardot Voigt 1905 models which were possibly still available as well, but there is no further evidence to purporter either claim.

These two pictures were published in a Russian newspaper, reportedly after the vehicle was captured by Russian troops from the Germans in East Prussia in 1914. The vehicle does not seem to have battle damage. Differences with the Mexican vehicle include an armored body extended over the rear wheel, and disc wheels instead of spoked wheels. Source: Rainer Strasheim / Stanislav Kirilets


The current knowledge on the Protos Panzerauto mainly stems from the available photographs, once again highlighting the importance of imagery for our understanding of the past. Long forgotten, the vehicle was rediscovered relatively recently and is gradually receiving more attention. The vehicle was a typical early armored vehicle, with some design issues, including an overly exposed armament. It was the only armored car designed by Protos, one of the first armored vehicles deployed during the Mexican Civil War but, just like the others, still shrouded in mystery.

The Mexican Protos had no disc covers on the wheels, and a cutout was made in the armor for the rear wheel.
The Protos as seen on two pre-war photographs, with the armor partially overlapping the rear wheel, and all wheels being protected by added discs. Both illustrations by Andrei ‘Octo10’ Kirushkin.


Approximate Dimensions [LxWxH] 4,5 x 1,8 x 2 m [14.8 x 5.9 x 6.6 ft]
Crew 4-7? (driver, commander, 2-5 gunners)
Propulsion Protos 18/42 PS, 4-cylinder, 4.56 l, petrol, 42 hp
Armor 3-4 mm [0.12-0.16 in]
Armament 1x 7.92 mm MG 08 machine gun
Total production 2


Mexican Protos Armored Car – National Army (Ejército Nacional). México, 1914, José Luis Castillo, 13 December 2011,
Panzerauto Protos (German Armored Car) M1913, José Luis Castillo, 22 January 2015,
Panzerkampfwagen: im Ersten Weltkrieg, Typenkompass, Wolfgang Fleischer, 2017, Motorbuch Verlag.
Panzer-Kraftwagen: Armoured Cars of the German Army and Freikorps, Tankograd 1007, Rainer Strasheim, 2013, Verlag Jochen Vollert.
Siemens Zeitschrift Juli 1925: Die Geschichte des Protoswagens, Dipl.-Ing. M. Preuß, Automobilwerk der SSW, Siemens Automobilmotoren,
“Autos aus Berlin: Protos und NAG” von Hans-Otto Neubauer, Verlag W. Kohlhammer GmbH, Stuttgart 1982, Protos Motoren Vorgänger der Siemens-Motoren,
The Protos: Siemens as an automobile producer, Siemens Historical Institute 2018, pdf.

Modern Indian Armor


Republic of India (2012)
Armored Anti-Terrorist Vehicle – 1 Prototype Built

Few armored vehicles are as unique or captivating as the Mini Bullet Proof Vehicle [MBPV] announced by the Indian automotive manufacturer Tata in 2012. Described as an anti-terrorist vehicle fit for indoor use, the Tata MBPV formed a unique class in the ever growing field of commercial armored vehicles. Just a quick glance at the vehicle can leave one wondering whether this kind of vehicle has any potential of operational success, or if it is not more than a joke. However, a more detailed understanding of the vehicle makes it clear that it came about as a thoughtful solution to a genuine threat. Indeed, the broader Indian Anti-Terrorist Vehicle [ATV] program, in which the MBVP was developed, eventually introduced a similar, but larger and tracked vehicle into service with Indian security forces.

The Tata MBPV seen at DefExpo 2012, held between 29th March and 1st April, in New Delhi. Source:

The 26/11 Mumbai Attacks

On 26th November 2008, India was shook by a brutal terrorist attacks in Mumbai performed by ten Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist group. They had infiltrated the city first by hijacking a fishing boat, killing the crew, and separated into groups utilizing hijacked cars. After multiple attacks at public places, the terrorists attacked and infiltrated a Jewish community center, and two hotels. The following siege of these places lasted three to four days. The aftermath of the attacks was devastating. In total, 166 people were killed, including 20 security force personnel and 26 foreign nationals. Of the ten gunmen, nine were killed as well, while the other was later sentenced to death. More than 300 people were wounded.

The 26/11 attacks immediately led to a significant increase in tensions between India and Pakistan, while the Indian government set a series of safety measurements into motion. Furthermore, the Indian government and security forces began to analyze the unfolded events and identify mistakes, also seeking improvements not only in training and tactics, but in equipment too. One asset which the Indian special forces strongly desired was a mobile protective solution that could assist in indoor combat against insurgents. At the time, nothing like this was available, either from the military or the international commercial market.

During the siege of the Taj Mahal Palace luxury hotel, which began after terrorists took it on 26th November 2008, a fire broke out which was battled by firefighters while special forces provided cover. On the 29th, Indian Commandos managed to eliminate the terrorists, who had killed at least 31 people who were staying in the hotel. Source: ABP Live

The ATV Program

To meet the new requirement, an Anti-Terrorist Vehicle [ATV] development program was set up by the Vehicles Research Development Establishment of the Defense Research and Development Organization [VRDE-DRDO]. The VRDE was assisted by several commercial companies. Three designs were pursued, namely the ATV Tracked, the ATV Wheeled, and the ATV Wheeled Electrical. The latter was developed in cooperation with Tata Motors Defense, which referred to the vehicle as Mini Bullet Proof Vehicle [MBVP].

The vehicles had to be as small as possible in order to allow operations inside buildings with narrow corridors and gullies. They had to be able to take stairs, and provide protection to two or three occupants. This was formulated as follows:

Terrorist strikes in Urban areas have brought a new challenge before security forces. The aftermath of 26/11/2008 terrorist attack on Taj hotel and other places in Mumbai, dictated the need for an agile, compact weight and dimensional profile, highly maneuverable armored envelope adequately protected to carry 2/3 persons in hostile environments, especially in the corridors of buildings, small gullies, constrained spaces of hideouts, etc. for Anti-Terrorist operations.

In cooperation with commercial Indian manufacturers, three vehicles were designed and built, separated into a tracked, a wheeled, and an electrical wheeled vehicle, the latter in cooperation with Tata. Outside this official program, the Indian company Metaltech Motor Bodies Pvt Ltd launched the A-TAC, the Anti-Terrorist Assault Cart, in 2010. It was very similar to the requirements laid out in the ATV program, but seems to have been developed on private initiative and was not adopted.

In 2012, Tata was ready to show its prototype.

The entire ATV program. The ATV [Tracked] was developed in cooperation with Jeet & Jeet and further developed, while the other two-wheeled vehicles were canceled. Source: VRDE


Thanks to its small size, the design was kept very simple. Essentially, it was not more than an armored cabin on four independently suspended wheels. Each wheel, shod with pneumatic tires, was sprung by a coil spring, mounted to brackets extruding from the side armor. This type of suspension also allowed the vehicle to drive up stairs. To ensure a small turning circle, all four wheels were steered, which is quite essential in confined spaces with tight corners. However, as a drawback, the vehicle became relatively wide.

This was all powered by a small electrical engine, which gave the vehicle the slow maximum speed of 20 km/h, but this was sufficient for the intended use. An important feature was that an electrical engine is much quieter than a conventional combustion engine, which could enhance its tactical operations. The engine was coupled to lithium-ion batteries, enabling intermittent use of 6 hours. These batteries could be charged via a connector mounted in the frontal armor plate, next to a ventilation grille.

Design drawing of the MBVP, showing the armor in blue, hatch in beige, firing port covers in purple, and the structural elements in light gray. There are several differences with the prototype, such as the size and placement of the front window, and the armored cover for the headlight. Source: Tata
The prototype during its construction. The grille, fire port covers, and socket were yet to be fitted. Before it was shown in 2012, the windows and the upper frontal plate were redesigned. Source: DRDO Newsletter Vol.34 No.6 June 2014

The vehicle was just big enough to accommodate two people, a driver seated at the front and a gunner seated or standing behind the driver. The entry point was a large door in the rear. Steering was done with a single joystick, centrally mounted at the front. It was complemented by a small control panel on the right. For vision, a large bulletproof window was installed in the front, two smaller ones on each side, and another small one in the rear door. Despite this, the driver still had some major blind spots to either side.

A hatch was installed on the roof, which could serve several purposes, such as a fighting position, an observation post, or potentially even to throw grenades out of.

Close-up view on the driver’s position. Like the exterior, the interior stands out in its simplicity and, in places, even looks rudimentary. Note how light seeps through both the firing port and the headlight in the bottom right. Source:

Firepower and Protection

Although without any fixed armament or weapon station, the MBPV had six firing ports, two in each side, one below the front window, and one in the rear entry door. They had external round covers that could be swiveled open from the inside. The occupants could fire through these with any of their light personal weapons.

The armored plates were bolted to an internal structure and partially welded together. A thickness was never specified, but the plates were claimed to be bulletproof against small arms fire and small blasts. This was a realistic approach, as the vehicle would likely not face any terrorists with larger weapons. To slightly increase the effectiveness, the plates were angled, while the angle on the roof assured no explosives would keep laying there when thrown on top of it. The floor plates were also slightly angled in order to deflect the blast from an explosion underneath.

A look at the rear of the vehicle. It looks like the door handle was bought from the local hardware store, but this can hopefully be attributed to the experimental nature of the design. Source: Kunal Biswas

Introduced to the World

The vehicle was presented to India and the world at DefExpo 2012, a biannual defense exhibition held in New Delhi. At the event, the managing director of the India Operations of Tata Motors, mr. P.M. Telang, stated:

The launch of our new combat and tactical vehicles and equipment, leveraged from our strength in design and development of a wide range of commercial vehicles, now enables us to cover the entire defense mobility spectrum. Tata Motors Defense Solutions already covers the complete range of logistics and armored vehicles that have also been popular in supporting the police and paramilitary forces in counter insurgency operations.

Unfortunately for Tata, the MBPV was not chosen for the ATV program, and India’s Security Forces opted for the tracked variant instead. What happened to the MBPV prototype is unknown. The likely option is that it was scrapped since the design was never publicly offered commercially by Tata, but chances are it may have survived in a storage depot.

The MBPV seen on its right side. Some interior details can be seen through the windows; the rear left corner and the top hatch. Source: Defense Update / Binny Winson


The entire vehicle concept, as well as the vehicle in itself, have been doubted by many for having little to no merit. To an optimist, this kind of vehicle would form a valuable asset in anti-terrorist units, thanks to the added operational protection in confined spaces, such as shopping malls or train stations. To a pessimist, this vehicle is absolutely useless, providing little more additional protection than, for example, a simple bulletproof vest or shield. Either way, the vehicle was certainly great for the average armor humorist, and it has been the subject of scrutiny, jokes, and sarcasm.

As a concept, the Anti-Terrorist Vehicle certainly has merit. Against lightly armed terrorists, lightly armored vehicles provide needed protection for security forces. This cannot be delivered by conventional armored vehicles, which would not be able to operate indoors or in public spaces, which are just the places where terrorists are to be expected. However, although sounding good in concept, such a vehicle has many drawbacks in practice, and several of these can be applied to the MBPV too.

Within a confined space, it is key to properly be able to see and analyze the surroundings. For the crew of the MBPV, this must have been difficult, as the windows left some major blindspots. This problem would be less significant if the vehicle was supported by special forces advancing behind the vehicle, using it as an armored shield. But this raises the question of whether a simple and much cheaper movable armored shield would suffice too.

The MBPV at DefExpo 2012. Source: Kunal Biswas

Anyone familiar with the British TV-series of Top Gear will probably recall the time that one of the former hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, built and drove the smallest legal car possible. While it worked and was legal to go on the road, it could barely be considered a functional vehicle. To all intents and purposes, the MBPV gives off a similar sentiment. It conforms to the request and may be somewhat useful in specific instances, but is hugely outplayed in other instances, while even in areas it would be useful in, it could easily be replaced by a cheaper or more versatile solution.

The Top Gear Technology Center P45, as driven by the car show’s former host, Jeremy Clarkson. Despite technically being a car, and being able to perform maneuvers other cars cannot, anyone familiar with the British show will recall plenty of reasons why this concept was a failure. Source: Ellis O’Brien / BBC Worldwide 2013

For example, a somewhat similar vehicle is The Rook, made by the US Company Ring Power Tactical Solutions. In essence, this is an armored Bobcat, which can be adapted to a large variety of protected emergency roles with mission-specific attachments. Another option would be a remotely controlled vehicle. By 2012, these were already wide in development.

The US-made The Rook, which not only offers an armored shield for protection, but can also elevate this shield to a better tactical height. Source: Ring Power
Frontal view, showing the single headlight, an air grille, and the charging socket. Source: Defense Update / Binny Winson


The 26/11 attacks shook India, possibly as much as 9/11 shook the United States. The ATV program was one of many new developments that directly originated from the gruesome experience gained in the attacks. The MBPV was one of the three submissions to this program, as the wheeled electrical variant, but the tracked variant was favored over it. Whether this decision was made on the basis that the MBPV performed badly, or if the tracked version was simply better, is unknown. However, Tata never added the vehicle to their catalog, suggesting the vehicle itself was a failure. Indeed, without taking the ATV program into account at all, the whole vehicle is quite useless, and even within the set boundaries, the MBPVs effectiveness was limited. Although it probably is not worth all the scrutiny it has received, the MBPV cannot be considered a successful vehicle in any regards.

The Tata MBPV illustrated by Pavel Alexe.

Tata MBPV [ATV Wheeled, Electrical] specifications

Total Weight, Battle Ready 1.1 tonnes
Payload 0.2 tonnes
Crew 2 (driver and commander/gunner)
Propulsion Electrical Tata Engine
Speed 20 km/h
Operational capability ~6 hours
Gradeability 20 degrees
Armament 6 firing ports
Armor bulletproof level
Total Production 1


Aroor, Shiv. Coming soon: Bomb-proof Anti-Terrorist Vehicles that also climb stairs,, 2nd June 2014.
Eshel, Tamir. ‘Micro Protected Vehicle’ Supporting Indoor Assault Operations,, 30th March 2012.
Made-in-Jaipur armoured anti-terrorist vehicle to guard Parliament, The Economic Times, 23rd September 2015.
Meet the terrorist-fighting Nano (Don’t laugh),, 2nd September 2015.
Tata Motors showcases Anti-Terrorist Indoor Combat Vehicle concept at DEFEXPO India 2012,, 29th March 2012.
Technology Focus, Volume 27, Issue 3, May-June 2019.
DRDO Newsletter, Volume 34, Issue 6, June 2014.
DRDO. Appendix ‘A’: The detail information of Technology :“Anti-Terrorist Vehicle (ATV)-Tracked”,

Cold War Dutch Armor

GM Otter Light Reconnaissance Car in Dutch Service

Kingdom of the Netherlands (1945-1972)
Armored Car – 300 Acquired, Circa 120 Operated

With the end of the Second World War, large amounts of worn out Allied materiel were amassed into dumps in Europe. Some of these dumps were located in the Netherlands and mainly consisted of former British and Canadian materiel and vehicles. As the Dutch Army had to be completely rebuilt, it was considered a good start to acquire the surplus materiel from the dumps. This way, the Dutch laid their hands on some 300 Otters, although a much smaller number was actually taken into service with the Royal Marechaussee (Dutch gendarmerie force with both military and civil duties), while others were used for training. Some were also sent to Indonesia in 1949 and Suriname in 1960.

An Otter of the Royal Marechaussee in March 1949 at the training facilities in Apeldoorn. Note the marking on the front and the early pattern registration number, in this case ‘37236’. Source: Nationaal Archief

The Canadian GM Otter

By 1941, the British and Commonwealth Forces were in need of light armored reconnaissance cars. To meet the demand, a new production line for this type of vehicle was set up in Canada. The design principles of the British Humber Mk.III LRC were taken and modified to fit on the Canadian-built Chevrolet C15 Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) trucks. Compared to the Humber, the Otter was a bit longer, higher, and a ton heavier. Although powered by a 104 bhp General Motors petrol engine, it performed worse than the Humber, but to a certain extent still satisfactorily. During the war, the Otter was deployed by British, Greek, and Commonwealth Forces, like South-Africa, New-Zealand, and Canada, in the Mediterranean and Europe. Production started in 1942 and a total of 1,761 were built, although fewer than 1,000 actually left Canada to see combat.

The Otter featured a crew of three, with a driver in the front right, a commander to his left, and a gunner manning the centrally mounted turret. By default, a Bren machine gun was mounted in the turret, while a Boys anti-tank rifle was fitted through a hatch in the front armor plate. Otters in Dutch service never featured the Boys rifle. In terms of armor, the Otter was protected by plates between 8 and 12 mm thick.

