Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Guy Light Tank (Wheeled)

UK (1939)
Armored Car – 101 built

In 1937, the British Army had just completed re-equipping its reconnaissance formations with a new armored car, the Morris CS9. However, the CS9 had one critical flaw: it only had two-wheel drive. The War Office was well aware of the superiority of a four-wheel drive armored car, however, time pressure had meant that they had selected the CS9, which was based off a commercial truck chassis, for service. With the CS9 in service, this gave breathing space to develop a four-wheel drive armored car. The first port of call was again Morris Ltd, with a joint venture with Steyr of Austria. They produced a large 4×4 vehicle that was delivered for tests. The trials went badly, with the report citing terrible mechanical performance. The final nail in the coffin for this vehicle was the Anchluss, the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, which meant that Steyr now belonged to a hostile foreign power.

The failed Morris-Steyr armored car. Source: WO 194/44

The Morris company then adapted the technology obtained from Steyr for a new design, which also performed poorly in trials. A new contender was sought, and found, in the form of Guy Motors. The starting point for the Guy armored car, was their Quad-Ant field artillery tractor that was being trialed for use by the Army. The tractor had an armored body fixed over the chassis. The exact source of the body design is unknown, but the Guy armored car does have more than a passing resemblance to the Morris armored car, which had its body designed by the Woolwich Arsenal.

A Guy Quad-Ant FAT towing a 18-pounder Mk.IV gun on exercise somewhere in Britain. Some secondary sources state it too was equipped with a 4 cylinder Meadows engine, which produced some 58 hp. Source: www.oldcmp.net

Originally, the Guy armored car was meant to mount a turret very similar to that of the CS9, which was an open-topped cylinder armed with a Boys anti-tank rifle and a Bren light machine gun. However, before production began, the War Office changed the specifications and requested a fully enclosed turret with armament standardised to that of the Vickers Light Tank Mk.VI. This mounted both a .50 and a .303 Vickers heavy machine gun in a square fully enclosed turret. With this weapon change, the vehicle was reclassified as a ‘Light Tank (Wheeled)’. The suspected reasoning behind this change is that a 4×4 armored car could come close to the performance of a light tank, but at a much-reduced cost. At least one of the five Guy prototypes was placed in comparative trials against the Morris four-wheel drive armored car and an Alvis-Straussler built design. The Guy entry comprehensively beat its competitors in every field.

Following this, two prototypes were placed under troop trials with the 2nd Dragoon Guards. One was sent to Egypt where it suffered from severe cooling problems. The troop trials caused some minor modifications to be implemented, with the size of both the tyres and the gap between the wheels and the mudguards being increased.

The Guy Light Tank would begin to enter service in 1939, and would have a very short but interesting career.

Three views showing the prototype Guy Light Tank (Wheeled). The opening in the turret where the weapon mount would go is plated up for the trials. Ssource: WO 194/44

Design

The Guy Light Tank had a body made of 14 mm of armor, with a centralised driving compartment and a box-like structure around the driver’s head. Behind this, the main superstructure mounts a square turret. The sides of the body sloped slightly outwards from the chassis to the widest point, giving an appearance similar to modern Mine Resistant Vehicles, although there is no suggestion that this was done for protection from mines. From the superstructure roof, the rear engine deck sloped backwards to the rear plate.

The first prototype Guy Light Tank had riveted construction, along with all the usual weaknesses this entailed. At the time, the idea of welding the armor plate was considered impossible. Guy Motors, however, offered the War Office a deal. They thought they had cracked the problems with welding, and they wanted to try it on the new light tank. Guy Motors signed a contract that allowed them to experiment with welding, but should it fail, then the company would absorb the cost. The welding was a total success. It made the Guy better protected against small arms and more waterproof, thus being able to ford water bodies easier. Welding even made the vehicle slightly lighter. In addition, it made the vehicle a lot cheaper and quicker to build. The Guy Light Tank became the first vehicle in British service to be of entirely welded construction. The welding technique was then given to the War Office, for free, for use during the Second World War. After the war, the invention attracted an award from the Royal Commission for inventions.

The Guy Mk.I. This view is useful as it is nearly the same as the prototype pictured above, and allows the spotting of the differences. Note how the mudguards now run along the crease in the sides of the front hull instead of below them as on the prototype. (source Wikipedia)

The Guy was a rear-engine vehicle, with a petrol 4-cylinder Meadows 4.E.L, with a 95 mm bore and 130 mm stroke. The horsepower produced by this unit is up to some debate, as one primary source, albeit for the prototype, states the output as 22.38 hp. In contrast, most of the modern secondary sources state the output is 55 hp. The answer could be differing RPM’s when the measurement was taken, or the jump from prototype to production may have included a change in gearing.

The engine on the prototype was cooled by a gallay type radial-pump, linked to a four-bladed fan with 3.75 gallons of water. Ignition was of the coil type. The engine also had a Solex 25 RFGVL carburetor. The engine output fed through a four-speed gearbox, with one reverse gear. The forward gear ratios ranged from 7.33 to 1.1, the Reverse gear had a ratio of 10.41. The clutch was a Borg & Beck Dry plate. The wheels fitted to the prototype were Dunlop TG 10.50-16, but these would be increased in size on the production model. Breaking ot the wheels was both foot and hand, linked to Bendix 14in Ferodo systems on each of the wheels. Fuel capacity was 20 gallons, with a 9.5 mpg. Lubrication was provided by 1.5 gallons of oil.

In 1939, the War Office changed the standardised armament for light tanks, switching away from the .50 and .303 Vickers guns. Instead, the new weapons were to be 15 mm and 7.92 mm BESA machine guns. Thus, the design of the Guy Light Tank was updated as well. To differentiate between the two vehicles, those armed with Vickers Guns became the Mk.I, and those armed with BESA’s became Mk.IA. The changeover happened exactly halfway through production, with fifty Mk.I’s produced, and fifty-one Mk.IA’s.

Action Guy

In 1940, the War Office was requesting much-increased production from Guy Motors. However, even with the savings in man-hours that welding provided, the company was just unable to cope with the increased workload without prejudicing its other commitments such as building trucks. Thus, the design was handed to the Rootes group, which produced an almost identical vehicle which became known as the Humber Armoured Car. This was a Guy Light Tank body placed on a Karrier KT 4 artillery tractor chassis. In this guise, it became one of the outstanding success stories of British armored cars from the Second World War.

A column of Guy Mk.IA’s somewhere in the UK. Source: www.warwheels.net

The switching of production to Rootes Group left 101 Guy Light Tanks in service with the Army. The Guy had one unique property, it had enough space to carry around 10cwt (0.56 tons) of stores. This is a remarkably large volume of space, especially considering that the standard truck of the British Army was only rated to carry 15cwt (0.84 ton). This large capacity and roomy interior meant that the Guy Light Tank would be used for two very special roles.

Six Guy Light Tanks were formed into two troops, and joined by a platoon of motorcyclists. The formation carried many names. Officially, they were called either Mission No.11 or the GHQ Liaison Regiment. They also had the code name Phantom. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel George Frederick Hopkinson, the force consisted of about 120 personnel, a large portion of which were trained signallers. The role of Phantom was to provide liaison between foreign armies and perform intelligence gathering duties. This information was then passed to No.3 Air Mission in order to allow the RAF to perform accurate close air support, with relatively up to date information on the ground situation. The reconnaissance was also passed directly to the British Expeditionary Force HQ without having to go through the usual chain of command, thus the data could be acted on in a much more timely manner. Phantom also utilized signal intercepts to obtain information on German movements. Although the intercepts would be encoded, the originating type of unit could be determined, which helped place German formations.

One of Phantom’s Guy Light Tanks captured in France. This vehicle collection point is stated to be at Dunkirk. Source: ww2talk.com

During the battle for France, all the Guy Light Tanks sent to France were knocked out or captured. As the formation was atypical, it lacked the War Diaries that would normally be associated with combat and so we lack any detailed reports on how the Guy’s performed. One action involving a Guy can be pieced together from subsequent accounts and photographs.

On 27th May, Phantom was requested to support the 144th Brigade west of Wormhoudt. The area to their front was contested and the situation very confused. A Guy Light Tank, possibly commanded by Second-Lieutenant Piers Richard Edgcumbe, with Lance-Corporal Leonard Frank Webber as one of his crew, was approaching a café on the Esquelbecq to Zegers-Chappel road, named Hunter’s Rest. It appears from photographs that the Guy pulled out of a T-junction, and was immediately hit by a German anti-tank gun. The car rolled forwards off the road, and stopped partially in a shallow ditch. It was hit a second time, and started to burn. One of the crew was killed outright, the other two managing to get inside the Hunter’s Rest. It then appears SS personnel attempted to close with the two unarmed British soldiers and a bitter round of hand to hand fighting ensued. The British were using what items they could lay their hands on to defend themselves, even resorting to using the cast iron stove lids as weapons. Both British crew were killed.