A row of demobbed Canadian Otters in the Deelen dump. Source: Canadian Army Newsreel
A Dutch parade in in May 1946 at the military range of Soesterberg. A Humber Mk.IV and two Humber Mk.II Scout Cars are followed by several Otters. Source: NIMH 2155_031451

Dumped Armor

On 4th December 1944, the Centrale Intendance- en Cantine Dienst (Eng: Central Intendance and Canteen Service, abbreviated to CICD) was established. This new branch of the Dutch Army became responsible for the various tasks related to equipping and maintaining the Dutch Army. However, the Allies still largely supplied the Dutch Army until 1st November 1945. By then, the CIDC became fully responsible and took over all supply tasks. Consequently, the name was changed to Dienst van de Kwartiermeester Generaal (Eng: Service of the Quartermaster General, abbreviated to DKMG or KMG). The tasks of the KMG were described as “managing, distributing, and repairing materiel that was needed for the Army”.

In the Netherlands, large war materiel dumps and storage depots were located near the cities Deelen, Enschede, Grave, Alverna, and Nistelrode. British and Canadian materiel was stored here, although vehicles were only stored in Deelen and Enschede. Initially, it was the KMG that placed individual orders with the Canadian government to buy material from these dumps, including roughly 100 Otters. But, on 2nd January 1946, a special commission, known as the Bijzondere Aankoop Commissie (Eng: Special Purchase Commission, abbreviated to BAC) was established, which was specifically tasked with ordering and taking over materiel bought from the Canadian Department of Reconstruction & Supply. Earlier acquisitions by the KMG were also handled by the BAC. Most of the materiel that was bought by BAC came from the dumps in the Netherlands, but also the United Kingdom and Belgium, among other places. The order for 100 Otters was also further handled by the BAC.

A stark contrast. Otter ‘37322’, next to a Marechaussee in traditional uniform on a horse. This photograph probably dates from the 1950s. Source: Jan Schenkel (manning the turret) via the Nationaal Militair Museum
Apart from training, the Otter saw also extensive use as a parading vehicle. A whole platoon is seen here during a parade in the city of Breda in 1948, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the reign of Queen Wilhelmina. Source: Nederlands Fotomuseum LDH-43873-5

In May 1946, the Dutch and Canadian governments concluded a so-called ‘Overall Deal’. Among other things, this deal agreed that the vehicle dumps of Deelen and Enschede would be fully taken over by the Dutch government. The transfer took place on 23rd May, and the Dutch became the owners of roughly 34,000 demobbed vehicles from the Deelen dump and another 3400 from the Enschede dump. Some 300 Otters were located at the Deelen dump, including the 100 that had already been ordered earlier.

In total, the Dutch Army and Police took over some 12,000 of these vehicles. All the armored vehicles, tracked vehicles, and artillery vehicles were transferred to a new vehicle pool in the city of Stroe, initially known in English as the 2nd Netherlands Vehicle Pool. It was later renamed in Dutch to 2e Voertuigenpark, meaning the same.

Otter ‘56507’ in use as a training vehicle, as indicated by the large L painted above the grill, with L standing for LES (lesson). The photograph was taken in 1947. Source: NIMH 2001_N0000081-04

Rebuilding the Dutch Army and its Cavalry Branch

With the defeat of the Dutch Army in May 1940, the government went into exile in Britain. During the war, plans were drafted for the rebuilding of the Army once the Netherlands was liberated. Generally, it was thought to reform the Cavalry into a reconnaissance force. The actual rebuilding of the Cavalry and equipping it with armored vehicles can mainly be credited to Major J.J.G. Beelaerts van Blokland. He had been a commanding officer in the Princess Irene Brigade, a small Dutch unit that played a small part in the Allied war effort.

After some fruitless efforts to establish a new armor school in 1945, Beelaerts was offered space at the Cort Heyligers Barracks, an infantry depot, in the city of Bergen op Zoom. The establishment was approved by the Bevelhebber Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (Eng: Commander of Domestic Forces) and officially founded on 18th June 1945. On 25th June, the first officers assembled. With help from Prince Bernhard, who had good relations with Beelaerts, the first armored vehicles were loaned from the British/Canadian Army. This included three Staghounds, three Humber LRCs, six Universal Carriers, four motorcycles, and two trucks. More vehicles were acquired in the following months. In December 1945, the Armor School relocated to the Willem III Barracks in the city of Amersfoort. Here, they would also go on to acquire Otters for training from the Deelen dump. In May 1946, the school used 61 Otters, while another 24 were present but out of use. The Otters that were used by the Cavalry Armor School came from the Koninklijke Marechaussee (Eng: Royal Marechaussee, shortened to KMar) reserves.

Otter ‘56539’ is seen here guarding the Dutch-Indonesian conference at the hunting lodge Hubertus in April 1946. Source: Nationaal Archief
Dutch troops training with an Otter at Storm School Bloemendaal on 26th August 1947. Source: NIMH 2001_N0000149-14

Use by the Dutch Army

The initial order of 100 vehicles was placed in the interests of the KMar. In January 1946, these Otters became available, although they were lacking part of their ancillary equipment, such as headlights and toolboxes. Near the end of 1946, another twenty followed. They were acquired to equip eight squadrons, including three for the Mobile Brigade of the KMar. The Royal Marechaussee was responsible for providing support to the regular police forces in case of national unrest, which was expected by the Dutch government in the immediate postwar era. One such squadron consisted of a Command Group with two Otters, four platoons with three Otters each, one storm platoon with four GM C15TA armored trucks, and a supply train with two trucks. With three of these squadrons, there would have been 42 Otters in operation. The remainder was placed in reserve and used for training.

In May 1948, the Dutch Army had 356 light armored cars of the Humber Mk. III LRC, Standard Beaverette Mk.IV LRC, and GM Otter Mk.I types. In 1949, 21 Otters were shipped to Indonesia. By April 1951, the total number of all vehicles combined had been reduced to 105 vehicles, including 1 Humber, 11 Beaverettes, and 93 Otters, while the single Humber was planned to be scrapped that same year. In November 1954, the total number of Otters had been reduced to just 60.

Some Otters of the Armor School. The men in training are members of the 5th Armored Car Squadron that would soon head to Indonesia. Source:

Shortly after 1948, the Mobile Brigade was disbanded and the Otters were reformed into eight platoons which were then divided over the various divisions. Another platoon was added later and in 1955, there were nine platoons, numbered from 951 to 959. Such a platoon consisted of two motorcycles, one C15TA armored truck used as a command vehicle, six Otters, and a Dodge 3-tonne truck. In total, 54 Otters were operational. In 1958, the platoons were renumbered from 461 to 469, but apart from that, nothing changed. However, two years later in 1960, five platoons, namely 462, 463, 467, 468, and 469, were disbanded. This reduced the total number of operational Otters to 24. Of the other 30, 7-8 were sent to Suriname, while the remainder were cannibalized for spare parts. At least two hulls are known to have ended up as military range targets.

In 1966, the Dutch government placed an order for 266 new tracked M113 C&R vehicles (known as M113 C&V in the Netherlands). Sixteen of these were transferred to the Royal Marechaussee, allowing the Otter to be gradually taken out of service. In 1971, the last ones retired, marking the end of 25 years of service with the Marechaussee.

In Action

Security, Strikes, and Protests

In April 1946, the Otters were deployed for the first time by the Marechaussee. On 14th April, a conference was held in hunting lodge ‘Hubertus’ between the Dutch and an Indonesian delegation regarding the conflict in Indonesia. The conference was guarded by the Marechaussee and Otters were deployed. Directly thereafter, the Otters were redirected to the city of Rotterdam. Near the end of April, sailors had gone on strike in Rotterdam and Amsterdam because one of their labor unions was not involved in new collective agreement negotiations. Dockworkers joined the strike, up to a point when just 10% of them were still going to work. The severity of the strike caused such problems that the Mayor of Rotterdam asked volunteers to assist in the unloading and loading of ships. To protect those volunteers, help from the Marechaussee was called in by the Mayor. These protected the volunteers by patrolling with Otters and also enforcing gathering restrictions. This duty would linger on for two months.

A row of Otters that were deployed to Rotterdam in 1946 during a strike of sailors and dockworkers. Source:

On 26th September 1961, four Otters were deployed to clear a road barricaded by the farmer and politician Hendrik Koekoek and his followers, so-called ‘Free Farmers’. He refused to pay overdue levies to the Landbouwschap (Eng: Agricultural Authority), causing the Authority to sell part of Koekoek’s land. In protest, Koekoek barricaded a major road between the cities of Vaassen and Epe. The barricade was successfully removed, partially thanks to the deployment of the Otters that were attached to the 3rd Division Royal Marechaussee. The Otters blocked several roads, locking down many farmers. The police managed to force the farmers away.

Seen here are all four Otters that were deployed against the Free Farmers on 26th September 1961. Note the presence of armament and the special helmets and boiler suits of the crews. Source: Nationaal Archief

Anti-Smuggling Operations

In the post-war period, the Dutch border guards were troubled by smugglers. Especially on the Belgian border, smugglers made extensive use of armored vehicles taken from Allied Army dumps. The border guards had little means to stop these vehicles, which were often modified M3A1 White Scout Cars that could easily break through barricades. To counter these smugglers, Dutch customs called in the help of the Royal Marechaussee with their armored cars. In February 1948, one Otter was stationed at the Belgian-Dutch border near the city of Moergestel. After several nights of fruitless waiting, the guards finally heard a vehicle approaching on the night of the 24th, which was heading to the Belgian border. Without any other means to stop the smugglers, the Otter accelerated and rammed the M3A1 of the smugglers. Baffled by the sudden collision and unable to get out of the distorted armored compartment, the smugglers were apprehended. The cargo, this time consisting of seven living cows, was confiscated.

Two M3A1 White Scout Cars were confiscated from smugglers and seen here at a depot of Dutch Customs. The right vehicle was rammed by an Otter of the Royal Marechaussee on 24th February 1948. Source: Trouw 26-02-1948

In Indonesia

During the Indonesian Independence War (1945-1949), Dutch forces made extensive use of armored vehicles, including many C15TA ¾ tonners. There was a great demand for these armored trucks by the infantry, but by 1948 and 1949, many were lost due to mines and IEDs. To compensate for their losses, an attempt was made to repurpose pre-WW2 Overvalwagen hulls that were still available in a decent quantity, spread over various dumps in Java. One old hull was placed upon a 3-tonner truck by the Centrale Werkplaats LTD 90 (Eng: Central Workshop) but, although successful, the idea was not further pursued.

A modified Overvalwagen. It is possible that this is the Overvalwagen that was experimentally converted to meet the demand for C15TAs. Note the similarities with the C15TA and the modifications, like the two large frontal hatches and the front grille. Source: Hans Heesakkers /

In 1949, Deputy Commander of the Dutch General Staff in Indonesia, Colonel A.A.J.J. Thompson, visited the Netherlands. He established contact with the Dienst Kwartiermeester Generaal of the Koninklijke Landmacht (KMG/KL). This branch was willing to help out with the bad situation in Indonesia. Further contact was established between the KMG/KL and the KMG/Indië (the KMG responsible for the equipment of the Dutch Army and Colonial Army in Indonesia) and for this occasion, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Hoytema van Konijnenburg was dispatched to the Netherlands. As it turned out, the needed spare parts to repair C15TAs were not available, but some scrap vehicles could be sent to Indonesia to provide some spare parts for the short term.

This photograph was taken on 17th March 1950 in Bandung, during an inspection in front of the Armor Training Center, performed by both Dutch and Indonesian officers. Newly trained Indonesian crews stand in front of the vehicles, which still bear their Dutch registrations. Source: Nationaal Militair Museum

More promising was the offer to supply 21 completely refurbished Otters. Since they were easy to operate and maintain, like the C15TA, the offer was accepted and they were shipped to Indonesia near the end of 1949. However, they came too late to ever see active service with Dutch troops, as they only arrived after sovereignty was transferred on 27th December 1949. The vehicles, presumably all of them, were therefore handed over to the Indonesian Army. Any Indonesian records about their use appear to be non-existent. At least one of the Otters survived in Indonesia as a monument in Cimahi, a city in the Bandung metropolitan area, at the Pusdikpom Kodiklatad military school.

A former Dutch Otter, in use by Indonesian Forces. This photograph was probably taken in the 1950s. Source:
One Indonesian Otter was placed as a monument in front of the Pusdikpom Kodiklatad military school in Cimahi, Bandung. This photograph was taken in 2012 and its current condition is unknown. It may be the only surviving Otter in Indonesia. Source: Nanang Pudjo Bintoro /

In Suriname

Until its independence in 1975, Suriname was part of the Dutch Kingdom. It was defended by the Troepenmacht in Suriname (English: Force in Surinam, abbr. TRIS), a special unit of the Dutch Royal Army. In terms of armor, Surinam had received 73 Marmon-Herrington tanks in 1942. They were of dubious quality and, by 1954, only ten were still operational. This number dropped to two in 1956, causing them to be retired in 1957. The TRIS was now left without any armored vehicles. This situation was rectified in 1960, when seven to eight Otters were shipped from the Netherlands.

Otter KN-50-23, located in Nickerie, Suriname, near the end of 1967. Note the small Dutch flag that is painted above the grille. Source:

The Otters were used for patrolling and parading. For instance, when the neighboring British colony of British Guiana became independent in 1966, unrest along the border with Suriname caused two Otters to be dispatched to the region of Nickerie.

Near the end of the 1960s, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the Otters. By 1971, just five were still in service and reportedly only seen during parades. Their combat value was also very low, due to their age of more than 25 years. When it was realized that the Otters had become useless, five DAF YP408 APCs were sent in January 1972 to replace the Otters. No attempts were made to ship the Otters back because that would be too expensive. Instead, one ended up on display at Fort New Amsterdam in Paramaribo, while the others were discarded. Two wrecks were eventually recovered in the 2000s by members of the TRIS museum in the Netherlands and shipped back. Both appear to still be in the museum’s collection. It is unknown if the other four to five vehicles remain as wrecks in Suriname or if they have been scrapped completely.

Known registrations are: KN-50-01; KN-50-10; KN-50-17; KN-50-23; KN-50-91; KN-50-93; KN-50-99.

Close-up on the turret of an Otter in Suriname. Photo taken in 1965. Source:
A photograph from the 1960s, showing four Dutch Otters parading through Paramaribo, Suriname. Visible registrations are KN-50-17 and KN-50-91. Source:
Two Otters are used during a riot control training exercise in Suriname. Source: Nationaal Militair Museum via Klaasm67

Surviving Otters In The Netherlands

Compared to other types of armored vehicles, quite a large number of Otters still survive in the Netherlands, although some of them are not former Dutch vehicles, while actual former Dutch vehicles have been sold abroad. Of all Otters that have survived worldwide, roughly half of them are former Dutch vehicles.
* Two wrecks, recovered in 2006 from Suriname, are located at the TRIS museum in Zwijndrecht. By 2019, one was restored to running condition. The other has been fitted with new wheels and axles. Former TRIS vehicles.
* Otter ‘37208’, located at the Cavalry Museum in Amersfoort. It is in drivable condition and painted in regular Army colors. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘290435’, former gate guard at the Willem III Barracks in Amersfoort, currently located inside the Marechaussee Museum in Denekamp. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘57062’, located at the National Military Museum in Soesterberg. Although painted in Dutch colors, it was not used by the Dutch. Provenance unknown.
* Otter ‘CF150626’, Overloon War Museum, World War 2 markings, provenance unknown.
* Otter ‘F210158’, formerly owned by the late private collector Dirk Leegwater, was sold to a private collector around 2009. Painted in Canadian Army markings, no turret. Provenance unknown.

Surviving Dutch Otters Outside The Netherlands

* Otter ‘CZ4288021’, restored for the Belgian Dieffenbach Collection, sold to Wheels of Liberation, Pennsylvania, in 2019. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘CM4647296’. Stored for a long time in the Netherlands and sold to the Czech reenactment group Ocelová pěst (Hand of Steel) in 2015. Resold to the Canadian RHLI museum in 2019. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘KN-50-99’, located at Fort Nieuw Amsterdam, Paramaribo, Suriname. Former TRIS vehicle.
* Otter, located at Pusdikpom Kodiklatad military school in Cimahi, Indonesia. Former Dutch vehicle.

The two former TRIS Otters which were repatriated by the TRIS-museum from Suriname, photographed in 2020. One has been completely restored, while the suspension of the other has been improved to ‘rolling condition’. Source: Ruud Boots


In Dutch use, the Otters were initially registered with a five-digit number. Based on the few known registrations, these numbers generally started with 12, 31, 33, 36, 37, 56, or 57. Around 1960, the vehicles were renumbered and fitted with proper registration plates. These consisted of two letters, followed by two sets of two numbers. Generally, the number plates of the Otters started with KN-40 and KN-50, followed by a unique two-digit number.

Five Otters of the TRIS in Suriname. The Otter in the front bears the registration KN-50-10. Source:
Another shot from the same parade. Source: Pieter de Wit /


The GM Otter was a valuable asset for the Dutch Army, especially in the immediate post-war period. It was extensively used by the Royal Marechaussee, and also for training cavalry units. It was generally well-liked by its users, thanks to its ease of operation, maintenance, and its simplicity, although visibility was considered rather poor. Compared to other armored vehicles of World War 2 vintage that were taken over by the Dutch Army, the Otters remained in service for a long time, since most of the others were already taken out of service and replaced in the 1950s.

Illustration of the Otter in Dutch service. Original by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet with modifications by the excellent Octo10, funded through our Patreon campaign.

GM Otter Mk.I specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 4.496 x 2.134 x 2.438 m
Wheelbase 2.565 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 4627 kg
Crew 3 (Driver, Commander, Gunner)
Propulsion GMC model 270, 4-stroke, 6-cylinder petrol engine with 91.5 hp at 2750 rpm, 106 hp at 3000 rpm
Max. speed 75 km/h
Cruising speed 40-60 km/h
Range 350 km
Armament Bren
Armor 12 mm front and roof, 10 mm rear, 8 mm sides and turret
Radio Wireless set no.19
Fuel 140 liters
Total Production 1761, circa 120 used by the Dutch


Nederlandse Pantservoertuigen, Dr. C.M. Schulten & J. Theil, Van Holkema & Warendorf Publishing, 1979, p.32, 53.
De Koninklijke Marechaussee en de Pantserwagens voor de Bijstand, 1st Lieutenant H.J. de Vries, Stichting Vrienden van het Marechausseemuseum, 2015, p.7-9.
Vier Eeuwen Nederlandse Cavalerie Deel 2, J.A.C. Bartels, Uitgeverij de Bataafsche Leeuw, 1987.
Wheels & Tracks, no.55
Wiel en Rups: Voertuigen van de Landmacht 1945-2015, Sander Ruys, Uitgeverij JEA, 2020, p.28-35 & 54-59.
AFV Weapons Profile 30, Armoured Cars – Marmon-Herrington, Alvis-Straussler, Light Reconnaissance, B.T. White, Profile Publications, June 1971, p.236.
Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie, Den Haag, Dekolonisatie van Nederlands-Indië (1945 – 1950), Toegang 509, inventarisnummer, Leger Pantsertroepen Commando 1 januari 1949 – 1 januari 1950.
Pantserauto’s in den smokkelstrijd, Trouw, 26th February 1948,
Mapleleafup Forums.
Otter (pantservoertuig), Tris Online – Troepenmacht in Suriname,
Troepenmacht in Suriname TRIS, Suriname krijgt 5 DAF YP-408,
Suriname, 1972 Troepenmacht in Suriname krijgt vijf YP-408,
Surviving Otter Light Reconnaissance Cars,, surviving panzers.

Chadian Armor Modern Belgian Armor Modern French Armor Modern Mexican Armor

Carat Black Scorpion (Centigon Citadel/Puma)

Kingdom of Belgium/France (2008)
Light Armored Personnel Carrier – Approximately 100 Built

Lightly armored personnel carriers on commercial chassis are widely produced, since they offer relatively cheap solutions for police and peacekeeping roles, or for main roles with armies with a low budget. Because of their popularity and demand, a large variety of companies around the world have decided to design and produce this kind of vehicle, as did the Carat Defense Group, headquartered in Belgium. They launched the Black Scorpion in 2008, a generic 4×4 APC based on a Toyota chassis, which has proven to be a solid base for armored vehicles. Despite, or maybe due to the sheer amount of models that are designed in this way, they generally receive only scant attention in the field of recent armored historiography, even while they play an important role in many armed conflicts, especially in Africa. The Black Scorpion, alternatively known as the Citadel or Puma, is no exception.

A Black Scorpion in its APC configuration, seen from the front right at one of Centigon’s factories. Source: Carat Defense
The open-bed version of the Black Scorpion with an additional two machine guns on swivel mounts, placed on the corners of the open rear compartment. Of note is the lower roof. Source: Carat Defense

Company History and Overview

The Centigon Security Group came to be thanks to various international takeovers, which coincide with the development and production of the Black Scorpion. The core of the company can be traced back to 1876, with the founding of carriage-maker Sayers & Scovill in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. In 1906, the first motorcar body was built. During World War 2, the company produced trailers for the military while, in 1942, the company was renamed Hess & Eisenhardt. In 1950, the first armored car was delivered, namely an armored Lincoln Cosmo for US President Truman. After this, the company armored many cars for prominent figures, a business continuing after the armoring division of the company was taken over by O’Gara Brothers, renaming the business to O’Gara-Hess Eisenhardt. Under their leadership, business would expand, the largest of which was the armoring of the HMMWV, known as the M1114 from 1994 onwards.

The expansion also led to the establishment of (temporary) manufacturing subsidiaries abroad during the 1990s and 2000s, namely in Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, and Venezuela. In 2001, O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt was taken over by Armor Holdings and renamed Centigon. In 2007, Armor Holdings was taken over by BAE Systems Inc., but little interest was shown in the Centigon division. Therefore, Centigon was sold to the Belgian Carat Duchatelet Holdings in February 2008. Under Carat, a military division was established in Bahrain.

Company logos. The O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt logo was used until 2001 and then replaced by the Centigon brand after a takeover by Armor Holdings. In 2008, the company was sold to Carat which, after a reform in 2010 was named Carat Security Group, of which Centigon remained a division (represented by the blue circle in the Carat logo). Centigon was sold in 2014 to investors and renamed to Centigon Security Group in 2016.
Puma ‘14180’ of the Mexican Federal Police, who became the first and also most numerous user of the vehicle, with deliveries starting in 2008. Source: Cuartoscuro

Carat Duchatelet Holdings was reformed in March 2010. The umbrella brand Carat Security Group was created, with the divisions Carat Duchatelet, Carat Defense, and Centigon. Near the end of 2014, Centigon was sold again, this time to the Chinese companies Dongfeng Design Institute Co Ltd. (20%) and Red Star Macalline (80%). Around this time, the subsidiaries in Bahrain and Brazil were closed down, leaving factories in Colombia, France, Venezuela, and two in Mexico. In 2016, the company was renamed to Centigon Security Group. Late 2020, the Chinese shareholders announced they were interested in selling the Centigon Security Group.


Development of the new vehicle was initiated in the late 2000s, possibly after the takeover by Carat in February 2008, in concert with governmental agencies. Although unspecified, these agencies were likely the Mexican Federal Police and the Army of Bahrain, both countries which housed a Centigon subsidiary at the time and were the first recipients of the new vehicle. Later, batches were acquired by the African countries of Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Burkina Faso, while Colombia, also home to a Centigon Factory, tested an example in 2018. Further users or evaluators are unknown. Undoubtedly, the vehicle has been internationally offered to other agencies and militaries, especially since the vehicle has been featured in various defense and military exhibitions. In 2017, it was displayed at the Milipol show in Paris and in 2018 at the EUROSATORY Defense and Security International Exhibition.

Until 2014, the vehicle was known as the Carat Black Scorpion. After Centigon was sold by Carat, the vehicle was marketed as the Centigon Citadel. Meanwhile, Mexico named the vehicle Puma. Centigon also slightly modified the design when it changed the name to Citadel. The most notable difference was the addition of a door on the left side of the troop compartment.

*Note to reader: this article will use the different names interchangeably depending on the context. Mexican vehicles will be referred to as Puma; Bahraini, Chadian, and Rwandan vehicles will be referred to as Black Scorpion; and post-2014 developments by Centigon will be referred to as Citadel.

The Centigon Citadel APC prototype in police colors. Changes compared to the first production series included the addition of a side door and an additional window on each side. Source: Centigon Security Group


The use of the Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ79 chassis limits the vehicle to a conventional design, but assures ease of maintenance and availability of spare parts. Power comes from a Toyota 4.5 l diesel, liquid-cooled, in-inline, six-cylinder engine with direct injection and turbocharging. At 3,600 rpm, it delivers 187 hp (138 kW) and has a torque of 365 Nm at 2,250 rpm. Power is transferred via a five-speed manual gearbox to all four wheels. The stiff front axle is suspended by coil springs and the rigid rear axle by longitudinal leaf springs. All four wheels are equipped with breaks, ventilated disc brakes at the front, and regular disc brakes at the rear.

The Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ79 on which the Black Scorpion is based. Source: Toyota

The driver is sat on the front left, with a co-driver/commander to the right. Behind the driver’s position, the troop compartment slightly expands, both in width and height, to provide enough room for an additional troop of six. They are seated on light foldable seats consisting of an aluminium frame with attached canvas, which run along the sides of the compartment. Seatbelts are provided as well. The troop enters the compartment through a double rear door.

On each side of the compartment, two bulletproof glass windows are installed, and another two in the double rear door.

Pictures showing the inside of the driver’s door and the troop compartment. Source: Carat Duchatelet Group


The base vehicle features eight firing ports, one in each of the four side and rear doors, and two on each side. Another option, as seen on a prototype and some Nigerian vehicles, has two additional firing ports, one on each side of the vehicle, in addition to two extra windows.

The vehicle can optionally be fitted with a firing port in the front right windscreen that can be equipped with a light machine gun operated by the co-driver. This option has been adopted by Chadian, Rwandan, and possibly some Bahraini vehicles.

A line-up of Chadian Black Scorpions deployed in Mali, 2013. Note the two types of weapon stations that are in use, either a heavy machine gun with a small armored shield behind it, or a light machine gun with a larger shield placed more forwards. They are also equipped with a firing port for a light machine gun in the front-left windscreen. Source: Reuters

A weapon station is installed on the roof, which has been offered in various configurations by Centigon. The most basic configuration is used by Mexican vehicles, which have no weapon mount at all, being used for police duties, although machine guns are often deployed on a tripod placed on the roof. The singular round hatch folds backwards. Bahraini and some Nigerian vehicles use another configuration, with a mounting for a weapon and a two-part hatch which folds to the sides.

Rwandan vehicles have a frontal armored shield with a mounting for a light machine gun and a hatch that folds backwards, providing the gunner with both front and rear protection. Chad uses two types of configurations, one being similar to the Rwandan, with the same gunshield but a different hatch layout. The second configuration consists of the mounting for a heavy DShK machine gun and a much smaller armored shield placed mostly behind this gun.

Top down-view of one of the Rwandan vehicles before delivery, showing the layout of the roof and weapon station. Source: Carat Security Group
A Bahraini Black Scorpion in 2011, showing the alternative placement of the weapon station. It is placed more forward, creating a cone-shaped extrusion. Note the steps that are mounted on the side, providing outside access to the weapon station, which is unique to this variant. Source: Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

Open-bed Platform

Apart from the fully enclosed APC version, Centigon also offers an open-bed version of the Black Scorpion. From the front to the driver’s cabin, this version is identical to the regular vehicle, apart from the two front windows that gained the ability to be opened up completely. The closed troop compartment has been lowered and significantly shortened, although maintaining a weapon station on the roof. The rear of the vehicle has been opened up, and two machine gun mounts have been placed on each rear corner, providing more firepower to the vehicle, but less protection to its occupants.

The open-bed version, shown at the Eurosatory exhibition of June 2012 in Paris. Note that the vehicle does not look that different from the front compared to the regular design, apart from the front windows that fold down. For this purpose, the windscreen wipers have been top-mounted. Source:
A rear-view of the open-bed version. Of note are the swivelling machine guns mounted on the rear corners of the vehicle. It is also shown how the rearwards folding hatch of the weapon station provides rear cover for the gunner. Source:


Around 2008, the Mexican Federal Police placed an order for a number of Pumas, as well as Wolverines. The Wolverine was another armored personnel carrier developed by Carat/Centigon. It is unknown how many Pumas were ordered, however, each vehicle received a unique registration and based upon photographic evidence, at least fourteen registrations have been identified with numbers ranging from ‘14178’ to ‘14229’. Assuming all Pumas were consecutively numbered, this could mean the Federal Police acquired at least 51 vehicles, possibly more.

Puma ‘14209’ during deployment to Central de Abasto de Emiliano Zapata, a warehouse in Morelos, in March 2015. Source:

The vehicles were acquired with funds provided by the USA through the Mérida Initiative, alternatively known as Plan Mexico, which was drafted in 2007 and signed in 2008. This initiative aimed at combating organized crime, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Due to the wide deployment in Mexico, the vehicles regularly crossed Mexico on their own power. This led the vehicles to wear down relatively quickly, with a Mexican police official stating that, due to their extensive use, they were theoretically not fit to be used longer than three years.

After delivery of the first Pumas in 2008/2009, they were used in many internal security missions. For example, in March 2015, they were successfully deployed in the vicinity of Central de Abasto de Emiliano Zapata (a warehouse in Morelos) in an attempt to reduce the crime that plagued the local merchants. In May 2019, a column of 21 Federal Police vehicles, including Pumas, arrived in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, as part of a National Guard mission to fight organized crime in the region.

On 30th March 2016, Puma ‘14224’ was involved in a one-sided accident when its driver lost control and drove into a construction site alongside the road, flipping the vehicle on its side. Although an unfortunate event, no-one was injured and the pictures provide a rare glance at the underside of the vehicle. Source: and

On 1st October 2019, the Federal Police was officially dissolved and integrated into the National Guard. At least 500 vehicles, including a number of Pumas, were transferred to the National Guard, most of them stored at Centro de Mando (Command Center) in Iztapalapa. Reportedly, many of these were in a bad mechanical condition and had been stored in the open for a while already. After the transfer, the vehicles were planned to undergo repairs. It is unknown how many Pumas were taken over by the National Guard and remain in service.

Known registrations are: 14178, 14180, 14181, 14198, 14202, 14207, 14209, 14215, 14219, 14220, 14222, 14224, 14228, and 14229.

Several police vehicles on the streets. Note the deployment of a tripod mounted machine gun. The firing port in the driver’s door has been opened. Source: GAR Spotting MX Vehículos de Emergencia y Militares Facebook


Simultaneously with Mexico, around 2008-2009, Bahrain placed an order for twenty vehicles, which were assembled in Bahrain itself. Very little is known about the vehicles which, according to SIPRI, were delivered in 2011-2012. Shortly after delivery, the Bahrain branch of Centigon closed down. It seems services were taken over by the company Manzomat Al Riyadh, based in Saudi-Arabia, which lists the Black Scorpion among their delivered products. Before the branch closed down, however, Carat Defense also developed and delivered an armor package for the Bahraini M113s.

Black Scorpions at the Centigon factory in Bahrain. The vehicles in the rear have the forward placed weapon stations, unique to Bahraini vehicles. Source: Carat Defense

The Black Scorpions arrived in the turmoil that was the Bahraini Uprising (14th February – 18th March 2011, with occasional unrest lasting until 3rd March 2014), one of the many episodes of the Arab Spring. It is unknown how, or even if the Black Scorpions played a role during the suppression of the uprising.

Already since 2012, the vehicle has sometimes been referred to as the Faisal. If this is an official name is unknown, especially since a new armored vehicle developed in Bahrain in 2019 was also named Faisal.

The sides of two Black Scorpions are seen here during a training exercise of the Bahraini Army. Source:

The Black Scorpion in Chad

Around 2011, the Chadian Army procured a number of Black Scorpions (said to be ten, but most probably more), which appear to have been produced by the Mexican subsidiary. Since Chad heavily relies upon J79 Toyota Land Cruisers in its Army, this was a straightforward decision, especially from a logistical perspective. The vehicles were likely acquired in light of the 2008 rebel attack on the capital, which unsuccessfully attempted to depose President Idriss Déby Itno.

In January 2013, Chad announced it would join the French Operation Serval against islamic insurgents in Mali and entered the country through Niger. It deployed a large number of vehicles, including technicals, BMP-1s, Eland-90s, and its new Black Scorpions. Chad’s Forces proved to be highly effective in the familiar desert terrain and became a key ally to the French forces. However, on 15th April, the Chadian Parliament voted for the withdrawal of all 2,000 troops, motivated by the death of 36 Chadian soldiers, with the first soldiers returning to Chad on 13th May.

Infographic with a timeline of the Chadian intervention in Mali. Source:

During the short, but intensive deployment that lasted three months, at least one Black Scorpion was lost when it drove on a landmine. Some of its occupants were wounded, but all survived.

This Black Scorpion drove on a landmine and was destroyed during the push towards Adrar des Ifoghas in February 2013. Source:
Two Black Scorpions being passed by other Chadian Land Cruisers in Mali. Source:

Exactly two years after the Chadian intervention in Mali, on 16th January 2015, the Chadian Army was authorised to advance into Nigeria and Cameroon to assist their respective governments, as well as Niger, in the fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram. Around 2,000 troops were deployed with some 400 vehicles, again including the Black Scorpions. During the initial push, these were relatively often photographed and filmed, partially for propaganda purposes, but over time, they were seen less in the media. Given the chances that some vehicles would be lost to IEDs and mines, it is certainly possible that a number of the Black Scorpions have been lost, especially since Chad has acquired several batches of other new armored vehicles after 2015.