Two shots of the Guy knocked out at the Hunter’s Rest, which can be seen in the background on the second shot. The two penetrating hits can be seen on the left hand side in the first photograph. One is just in the door, the other in line with the top of the mudguards. Source: ww2talk.com

After the six Guy’s were lost in France, the next role was as part of the Coats Mission. This was a close protection detail formed from the Grenadier Guards to protect the Royal Family. The guns and ammunition on the Guy Light Tanks were removed, and an extra seat fitted in the roomy hull. This, in effect, gave the vehicle the ability to function as an APC carrying three soldiers, or as a VIP transport able to seat one of the royal family, plus two bodyguards. The driver in both cases could double as a fighting-man or stay with the vehicle. Around eight of the Guy Light Tanks were so converted.

A column of four Guy Mk.IA Light Tanks, oddly they are all lacking guns and even smoke dischargers. Could they be from the Coats mission? Or are they simply training machines on exercise? There is unfortunately no way to tell from this photograph alone. Source: wardrawings.be

The remaining Guy’s were handed out to various regiments, most notably Belgium, Danish and Dutch units being formed in the UK. The Belgium forces received fourteen Mk.IA Guy’s on 2nd October 1941. That winter during an exercise, a local Home Guard platoon blocked a road with a hay cart to spring an ambush on a column being led by a Belgium Guy Light Tank, named Calamité. The Belgium driver reacted exactly as one should when in an ambush; get out of the killing zone. Thus he rammed into the hay cart at full speed. Needless to say, this gave rise to an inquiry, as the Home Guard had to explain to the local farmer why he would not be getting his cart (and hay) back, and the Belgium forces were billed for the damages caused.

The Guy’s remained in their role of training vehicles until they could be replaced with more standardised equipment, and were phased out of service in February 1943.

Dutch Guy Mk.I’s during the Week of Victory parade, held in Birmingham. The Dutch markings can be seen on the front right hull. On Belgium Guy’s they carried a roundel on the mudguards. Also of interest is the large lightly colored square under the gunners view port on the turret front. This may be a patch of gas warning paint, which would change color when it encountered contaminants. Such paint was often placed on tanks in France in 1940, although it disappeared after that campaign. Source: Nationaal Archief

In Dutch use, around four to five Mk.I Guy Light tanks were issued to reinforce the Humber Light Recognizance Cars the Armoured Car Squadron was then equipped with. After brief service as training vehicles, the Guy’s were withdrawn in January 1943. The Dutch soldiers took great pains to refurbish the Guy’s back up to the best standard they could, working hard to replace worn parts and get them in to the best condition possible. They were rather annoyed when the cars were simply sent for scrapping when they handed them over.

A Dutch Guy Mk.I arriving, with the Dutch Father Christmas, Sinterklaas (Sint Nicolaas) and two Zwarte Pieten (one is mounted in the Humber LRC behind) on board to give out presents to all the well behaved soldiers, such as the officer climbing on the side. The Germans did not get presents, only .50 Vickers Machine gun fire! (source: Nationaal Archief)

Conclusion

Although short lived and of a small production run, the Guy’s were Britain’s first truly modern armored car, with four-wheel drive and a welded hull. Up until this point, the armored cars had all been two-wheel drive, with a bolted armored body dropped onto a commercial car or truck chassis. The Guy would show that Britain was on the right course, as the Guy quickly morphed into the excellent Humber, which could keep pace with the other outstanding success story of British armored cars, The Daimler Dingo, which appeared the following year to the Guy.



Guy Mk.1 Armoured Car, standard livery, 1940.


Guy Mk.1a Armoured Car, armed with a Besa 15 mm heavy machine gun. Anti-invasion exercises with the Southern Command, 7 May 1941

These illustrations were produced by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Prototype Mk.I Mk.IA
Height (turret roof) 7ft 6in 7ft 6in 7ft 6in
Width 13ft 9in 13ft 6in 13ft 6in
Width 13ft 9in 13ft 6in 13ft 6in
Length 7ft 1.5in 6ft 9in 6ft 9in
Crew Commander, gunner, driver
Armor 14mm max, rivetted 14mm max, welded 14mm max, welded
Firepower None fitted 1x .50 & 1x .303 Vickers machine guns 1x 15mm & 1x 7.92mm BESA machine guns
Engine Meadows 4.E.L
Horsepower 22.38 hp 53 hp 53 hp
Weight 4.5 tons 5.28 tons 5.28 tons
Speed Requirement asked for 40mph 53 mph 53 mph
Range 190 miles 210 miles 210 miles
Turning circle, Left 57ft
Turning circle, Right 47ft 6in

Sources

WO 194/44 Medium tanks and armoured cars, National Archives, Kew.
Mechanised Force, David Fletcher, ISBN-10: 0112904874
Armoured Car, Issue 16, March 1993
Tussen paard en pantser [Between Horse and Armour] written by Jan Hof, published by ‘La Riviere & Voorhoeve’ in 1990.
www.royalsignalsmuseum.co.uk
sussexhistoryforum.co.uk
ww2talk.com (1)
ww2talk.com (2)
ww2talk.com (3)
www.historywebsite.co.uk
www.warwheels.net

Sponsor

This article has been sponsored by mSpy, a phone tracker app that aims to help parents keep their kids safe. Visit their website by clicking the image below.


Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Daimler Armoured Car

United Kingdom (1939)
Armored car – 2,694 built

Daimler’s great brother of the Dingo

The Daimler Dingo was arguably the most successful British reconnaissance armored car of World War Two, to the point of being copied by the Italians (Breda Lince). However, the company that built it, Birmingham Small Arms design was already working on a parallel project. This was a scaled-up version, better armed with the turret developed for the Mark VII Light Tank. It was mass-produced from 1941 to the end of the war, declined into three versions and served well until the late 1960s in India.

Development of the Daimler AC

This model incorporated many advanced design concepts for the time and was considered as one of the best British AFVs of the Second World War. Its use was considered complementary to the lighter Dingo with reconnaissance units, mostly to bring fire support in cases of bad encounters. The hull was strongly related to the Dingo, entirely welded with some bolted elements. Prototypes were ready in 1939 but problems with the complex transmission and amplified by the added weight of the vehicle delayed it entering service well until mid-1941. In total, 2,694 such armored cars would be built by Daimler. Most were sold after a long service in the British inventory (1960). They saw action with other countries afterward.
Daimler Mark 2
Daimler Mark 2

Design

The hull was made of welded steel. The sides were sloped in order to better deflect bullets (16 mm thick at the front, 6 mm elsewhere). There was a small cabin-like compartment for the driver at the front, complete with two side sight slits and a front armored shutter. The commander and gunner took place inside the cramped turret, just large enough to allow the recoil of the light 2-pounder gun (40 mm), the standard British antitank gun of the time. The turret roof had a large opening hatch, folding to the rear. There were some additional storage racks and fittings on the hull for jerrycans, toolboxes, and spades.
The rounds were small but muzzle velocity was excellent and at least did the job well until 1942. Later in the war in Europe, the Littlejohn adaptor was tried to add some muzzle velocity and hitting power against German tanks. Other than the main gun, there was a coaxial 0.3 in Besa machine gun, left to the gun, and also a roof provision for a pintle mount for a light AA Bren machine gun. 52 2-pdr shells and 2500 rounds for the Besa LMG were carried inside. The Daimler 27 4.1 liter 6-cylinder petrol engine gave 95 hp (71 kW) for a power to weight ratio of 12.5 hp/tonne.
Daimler Mark I
Daimler Mark I
The rear 95 hp engine was connected to a Wilson preselector gearbox through a fluid flywheel and then by prop shafts to each wheel. The four wheel steering was similar to early models of the Dingo, but following early experience with the scout car, and added weight, entirely rethought.
The Daimler also featured a fully independent suspension and four-wheel drive. The epicyclic gearing in the wheel hubs enabled a very low ratio in bottom gear. It was credited with managing 1:2 inclines. The rugged nature of the terrain combined with this mechanical reliability made it ideal for reconnaissance and escort work. This was compounded by large, well-spaced roadwheels that gave it excellent ground clearance. Spare side roadwheels also acted as additional armor, although blocking the lower slope escape hatches in case the vehicle was toppled over.

Variants

  • Mark I – The first version
  • Mark I CS – Close support version with 76 mm (3 in) gun
  • Mark II – Improved turret with modified gun mount, better radiator, driver escape hatch incorporated into the roof, WP Grenade container fitted to the turret and smoke generator container modified.
  • Turretless regimental command version – This version was known as SOD (“Sawn-Off Daimler”).