Different registrations that have been observed are 7535, 7537, 7539, 7543, 7544, 8596, 8599, ??62, ?763, and 8934. Since the chances that each unique registration has been photographed is quite slim, Chad probably acquired more than just ten vehicles, but how many remains unknown.

Two Black Scorpions led part of the column of 400 vehicles into Cameroon in January 2015. Source: AFP News
Black Scorpions during deployment in Nigeria in early 2015. Source: Al Jazeera


Between 2009 and 2012, the Lagos State Government donated thirty armored personnel carriers to the Nigerian Police Forces, including an undisclosed number of Black Scorpions. Although the Nigerian Police is organized on a federal level, it has grown customary for state governments to donate hardware to the police to increase their capabilities in their respective states. This way, the Rapid Response Squad (RSS) of the Lagos State Police Command got hold on these vehicles which were delivered in various configurations, including the regular APC version with no weapon station, three windows on each side, and a side door, but also a version with the extended weapon station mount.

A Black Scorpion of the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command in 2015. Note the extended roof weapon station base and the external stairs going up to it. This may indicate these vehicles were delivered from the Bahraini factory before it closed down. Source: RRS on Facebook
A row of brand-new Black Scorpions during a handover ceremony. Nigeria is the only known user of this specific configuration with a sidedoor and an additional window and firing port on each side of the compartment. Source: Beegeagle’s Blog

The Black Scorpions form a small part of the ever growing fleet of Nigerian armored police vehicles, which also include large quantities of imported Streit, and locally-built Proforce vehicles, among others. Interestingly, the design of the Black Scorpion, both the APC and the Open-Bed version, were roughly copied by Proforce and built under the name PF3 Leopard.

The Proforce PF3 Leopard, which closely resembled the design philosophy of the Carat Black Scorpion and was marketed as a cheaper verison of it. Source: Techwarf


Just a meager amount of information is known about the vehicles that are operated by the police of Rwanda. At least four have been deployed to the Central African Republic with the UN mission MINUSCA (Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en Centrafrique, Eng. United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) since 2014. They are painted in classic UN-white and each has a unique UN registration, including ‘UN19026’, ‘UN19029’, and ‘UN37001’. As of 2022, all four remain in service. The Rwandan vehicles are the only ones to feature mesh frames over the windows, providing further protection against large objects.

Two Rwandan vehicles on patrol in the capital of the CAR, Bangui, on 14th September 2015. Source: AFP / Edouard Dropsy
‘UN37001’ in 2017. Rwandan Black Scorpions are the only ones to feature an additional protective mesh cover over the windows. Source:
A Black Scorpion in Bangui on 11th October 2014. Source: AFP / France24

It is unknown if the police or army of Rwanda operate any more Black Scorpions, either in the CAR or in Rwanda itself. However, it is known that MINUSCA has only a limited number of armored vehicles available, marking the former unlikely. Furthermore, the vehicles seem to have been specifically acquired for the UN mission, marking the latter as unlikely as well.

The MINUSCA mission was established on 10th April 2014 in the impoverished Central African Republic (CAR) after the republic experienced intense violence since December 2012, caused by a rebel coalition attacking governmental troops. After a year, the situation deteriorated even further, eventually leading into the UN mission (until 2016 known as MISCA). The first UN mandate allowed for 10,000 soldiers and 1,820 policemen to be deployed. Since 2014, Rwanda has been one of the top three contributing countries, providing both military and police forces. The Black Scorpions are in use with the police force in the capital Bangui.

All four Black Scorpions, shown in a news item that aired in January 2021. Source: RBA News
‘UN19026’ in 2015. Panhard VBLs can be seen in the background. Source: AFP Edouard Dropsy


In the first two weeks of October 2018, the Army of Colombia tested the Centigon Citadel. Earlier that year, Colombia had already shown interest in a similar vehicle, the Jankel Hunter PPV, while the Hunter TR-12, another similar vehicle built in Colombia, had been bought in very limited numbers. The Citadel was probably chosen to be tested because Centigon also houses a subsidiary in Colombia, although the tests were arranged through the Mexican subsidiary. After the tests, Colombia showed no further interest in the Citadel.

The prototype was tested in Colombia in October 2018. The design details indicate that this was the same prototype as exhibited at the Milipol show of 2017. Source: Erich Saumeth via

Burkina Faso

The latest recipient of the Citadel was Burkina Faso. Sometime before April 2019, at least two units were received for the Unités d’Intervention Polyvalente de la Police Nationale (Eng. National Police Multipurpose Intervention Units, abbr. UIP-PN).

A training exercise of the UIP-PN, held in Ouagadougou in April 2019. Note that the vehicle features both protective mesh on the windows, and has the additional door in the side of the crew compartment. Source: Luca Salvatore Pistone /

A UIP-PN vehicle seen from the other side. Source: Chekier Photo

On 25th February 2021, a ceremony was held in the capital, Ouagadougou, where the Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso took delivery of an additional two Citadels, as well eight Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups, two trucks, two Toyota ambulances, eighty motorcycles, and additional equipment. This materiel, worth roughly 1 billion CFA Francs (ca. 1.5 million euros), was donated by the European Union through the Stabilization of Eastern Burkina Faso project (STABEST), arranged by the Belgian Development Agency ENABEL. The complete program had a budget of 4.7 million euros The equipment was intended to be used in Eastern Burkina Faso by the 34e Escadron de Groupement Mobile de la Gendarmerie Nationale (Eng. 34th Squadron of the Mobile Group of the National Gendarmerie) and the Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité de Fada N’Gourma (Eng. Republic Protection Force of Fada N’Gourma). The personnel was also trained through the support program. It is unknown to what extent and with what results the vehicles have been, or are in use.

A row of vehicles donated to Burkina Faso by the European Union. Source: Lobs Paalga
The second Citadel. Note that this is the older design, while a new design was already available in 2017, indicating Centigon has not changed its production line. Source: Lobs Paalga


As of February 2022, both design iterations remain on offer by the Centigon Security Group. They also seem to be offered by the UAE-based company Dynamic Defence Solutions. It is unknown in what way this company is connected to Centigon, or if they are even allowed to market this vehicle under their brand. Chances that Centigon will secure a new deal are slim, due to the oversaturation of the market combined with the aging design.

The Chadian, Mexican, and Rwandan vehicles have all seen intensive use since their adaptation, which will possibly lead to a relatively early retirement of the model, something indirectly admitted by a Mexican police official as well. However, in their respective environments, lightly armored vehicles form a valuable asset in (border) patrol and internal security operations, so attempts will be made to keep them as long in service as possible, which is eased by the widely available Toyota spare parts.

The latest prototype of Centigon, for the first time displayed at Milipol 2017, features some differences with the earlier production models, including an additional window and firing port on each side, redesigned fenders, and a redesigned bumper. Source: Jérôme Hadacek /
The latest prototype seen from the front left. Of note is the additional door on the left side. Source:


The Black Scorpion is a capable armored vehicle and a typical example of the range of armored personnel carriers that are based on commercial chassis. The Toyota chassis assures relatively easy operation and maintenance and the reason why the Black Scorpion is among the more than 25 similar Toyota-based APCs that are offered on the international military market as of 2021. However, most of the vehicles are used very intensively, making a long service life uncertain.

A Chadian Black Scorpion armed with a DShK heavy machine gun, seen with the markings of the Groupement No1 de Garde du Palais Présidentiel.
A Puma of the Mexican Federal Police.
A black Scorpion as used by the Rwandan Police with the UN mission in the Central African Republic. All three illustrations are made by Ardhya ‘Vesp’ Anargha.


Dimensions (L-W-H) 5.560 x 2.136 x 2.190 m
Curb weight 4.1 tonnes
Crew 8 (1 driver + 7 troops including commander and gunner)
Chassis Toyota HZJ 79
Propulsion Diesel, liquid-cooled in-line six-cylinder (R6), 4164 ccm, direct injection, turbocharging, 138 kW (187 hp) at 3600 rpm, torque 365 Nm at 2250 rpm
Bore / Stroke 94 / 100 mm
Speed 120 km/h (75 mph)
Range N/A
Transmission mechanical five-speed transmission
Wheelbase 3.180 m
Track Width 1.515 / 1.555 m
Armament Optional light weapon station up to 12.7 mm, optional front-facing firing port, 8 firing ports
Armor STANAG 1 / VPAM Kl.7 / CEN B6
Total Production Unknown, at least 89


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Ministère de la Sécurité : Don en moyens roulants et d’équipement aux Forces de sécurité intérieure dans le cadre du Projet STABEST, 26th February 2021, Ministère de la Sécurité Burkina Faso.
Projet d’appui à la stabilisation de l’Est du Burkina Faso, 12th March 2021, Enabel.
Stabilisation région de l’Est : des équipements d’un milliard de FCFA pour relever le défi, 25th February 2021,

WW2 Czechoslovak Tankettes

Škoda MU-2

 Czechoslovakia (1930-1931)
Tankette – 1 Prototype Built

During the late 1920s, the tankette, technically a small armored and tracked machine gun carrier, grabbed the interest of Czechoslovak military officials. At the time, it was mostly a British development, with the commercial market dominated by the tankettes produced by Carden-Loyd. From there, the concept spread internationally and similar vehicles were produced by many tank-building nations, although often not as tankettes, but as regular light tanks. Czechoslovakia was not afraid to embrace the somewhat commercial term when it took an improved model of the Mk.VI tankette into service as the Tančík vz.33 [Eng: Tankette Model 1933]. This improved vehicle was developed by the Czechoslovak company ČKD. These developments were followed with interest by the main competitor of ČKD, Škoda, which decided to enter the lucrative market of tank design early in the process.

The MU-2 during trials near the factory. Note the opened top hatches of the driver, which also partially obstructs his front view. The small size of the vehicle can be appreciated with the two men standing next to it. Source: Francev and Kliment, colorization by Smargd123

The Development

Škoda was the largest armament manufacturer in Czechoslovakia and, after the country’s independence, in 1918, was the first to produce armored cars for the Czechoslovak Army, based on the Fiat-Torino chassis. In 1922, Škoda even proposed to build an unlicensed copy of the Renault FT tank. This proposal was denied by the Ministry of Defense [Ministerstvo národní obrany, abbr. MNO], as they did not desire any potential diplomatic problems with France. After that, Škoda proceeded to design and build several armored cars, most notably the PA series, but there were no further initiatives to start the production of tracked armored vehicles.

When the company saw how the Army and competitor ČKD were negotiating the possible license production of Carden-Loyd tankettes, potentially around 200 pieces, interest in tank building increased significantly. It was realized how lucrative such a tank-building business would be. The business plan was simple: create an armored tracked vehicle, similar to the Carden-Loyd, but better. The actual development proved to be more difficult. In April 1930, shortly after the first three Carden-Loyds were shipped to Czechoslovakia in March, Škoda notified the Ministry of Defense that they were also designing an armored vehicle. The letter read: “We [Škoda] would like to politely remind you that we have designed a tank with similar characteristics to the Carden-Loyd, against which our design has certain advantages…” Škoda emphasized that the tank was of domestic construction and would be able to overcome domestic terrain features. The tank in question was the MU-2, with MU being short for “malý útočný vůz” [Eng: Small Assault Vehicle].

The vehicle that started it all, the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI. This is one of the copies produced under license by ČKD as the CL-P. Source: Rotanazdar
The successor of the CL-P, the P-I, better known as the Tančík vz.33. Source:

In spite of Škoda’s offer, the Ministry granted ČKD the order to build four copies of the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI, known as the CL-P, in May 1930. This was probably a good call by the Ministry, as Škoda’s design was still underdeveloped at the time. Initially, Škoda had great difficulty in getting started on the design, as they had to start from scratch. The military experts they consulted could not assist, nor could Škoda base their work on a foreign sample as they did not have one, nor any drawings. Any theoretical experience was nearly non-existent, as Škoda’s assistance in the Kolohousenka project was limited to the delivery of some parts, while the 1929 order by the Ministry to build a new wheel-cum-track tank, the SKU project [also known as the KÚV, or in a later design stage, as Š-III], had barely advanced.

The Tank Department and Truck Department of Škoda were tasked to design the new vehicle. Among the various engineers was Oldřich Meduna, who was responsible for the design of the tracks, wheels, and engine. To save time, the engine and drive axle from a car that was in production at the time were chosen for the tank. He later noted in his memoirs that it was quite difficult to get all the wheels right, as the road wheels, return rollers, sprocket, and idler all had a different shape.

Detailed side view of the MU-2, clearly showing the similarity of the suspension to the design by Carden-Loyd, although the layout of the hull is quite different. Source: Francev and Kliment

The Suspension

The track consisted of 147 links, wrapped around a sprocket at the front, two pairs of two road wheels, a tension idler, and four return rollers. There is no denying that the design of this suspension was highly inspired by the Carden-Loyd suspension, if not shamelessly copied without a license, although it featured some differences. The tracklinks were near-copies, with squared-off guiding teeth on each side, as was the simple disc-shaped sprocket, with 28 teeth. The four rubber-tired bogie wheels were placed in pairs of two, with the pair being suspended with pivoted flat leaf springs on each side. They were mounted to the suspension beam, which itself was attached to the lower hull with three brackets. The idler, with its tensioning system, was also attached to the suspension beam. Unlike the regular Mk.VI, which mostly featured a return skid, or sometimes regular road wheels as return rollers, the MU-2 had four steel return rollers guiding the tracks back to the sprocket.


The commercial car engine chosen to save development time was a four-cylinder gasoline water-cooled engine with an output of 33 hp (24.4 kW). Although not specified, this could be the Škoda SV engine, with a cubic capacity of 1,661 cm³. The engine was cooled by a horizontal fan placed above the engine, which sucked the air out of the crew compartment, ensuring a good climate for the crew, while sufficiently cooling the engine at the same time. The exhaust was placed on top of the flat engine deck, directly behind the turret.

The gearbox was designed by engineer Stehlíček, head of Škoda’s Tank Department.

The MU-2 during field testing near the factory. Despite the power to weight ratio of 16.5 hp per tonne, the vehicle performed badly in the field. Source: Francev and Kliment


Unlike the suspension, which resembled the Carden-Loyd’s very much, the layout of the hull was quite different. The welded hull consisted of plates not thicker than 4 to 5.5 mm, which proved totally inadequate to stop any serious enemy fire, apart from very light weapons, such as low caliber pistols. The frontal upper plate was angled at 30°, with the final drive being protected by a curved lower plate. A towing hook was installed on the front center, where the lower plate met the upper plate. The two headlights were installed in armored boxes, which were basically extensions of the armored hull. The front of these boxes could be opened when required, but in combat situations, where the light had to be kept a minimum, these could be kept closed with minimum light coming through a small round hole in the front.

Frontal view of the MU-2. Note the boxes for the headlights, which are closed. Source: Yuri Pasholok

The height of the hull was very low, at 96.2 cm. The driver sat on the right side. Due to the low height of the hull, the driver’s cupola was relatively large. This cupola was very basic in design, in some ways resembling a cardboard box. Two large vision slits provided a view to the front and right side of the vehicle, and at least the right slit could be closed from the inside. The top consisted of a large double-hatch, which formed the entry point for the driver. When opened, the front hatch opened so far that it settled down, partially obstructing the front view of the driver.

To the left of the driver sat the gunner, in a turret that could rotate 290°, as the rotation was partially blocked by the driver’s cupola. A water-cooled 7.92 mm Schwarzlose vz.7/24 heavy machine gun was mounted in the turret. This machine gun was a modified version of the earlier vz.7/12 and vz.16A and adapted to fire 8 mm Mannlicher bullets in a Mauser 7.92 mm cartridge. The gunner could enter his position through a double-hatch on top of the turret. His only vision was provided through an aiming sight above the gun. Due to the small size of the vehicle, both the driver and gunner experienced problems caused by the cramped interior.

A shot from the side, providing a detailed view of the turret and suspension. Source: Yuri Pasholok

Flawed or Groundbreaking?

The MU-2 was far from perfect. The interior was cramped, vision was limited, as was firepower, with just one machine gun, the armor was too thin to be of use, and the driving experience was rather poor. Yet, despite these fundamental flaws, the vehicle had good characteristics as well. The vehicle was easy to conceal thanks to its small size, the placement of the cooling fan ensured a good temperature inside, the use of welding had advantages over bolts and rivets as it prevented spalling, and the machine gun had a good firing arc, as it was mounted in a turret. Even though it was not fully rotatable, it was still much more versatile and thus effective than a hull-mounted weapon.

Most importantly though, it provided Škoda with a firm basis to continue the development of tracked armored vehicles, culminating in various successful projects, such as the LT vz.35. More directly, the design of the MU-2 led to the MU-4, a vehicle more similar to ČKD’s Tančík vz.33, as well as the MU-6, a light tank armed with a 47 mm gun in a turret.

After the MU-2 failed its tests performed by the Army, it was not accepted. Škoda kept the vehicle to perform some experiments, but it was scrapped shortly thereafter.

The MU-4, the immediate successor of the MU-2. Although this was technically a much more sound vehicle, it did not attract any buyers and was also disadvantaged by not having a turret. Source: Wikimedia


Although the MU-2 featured some improvements over the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI design, it still had some serious and fundamental defects. Still, it was quite remarkable that the engineers of Škoda managed to build this vehicle in the first place, as they had no experience, nor any guidance in the development and production process. Since the problems in the design were fundamental, the vehicle was abandoned and a new project was already underway by November 1931, namely the MU-4. Although the MU-2’s performance can be considered a failure, it gave the engineers of Škoda a firm basis, from which they could compete with the other Czechoslovak tank-building firm of ČKD. The MU-2, however, was scrapped.

The MU-2 in factory green. Illustration by Leander Jobse, funded through our Patreon campaign.


Dimensions (L-W-H) 3.2 x 1.7 x 1.44 m
Total weight 2 tonnes
Crew 2 (commander/gunner, driver)
Propulsion water-cooled 4-cylinder 33 hp (24.4 kW)
Speed (road) N/A
Range N/A
Armament heavy machine gun Schwarzlose vz.24, 7.92 mm
Ammunition 3,400 rounds
Armor 4-5.5 mm
Obstacle 50 cm
Ditch 100 cm
Fording depth 50 cm
Total production 1


Czechoslovak armored vehicles 1918-48, V. Francev, C.K. Kliment, Praha, 2004.
Czechoslovak Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945, H.C. Doyle, C.K. Kliment.
Malý útočný vůz Š-I [Small assault vehicle Š-I], Jaroslav Špitálský and Ivan Fuksa, Rota Nazdar.
Zavedení Tančíků do výzbroje [Introduction of tankettes to the Army Equipment], Jaroslav Špitálský, Rota Nazdar.
Škoda MU-2,
Бронетаракан от Škoda, Yuri Pasholok, Yandex.

WW1 French Armored Cars

Hotchkiss 1908 Automitrailleuse

France/Ottoman Empire (1908-1913)
Armored Car – 5 Built

It is 28th April 1909. Abdülhamid II is residing at the Yildriz Palace in Constantinople. Just yesterday, he was deposed as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Suddenly, he hears the noise of crackling engines near the palace. He fears that his life will be taken away, just like his power, his trappings of power, and his title. It is then that he sees an armored car and four other cars, packed with soldiers, approaching him. These vehicles, as it happened, were his escort to safely bring him into exile. Five of these new armored cars had been bought by his government in 1908 from the French firm of Hotchkiss, although the term ‘armored car’ is a bit of an overstatement since only the rear of the vehicle was actually armored.

The prototype from 1908. A crew of three is shown, with a driver, a gunner, and a passenger who possibly acted as commanding officer. Source:
Sultan Abdülhamid II, photographed in 1908, getting out of a car. Source: Wikimedia

The Fighting Vehicles of Hotchkiss

The Hotchkiss arms manufacturer was established by American-born entrepreneur Benjamin B. Hotchkiss (1826-1885). In 1867, he moved to France, and, in 1875, he set up a factory in Saint-Denis, near Paris. The manufacture of weaponry was quite successful, with large amounts of export, and a great deal was sold to the French Army. In 1884, another branch was established in Britain. The branch in France gradually expanded its interest in general mechanics and, in 1901, started manufacturing components for other French car manufacturers.

In 1902, the interest in cars was further expanded, but in a military setting. Together with the newly founded company Charron, Girardot et Voigt, an armored automobile was made and presented to the French military in 1903. Although the tests went fairly well, the army rejected the vehicle for use.

Also in 1903, Hotchkiss went on to make vehicles of their own design. The first vehicle, the Type C with a 4-cylinder petrol engine, was sold in 1904. Without anything to lose, a vehicle was experimentally outfitted with a machine gun on a central pivot in front of the rear seats. The company was not able to receive any success with this model either.

The partially armored Charron Girardot Voigt Model 1902 and an unarmored Hotchkiss Model 1903 20 hp car fitted with a machine gun. Both vehicles would form a developmental base for the subsequential model of 1908. Source: L’Aube de la gloire

1908 Model

Being both a vehicle and an arms manufacturer, interest in combining both did not disappear. In 1908, a new vehicle was offered. It looked very much the same as the CGV 1902 model, but this time with Hotchkiss’ own chassis.

In several pictures, the vehicle is crewed by men wearing French military uniforms. It is therefore likely that the vehicle was at least observed, if not tested by the French military, but to what extent and with what results is unknown. Naturally, no copies were bought, indicating that the French Army Command had not changed their tactical needs, which were based on the trial of the previous vehicle in 1903. They had concluded after the earlier tests that armor was more of a burden to a vehicle than a useful addition and believed armed cars could do the same job as armored cars, but more efficiently and more cheaply. This idea was further worked out by Captain Genty in the subsequent years. Genty was a Captain with the French artillery and known for his knowledge about motorized vehicles. He went on to design the Panhard-Genty, which was deployed to Morocco in 1907.


The design of the armored car was quite simple. It was basically a regular passenger car on which the rear bodywork was replaced by a circular armored construction of bath-tub-like shape. In the middle of this thinly armored encirclement, a pedestal was placed, on which the machine gun was mounted. A gun shield provided a small degree of frontal protection for the gunner. The driver and passenger sat unprotected in front of the armored tub and were thus very vulnerable to hostile fire from the sides and front. An armored plate was placed horizontally above the front seats. Ironically, this mainly provided protection from their own machine gun and not from enemy fire, apart from shell splinters to a very small extent. Furthermore, it likely was installed to prevent the crew standing into the firing arc of the gun by mistake, which would have resulted in an unfortunate event of friendly fire.

The prototype in France, shown from the side. Source: Pinterest

It is sometimes questioned whether the ‘bathtub’ on the back was made of thin armor plating or regular bodywork. A source suggests the latter, although several contemporary newspaper reports specifically describe the vehicle as an armored car, which would be an overstatement if the only piece of armor on the vehicle was the gun shield.

The vehicle used the Type V chassis with a 3,350 mm wheelbase as a base. The Type V, introduced in 1908, was powered by an inline six-cylinder petrol engine that displaced 9,500 cc and produced roughly 40 to 50 hp at 1,100 rpm. It was a water-cooled and naturally-aspirated longitudinally placed engine that used two valves per cylinder for aspiration. Power was transferred to the rear wheels by a Hotchkiss Drive that was coupled to a four-speed gearbox. The engine consumed 0,29 l of petrol per kilometer. The tank of 65 l allowed an operational range of roughly 250 kilometers.


In 1897, Hotchkiss started the production of a machine gun based on an 1893 design from an Austrian officer in Vienna. The weapon was further improved and a new version was introduced in 1900, which became known as the modèle 1900. The vehicle was outfitted with this particular gun, which was capable of firing 600 rounds per minute. It was also chambered to accept regular 7.65 mm Turkish rounds. 4750 rounds were carried on the vehicle, spread over nineteen boxes with 250 rounds each. A tripod for the machine gun was carried on the left side of the vehicle, allowing dismounted use as well.

One of the cars on the streets of Constantinople. Source: US Library of Congress

To the Ottomans

As noted, the French took no interest in the design. However, Abdülhamid II, the Ottoman Sultan, did have an interest. On 15th April 1908 (or 26th April depending on the source), the Ottoman government placed an order for five vehicles, one of them being unarmed. A Turkish officer was dispatched to France, to observe the production and trials of the new vehicles. The first two were ready and shipped to Constantinople by early September 1908. Two French engineers were sent to Constantinople as well, to properly introduce the workings of the vehicles to the future operators.

By October 1908, the other three vehicles had arrived as well. On 10th October, a Saturday, one car was driven to the Ministry of War and made its first public appearance. Some maneuvers were observed by the Minister of War and the commander of the 1. Ottoman Army (Hassa Ordusu). After this, the vehicles were tested by a special committee and accepted into service.

The City Commander of Constantinople made regular inspections of the city, sometimes by patrolling with one of the four cars. This picture was taken in early 1909. Source: Österreichische Illustrierte zeitung of 9 May 1909

In Turkey, the vehicles were used in the vicinity of Edirne, in the northwest of Turkey, close to the Bulgarian border. The vehicles were positively received and a variety of uses were considered, like use for delivery of mail, to put down riots, as protection for roads and railways, or in anti-smuggling operations. Indeed, after hearing the news that the government had bought some armored cars, military units in the Arab part of the Empire requested some cars to use for defense of the Hejaz Railway, but they were never sent.

In the meantime, Sultan Abdülhamid II had lost his absolute power during the Young Turk Revolution of July 1908. The Young Turks were a political movement that heavily opposed the absolute rule of the Sultan and established a multi-party democracy after the Sultan’s defeat. On 31st March 1909, Abdülhamid II staged a countercoup to regain his absolute power, but his attempt was unfruitful. As a consequence, he was forced to Greece into exile.

The Hotchkiss in the streets of Constantinople, reportedly near the Taksim Military Barracks. Source: Wikimedia

Further Deployment

After one Hotchkiss was used to escort the former Sultan to the railway station on 28th April, the cars made regular appearances on the streets of Constantinople during May. For example, during the inauguration of Mehmed V, the new Sultan and brother of Abdülhamid, two of the armored cars headed the procession through the streets of Constantinople. During later years, at least some of the cars appear to have remained in service with the policing forces in Constantinople.

In 1909, another opportunity arose to use the armored cars against a rebellion. On the Arabic peninsula, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali al-Idrisi (1876–1920) rebelled against the Empire and established the Idrisid Emirate of Asir. On 31st August 1909, the Ottoman government noted that it would send armored cars to the region. For this purpose, they were transported from Kardzhali, where they were stationed at the time, to Constantinople on 3rd September. However, they remained there and were never sent to Asir.

It is unknown when the armored cars were retired. Since it is quite certain that the vehicles saw no action during the First World War, the general consensus is that the vehicles were taken out of service before early 1914. The relatively successful deployment meant that several military units wanted to acquire additional armored cars, but none of these plans seem to have materialized.

A colored-in postcard, showing one of the four cars. On the card, a certain Chetket Pacha is mentioned, better known as Mahmud Shevket Pasha, an important Ottoman General. Source:
The unarmed Hotchkiss was used to drive around military officials. Source: Pinterest

Spain: Another Customer?

In 1909, with a view to acquiring a suitable armored vehicle for the ongoing war in Melilla, a report was commissioned by the Comisión de Experiencias de Artillería (Eng. Artillery Experiences Commission). The report studied seven vehicle proposals from different European companies, including Armstrong Whitworth, Hotchkiss, Maudslay Motor Company, Rheinische Metallwaren und Maschinenfabrik (RMM), Schneider-Brillié, Süddeutsche Automobilfabrik Gaggenau (SAG), and Thornycroft.

The design offered by the French firm Schneider-Brillié was selected after evaluation of the proposed designs and two vehicles would eventually be acquired. The Hotchkiss 1908 was among the six rejected designs.

One of the Ottoman cars, transporting the Minister of War through Constantinople. Note how this vehicle has no armament fitted. Source: American Press Association via the Guido Deseijn Collection


Due to the limited armored construction, the Hotchkiss was not intended, nor useful, for real combat. For its uses intended by the Ottomans, it would have performed decently, but the driver was still very vulnerable to gunfire or thrown objects from a crowd. Indeed, he was not provided with even a rudimentary windscreen of any kind. Due to the Ottoman interest, the Hotchkiss is actually one of the few pre-war armored cars that surpassed the prototype stage and was one of the few commercial successes in the field of early armored car innovation.

Illustration of the Hotchkiss 1908 as it went into service in the Ottoman Empire. Illustration by Yuvnashva Sharma funded by our Patreon Campaign.


Approximate Dimensions (L-W-H) 4.6 x 1.9 x 2.3 m (181 x 75 x 91 in)
Wheelbase 3.35 m (11ft)
Crew 3 (driver, gunner, passenger/commander)
Propulsion Hotchkiss 6-cylinder petrol engine, 40-50 hp
Maximum Speed 55 km/h (34.2 mph)
Range 250 km (155 miles)
Armament 1 Hotchkiss Mle.1900 7.65 mm machine gun
Armor 0-6 mm
Production 5


1909 till 1913 Ottoman Police Auto Machine Gun Carrier: The 1909 Hotchkiss ‘Automitrailleuse’ in Turkish Service, Chris Flaherty,
L’Aube de la gloire : les autos mitrailleuses et les chars français pendant la grande guerre, Alain Gougaud, 1987. p.34.
Fall of the Sultanate. The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire. 1908-1922, Ryan Gingeras, 2016.
Het Nieuws van de Dag, ‘De Zwaardomgording’, 12 May 1909, p.15. Accessed on Delpher.
Hotchkiss Story, Automania, 6 March 2013,
Hotchkiss Type V, The Transport Journal, 20 June 2015,
Les véhicules blindés français 1900-1944, Pierre Touzin, 1979, p.251-252.
Osmanli İmparatorluğu’nda Motorlu Kara Taşitlari (1890-1922), Mustafa Yeni, Marmara University thesis, 2011. p.78-81.
Prager Tagblatt, ‘Abdul Hamid’, 29 April 1909, p.5. Accessed on Anno.
Samochody pancerne I wojny Światowej, Witold J. Ławrynowicz and Albert Rokosz, Tetragon, 2020, p.258-261.
The Sunday Star, ‘Motoring’, 30 May 1909, p.2. Accessed on
Turkish Hotchkiss Partly-Armored Car M1908, 21 April 2013, José Luis Castillo,

WW2 Czechoslovak Armored Cars

Lancia 1ZM in Czechoslovak Service

 Czechoslovakia (1918-1935)
Armored Car – 2 Received

The Lancia 1ZM was the first armored car used by Czechoslovakia. Before the First World War, Czechia and Slovakia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but they had the ambition of becoming an independent state. During the war, Czechs and Slovaks were organized into units and fought alongside the Entente Powers in France, Italy, and Russia against their Austro-Hungarian oppressors and their allies. The Czechoslovak units were an important leverage tool, and, together with a strong independence movement, Czechoslovakian independence was proclaimed on 28th October 1918. However, Czechoslovakia was not the only new state in the area. The whole former Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up into smaller independent states, but territorial claims often overlapped with each other, creating many border disputes which resulted in military conflict. In this turmoil of events, two Lancia 1ZMs, received from Italy in 1918, saw action.

Lancia No.2 of the Czechoslovak Italian Legion. This 1ZM was of the first production series and assigned to the 7th Squadron in November 1918. Source:
The Lancia and Bianchi, shortly after they were received from Italy. After the Czechoslovaks expressed dissatisfaction with having two different models, the Bianchi was replaced with another Lancia. Note that the marking on the turret only consist of one white band. Another red band would be added below shortly thereafter, creating the Czechoslovak flag. Source: Czechoslovak Armored Cars in the First World War and Russian Civil War

Czechoslovak Volunteers in Italy

The first Czechoslovak units in Russia were already formed in August 1914, first consisting of Czechs and Slovaks who already lived in Russia, and later joined by defectors and POWs from the Austro-Hungarian Army. In France, these developments started just as early. On 31st August 1914, the Czechoslovak Company “Rota Nazdar” was formed within the French Foreign Legion. The Italian government was more hesitant to allow the creation of a Czechoslovak force within their borders.

Italy joined the First World War on 24th May 1915, when it declared war on its northern neighbor and rival, Austria-Hungary. During the next two years, many Austro-Hungarian troops were captured, and among them, were nationalistic defectors who wanted to join the Entente to fight against the Empire, in the hope of gaining independence once the war was over. However, Italy had no interest in allowing this to happen, since it could potentially hinder their military and political ambitions in the region. Only after lengthy negotiations, Czech and Slovak POWs were separated from other POWs and gathered in a Czechoslovak prisoner camp in January 1917. The Italian government continued to prohibit them from fighting Austria-Hungary and Germany, but on the initiative of the Italian Field Army, some Czechoslovak reconnaissance groups were formed in September 1917.

The Italian stance on this matter started to change after its major defeat in the battle for Caporetto in October 1917. On 11th February 1918, the first Czechoslovak labor battalions were recruited. After more negotiations, an agreement was signed on 21st April 1918, which allowed actual Czechoslovak military units to be formed. By June, the Czechoslovak Army Corps in Italy had 15,680 members.

Lancia No.2 is seen here in 1921 or later. Source:

Armored Cars

Nearing the end of 1918, Italy gave the Czechoslovak 6th Division two armored cars. They were a Lancia 1ZM and a Bianchi which were attached to the Czechoslovak Artillery’s heavy howitzer section based in Sabbionara. Both vehicles had a crew of four, including the commander and a deputy. Lieutenant František Kolojda was put in command of the Bianchi, and Lieutenant Jaroslav Hrdina commanded the Lancia. Both crews originated from the 39th Infantry (Rifle) Regiment. At the very end of November, the armored cars were reassigned; the Bianchi to the 6th Cavalry Squadron, and the Lancia to the 7th Cavalry Squadron. These two squadrons formed the Cavalry Group which had only been established on 19th November 1918.