Service history

Just like the Dingo, the Daimler AC was extensively used in North Africa, notably with the 11th Hussars and Derbyshire Yeomanry. Others saw action in Europe. Late war reconnaissance squadrons in NW Europe generally comprised two Daimler Armoured Cars and two Dingo scout cars. Some received a Littlejohn adaptor for their 2 pounder gun. This device worked on the squeeze bore principle to increase the gun’s theoretical armor penetration.
A few served in the Asiatic theater, like the 16th Light Cavalry British Indian Army armored car regiment (part of Fourteenth Army troops) in the reconquest of Burma.
Postwar use was extensive, as Daimlers were used by the territorial units of the British Army until the 1960s, well outlasting the Coventry Armoured Car. The 11th Hussars, B Squadron, deployed them in Northern Ireland as late as January 1960. Also postwar, the 63th Cavalry Indian Army regiment used this model for one of its squadrons, later reformed as an independent reconnaissance squadron and, later updated to the integral squadron. Some formed the mounts of the President’s Bodyguard. They served in the defense of Chushul at heights above 14,000 ft during the 1962 Indo-China War.
Post-war service of the Daimler AC also included the Korean War, Vietnam War, 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Indo-Pakistani War, Ceylonese insurrection of 1971 and Sri Lankan civil war. This vehicle was used post war by no less than eleven countries, Australia, Belgium, Canada, India, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, and Poland.

Links

The Daimler AC on Wikipedia
On Military Factory
On D-Day Overlord
Daimler Fighting Vehicles page
Additional Daimler Scout Car
Surviving Daimler ACs (pdf from the shadock)

Daimler AC specifications

Dimensions 4 x 2.46 x 2.26 m (13’1” x 8’1” x 7’95”)
Total weight, battle ready 7.6 tons
Crew 3 (driver, gunner, loader)
Propulsion Daimler 27 4.1 litre, 6-cylinder petrol, 95 hp (71 kW), 12.5 hp/ton
Suspension 4×4 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 80 km/h (50 mph)
Range 320 km (200 mi)
Armament 2-pdr (40 mm) gun, 0.303 in (7.7 mm) AA LMG
Armor 12 mm sides to 30 mm front (0.24-0.35 in)
Total production 2693 in 1941-1945

British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Daimmler AC Mark I, green livery
Daimler AC Mark I, green livery

Daimler AC Mark I in 1942
Daimler AC Mark I in 1942
Daimler Armoured Car Mark 1, desert livery
Daimler Armoured Car Mark 1, desert livery
Daimler Mark II, RA 11th Hussars, 7th Armoured Division, Berlin, 1945
Daimler Mark II, RA 11th Hussars, 7th Armoured Division, Berlin, 1945
Daimler AC Mk.II of the Desert Rats, North Africa 1942
Daimler AC Mk.II of the “Desert Rats”, North Africa 1942

Daimmler Armoured car of the AR 7th Armoured Division, Egypt, 1942
Postwar Daimler Mk.I training at Lulworth Ranges
Postwar Daimler Mk.I training at Lulworth Ranges
Daimler Mk.II of the Qatari Army today.
Daimler Mk.II of the Qatari Army today.

Video

Gallery

Daimler Armoured Car visual references from around the web
Daimler Armoured Car visual references from around the web
A Daimler Mk.II at the Kubinka Tank Museum
A Daimler Mk.II at the Kubinka Tank Museum
Side view of a Daimler Mk.II
Side view of a Daimler Mk.II
A Daimler Armoured Car Mk.I at the Bovington Tank Museum
A Daimler Armoured Car Mk.I at the Bovington Tank Museum

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Coventry Armoured Car

United Kingdom (1943)
Armored Car – 220 built total

Late attempt for a standard

In 1942, there were already at least a dozen armored types in service with the British Army on all fronts. The Daimler and Humber, in particular, were already massively produced. However, the General Staff had plans, just like for tanks, for a universal design that could fulfill all duties, simplify training, maintenance and lowering costs. A convergence of interests and technological sharings led to the Rootes Group and Daimler producing a crossover of their own designs. This evolved into a mature 4×4 design ready for production in 1943. Two main types were envisioned, the standard reconnaissance type (Mark I) and the tank hunter/infantry support type (Mark II). However, the vehicle showed its limits soon after its introduction and production was curtailed to 220 vehicles out of a total order for 2600 shared by the two factories. The model was named after the Coventry plant in the Midlands, the only one to eventually manufacture the type.
A Coventry armored car preserved at the Bovington Tank Museum
A Coventry armored car preserved at the Bovington Tank Museum

Design

The Coventry Armoured Car was a compact four-wheel drive armored vehicle. It featured a conventional suspension and drive system but was given duplicate driving controls which enabled it to reverse quickly if it needed to break quickly from a fight. The hull was made of welded RHA steel plates, 8 to 14 mm (0.31-0.55 in) at the thickest, with a sloped front, inwards sloped sides and rear and an octagonal turret with a single hatch. The configuration was standard, with the driver inside his own sloped forward cabin. He had two sight slits and a front side opening armored shutter. The fighting compartment was in the middle, with the engine compartment at the rear. Despite being less than 5 meters (16’5”) in length and 2.64 (8’8”) in width, the Coventry weighed 10.35 tonnes (11.41 short tons or 10.19 long tons).
It was propelled by a Hercules RXLD 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled, petrol engine. It developed 175 hp (130 kW) for a power/weight ratio of 16.9 hp/tonne. This gave a lower-than- average 68 km/h (42 mph) top speed and modest cross-country speeds. It had a 400 km (250 mi) range. The Coventry had front-steering, but with a second steering wheel and driving controls at the rear of the driving compartment. The transmission manufactured by Commer Cars Ltd featured a 5-speed gearbox, which worked in both directions as well. The suspensions were coil springs, and the tyres were 13.50×20. Electrical voltage was 24V, which also fed a Radio W/T Set No. 19, driving and blackout lights fitted on the mudguards.
The main armament (Mark I) comprised the standard British 2-pounder (40 mm/1.57 in). In late 1943, this was less than desirable against German tanks but still adequate against most light vehicles. It was coupled with a coaxial BESA machine gun, fed with around 2,000 rounds. The turret, in this configuration, also accommodated the gunner, loader and commander. It had a 6 faced shape and was manually traversed. The turret also held the gunner and commander periscopes, a side projector, and two smoke dischargers which were mounted at the rear of the turret. The gun had a cast mantlet and was elevated manually by the gunner using his shoulder, as was usual for 2-pdr mounts at that time.
The Mark II, however, also designated AFVW90, was given a much larger turret, which slightly resembled the one used on the AEC heavy armoured car, armed with the QF 75 mm (2.95 in). The size of the gun meant that one less crew member could stay in the turret. Therefore, the gunner had to be assisted by the commander in loading the gun.

Production

There was, at first, an order for 1700 and 900 vehicles of both versions. Production began in June 1944, 63 vehicles being delivered by the end of the year at the Humber assembly line. It was however decided that Daimler should resume production of its own vehicle rather than convert and tool up for the Coventry. The final order was eventually reduced to 300, all for the Humber plant, of which only 220 in total leaved the assembly line at the end of the war. The Coventry Mark II was never produced, and the whole order for 900 units was canceled.

Active service

The first batch was apparently meant to be sent to India, but a few were deployed by the British Army in 1945, operating in Germany in the last days of the war. They saw very little or no action at all. Their deficiencies were well known and the type was quickly demobilized after only a few post-war years of service. However, 40 were sold to the French in 1946, equipping two Tunisian Spahi squadrons. In October 1947, both squadrons were sent to Indochina, affected to the 5th Cuirassiers, operating against the Viet-Minh with mixed success until 1952. The Coventry was described as “slow and fragile”, but was relatively popular with its crews. As a side note, one of these was even given a tailored air-conditioning unit.

Links about the Coventry AC

The Coventry AC on Wikipedia
The Coventry AC on Militaryfactory
The Coventry AC on WarWheels.net
Rare British WW2 armored cars

Coventry specifications

Dimensions 4.71 x 2.64 x 2.35 m (14’5” x 8’8” x 7’9”)
Total weight, battle ready 10.5 tonnes (23,148 lbs)
Crew 3 (Mk.I), 4 (Mk.II)
Propulsion Hercules RXLD 6-cyl. petrol 175 hp (130 kW)
Suspension 4×4 coil springs, all wheels-drive
Speed (road) 66 km/h (42 mph)
Range 400 km (250 mi)
Armament 2 pounder QF (40 mm/1.57 in) gun
7.92 mm (0.31 in) Coaxial BESA machine-gun
Armor 8 to 14 mm front (0.3-0.5 in)
Total production 220

Coventry Armoured Car, early production version on trials, summer 1944.
Coventry Armoured Car, early production version on trials, summer 1944.Coventry in French service, 2nd Tunisian Spahi, 5th Cuirassiers, Indochina, 1947-52.
Coventry in French service, 2nd Tunisian Spahi, 5th Cuirassiers, Indochina, 1947-52.
Coventry Armoured Car Mk.I
Coventry Armoured Car Mk.I
A good side-shot of a Coventry Armoured Car
A good side-shot of a Coventry Armoured Car
French Coventry AC in Indochina, 1947-52
French Coventry AC in Indochina, 1947-52.
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Standard Beaverette

United Kingdom (1940)
Armored Car – 2800+ built

June 1940

After the Miracle at Dunkirk, in May 1940, and despite the successful evacuation which was coined as a triumph of British resolution and ingenuity, the prospects were very grim. France had lost its best divisions and was on the verge of defeat. On paper, men were saved and their experience would prove decisive in future engagements, but almost all of the BEF’s (British Expeditionary Force) equipment was left on the French beaches and streets of Dunkirk.
A Standard Beaverette Mark III at the Duxford museum
A Standard Beaverette Mark III at the Duxford museum
In the case of an enemy landing in force, only the Royal Navy and the RAF stood in the path of Hitler. However, the war industry was in full swing, and by June 1940, 21 light tanks, 58 cruiser tanks, 57 infantry tanks, around 3500 Bren guns, 102 25-pdr guns, 188 Bofors AA, and a large supply of shells became available. This was enough to equip only a couple of divisions.