In early December, the unit was concentrated in the city of Padua to be repatriated to the newly established state of Czechoslovakia. However, first, parades were held for Italian king Vittorio Emanuele III on 8th December. Several days later, on 16th and 17th December, subsequent inspections of the troops were held at the military airfield in front of the new president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and the commander-in-chief of the Czechoslovak Italian Legion, Italian General Luigi Piccioniho. Both armored cars got the attention of President Masaryk and after talking to the crews, they expressed their dissatisfaction with having two different armored cars. After consultation with General Piccioniho, it was arranged that the Bianchi would be replaced by another Lancia. This new Lancia was designated No.1, while the other became No.2.

No.2, seen again in 1921 or later, but from a different angle. Note the type of grille, only seen on the 1st series of 1ZM, of which 20 were built. Source:


The two 1ZMs that were obtained by Czechoslovakia were of the first series (No.2) and second series (No.1). The main difference between the two series was the differently designed bonnet and front fenders. The vehicles were protected with armor between 2.5 and 6 mm thick. Weighing 4.2 tonnes, they were powered by a Lancia 1Z 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 35 hp, allowing a top road speed of 60 km/h. The Italian Army fielded them with a crew of five, including a commander, driver, and three gunners. However, the Czechoslovak Legion manned them with crews of four, eliminating one of the three gunners. Despite this, the armament of three 6.85 mm Maxim-Dreyse machine guns was retained. These were later replaced by 7.92 mm Schwarzlose vz.07/12 machine guns during the early 1920s.

Back Home

After 16th December 1918, the first units returned to Czechoslovakia. The Cavalry Group with its armored cars left Padua by train on the 23rd. The train took a detour via Rovereto, Trento, Bolzano, and Vienna, and crossed the border at České Velenice. The journey continued via the cities of Veselí-Mezimostí, Jindřichův Hradec, Cejle, Znojmo, Břeclav, and Žilina, to Poprad-Velká. There, the 7th Cavalry Squadron with Lancia No.2 continued the journey towards Galanta and was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division. Lancia No.1 was assigned to the 6th Infantry Division, but remained near Poprad, in the village Spišská Teplica.

The most likely route that both vehicles took by rail in a few days, from Padua in Italy to Poprad in Slovakia. Source: Author, based on Google Maps

Developments Along the Border

On 29th December 1918, the Czechoslovak Home Army occupied the city of Košice. After this, the Italian Legion occupied the first demarcation line between Hungary and Czechoslovakia, also known as the “Pichon Line”. Pichon was the French Foreign Minister at the time, and France, as one of the victorious powers, played a major diplomatic role in the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This first line was replaced by an interim border, established on 20th January 1919.

Lancia No.1 was moved from Poprad to Košice in early January. It was tasked with protecting Italian General Rossi from Czechoslovak soldiers under his own command, as they suspected him of treason and collaboration with the Hungarians. This threat quickly waned, and the security operation only lasted three days. After this, the Lancia was put on standby to be used during emergencies or for police duties.

On 21st March 1919, following a communist coup, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed. In response, martial law was declared in Slovakia on the 25th, as the Czechoslovak government feared that disorder would cross the border. Lancia No.1 was dispatched to Rožňava, Rimavská Sobota, and Tornaľaj as a show of force, hoping to prevent any revolts by local Hungarians. This seems to have worked, so the Lancia did not see any combat, and was recalled to Košice.

Lancia No.1 in 1919. The photograph is likely taken in Košice. The text on the turret indicates it belongs to the 6th Squadron. Source:

To the Capital

Near the end of April, both armored cars were called to Prague in order to be used to suppress any unrest that was suspected to appear in May. Again, no unrest occurred, so it was decided to relocate the idle Lancias to Milovice to perform some live firing shooting tests on the military range. Milovice is close to Prague, and the vehicles returned the same day. Meanwhile, Lancia No.2 received a new commander, Lieutenant Jaroslav Novák, after which it was returned to the area of Galanta and Komárno, where it had been stationed earlier. Lancia No.1 was sent to Nitra.

War with Hungary

On 29th April 1919, a second demarcation line was established by Czechoslovak troops. This Czechoslovak advance led to Hungarian counterattacks. The Czechoslovaks lost several battles and were ordered to retreat to their initial positions on 22nd and 23rd May. The advancing Hungarian Army launched a major attack on 30th May and occupied a large part of Slovakia. On 10th June, units reached the Polish border, effectively splitting the Czechoslovak Army in two. On 16th June, the Slovak Soviet Republic was proclaimed, but this new Republic was swiftly defeated within three weeks, on 7th July 1919.

In the first week of June, Lancia No.1 moved from Nitra to Nové Zámky, and continued via Bajč, Perbeta, Nová Víska, and Šarkán, to Nana on the outskirts of Štúrovo (Parkáňy), a border town along the River Danube. The Czechoslovak defensive line ran through this city, in front of the local train station. However, the city had been taken by Hungarian troops. When the Lancia arrived, it was tasked to participate in the Czechoslovak counterattack, in an attempt to retake the city. The city was recaptured after an hour of fierce fighting. Fighting continued the next day and the Lancia was tasked to patrol the road between the city and the railway station. The Hungarians, supported by an armored train, attacked the following night and forced the Czechoslovaks to retreat. The Lancia was also forced to retreat, but its only way out was the road that led towards the railway station. This road was under fire from Hungarian guns located in Esztergom, on the other side of the river.

This is the best-known image of Lancia No.1. It is a 2nd series 1ZM, featuring a redesigned bonnet and protected air intake. Note that the machine guns are not fitted and no markings are visible. Source:

While escaping via the road, the Lancia encountered the Hungarian armored train, which took the train crew by surprise. They fired upon the Lancia but missed. Meanwhile, the Lancia directed machine-gun fire into Hungarian troops gathered at the railway station while continuing its retreat to Nové Zámky. There, the crew was tasked to deliver a message to Nitra, but they were unable to return, as Nové Zámky had been captured by the Hungarians. The next day, the Lancia counterattacked in an attempt to retake the city, but it was halted by the French officer in command, who feared the road had been mined.

After the fight in Nové Zámky, the Lancia was redirected via Nitra to Vráble, a city also occupied by Hungarians. A Hungarian improvised armored train stood in front of the railway station, close to the road, which forced the Lancia to hide in a vineyard. Around 5 p.m. the train moved south in the direction of Šurany, providing the Lancia an opportunity to push into the city, together with a company of Czechoslovak troops. During the afternoon of the next day, they were forced out again during a Hungarian counterattack, and the Lancia provided fire cover for the retreating company. The following day, the Lancia was recalled to the Brigade’s Headquarters in Zlaté Moravce.

From there, the Lancia was ordered to Kozárovce, via Gartce and Svatý Benedikt. From Kozárovce, the Lancia covered retreating Czechoslovak troops. In the evening, Hungarian troops tried to take out the vehicle by using hand grenades, forcing it to retreat as well, back to Svatý Benedikt. The nearby city of Levice was taken by Czechoslovakia a few days later, and the Lancia carried out a raid on the road between Velka and Kálnica. After this action, the vehicle was assigned to support a battalion in the area. Near the road to Starý Hrádok, the vehicle participated in the elimination of a Hungarian machine gun nest, and resulted in the capture of two machine guns, two horse-drawn wagons, and several POWs.

Later, the vehicle was reassigned to a brigade fighting near Vráble. It performed reconnaissance missions in the direction of Nevižany, but the tires were hit by bullets, and without a spare tire, the vehicle was rendered immobile. In order to retain the vehicle in the fight, it was recovered and put on a flat car on the railway. Now considered an improvised armored train, the first sortie was carried out towards Zlaté Moravce. On 23rd June, the Lancia-train attacked from the vicinity of the River Žitava towards Úľany nad Žitavou, Dolný Ohaj, Hul, and Radava. The train was manned by two platoons of Czechoslovaks from the Italian Legion.

Following the armistice and the end of the Czechoslovak-Hungarian War, the Lancia was returned to Prague for repairs, performed at the Breitfeld-Danek factory. To prevent such an incident in the future, the pneumatic tires were replaced by solid rubber tires. The commander was also replaced by Lieutenant Adolf Prchlík. In August 1919, the Lancia was repaired and returned to Slovakia to be stationed in Kremnica, Ružomberok, and Bratislava. In December 1919, it was permanently garrisoned in Lučenec.

Lancia No.2 on 3rd June 1919. Note the marked battle damage on the side door. The colored bands on the turret are white-red, which was the original flag of Czechoslovakia between 1918 and 1920, based upon the same flag of the Kingdom of Bohemia. Source:

Lancia No.2

Contrary to the elaborate combat reports of No.1, nothing is known about the use of Lancia No.2 during the Czechoslovak-Hungarian War. It was used, however, as a photograph from 3rd June 1919 shows battle damage on the vehicle. Originally stationed in Galanta and Komárno, the vehicle had returned to Prague by the end of 1919 and was stationed there. On 26th October, Lieutenant Karel Janoušek replaced the commander.

Lancia No.2 (NVII-752) next to Fiat-Torino No.5 (NVII-755). The Fiat-Torino armored cars were designed and built by Škoda on an emergency basis after the successful use of the Lancias in battle. Source: VHU PRAHA

Maintaining Peace

In early 1920, Lancia No.1 was rearmed with Schwarzlose vz.07/12 machine guns at the Railway Workshops in Zvolen, a city close to Kremnica and Ružomberok. In June, Lancia No.2 was attached to an Armored Car Group, also consisting of the newly delivered Fiat-Torino’s No. 9 and No.10 armored cars built by Škoda. František Petrák was placed in command of this group on 20th August.

The Schwarzlose vz.07/12 machine gun was extensively used by Austria-Hungary, and after 1918, by its successor states. Source: Forgotten Weapons

On 27th October, all armored cars and trains of the Czechoslovak Army were put under command of Karel Eichmann. This was followed by the establishment of the Special Combat Units Headquarters in Milovice on 29th October. It was officially named Velitelství zvláštních útvarů bojových (panc. vlaků, obrň. aut a tanků) (English: Headquarters of the Special Combat Units (armored trains, armored cars, and tanks)). Due to the addition of the twelve new Fiat-Torinos, armored car units lacked enough drivers, including Lancia No.1. In early 1921, an additional driver was recruited from Bratislava and dispatched to Lučenec.

On 23rd March 1921, Lancia No.2 and Fiat-Torino No.9 were dispatched from Prague to Opava to strengthen the local garrison of Fiat-Torinos No. 7 and 8, in light of the plebiscite that was held in Eastern Silesia. They appear to not have been used. On 2nd April, Lancia No.2 and Fiat-Torino No.9 left Opava to arrive at the Headquarters of the 10th Division in Banská Bystrica. There, Zvolen was designated as a permanent garrison for Lancia No.1 and No.2. Commander of Lancia No.2, Karel Janoušek, took command of the Armored Car Company. Fiat-Torino No.9 left for Lučenec to replace Lancia No.1.

On 6th May 1921, the Lancias moved to Opava to the Headquarters of the 8th Infantry Division and remained there until 22nd September. During their stay in Opava, on 27th August, Commander Karel Eichmann issued new registration numbers to all armored cars.

Number New 1921 Police Registrations ČSAV New 1932 Police Registration
1 NVII-751 14023 13.004
2 NVII-752 14024 13.005

Near the end of 1921, the problem of the lack of drivers had increased. On 28th September, the decision was made to assign only one driver per Armored Car Company. Additional drivers had to be requested from the local Headquarters.

On 22nd September 1921, all armored trains and cars were put on alert by the Ministry of Defense. The Lancias were ordered to move from Opava to Košice. They later moved to Rožňava. A month later, on 24th October, full mobilization of the armored cars and trains was announced, due to the second coup attempt in Hungary by Charles I, former Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. A potential restoration of Habsburg power was considered an endangerment to Czechoslovakia’s sovereignty. The additional men required were enlisted from infantry units, but those who arrived did not have the right equipment, nor the experience with any kind of armored cars, causing some organizational troubles. When it became clear that the second coup had failed, the order for the unit’s demobilization was given on 16th November. The Lancias were ordered towards Košice.

Post-war: uneventful and an accident

Between January and December 1922, the cars stayed in Prague and Milovice. On 4th May 1923, an exercise was held with the Lancias, a Fiat-Torino, and a Renault FT tank. An unfortunate accident on 22nd May claimed the life of a crewmember, Jan Beber, when he was caught by the fender of a car and fell under it. A few days later, on 27th May, both Lancias were moved to the aerospace workshop at the airfield of Kbely, where Lancia No.2 received new Schwarzlose vz.07/12 machine guns, like No.1 had already received in early 1920. Furthermore, the new internal equipment that was to be added was determined. In early June, both were again directed to Kbely to fit the new internal equipment that had been made.

In July 1922, the Assault Vehicle Battalion was reorganized. The armored car groups or companies were renamed to armored car platoons per 1st August. In April 1923, Lancia No.2 moved to Kbely again, this time to undergo repairs. In August, the vehicles exercised for the first time together with the new Škoda PA-I armored cars, which had been received in June. The next year, the vehicles were relocated to Bratislava, and appear to have stayed there for roughly two years until the beginning of 1926, when the platoon returned to Milovice. A major accident occurred in September 1926, when No.2 ditched itself and the front wheels and axle were severely damaged. Repairs took until 6th December to be completed.

Lancia No.2 was significantly damaged in September 1926, when it accidentally ditched itself. Source:
Another shot of the unfortunate event, which gives a rare glimpse of the underside of the 1ZM. Also of note are the PA-I armored cars in the background. Source:

With an increasing supply of new armored cars, the Lancias were mainly used for driver training from 1927 onwards. The intensive use for training worsened the technical condition of the aging vehicles. No.2 had to be completely overhauled in July 1928, and No.1 in August 1929. These overhauls were done at the automobile depot in Vršovice, Prague.


In the early 1930s, the Lancias were shown and used during some demonstrations and public events, but overall, experienced a rather uneventful time. In 1934, a commission was established, charged to assess the technical condition of both Lancias. As suspected, they were too worn out for effective use and, in July 1935, the armor was disassembled and stored in Milovice. On 13th July, both chassis were hauled away to Škoda in Mladá Boleslav and converted to training vehicles. Nearly two years later, on 1st March 1937, both vehicles were handed back to the Army. Lancia No.1 was sent to the Assault Vehicle Regiment in Olomouc and No.2 to PÚV 3 in Martin. The one in Olomouc was captured by the Germans after they occupied Czechia in March 1939. The other was located in the new German puppet state of Slovakia and was still listed as present on 11th August 1939. Presumably, both chassis and stored superstructures were scrapped during the war.

A Czechoslovak drawing showing the interior layout of the 1st series Lancia No.2. Source:


Both Lancia 1ZMs performed well with the Czechoslovak troops. They were used against the Hungarians during the Czechoslovak-Hungarian War, and although details of one are unknown, the other performed with considerable success. Both were re-armed with Czech machine guns and saw internal modifications, but saw no further changes apart from that. Based upon the experience with these cars, the Czechoslovak Army initiated its own domestic armored car program in 1919, with development and construction largely taking place at Škoda which led, among other things, to the well-known PA series of armored cars.

The Lancia No.2 of the first production series with its Czechoslovak markings. Illustration by Andrei ‘Octo10’ Kirushkin, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Lancia 1ZM specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 5.61 x 1.94 x 2.9 m
Total Weight 4.2 tonnes
Crew 4 (commander, driver, 2 machine gunners)
Propulsion Lancia 1Z inline 4 cylinder petrol producing 35 hp petrol with provision to increase output by 30% (40 hp at 1200 rpm) for up to 30 minutes
Fuel consumption Lancia No.1 0.6 kg/km, No.2 0.5 kg/km
Speed (road) 60 km/h
Range 333 km
Armament 3x 6.85 mm Maxim-Dreyse, replaced with Schwarzlose vz.07/12 machine guns
Armor 2.5-6 mm
Trench 0.35 m
Slope 16%
Fording 0.8 m
Total Production 2


Jakl, Tomáš and Bernard Panuš and Jiří Tintěra. 2014. Czechoslovak Armored Cars in the First World War and Russian Civil War. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 118-147.
Špitálský, Jaroslav. 2020. “Obrnĕné Automobily Lancia.”14th January 2020.
Francev, Vladimir, and Charles K. Kliment. 2004. Československá obrněná vozidla 1918-48. Prague: Ares.
Kliment, Charles K., and Hilary Louis Doyle. 1979. Czechoslovak armoured fighting vehicles 1918-1945. Watford: Argus Books.

Modern Qatari Armor

Stark Motors Storm

State of Qatar (2017)
Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier – At Least 136 Built + 1 Prototype

Due to a lack of transparency, information on the vehicles produced by the Qatari manufacturer Stark Motors is a bit shady, as is information on the company itself. As of early 2022, and since its foundation in 2017, it has introduced a total of four armored vehicle models to the international armored vehicles market, including the lightly armored Toyota-based Storm, but all models have failed to gain much interest. Instead, the vehicles seem to mainly be used as a diplomatic tool, and batches of vehicles have been donated to several countries in Africa and the Middle East by the Qatari government to improve diplomatic relations. By early 2023, the Storm is believed to be in use in at least five countries.

Promotional photograph of the Storm. Source: Stark Motors

Stark Motors

The Stark Motors company was founded in May 2017 and is part of the Eshhar Holding, specifically the Eshhar Security Services Department. The director of Eshhar, Mohamad al-Ali, is also the chairman of Stark Motors. Eshhar itself seems to be owned by Abdul Hadi Mana Al-Hajri, a billionaire and brother-in-law of Sheikh Tamim al-Thani. Apart from building military armored vehicles, the company also armors luxury vehicles aimed at the civilian market. Armored vehicles were formerly a specialty of Eshhar Security Services, as this option is listed on an archived version on their website from October 2015, but this department was moved to Stark Motors.

Vehicles built by Stark Motors and in service in Qatar have the name ‘Barzan’ embedded on their bodywork. There may be a relation with Barzan Holdings, which is responsible for “empowering the military capabilities of the Qatari Armed Forces.” This holding, owned by the Qatari Armed Forces Technical Committee, also has a 49.9% share in the Turkish company BMC, which also manufactures armored vehicles.

With the establishment of a domestic light armored vehicle producer, and their vehicles mainly based on Toyota chassis (and parts), Qatar followed the trend of various new armored vehicle producers in the area, with examples being the Streit Group and Minerva Special Purpose Vehicles (MSPV) from the United Arab Emirates, and the Engine Engineering Company LLC from Oman. Since its establishment, the armored vehicles produced by Stark Motors have mostly been used by the Qatari government as a powerful relationship-building tool, by donating batches of vehicles to various countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa in attempts to improve diplomatic relations. In this way, donations have been made to Burkina Faso, Jordan, Mali, Somalia, and the Government of National Accord in Libya.

A Qatari Storm during maneuvers. Note the insignia of the Qatari Amiri Guard on the side and the weapon station that is exclusively used on Qatari Storms. Source:
Six vehicles were seen during the Qatari Army parade of December 2017. At this time, the vehicles were seen carrying a small registration plate in front of the emergency lights. The vehicle in the front is numbered 001, the others are presumably numbered up to 006. Source: AlrayyanTV on Twitter


The Storm has a conventional design and uses the common Toyota Land Cruiser Series 79 pickup truck as a base. The vehicle is powered by a Toyota 4.5L V8 Turbo Diesel which is able to produce 195 hp. Power is transferred via a five-speed manual transmission, although an automatic transmission is provided as an option. The vehicle has a four-wheel drive and the wheels are equipped with 285/75 R18 MAXXIS Off-Road tires. Fuel is stored in two 90 liter tanks.

Close-up of the engine compartment as seen during production. Source: Stark Motors

The driver is sat on the left, and the commander to the right. Behind them, a weapon station is installed on the roof which can be equipped with any kind of light to heavy machine gun. The troop compartment has foldable seats running down the sides. Above the seats, square vision blocks with bulletproof glass are installed. Centrally mounted in these blocks are round firing ports that can be opened by the troops from within by turning a fastening bolt. The troops can enter the vehicle from the rear where either a large door or a double door, is installed. Depending on this configuration, either one or two vision blocks are installed in this door as well.

Seen here is the round firing port, used in action during firing trials in Qatar. The wide window provides enough sight to pick out targets. Source: Stark Motors
Several Storms under construction at Stark Motors in Qatar. Source: Stark Motors


The Storm is equipped with armor leveled at full CEN B6. This means the armor is thick enough to protect against high-powered 7.62 mm rifles but too weak to be able to withstand Armor Piercing bullets or 12.7 mm fire. The floor is able to withstand an explosion from 2 DM51 German ordnance hand grenades.

The bulletproof glass is rated at CEN BR6, providing enough protection against 7.62×51mm NATO full metal jacket, pointed bullet, or soft core bullets.

A Storm in ambulance colors for the United Nations. It is unknown if any were actually delivered as it appears to be a proposed livery based upon the Qatari ambulance version. Source: Stark Motors

The First User: Qatar

According to the Stark Motors manager, the first series of vehicles was delivered to ‘a local institution’ in Qatar, the number of which is undisclosed. During later military parades, at least six regular vehicles were observed, as well as two in use as ambulances. They are operated by the Qatari Amiri Guard (الحرس الأميري‎), an elite military protection unit within the Qatari Army, entrusted with protecting the Emir and the Royal Family of Qatar, among other tasks. Although just eight different vehicles have been observed, the Guard may have more Storms in operation. As of 2018, they were seen featuring a registration number placed on the roof above the front window. Prior to that, they had just a single-digit number. Two registrations have been identified, namely 8876 and 8879. One of the ambulances has been registered as 7788. As noted earlier, they also carry the name ‘Barzan’ on their bodywork.

It is possible that other Qatari institutions like the Police and Internal Security Force operate Storms as well, but clear details are unfortunately lacking.

They replaced older APCs which had been acquired from the Chinese company China Xinxing Xiamen Imp & Exp Co., Ltd. Later, 68 of these, potentially the whole fleet, were donated to Somalia. Confusingly, they were also referred to as Stark Motors Storm.

A rare shot of the rear. Note the name ‘Barzan’ below the right window. Source: Hawwa Amehu1 on Youtube
Ambulance ‘7788’ seen during the Qatari National Day Parade held on 18th December 2018. Source: JunaikJunaidk on Youtube
Close-up of the weapon station that is placed on top of the regular vehicles. Compared to weapon stations fitted on exported Storms, the hatch opens backward instead of sideways, providing rear protection to the gunner. To compensate for the loss of vision, due to the high side armor plates, large bulletproof windows have been installed. Source: JunaikJunaidk on Youtube
Qatari APCs under construction in China by China Xinxing Xiamen Imp & Exp Co., Ltd. At least 68 of these were delivered at an unknown date, but were replaced by the Stark Motors Storm and later donated to Somalia. They are often believed to be an older iteration of the Storm, but it is unknown to what extent Qatar was involved in the design of this vehicle. Source: Xinxing Xiamen

In October 2022, Stark Motors delivered Storms, Raiders, and Thunder vehicles to the newly established Tournament Security Force, which was founded to provide security during the Fifa World Cup that Qatar was granted to host in late 2022.

Three armored vehicles of the new Tournament Security Force, established in 2022 for the Fifa World Cup. From left to right the Raider LTAV, Thunder MRAP, and Storm APC. Source: Qatar News Agency


It seems that already in 2017, an international order was secured for six Storm vehicles, to be delivered to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cambodia. These vehicles, initially painted white, were later transferred to the BHQ (Bodyguard Headquarters), the personal bodyguard unit of the Prime Minister of Cambodia. Unlike other armored vehicles of the BHQ, such as the BMP-1s and T-55AM1s, the Storms were not painted in a camouflage pattern but painted matte black. However, in June 2021, at least one was observed after having been repainted in a gloss green.

All six vehicles feature a weapon station on top of the vehicle. The weapon stations have a large forward gunshield with an opening for a weapon and angled plates. The hatches open sideways, providing more protection to the gunner.

The batch of six vehicles for Cambodia, seen here in a white UN livery. After they were transferred to the BHQ, they were painted in a more threatening black. Source: Stark Motors
Interior of the Cambodian Storm. It has space for eight equipped men. Source: BHQ Cambodia on Facebook
Two out of six vehicles on display. Source: Facebook
A Cambodian Storm in June 2021, now seen in a green color. Source BHQ Cambodia

Donations to the Sahel

In June 2017, Qatar became isolated from much of Africa and the Middle East. In that month, a consortium of geographically close countries severed diplomatic relations with Qatar over its relations with Iran and their alleged support for terrorist organizations. A variety of African countries followed suit and recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, including Mauritania, Chad, and Niger, among others.

This sudden breakdown in diplomatic relations with African countries caused the Qatari government to look with renewed interest into establishing close ties with African countries since most of them had often been ignored in the pre-2017 diplomatic policy. Among other ventures and even visits to West Africa by the Emir himself, many African delegates were invited to visit the military Milipol Exhibition in Doha, Qatar, held in October 2018. This event was largely sponsored by Stark Motors.

Qatar also tried to gain closer ties with the G5 Sahel, an institution that was formed in 2014 with backing from France, and which consisted of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. In February 2017, the G5 launched the G5 Sahel Joint Force to combat local terrorist groups. When Qatar asked to support the G5 Sahel, their offer was turned down at first. Various commenters accused Qatar of covering up their ties with terrorist groups that were combating the Sahel, by pretending they supported the Sahel by gifting armored vehicles. According to various sources, among support to other terrorist groups, Qatar had links to Iyad Agha Ghali, leader of the Victory of Islam and Muslims Group that claimed several attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Given the repeated intelligence that Qatar supported terrorist groups against the G5 Sahel, Qatar decided to make a strong statement that would show, or at least pretend to show, its support for the suffering countries. Eventually, it was successful in its attempts when the G5 Sahel agreed to receive support from Qatar.

A row of Storms, ready to be delivered to the Sahel. Source:


On 26th December 2018, Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs of the Qatar Emiri Air Force landed in Mali. Onboard were 24 Storms, all of which were donated to aid the Armed Forces of Mali in their attempts to counter the jihadist militants and terrorist groups. Some were paraded through the city of Kati on 20th January, during the Army’s Celebration Day.

Their quality was quickly questioned when on 12th March 2019, during a patrolling mission, a Storm drove over a mine and blew up near Dialup, northern Mali. Three soldiers on board were killed in the explosion. On 14th February 2020, during an action in the village of Bentia, two Storms were destroyed, as well as a Toyota technical. In the immediate action, eight Malian soldiers were killed.

All 24 vehicles were flown into Mali on 26th December 2018, seen here lined up in front of the C-17s they were transported by. Source: Qatari MOD
Storms ready to be unloaded from the plane in Mali. Note the presence of emergency lights, a weird and somewhat useless feature when fighting jihadists armed with mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They were seen to have been removed in later photographs. Source: Qatari MOD
Malinese Storms during the Army’s Celebration Day on 20th January 2019 in Kati. Note the Malinese Army registration and flag on the front bumper. Source:
A Malinese Storm that was destroyed in February 2020. A dead soldier lies behind it. Source: Professeur Touramagan on Facebook
A Malinese Storm in 2020, seen next to Turkish-built Otokar Cobra IIs of the United Nations. Source: Turkish Defence Industry on Twitter
A second Storm was also severely damaged. Source: Professeur Touramagan on Facebook

Burkina Faso

On 8th May 2019, a second delivery was made to Burkina Faso. Again, 24 vehicles were flown in and unloaded at the airport of Ouagadougou. In early October 2019, a Burkinabe Storm was blown up by an IED in the vicinity of Djibo and Bourzanga. One soldier was killed by the blast and four others were wounded. In the aftermath, one attacker was also killed and an additional two IEDs were found and destroyed. On 29th February 2020, another Storm was captured by ISGS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, linked to ISIS), reducing the Burkinabe Storm fleet to 22.

A Burkinabe Storm in November 2019. When opened, the hatches of the weapon station provide further protection to the gunner. Source: Michele Cattani / AFP
The remains of a Burkinabe Storm. The car was blown up in early October 2019, killing one soldier and wounding four others. Source: Menastream on Twitter
Another Burkinabe Storm, captured by IS-GS on 29th February 2020, in the vicinity of Sebba. Source: Menastream on Twitter

In May 2022, terrorists used a Storm to attack a military detachment in Bourzanga. With help of various air assets, the attack could be repelled and some 35 terrorists were neutralized. The Burkinabe forces suffered 5 dead and 10 wounded. The Storm was also taken out of action.

This Storm was captured by a terrorist group and later knocked out by Burkinabe forces in 2022. Source: Bibliothèque des Armées Générale

Storms to Somalia?

In February 2017, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was elected the new president of impoverished and war-torn Somalia. His government developed close ties with Qatar, a state that promised support and improvements in Somalia. However, Qatari meddling in the local political affairs has been heavily criticized, as it undermined former efforts to return stability to the country. Ties between Somalia and other countries weakened severely. Furthermore, Qatar is a rival of the United Arab Emirates, which is also interested in power, and thus profit, in the Horn of Africa. This rivalry between the Gulf states of Qatar and the UAE is particularly prominent in Somalia. In January 2019, Qatar further consolidated its ties with the Somalian government by donating 68 armored vehicles.

On 17th January 2019, all 68 vehicles were unloaded in a Somalian port and officially handed over to Somalia. The Qatar Ministry of Defense stated that “the aid will help Somalia’s effort to establish peace and stability, and fight terrorism.” Though claimed to be the Storm, the vehicle looks very different to the commercial Storm model. The armor layout is much simpler in construction and the Toyota chassis appear to be second-hand.

Indeed, the vehicles were not Storms, but older APCs bought in China and used for an undisclosed time by Qatar. Despite their age and dubious effectiveness, the vehicles form a valuable contribution to the Somali armored fleet.

The Somalian vehicles feature large front windows, a cut out in the armor on the left side for a spare wheel, and three vision blocks in the side for the troops.

All 68 APCs were unloaded and handed over on 17th January 2019. This picture effectively shows that the design is considerably different from the official Storm design. Also note that not all vehicles are equipped with a weapon station. Source: Qatari MOD
The vehicles have already gathered dust before or during transport. Source: Qatari MOD
A close-up of one of the vehicles shows a rusty chassis. Note the much simpler design of the sides, three windows next to each other, instead of two, and the firing ports are mounted below the windows. Source:

Deployment in Somalia

After the handover, Somali troops installed 12.7 mm heavy machine guns in the turrets. Since then, the vehicles have been actively deployed against Al-Shabab, with varying levels of success. Al-Shabab is a jihadist terrorist group that operates in East Africa and Yemen. They are particularly active in Somalia. On 12th April 2021, Al-Shabab publicly announced the capture of a Storm. It is unknown if Al-Shabab has captured or damaged more of these vehicles.

In August 2021, Al-Shabab attacked a military base in central Somalia and forced the government troops to retreat. Reports surfaced that Al-Shabab had managed to capture 11 armored vehicles, and destroyed another nine, but whether this is accurate or if any of these APCs were among them, is unknown.

An APC as in use by Somalia, with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun installed. This vehicle bears the registration ‘06123’. Note that all the firing ports are opened, possibly for ventilation of the crew compartment. Source: Ahmed saylici via Twitter
At least two vehicles in operation in Somalia in 2021. The guards for the headlights proves it was a good thing they were installed. Source:
A Somali convoy with at least six APCs and a Turkish-built Kirpi MRAP. These Kirpi’s are deployed by Gorgor, a Turkish-trained special unit and considered one of the best units of the Somali Army. The photograph suggests that this special unit also deploys Storms. Source:
On 12th April 2021, Al-Shabab announced the capture of one vehicle. The published photographs and video showed Storm no. ‘06106’, which appeared to be undamaged. Source: Hussein Mohamed via Twitter

Another Donation to Jordan

On 7th April 2020, Jordan took delivery of eight armored vehicles, the first batch to arrive of 44 vehicles donated by Qatar. The 44 vehicles consisted of a mixture of Nomad and Thunder MRAPs, as well as Storms. On 18th May, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah II visited the Hussein Bin Ali 30th Special Mission Brigade, a unit of the Jordan Royal Guard. Also shown to them were at least six new Storm APCs that were attached to the Brigade.

It is possible that Jordan will acquire more armored vehicles from Qatar in the future. On 18th November 2020, the chairman of the chiefs of staff, Major General Yousef Huneiti, met with a Qatari military delegation that represented Stark Motors. Reportedly, joint cooperation was discussed between the armies of Qatar and Jordan.

Visit of the Jordanian King and the Crown Prince to the Hussein Bin Ali 30th Special Mission Brigade on 18th May 2020. At least six Storms can be seen in the background. Source: The Royal Hashemite Court

Confusion with the Aurum Security A200

On 2nd July 2019, the Peruvian Purchasing Agency of the Armed Forces (ACFFAA) placed an international tender for the acquisition of eight 4×4 armored vehicles for use by the Batallón de Reconocimiento y Combate (Eng: Reconnaissance and Combat Battalion) in the so-called VRAEM region (Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers). Narco-terrorist groups operate in this area of Peru. The tender was closed on 15th July. On 6th August 2019, the military news website announced that the German company Aurum Security GmbH had been awarded the contract on 1st August. The article was illustrated with a photograph of a Stark Motors Storm. It is unclear whether published a picture provided to them by either Aurum or the ACFFAA, or if they took the liberty to find a similar vehicle and use that as a temporary illustration for the article. In the case of the former, it would be another shady action in the deal that is surrounded by controversy. In case of the latter, it would set a trend that images of the Storm were used repeatedly when referring to the armored vehicles by Aurum, until the actual vehicles were built and delivered in 2021.