Lord Beaverbrook’s pets

Lord Beaverbrook was the Minister of Aircraft Production at that time. He devised a program for the quick and urgent delivery of a large fleet of civilian vehicles. While they were not meant to replace purpose-built military vehicles, they were a quick stop-gap solution until the industry could fill in the requirements. Various types would be built on the basis of the largely available Standard car. Initial plans called for a fleet as large of 5,000 vehicles to be built in the summer of 1940 for the militias and Army. But with the air war over Britain, and the specter of an invasion fading away, the production was eventually curtailed and then canceled. Nevertheless, 2,800 vehicles were converted in the meantime and later given to the British Army and RAF instead.

The Beaverette design

Standard Beaverette Mark I/II

The first Beaverette (Mark I) was really a fast stopgap conversion. The vehicle was given light armored panels on the sides of the engine hood. Three large steel plates, 8-9 mm (0.31-0.35 in) thick were welded to the chassis, covering the front and sides of the driving compartment. There was no roof nor rear protection. The fighting compartment was open to the rear and top, allowing access. Two simple side slits were present on each side. The front plate had a folding armored shutter to the right, for the driver, and a simple slit near the top of the plate for the Bren gun or Boys AT rifle. The Mark II was similar, distinguished by the absence of a rib that went across the middle of the side plate on the Mark I and the change to a horizontal radiator grille. The bulk of the production was made up of the Mark II. There was still space for a third crew member and storage on the bridge over the rear axle.

Standard Beaverette Mark III/IV

This second series was quite different, based on the short Standard chassis. It was only 10’2” long (3.10 m). But the construction was altered, with five plates covering the front, sides, a split roof, and rear. In addition, the engine hood was entirely covered by new armored panels, and the curved wings eliminated. This additional weight was only partially compensated by the shorter wheelbase. It weighed 2.6 tonnes (2.9 short tons or 2.6 long tons), compared to the 2.2 tonnes of the Mark I/II. The other major difference was the addition of a third crew member, who took place in a turret located on the left-hand side of the vehicle. This turret was of several types, the simple open type, with RAF-style ring mount for a Bren, twin Vickers LMGs or enclosed, with a split roof hatch. A single prototype received a Boulton-Paul Defiant steel and glass 0.3 in Browning quad machine guns turret. The Mark III was also nicknamed “Beaverbug” due to its stubby looking. The Mark IV had a redesigned glacis armor to improve visibility and reinforced armor, up to 12 mm (0.47 in) at the front.

The Beaverette in action

From the military point of view, the Beaverettes were too heavy for their chassis and suffered from suspension and mechanical fatigue. However, they could bear weapons and provide mobility to the Army and were abundantly covered by the press as the “Mosquito cars”. Their true value resided in propaganda, with footage of large fleets of these vehicles training in the countryside, showing British ingenuity and resolve, restoring confidence. By 1941, judged not satisfactory to serve abroad, none left the British isles. They provided the means for patrolling and training the local British Army units and RAF units. They were also heavily used by the home defense service (mostly Mark III/IVs). New Zealand also built its own improvised series, also called Beaverette (NZ), converted by the New Zealand Railways workshops in Hutt Valley. The chassis was a Ford 3/4 or 1-ton truck, whereas the armor plates were salvaged from naval scrapyards (208 built). Despite a valiant 4-cylinder engine, the top speed was an agonizing 38 km/ph on flat and it was quite hard to handle.

Links

The Beaverette on Wikipedia
Surviving rare British ACs
On the standard motor club UK
Cobbaton Combat Collection, North Devon, England

Beaverette specifications

Dimensions (Mk.II) 2.16 m x 1.76 m x 1.74 m (7ft 1in x 5ft 9.5in x 5ft 9in)
Dimensions (Mk.III) 2.16 m x 1.76 m x 2.13 m (7ft 1in x 5ft 9.5in x 7ft)
Total weight, battle ready 2 (2.6) tonnes
Crew 2 (driver, gunner/radio)
Propulsion Standard 4-cyl petrol, 46 hp (34 kW), 17-23 hp/t
Suspension 4×2 leaf springs
Speed (Mark III) 38 km/h (24 mph)
Range (Mark III) 300 km (190 mi)
Armament 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Bren MG or 0.55 (13.97 mm) in Boys AT rifle
Armor 10 mm (Mk.I-III) – 12 mm front (Mk.IV)
Total production 3,200

British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Beaverette Mark I
Beaverette Mark I. Notice the rib going along the side of the vehicle and the vertical radiator grills.Beaverette Mark II, with the standard camouflage.
Beaverette Mark II, with the standard camouflage. Notice the lack of the rib from the Mark I and the horizontal radiator grills.
Beaverette Mark III, early type armed with a Boys 0.5 in (12.7 in) AT rifle.
Beaverette Mark III, early type armed with a Boys 0.5 in (12.7 in) AT rifle.
Beaverette Mark III with Bren gun and Mickey Mouse camouflage.
Beaverette Mark III with Bren gun and “Mickey Mouse” camouflage.
Beaverette Mark III with a Boulton-Paul quad 0.3 in (7.62 mm) turret
Beaverette Mark III with a Boulton-Paul quad 0.3 in (7.62 mm) turret
Beaverette Mark IV with a twin Vickers LMGs mount
Beaverette Mark IV with a twin Vickers LMGs mount. Notice the redesigned armor.

Gallery

Beaverettes in Northern Ireland
Beaverettes in Northern Ireland
Standard Beaverettes patrolling in Scotland
Standard Beaverettes patrolling in Scotland
Beaverettes on display on the Duxford parade square 1942
Beaverettes on display on the Duxford parade square 1942

Standard Beaverette on display at the Cobbaton Combat Collection, North Devon, England. Photo: Mark Nash

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

AEC Armoured Car

United Kingdom (1941)
Heavy armored car – 629 built

The first wheeled tank?

Most armored cars during WWII only performed reconnaissance mission, and were light models armed with machine guns. There were examples of vehicles armed with a gun, not only in Great Britain, but also in the USA and USSR. The Daimler Armoured Car, for example, was given the standard QF 2-pounder (40 mm/1.57 in), the Humber had a US-built 37 mm (1.46 in), as did M8 Greyhound, Staghound and other US-supplied models. That is not to speak of the Soviet BA-3 to BA-11 series, armed with BT/T-26 tank turrets. But no other armored car used during WWII was armed (and armored) so heavily as the AEC Armoured Car. The Mark III fielded the ROQF 75 mm (2.95 in) gun, which was also fitted on the Cromwell and Churchill.

Genesis

AEC (Associated Equipment Company) of Southall, Middlesex, was already well known, producing buses and trucks, including the famous London double-deckers. When the war started, AEC produced military trucks, with nearly 10,000 vehicles built from 1941 until 1944. These included the 10-ton 4×4 Matador artillery tractor and the 6×6 AEC Marshall. A heavy armored car was designed on the Matador chassis, as a private venture aimed at obtaining an order from the Army. The vehicle was shown publicly at the Horse Guards Parade in London in 1941, and made such an impression on Winston Churchill that an order was secured. In total 629 vehicles, in three variants, would be built until 1944.
AEC Mk.I official photo
AEC Mk.I official photo

Design

AEC used the Matador artillery truck chassis, due to the success of the 4×4 arrangement and its already powerful engine and transmission, which allowed the designers to mount some heavy armament. The idea of the chief designer was to create a “wheeled tank”, which could be produced cheaper, and in larger quantities than regular tanks. This vehicle was impressive, being long and tall, with a central, narrow, lozenge-shaped steel welded RHA body with some riveted elements. Compartmentalization was straightforward, with the driver in the narrow front section of the hull and the fighting compartment behind. This was even roomier and deeper than that of the Valentine tank, and sported a turret ring large enough to fit a standard Valentine tank turret. The engine compartment behind narrowed towards the rear of the vehicle. In addition, four large mudguards protected the massive roadwheels, with very large storage boxes in between, also acting as step-ways for the crew to climb on.
The frontal armor was 65 mm (2.56 in) thick, well sloped, having an effective thickness of nearly 90 mm (3.54 in). The thickness decreased on the sides, engine deck and bottom, with a minimum of 16 mm (0.63 in). But it possessed superior protection to any armored car built in Great Britain or even by any of the Allies at the time. This came at the price of a total weight of 11 tonnes (for the first version), versus 7.75 tonnes for the Matador. But the engine was not the AEC 7.6 litre diesel (95 hp) of the artillery tractor, but a sturdy AEC 190 diesel, which developed 105 hp for a power-to-weight of 9.5 hp/ton (Mark I). This was sufficient for a top speed of about 58 to 65 km/h (36-40 mph) and an autonomy of 400 km (250 mi), still sufficient for long range patrols.