The Storm was erroneously credited to be the upcoming vehicle of the Peruvian BRC. The Aurum logo in the top right corner could indicate this image actually came from Aurum itself. Source:

An article, published by on 12th August 2019, actually got it semi-right, as they published a render of Aurum’s “APC 79”. The APC 79 was the only military armored vehicle offered by Aurum and already designed in 2014, but a prototype had never been built. The vehicle that was ordered by Peru, the A200, could be considered a modified version of this design. However, even after the first photographs of the A200 were shared to the public, the Stark Motors Storm was still erroneously used when referring to the A200. Similarities between the Storm and the A200 may very well suggest that the A200 tried to imitate the Storm in some ways.

Aurum’s APC 79 from 2014 to the left, and the A200 to the right. The A200 seems to have taken over some badly-implemented design elements from both the APC 79 and the Storm, indicating that Aurum’s designers felt inspired by the Storm. The most notable similarities are the design of the front and side windows, the heightened central bonnet, the addition of a winch, and the placement of the weapon station. Source left: Aurum Security, right:


As of 2021, the Storm is in use in Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Jordan, Mali, and Qatar, while a whole different vehicle is in use by Somalia, but often purported to be a Storm. As all vehicles in its class, they have a limited combat value, proven by the complete destruction of one vehicle in Burkina Faso by an IED, but are much more valuable in areas with less extreme violence. The Storm is not a very unique vehicle nor is it particularly innovative. However, being based on a Toyota 79 series chassis is an advantage for many African and Middle Eastern militaries, as spare parts should be easily available and relatively cheap, due to the large deployment of regular Toyotas in those areas. It is possible that the Storm will be donated to or adopted by other countries in the near future.

Illustration of the base version of the Stark Motors Storm by Ardhya ‘Vesp’ Anargha.

Storm specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) N/A
Total Weight, Battle Ready N/A
Crew 2 (driver and commander)
Troop Capacity 8 (6+2) standard, 10 (8+2) optional
Chassis Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Series, Pick Up
Propulsion Toyota 4.5L V8 turbo diesel, 195hp, 4 x 4
Suspension Front: coil springs, shock absorbers, trailing arms; Rear: leaf springs, shock absorbers
Transmission 5-speed manual (automatic optional)
Speed N/A
Range N/A
Armament 1 weapon station (optional), firing ports
Armor CEN B6 full (bulletproof glass CEN BR6)
Total Production At least 136 + 1 prototype


“Storm Light APC.”
“Stark Motors, Storm Light APC brochure.” pdf.
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Gillon, Jihâd. 2019. “Qatar’s quest for African influence.” The Africa Report, 30th April 2019.
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Bisaccio, Derek. 2019. “Mali Receives Qatari Armored Vehicles.” DSM Forecast International, 2nd January 2019.
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2019. “Burkina Faso receives donated APCs.” Defence Web, 9th May 2019.
Kenyette, Patrick. 2019. “Somalian Army receives 68 donated Storm APC from Qatar.” African Military Blog, 18th January 2019.
Martin, Guy. 2020. “Mali receives armoured vehicles from the UAE, EU.” Defence Web, 20th January 2020.
2021. “Qatar-Somalia relations are historical and longstanding, minister says.” Middle East Monitor, 28th January 2021.
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Ali, Abdullahi Mohamed. 2020. “Somalia Must Save Itself from Qatar.” National Interest, 22nd June 2020.
2019. “Is the partnership between Qatar and Somalia beginning to fray?” Middle East Online, 18th November 2019.
Bergman, Ronen, and David D. Kirkpatrick. 2019. “With Guns, Cash and Terrorism, Gulf States Vie for Power in Somalia.” New York Times, 22nd July 2019.
2021. “Al Shabaab attacks Somali military base, recaptures central town.” Reuters, 24th August 2021.
Marchessini, Alejo. 2019. “Próxima adquisición por el Ejército del Perú de blindados 4×4 para el VRAEM.” Defensa, 2nd July 2019.×4-para-vraem
2019. “Aurum Security GmbH gana el contrato para suministrar al Ejército del Perú blindados 4×4 para el VRAEM.” Defensa, 6th August 2019.
2020. “Qatar donates armoured personnel carriers to JAF.” Jordan Times, 7th april 2020.
2020. “King visits King Hussein bin Ali Brigade command.” The Royal Hashemite Court, 18th May 2020.
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WW2 Belgian Armor

Carden-Loyd Mk.VI in Belgian Service (Mk.VI with 47 mm)

Kingdom of Belgium (1931-1940)
Tank Destroyer – 6 Built

For the British firm Vickers-Carden-Loyd, the Mark VI armored carrier was a great commercial success, with worldwide sales of both vehicles and building licenses. It was cheap, and its military potential looked promising. At the end of 1930, the Belgian Army joined the list of buyers when six were ordered as gun towing vehicles and delivered next year. They did not perform great, however, and at the end of 1933, it was decided to place the 47 mm gun, which it originally towed, on top of the vehicle. Although it disrupted balance, decreased mobility, and overwhelmed the crew, it did equip the army with an armored mobile anti-tank gun, allowing the use of faster and better mobile tactics. This concept would be perfected with the T.13 tank destroyer that can be seen as its successful successor.

Here, a Belgian Mk.VI with registration number 0483 is seen towing a 47 mm gun on a special four-wheeled trailer during tests at Beverlo in 1932. The trailer, equipped with pneumatic tires and leaf spring suspension, also allowed the transport of ammunition. The vehicle itself was unarmed. Source: Belgian Tank Museum


In 1929, the Belgian ‘Permanent Commission for Motorization’ observed military maneuvers in Britain and France. During the British maneuvers at Salisbury, they saw the light and cheap Vickers-Carden-Loyd armored carriers in action. The officers of the commission were quite impressed and considered obtaining a few. By the end of 1930, the Belgian Army placed an order at Vickers for the purchase of six Mark VI vehicles with some technical modifications. They were delivered to the Army in 1931 and immediately trialed to find out if they could successfully tow 47 and 76 mm guns. Tests continued into 1932 but were not a great success, as the general mobility of the vehicle was judged inadequate and the vehicle’s off-road speed was very low, at just 9 km/h. Despite this, their military value was present, and, according to the Popular Science Magazine of October 1932: “army experts believe that a fleet of those swift “destroyers” could set up their mobile artillery in time to repel a surprise advance of enemy tanks”.

It has to be noted that already from the beginning, there was an interest within the army to actually mount the 47 mm gun on top of the vehicles but, initially, these studies were not pursued.

Vehicles No. 0482 and 0483 with their crews, sometime between 1931-1933. Weirdly, 0483 has no return roller while it has one on other photographs. Source: Belgian Tank Museum

Design of the Mk.VI

The Carden-Loyd Mark VI is one of the most basic armored vehicles ever designed. Small, equipped with a commercial Ford engine and gearbox, thinly armored, and in the Belgian case, unarmed, it was very cheap compared to other contemporary armored vehicles. It was propelled by a 40 hp Ford Model T engine, located in the middle of the vehicle, in between the two crew members. Power went through a 2-speed epicyclic gearbox to the front-mounted sprockets. The sprockets were of simple design and were basically disks with thirty teeth, moving the 117 track links around. Four small road wheels on each side, providing ground contact of roughly one meter, were only suspended with small leaf springs, insufficient to provide a steady drive when driving fast. Unlike the regular Mark VI design, which had a beam as a track return guide, the Belgian vehicles had a single return roller, identical to a regular roadwheel. Other vehicles from Vickers that had a similar arrangement were the Carden-Loyd Mk.VIa and VIb which had two return rollers, and the Light Patrol Tank, which had one.

Vickers-Carden-Loyd Light Patrol Tank. Source: unknown
The Mark VIb. Source:
A Belgian Mark VI in service with the 3rd Chasseurs Ardennais at Vielsalm. Compared to the vehicles shown above, they feature a similar kind of return roller arrangement. Source: Belgian Tank Museum

The F.R.C. C.47/L30 gun

During the 1920s, the Belgian Army sought to acquire new infantry guns capable of firing with a straight or with a curved arc. Studies continued until the adoption of two guns during the early 1930s, designed by Fonderie Royale des Canons de Liège (F.R.C.), the Royal Gun Foundry Works. The gun selected to fire with a straight arc, and designed as an anti-tank gun, was a 47 mm gun, known as the C.47/L30 Model 1931. Reportedly, up to a thousand of these guns were produced for the Belgian Army before World War 2 broke out.

The armor-piercing round weighed 1.550 kg. With an initial velocity of 675 m/s, it could penetrate armor plates of 40 mm up to 600 m away and around 30 mm at a thousand meters. The high explosive round with a weight of 1.655 kg, had 175 g explosive material in it and, with a velocity of 450 m/s, was effective up to 3,000 m. The barrel had to be replaced after approximately 8,000 rounds fired. The muzzle flash was quite large, reportedly up to 6.5 m long, which made the position of the gun easier to spot for a potential enemy during firing.

Vehicles No. 0481 and 0483 during a maneuver in an open field with the armored shields folded up, providing better visibility for the crew. Source: Nationaal Archief

The need for a more mobile gun

On 11th October 1933, the Belgian cabinet endorsed the establishment of new units of Chasseurs Ardennais and Cyclistes-Frontière (NL: Ardeense Jagers, Grenswielrijders, EN: Hunters of the Ardennes, Frontier Cyclists). They were to be equipped with effective and mobile anti-tank weapons. It was realized, however, that the Mk.VI towing the 47 mm would not fulfill this role effectively. Decoupling the gun from the vehicle and placing it into position took too much time, which made it easy to be spotted by an enemy. Furthermore, during the time of deployment of the gun, the crew lacked any protection as the gun was not equipped with a gun shield. A solution to these problems was to place the gun on top of an armored chassis, so it could be driven to the desired position and immediately be able to harass the enemy. Given the rough terrain of the Ardennes, in which area the vehicle would operate, a tracked chassis was necessary.

Taking these points in mind, it was decided it would be a good idea to place the gun on the Mark VI. Therefore, Vehicle no. 0483 was sent to the FRC to be converted into such a gun carrier. As its initial inception was well-received, the other five vehicles were quickly converted as well and, by the end of 1933, all six had been transformed into tank destroyers. In February 1934, they were assigned to the Chasseurs Ardennais units, with each of three regiments receiving two of them. The doctrine called for individual deployment in a defensive position, but on the offense, they were to be deployed in pairs.

Five Carden-Loyds lined up beside the road. It is unknown when this picture was taken. Source: Forum ATF40 (member avz94)

Not a perfect vehicle

Although the gun could fire, and the vehicle could drive, it was not a match made in heaven. The C.47 had a significant recoil that burdened the chassis too much while firing, so use had to be made of two retractable supports on the back of the vehicle that had to support the suspension. The traverse of the gun was very narrow, with only ten degrees, five degrees to each side. Furthermore, mounting the gun on the front made it front-heavy, destabilizing the vehicle, which caused it to wobble when driving too fast. The wobble was worsened by the fact that the tracks provided only roughly a meter of ground contact. British engineers from Vickers-Carden-Loyd were not very fond of the solution and one apparently called it ‘putting an elephant on a mosquito’.

The armor plates of the Mark VI varied in thickness between 5 to 9 mm, the added gun shield on the front had a thickness of 5 mm. The armor was not always thick enough to protect against regular infantry weapons, let alone greater caliber guns. Furthermore, the crew was not protected from the sides nor above, leaving them vulnerable to flanking maneuvers and thrown grenades. One of the vehicle’s major advantages was its small size that made it easy to conceal on the battlefield and harder to spot from the air. It also carried a decent amount of ammunition, 54 rounds divided into 27 armor-piercing, and 27 high explosive rounds. Furthermore, each section of two vehicles was supported by a truck that carried another 312 rounds.

Vehicle no.0484, next to T.13 no.0514. Although fielding the same gun, the T.13 was far more effective, but would not have been there had the Mark VI with C.47 not existed. Source: Belgian Tank Museum

Further developments

The shortcomings made it clear this was not a permanent solution. While the core idea was good and fitting to Belgian defense policy and tactics, a new but similar vehicle was needed. In 1933, an offer made by captain Loyd that involved equipping the improved Mk.VI* with the C.47 gun was turned down by the Belgian Army. Instead, attention was turned to a new armored tractor developed by Vickers, the Carden Loyd Light Dragon Mk.I. Compared to the Mk.VI, this vehicle was bigger and would be far better suited to serve as a base for the C.47. Further developments would result in the T.13 tank destroyer that was taken into production from 1935 onwards.

Abandoned Mk.VI with C.47 on top of a hill is being inspected by a German soldier. The Belgians lost most, if not all, of their Mk.VIs on 10th and 11th May. Source: eBay

Into service

After the six vehicles were accepted into service in February 1934, another major shortcoming was revealed, namely that the crew of two was overwhelmed with their multitude of jobs. The driver, seated to the left of the gun, not only had to drive the vehicle, but also had to lower the supports at the back whenever necessary and had to aim the gun after that action, prolonging the time between target spotting and shooting. In the meantime, the commander had to prepare the projectiles and load the gun while having to keep an eye on the surroundings. This was also true for the driver, as the vehicle was vulnerable from the sides, and a flanking maneuver by enemy infantry could be fatal if unnoticed.

After the T.13 was taken into production, it was decided that once enough of them had been produced, the Mk.VI was to be taken out of service while the guns would be repurposed. During December 1937, however, the General Staff decided against this and instead wanted to relocate the six vehicles to the Frontier Cyclists stationed near Visé. This happened in 1938. At the time, they were worn out and some were unable to move. As such, they were reportedly dug in to form stationary defensive positions along the River Meuse between the villages Vivegnis and Lixhe.

Source: eBay
No.0481 was probably dug in before it retreated, as clumps of dark soil are still stuck to the front and its suspension, visible on the right photograph. It shows signs of damage too, with a bent gun shield and destroyed headlights. However, none of this is visible on the top image, which was presumably taken in the same time period. This could mean the vehicle was not damaged during the fighting, but after. Source: Belgian Tank Museum

On 15th March 1940, the Frontier Cyclists was split into a 1st and 2nd Regiment. The 8th Company of the 2nd Regiment was equipped with six T.13 and four Mk.VI with C.47. When the German Army initiated Fall Gelb and attacked the Low Countries and France, starting on 10th May 1940, the vehicles were stationed on the western bank of the river and probably fired some shots at Germans that appeared on the eastern bank. In the evening of 11th May, the 2nd Regiment was ordered to retreat. Engine failures or similar problems meant all Mk.VIs had to be left behind and were subsequently found by advancing German troops. Rumors that some were dumped into the Albert Canal remain unverified. At least three to four abandoned vehicles were photographed by German soldiers, which were the former vehicles of the 8th Company. Where the other two out of six went is unknown. The Germans collected the remaining vehicles, after which they were scrapped, with none surviving the war.

No 0482 was left behind on the western bank of the River Meuse. In the background, the city of Visé can be seen. Whether the right photograph also is No. 0482 and slightly moved, or another vehicle abandoned at the same place is hard to determine. It is not unlikely that this vehicle fired a few shots against the attacking Germans before being abandoned. Source:


With mounting a 47 mm anti-tank gun directly on top of the light Mark VI, the Belgian Army tinkered with the very weight limit the chassis could handle. Lack of sufficient armor, dubious mobility, and nonideal circumstances for the crew meant the vehicle was not that great. However, it was the first attempt to create an armored self-propelled anti-tank gun capable of supporting and moving with the infantry in harsh terrain at a low financial cost. The experience gained would help the Belgian Army greatly in creating a totally new doctrine for this kind of armored vehicle which allowed them to develop the far better T.13 tank destroyer that was produced in relatively large numbers. That they were still in use by May 1940 was largely thanks to their very competent guns, instead of their overall usability.

The 47 mm armed Vickers Carden Loyd Mark VI in Belgian service. Illustration gifted by Felix Asmaryan.

Mk.VI 47 mm specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 3,2 x 2 x 1,6 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 1,8 tonnes (3,968 lbs)
Crew 2 (Commander/loader, driver/gunner)
Propulsion Ford T 4-cylinder petrol, 40 bhp
Speed 32 km/h (19,9 mph)
Off-road speed 9 km/h (5,6 mph)
Range 144 km (89 miles)
Armament F.R.C. 47 mm L30 Modèle 1931 (1.9 in)
Armor 9 mm front and back, 6 mm sides, 5 mm gunshield
Total Production 6


Carden Loyd Mk.VI, Profile Publications no. 16, Robert J. Icks, 1967.
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Beschrijving Cavalerie-eenheden,
2e Regiment Grenswielrijders,