Evolution

Mark I: AEC 190 diesel engine, Valentine Mark I/III turret with a 2-pounder, coaxial Besa 8 mm machine-gun (0.31 in), Bren AA, crew of three, 125 built.
Mark II: AEC 195 diesel (158 hp) engine, 12.7 t, heavier turret, QF 6-pdr (57 mm/2.24 in), coaxial Besa 8 mm (0.31 in), Bren AA, crew of four.
Mark III: Same engine, ROQF 75 mm (2.95 in) main gun and the secondary armament as previous versions. Designated Close Support Armoured Car.
AEC AA variant: Tested with a Crusader AA turret for operations in Europe, but never produced.
British Mark I in North Africa, fall 1942.
British Mark I in North Africa, fall 1942.

The AEC Armoured Car in action

Although better armed and armored than any other wheeled vehicle of the time, the AEC was neither agile, nor fast for a wheeled vehicle. Its height made it an easy target to spot. Tactically, reconnaissance units used a few AECs for support. The first use of the vehicle came in 1942, when the first production vehicles were sent to the North African front. It is not known, however, if they participated in the El Alamein battle in November, but they were affected to the VIIIth army. These vehicles were noted as transitional models or early Mark 2s, being fitted with Crusader tank turrets mounting a 6 pounder (57 mm/2.24 in) gun. AECs were mostly used in the latter part of the campaign, until the end of the Tunisian campaign, by British forces and the British Indian Army, in complement to US-built Staghounds. These vehicles also participated in the operations in Italy, while most Mark 3s served in Western Europe, Northern France and the Low Countries, until 1945. The AEC remained very influential, and was kept into service until 1958, when it was replaced gradually by the Alvis Saladin. The Lebanese army purchased some vehicles, that were used until 1976.

Links about the AEC Armoured Car

The AEC on Wikipedia

AEC Mark 2 Armoured Car specifications

Dimensions 17 x 9 x 8.4 ft (5.18 x 2.75 x 2.54 m)
Total weight, battle ready 12.7 tonnes (14 short tons)
Crew 4 (driver, commander, gunner, loader)
Propulsion AEC 195 diesel 158 hp (118 kW), 12.4 hp/tonne
Suspension 4×4 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 65 km/h (40 mph)
Range 400 km (250 mi)
Armament QF 6-pdr (57 mm) gun
Coaxial 8 mm (0.31 in) Besa machine-gun
AA Bren 7.62 mm (0.3 in) light machine-gun
Armor 65 mm front to 16 mm bottom (2.56-0.63 in)
Total production (all combined) 629

AEC Mark I, El Alamein, November 1942.
AEC Mark I, El Alamein, November 1942.AEC Mark II, 10th Indian Infantry Division, Italy, 1943.
AEC Mark II, 10th Indian Infantry Division, Italy, 1943.
AEC Mark II, Italy, winter 1944 (now preserved at Bovington)
AEC Mark II, Italy, winter 1944 (now preserved at Bovington).
AEC Mark II used by the Yugoslav Army in 1945.
AEC Mark II used by the Yugoslav Army in 1945.
AEC Mark III, D Squadron, 2nd Household Regiment, VII corps, Normandy, 1944.
AEC Mark III, D Squadron, 2nd Household Regiment, VII corps, Normandy, 1944.
AEC Mk.III, 2nd British Army, North-West Europe, spring 1945.
AEC Mk.III, , 2nd British Army, North-West Europe, spring 1945.

Gallery

AEC Mark 2, front view
The Russian tested a single AEC Mark 2 at the Kubinka proving grounds, now part of the museum
AEC Mark IIIAEC Mark III official photo
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Morris Light Reconnaissance Car

United Kingdom (1940)
Light reconnaissance car – 2200 built

Morris goes to war

In May-June 1940, the British Army’s Armored Reconnaissance Corps took heavy losses in France and left its matériel behind, on the streets and countryside around Dunkirk.
The General Staff was in need of new vehicles fast, capable of gathering intelligence for the cavalry and infantry units. All actors of the British automobile industry answered the call, and a light armored car was quickly designed by Morris-Commercial Cars Ltd. It was chosen in a hurry, despite its unusual configuration, and mass-produced from 1940 to 1944. It was less famous that its Daimler counterpart, partly due to reliability issues and limited off-road capabilities.
A very good view of the Morris LRC turret
A very good view of the Morris LRC turret, here in Tunisia (IWM coll.)

Design

The Morris LRC’s official British Army name was either ‘Car 4 x 2, Light Reconnaissance, Morris, Mark I’ or ‘Car 4 x 4, Light Reconnaissance, Morris, Mark II’ It was based on the chassis and parts of the Morris light truck. A partly-riveted hull made of rolled steel with sloped faces was mounted on this basis. The main oddity of the model was its row of three front seats, with the driver in the middle and gunners at each end. The armament comprised one 13.97 mm (0.55 in) Boys anti-tank gun mounted in brackets in the hatches on the hull roof, and a Bren gun in a small single turret on the right side. A 101.6 mm (4 in) smoke grenade launcher was also added. The AT gunner had access to a radio set at his rear.
Armor thickness ranged from 8 to 14 mm (0.31 – 0.52 in). The chassis had a 4×2 rear drive configuration with 9.00 x 60 cm tires. The front suspension was assured by coil springs, and the rear axle had semi-elliptical leaf springs. The transmission included a dry friction clutch, a four-speed gearbox and mechanical brakes. The engine was the Morris EK, 4-cylinder petrol inline, liquid-cooled. It was capable of 71 hp at 3100 rpm, with a cubic capacity of 3520 cc.

A reconnaissance unit of the RAF Regiment patrols round the perimeter track at Bradwell Bay, Essex. A Morris Light Reconnaissance Car bearing the officer in charge, followed by four airmen in a Jeep as they pass a concealed and protected Douglas Havoc.

Production & variants

After some tests, the new vehicle was adopted under the designation “Morris Light Reconnaissance Armored Car”, or simply “Morris LRC”. The first production version (Mk.I) barely differed from the prototype, but the second (Mk.II) was equipped with a four-wheel drive chassis, which significantly increased off-road capabilities. A small number of Mk.I OPs (Observation Post) was built for advanced artillery observers. In that case, the armament and turret were dismantled, and two artillery rangefinders fitted instead.
Prototypes included an experiment with two turrets, the Firefly, which mounted a QF 6-pdr (57 mm/2.24 in) gun, the Salamander with two seats and a central top turret, and the Glanville Fighter Car, with one seat and two fixed MGs. The production spanned from 1940 to 1944, with a total ranging from 2055 to 2200 (according to various sources) being delivered.

The Morris Light Reconnaissance Car in action

The first machines of this type were sent to Egypt at the end of 1941, where they were partly handed over to the RAF. Under the designation Armoured Car Morris Type E, they were used to guard airfields, patrolling nearby areas and advanced reconnaissance. Some Morris were kept in service in the homeland, affected to outposts and patrols. These vehicles participated in the whole North African campaign, until Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy. Besides the British Army in 1942-1943 service, some were transferred to the 12th Podolsk Regiment and 15th Lancers Regiment of Poznań, from the 2nd Polish Corps.

A rear view of a Morris LRC during Operation Goodwood
These units were actively involved in the Middle East operations. At the Normandy landings, some were part of the 11th and 12th Field Engineer Battalions of the Polish 1st Armoured Division, as well as part of the RAF. By 1945, most were scrapped because of their rushed production and obsolescence. Surviving vehicles are now on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Bovington tank museum, and the Military Museum at Port Dickson, in Malaysia.

Morris LRC from a RAF regiment in Tunisia (30 March 1943)

Morris Light Reconnaissance Car specifications

Dimensions 13.4 x6.8 x6.2 ft (4.06 x2.03 x1.88 m)
Total weight, battle ready 3.7 tons
Crew 3 (driver, gunner, AT gunner/radio)
Propulsion Morris 4-cyl. petrol, 72 hp (54 kW), 24 hp/tonne
Suspension Mk.I: 2×4 independent coil springs
Mk.II: 4×4 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 50 mph (80 km/h)
Range 240 mi (280 km)
Armament 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Bren MG
0.55 in (13.97 mm) Boys antitank rifle
Armor 8 to 14 mm (0.31 to 0.55 in)
Total production Approx. 2200

Links about the Morris Light Reconnaissance Car

The Morris LRC on Wikipedia

Morris Mk.I, early production version, Great Britain, 1941.
Morris Mk.I, early production version, Great Britain, 1941.
Morris Mk.I in North Africa, now preserved at Bovington.
Morris Mk.I in North Africa, now preserved at Bovington.
Morris LRC Mk.II in Normandy, summer 1944.
Morris LRC Mk.II in Normandy, summer 1944.
Morris LRC Mk.II in Tunisia, RAF patrol guard, now preserved at Duxford.
Morris LRC Mk.II in Tunisia, RAF patrol guard, now preserved at Duxford.

Gallery


A Morris LRC serving with the RAF in the Azores, in Portugal, 1944

1940s advertising of the Morris LRC

Morris LCR restoration

Morris Light Reconnaissance CarThis is what the Morris Light Reconnaissance Car looked like in 2018
Paul Brooke's restored Morris_Light_Reconnaissance_Car, Cumbria, EnglandDeborah Brooke’s restored Morris Light Reconnaissance Car England 2019
Morris Light Reconnaissance CarDeborah Brooke’s restored Morris Light Reconnaissance Car 2019
Morris Light Reconnaissance CarDeborah Brooke’s restored Morris Light Reconnaissance Car 2019
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Humber Armoured Car

United Kingdom (1939)
Armored car – 5400 built

Rootes wheeled tank

In 1939, the Royal Armoured Corps requested reconnaissance armored car designs from several manufacturers. Rootes group, then known as Karrier, was interested. They produced the Karrier KT 4 artillery tractor for the needs of the Indian army. The company identified a fast solution to obtain a ready made suitable vehicle by taking the Guy Armoured Car’s armored body and putting it on the chassis of their KT 4 tractor, with some adaptations. 101 Guy Armoured Cars had been already built from 1939 to 1940, but the company was not capable of mustering a high enough production rate. In particular, the Guy Mk.IA, equipped with a 15 mm (0.59 in) Besa heavy machine-gun, was the design basis for the Humber.

Guy Armoured car

Design

The chosen chassis, the Karrier KT4, was installed under the Guy armored body, copied down to the various defects (at least on the Mk.I). The turret was a two-men model, inspired by the one on the Mk.VI Light Tank. It was armed with a long barrel 15 mm (0.59 in) Besa machine gun which was basically a scaled up version of the common compact cal.303 (7.92 mm) Besa machine gun. This weapon had some capabilities against 10-15 mm (0.39-0.59 in) of armor, and a good rate of fire, but had some defects as well.
The armored body was sloped with a high driver compartment. The turret and fighting compartment were at the center. There were two reinforced armored hatches on both lower sides. Additional storage compartments were placed on the fenders and behind the side doors. These procured some extra protection. Sometimes a spare roadwheel was also carried, fastened to the front glacis or on the side, between the wheels. The Rootes engine was at the rear. It was dependable, but modifications were soon made to the ventilation grids, for North African service.

Evolution

The Mark I (1940)

This was the basic version, derived from the Guy Armoured Car. The armor was somewhat faultily adjusted, but these defects were corrected during production. 300 units of this type were built.

Humber Armoured car
The Mark IA, or quad AA, was the anti-aircraft version, fitted with an open quartet of 7.92 mm (0.303 in) Besa machine guns with an adapted sight. These were meant to provide air cover for recce units, but Allied air superiority meant they were not needed, and only a handful were produced.

The Mark II (1941)

This was an upgrade, with some changes made to the turret, radiator and a completely redesigned frontal glacis armor.
The Mark IIOP was a sub-variant “Observation Post”, with two 7.92 mm (0.303 in) Besa machine-guns in the turret, to make room for extra equipment.

Rear view of an Humber Mk.III

The Mark III

This was a significant upgrade, with a wider, rear-extended turret conceived for three men, in order to accommodate a wireless operator, freeing the commander from this task. This allowed the fitting of heavier armament. A sub-variant eliminated the gun (replaced by a dummy) to make room for an extra Wireless No. 19 High Power radio and its generator, in order to operate as a mobile HQ. 1650 were produced between 1941 to 1942.
The Fox Armoured Car was a Canadian-built version of the Mark III.

Canadian Fox armoured car

The Mark IV

This was the final and best upgrade, and also had the biggest production run. It was manufactured from 1942 to 1945. The crew reverted to three due to the adoption (in the same three-man turret) of a larger gun, the US-made M5 or M6 37 mm (1.46 in) gun. Meanwhile, a better model, the Coventry Armoured Car, was being developed but was later abandoned. The turret hatches and internal layout was also rearranged. 2000+ were produced.

The Humber Armoured Car in action

This vehicle had a long career, which started in Great Britain in late 1940. It was deployed in North Africa by the end of 1941, in growing numbers. The 11th Hussars and other units employed it for its main purpose, reconnaissance. In several theaters of operation, notably in Eastern Africa, the Humbers took a more offensive role, with long range raids and patrols. In Europe, they were used by British & Canadian units, organically attached to the armored divisions, soldiering in Italy, France and the Low Countries. Others were deployed to patrol the Iranian supply route or were attached to Indian divisions operating in Burma against the Japanese (like the 16th Light Cavalry).
After the war, surplus Humbers were sold to Egypt (1948–49), Burma, Ceylon, Cyprus, Denmark, India, Mexico, the Netherlands and Portugal. A testimony to their sturdiness and reliability. In Indian service, the Humbers participated in Operation Polo in 1948 (annexation of the Hyderabad state) and formed the president bodyguard convoy escort during the 1962 Indo-China War expedition in the defense of the Chushul heights.

Links about the Humber Armoured Car

The Humber AC on Wikipedia
The Humber and Fox on Warwheels.net
Extra photos on Wikimedia Commons
Surviving Humber and Fox ACs by the Shadocks (pdf)

Humber Armoured Car specifications

Dimensions 15’1” x 7’3” x 7’1” (4.6 x 2.2 x 2.3 m)
Total weight, battle ready 5 tons (11,023 lbs)
Crew 3/4 (driver, commander/gunner, loader)
Propulsion Rootes 6 cyl petrol engine, 90 hp (67 kW), 12.9 hp/tonne
Suspension 4×4 rigid axles, rear drive
Speed (road) 80 km/h (50 mph)
Range 200 miles (320 km)
Armament 0.59 in (15 mm) Besa machine gun or 37 mm (1.46 in) US M5/M6
0.303 (7.92 mm) Besa machine gun
Armor 15 mm front, 10 mm bottom, top (0.39-0.59 in)
Total production Around 5400

A Guy Armoured Car in 1939
A Guy Armoured Car in 1939. It was the predecessor of the Humber Mark I.Humber Mark I, North Africa, 1941.
Humber Mark I, North Africa, 1941.Humber Mark IA, Great Britain, 1942
Humber Mark IA, Great Britain, 1942
Humber Mark II, Italy, early 1944.
Humber Mark II, Italy, early 1944.
Canadian Humber Mark II in France, mid-1944. Notice the 15 mm's short barrel.
Canadian Humber Mark II in France, mid-1944. Notice the .50 cal’s short barrel.
British Humber Mark III in Tunisia, early 1943.
British Humber Mark III in Tunisia, early 1943.
Humber Mark III attached to the recce battalion of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, Normandy, June 1944.
Humber Mark III attached to the recce battalion of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, Normandy, June 1944.
Humber Mark IV Laughing Boy III, from a British unit, The Netherlands, fall 1944.
Humber Mark IV “Laughing Boy III”, from a British unit, The Netherlands, fall 1944.
British Humber Mark IV in the Rhineland, winter 1944-45.
British Humber Mark IV in the Rhineland, winter 1944-45.

Gallery


Humber AC Mark.IV

Surviving Humber Mk.IV, at a military and air show in Reading PA

Preserved postwar Dutch Humber IV – Credits: alfvanbeem
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Daimler Dingo

 United Kingdom (1939)
Armored scout car – 6,626 built total

A scout car for the Army

In the early 30’s, the British army was mechanizing its units around the concept of armored divisions. One of the vehicles required to equip the new formations was a small 4×4 scout car for general liaison and reconnaissance duties. It was requested in 1938 by a British War Office specification and a call to manufacturers. Three prototypes from Morris, BSA and Alvis were presented in August-September 1938 and began a testing campaign. All three were relatively similar, with a rear engine, roughly the same size and layout, with four independent suspended wheels. The initial Morris prototype was quickly eliminated because of insufficient speed. The Alvis model (called “Dingo”, an Australian wild dog) had a higher center of gravity, thus some lateral stability problems in sharp turns, but was fast off-road (up to 50 mph/80 km/h).
The BSA Cycles Ltd prototype was ready later in September, and performed particularly well, performing a 16,000 km (10,000 mi) test course with almost no notable issues. In the meantime, the War Office requested better protection and an armored roof. This required a return to the factories, where the suspensions were strengthened and a more powerful engine was fitted. Presented once again, it was chosen, over the Alvis. The first order of 172 units came in May 1939, under the designation “Car, Scout, Mark I”. In turn, BSA turned to one of its companies, Daimler, to polish the design for production. Although Alvis lost the competition, the prototype name eventually became popular and stuck to the model. The Daimler Dingo was one of the finest armored cars ever produced in Great Britain.

Design

The Dingo was a small two-man armored car, relatively low and wide enough to have the required stability for fast off-road rides. Its initial armor was thin, just enough to withstand infantry ordnance. At the Army’s request, it was thickened, reaching 30 mm (1.18 in) on the front nose and glacis. Deflecting armored sloped panels were welded all around the central framework. The front driving compartment had four openings hatches. The engine was the regular Daimler 6-cyl 2.5 l 55 hp (41 kW), fed by a 300 l (79.25 gal) gasoline reserve (two tanks), which gave an incredibly long range for its small size. The transmission consisted of a pre-selector gearbox, fluid flywheel, five gears forward and five gears reverse, allowing steering with all four wheels. This feature gave the Dingo a very tight turning radius, only 7 m (23 ft). However, the system was tricky to master for inexperienced drivers, so a more conventional design of front-wheel steering only was chosen on the Mk.II. The design of the transmission was optimized for compactness, centrally positioned, with the prop shaft running on either side.
During the course of wartime production, it appeared that the flat bottom plate, which allowed the crossing of uneven ground, was highly vulnerable to mines. The rubber tires were of the run-flat semi-solid type, so no spares were carried, but their toughness was compensated by the massive vertical coil springs, to give a smooth ride (about 8 in/20.3 cm of vertical deflection). There was a swiveling seat next to the driver, for a machine-gun servant/radio operator, equipped with a N°19 wireless radio set. The base armament was a removable cal. 0.303 (7.7 mm) Bren gun, with a dozen spare magazines. This armament could be swapped over for a heavier Boys antitank rifle (0.55 in/14 mm). This gave the vehicle, which was fast and well-protected, with a good engine and low profile, a real advantage against all sorts of light vehicles, making it excellently suited for reconnaissance and liaison missions.

Evolution from the Mk.I to the Mk.III

The whole series is remarkably homogeneous. It was produced from 1939 to 1945, and remained virtually unaltered.
The Mark I had a flexible sliding roof and the all-wheel steering. It was difficult to handle for inexperienced drivers.
The Mark IA was a sub-variant equipped with a folding roof.
The Mark IB had a reverse cooling air flow and new armored grilles for the radiator, allowing better ventilation. The bulk of these vehicles served in the Libyan desert.
The Mark II had a revised steering system, using only the front wheels. The lighting equipment was modernized, altogether with the Mark IB modification range.
The Mark III was the final version, coming in 1944 with a waterproofed ignition system and no roof at all.

The Daimler Dingo in action

The Dingo was first used by the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), with the 1st Armored Division and 4th Northumberland Fusilers, in April-May 1940. The main users were small reconnaissance units from the cavalry corps , which consisted generally of two Dingoes and two Daimler armored cars for support. The Dingoes served on every front alongside many Allies armies (Australian, New Zealand, even Polish and Free French Forces), and were so proficient that no replacement was sought before 1952, when the Daimler Ferret appeared. They served as reconnaissance vehicles, but also as mobile observation posts and with Royal Engineer units, used for locating minefields and bridging positions, and HQ liaison vehicles. They were generally highly praised by officers of all ranks, which tried to have them as their personal liaison and command vehicle.
Fast, reliable, nippy and quiet, this vehicle was probably one of the most successful British AFVs of the war, perfectly suited for its tasks. In the mid-70s the Dingo was still used by Cyprus, Portugal and Sri Lanka, and many were available in official depots, and later army dumps. Now it’s a highly praised collector or reenactment vehicle, sometimes reconstructed almost from scratch.

Derivatives and influences

The Daimler armored car

When the Dingo was only a prototype, Birmingham Small Arms, the designer, thought it had a considerable potential and made an excellent base for the development of an up-armed model, then called a “wheeled light tank”. A pilot model was started in April 1939 and, after trials and acceptation, production started in December 1939. It was bigger, wider and taller, with an armored turret housing a standard 2-pdr (40 mm/1.57 in) QF gun. In all, 2694 would be built until 1945, and these vehicles often cooperated with Dingos in recce missions.

The Canadian Ford Lynx

When the demand exceeded the capacity of Daimler, Ford Canada, in Windsor Ontario, begun production of a local derivative. The “Scout Car, Ford Mk.I”, also called the “Lynx armored car”. Almost identical, it was one foot taller because of the Ford transmission. The Ford engine was more powerful, but both the transmission and suspension were inferior to the Dingo’s. In all, 3255 will be delivered from 1943 to 1945.

The Autoblinda Lince

As the Dingo was starring in the desert, the Italians were impressed enough, after capturing one, to devise their own model, the “Lince”. It was literally a clone, produced to an extent of 230 to 250 vehicles between 1943-44, also used by the Germans after the Italian capitulation, as the Panzerspähwagen Lince 202(i), performing the same missions.

Gallery

Daimler Dingo scout-car profile, right side viewArtist impression of a Dingo Mk.I - Credits: MiniartArtist impression of a Dingo Mk.III - Credits: MiniartA typical British Recce squad, with two Dingos and two Daimler armored cars for support.Captured Dingo after the Dieppe raid - Credits: BundesarchivDingo of the 12th Lancers

Links about the Daimler Dingo

The Dingo on Wikipedia
A dedicated website about all WW2 Daimler armored vehicles
Surviving Daimler Dingoes and Ford Lynx – The Shadocks

Daimler Dingo Mk.III specifications

Dimensions 3.18×1.71×1.50 m (10.43×5.61×4.92 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 3 tons
Crew 2 (driver, gunner/radio)
Propulsion 2.5 litre 6-cyl Daimler petrol, 55 hp (41 kW), 18.3 hp/ton
Suspension 4×4 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 89 km/h (55 mph)
Range 320 km (200 mi)
Armament 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Bren MG or 0.55 (13.97 mm) in Boys antitank rifle
Armor 12 mm sides to 30 mm front (0.24-0.35 in)
Total production 6626 in 1939-1945

Captured Dingo Mk.I, designated Leichter PzKpfw Mk.I 202(e), DAK, Libya, 1941.
Captured Dingo Mk.I, designated Leichter PzKpfw Mk.I 202(e), DAK, Libya, 1941.
Dingo Mk.IA, British Expeditionary Force, 3rd RTR, 1st Armoured Division, Holland, summer 1940.
Dingo Mk.IA, British Expeditionary Force, 3rd RTR, 1st Armoured Division, Holland, summer 1940.
Dingo Mk.IA from the HQ squadron of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, 20th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, training in Great Britain, 1941.
Dingo Mk.IA from the HQ squadron of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, 20th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, training in Great Britain, 1941.
Dingo Mk.IA, Libya, fall 1940.
Dingo Mk.IA, Libya, fall 1940.
Daimler Dingo Mk.IB, Great Britain, fall 1941.
Daimler Dingo Mk.IB, Great Britain, fall 1941.
Dingo Mk.II, unknown reconnaissance unit, Western Europe, 1944.
Dingo Mk.II, unknown reconnaissance unit, Western Europe, 1944.
Dingo Mk.II, 4th Field Squadron RE, 7th Armoured Division, Libya, 1942.
Dingo Mk.II, 4th Field Squadron RE, 7th Armoured Division, Libya, 1942.
Dingo Mk.II attached to the reconnaissance battalion of the 7th RTR, VIIIth Army, Libya, fall 1942.
Dingo Mk.II attached to the reconnaissance battalion of the 7th RTR, VIIIth Army, Libya, fall 1942.
Dingo II, 2nd NZ Division HQ, El Alamein, November 1942.
Dingo II, 2nd NZ Division HQ, El Alamein, November 1942.
Dingo Mk.II with a Boys AT rifle, 23rd Armoured Battalion, 5th RTR, Tunisia, March 1943.
Dingo Mk.II with a Boys AT rifle, 23rd Armoured Battalion, 5th RTR, Tunisia, March 1943. (HD illustration)
Dingo Mk.II, NZAC training center near the Red Sea, 1945.
Dingo Mk.II, NZAC training center near the Red Sea, 1945.
Dingo Mk.II, 11th Hussards, 7th RTR, Holland, winter 1944-45.
Dingo Mk.II, 11th Hussards, 7th RTR, Holland, winter 1944-45.
Dingo Mk.III, 11th Armoured Division, Holland, winter 1944-45.
Dingo Mk.III, 11th Armoured Division, Holland, winter 1944-45.

Video


British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Morris CS9

United Kingdom (1938)
Light armored car – 99 built

Morris Motors was one of the most influential and prolific car-makers in Great Britain. The company was a logical choice for building armored cars, even without an official order from the General Staff. However, in this case, there was already an official need, expressed in 1935, to replace WWI-era models. In 1936, Morris Commercial Cars, a subsidiary of Morris Motors, tried to develop a prototype based on the C9 4×2 15-cwt truck chassis. This vehicle was tested the same year and, in 1937, after a few modifications, accepted for service. An order for 99 vehicles, to be delivered during the next year, was placed at the same time. The army classification was LAC (Light Armoured Car).

Design

This vehicle was built on the large 15-inch Morris Commercial C9, a rear-wheel drive commercial vehicle chassis, which had a payload capacity up to 750 kg. The compartmentalization was straightforward, with a front driver cab and a rear fighting compartment. The vehicle was topped by a fully traversing armored basket, rather than a fully enclosed turret. In the open top turret was installed a 0.55 in (13.97 mm) Boys anti-tank tifle, a 0.3 in (7.62 mm) Bren light machine gun or a 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Vickers HMG (the scaled up version of the standard cal. 0.303), and a central smoke grenade launcher tube.
The driver sat on the right and had a three-faceted cabin which emerged from the fighting compartment, on the right. It had lateral openings which could be occulted by a sliding steel cap. The front hood was protected by a rather complicatedly faceted riveted armored body, and there was a slight side slope, but no step or rear storage. A shovel, mace and pickaxe were fastened in a transverse position in front of the turret deflector. There were standard and blackout lights and a No. 19 radio set. The Morris 6-cylinder petrol gave 96 hp (72 kW) or a power/weight of 21.3 hp/tonne, served by a standard 4f/1r gearbox. The suspension was 4 x 2, with a rear fixed axle -double tires- providing motricity and a front steering axle.

The Morris CS9 in action

In April 1939, the LAC entered service with the Royal Tank Corps. Thirty-eight of the CS9 were given to the 12th Royal Lancers, replacing the model 1928 4×6 Lanchesters. These were part of the BEF, participating in the Battle of France and Flanders, where all were destroyed or abandoned near Dunkirk. The other 30 served with the 11th Hussars and were shipped to participate in the North African campaign, together with WW1-era Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars. It was found that, when fitted with desert tires, the vehicle had good performance on soft sand. However, its armor and armament were insufficient. These vehicles participated in the desert war against the Italian 10th Army and used until 1943, some being captured and reused by German and Italian troops. The vehicle was retired halfway through the North African campaign.

Links about the Morris CS9

The CS9 on Wikipedia

Morris CS9 specifications

Dimensions 15.6 x 6.9 x 7 ft (4.77 x 2.05 x 2.13 m)
Total weight, battle ready 4.5 tons (9000 lbs)
Crew 4 (driver, gunner, commander, radio operator)
Propulsion Morris 6-cylinder petrol 96 hp (72 kW), 21.3 hp/ton
Suspension 2×4 leaf springs
Speed (road) 45 mph (73 km/h)
Range 240 miles (380 km)
Armament 0.55 (13.97 mm) in Boys Antitank rifle
0.303 in (7.7 mm) Bren LMG or 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Vickers HMG
Armor 7 mm overall (0.3 in)
Total production 99

Morris CS9 of the 12th Lancers, British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Franco-Belgian frontier, May 1940.
Morris CS9 of the 12th Lancers, British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Franco-Belgian frontier, May 1940.Morris CS9 of the 11th Hussars, Libya, 1942.
Morris CS9 of the 11th Hussars, Libya, 1942.
Morris CS9 of C Squadron, 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales' Own) at Villiers-St-Simon with the BEF in 1940
Morris CS9 of C Squadron, 12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’ Own) at Villiers-St-Simon with the BEF in 1940
Morris CS9 on the Libyan frontier, 11th Hussars, 26 July 1940.
Morris CS9 on the Libyan frontier, 11th Hussars, 26 July 1940.
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)

Categories
WW2 British Armored Cars

Lanchester 6×4

United Kingdom (1928)
Armored Car – 35 built

A 6×4 armored car for colonial duties

The Lanchester motor company, founded in 1899. was a prolific and recognized car maker. It was based in Armourer Mills, Montgomery Street, Sparkbrook, Birmingham. It had produced the famous Lanchester 4×2 armored cars during World War One, which gained a reputation for endurance and reliability, notably on the Eastern and Russian fronts. This time, the War Office requested a 6×4 chassis, for long range operations in remote provinces of the British Empire, colonies and with the territorial army. Lanchester sent in its design in 1927 and was awarded a contract to build two prototypes on 19 July 1927.

Development

These prototypes, D1E1 and D1E2, were ready in March 1928. They tried different turret shapes and armaments and the latter had additional driving controls at the rear. But it appeared, during their trials, that their chassis were not strong enough to cope with rugged terrain and make successful cross-country drives. A first series of 22 vehicles was ordered. These were the Mk.I and Mk.Ia (command), while two vehicles (the other prototypes, D1E3 and D1E4) were kept for instruction. Another series would be ordered later, the Mk.II.

Design

The chassis had no civilian car or truck correspondent, as it was purpose-built and especially strong. It had many similarities with the famous WWI Rolls-Royce armored cars in its body shape. The twin axles at the rear allowed the mounting of larger turrets and a roomier fighting compartment.
The rear-end axle space was used for storage. Two large storage boxes were positioned over the mudguards, right behind the fighting compartment, while a payload could find its way in between. The crew could access the vehicle either through the rear doors or the side ones. The crew counted a driver, co-driver/commander and two gunners/loaders.
The large, cylindrical two-man turret accommodated one 0.5 in (12.7 mm) and one 0.3 in (7.7 mm) Vickers liquid-cooled machine guns in a dual mount. The turret was topped by a small observation cupola which could rotate independently. The co-driver also had an additional Vickers 0.3 in (7.7 mm) machine gun. On radio command vehicles (Mk.Ia and Mk.IIa), this was swapped for a No. 9 radio with a whip type antenna, and the co-driver was in charge of the radio.

Production and active service

The Mark I had doubled rear tires (10 wheels in total). The Mark Ia was the command version and used a radio instead of the left-hand-side machine-gun. 18 and 4 were delivered, respectively. The seven Mark IIs had single rear tires (6 wheels in total), a sloped side turret cupola (or a light tank alternative turret). Six command versions were built. First deliveries began in January 1929, but were finished in 1934. The 11th Hussars was the first unit to receive these. The regiment was relocated in Egypt to replace the 12th Lancers, whereas a squadron of the 12th Lancers was sent, for peacekeeping operations, in the Saar region in 1935. In December, two other squadrons were relocated to Egypt, in response to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. By 1936, they returned to Great Britain and were re-equipped with more modern
The 11th Hussars was the first unit to receive these. The regiment was relocated in Egypt to replace the 12th Lancers, whereas a squadron of the 12th Lancers was sent, for peacekeeping operations, in the Saar region in 1935. In December, two other squadrons were relocated to Egypt, in response to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. By 1936, they returned to Great Britain and were re-equipped with more modern Morris LRCs.
In 1939, 22 of these Lanchesters were sent to the Far East. They were affected to the Selangor and Perak battalions of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, the Singapore Volunteer Corps, Straits Settlements Volunteer Force and the 2nd Battalion of Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in Malaya. They took an active part in the Malayan campaign against the Japanese. The others were kept in the Territorial army, 23rd London Armoured Car Company and 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry. In 1940, one was converted as a VIP transport and two were allocated to the 1st Belgian Armored Car squadron. One is on display at Bovington today.

Links about the Lanchester 6×4

The Lanchester 6×4 on Wikipedia

Lanchester 6×4 specifications

Dimensions 6.10 x 2.02 x 2.83 m (20 x 6.6 x 9.2 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 7 tons (14,000 lbs)
Crew 4 (driver, co-driver gunner/radio, 2 gunners)
Propulsion Lanchester 6-cyl. petrol, 90 hp (67 kW), 12.9 hp/ton
Suspension 6×4 coil springs, front drive
Speed (road) 72 km/h (45 mph)
Range 320 km (200 mi)
Armament 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Vickers machine gun
2 x 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns
Armor 9 mm front & sides (0.35 in)
Total production 35

A Lanchster Mark I of the 12th Lancers.
A Lanchster Mark I of the 12th Lancers. This was a heavily armed vehicle for the time, armed with a heavy MG and two Vickers medium MGs. The first could destroy light tanks when equipped with AP bullets.
A vehicle of the 12th Lancers, B squadron in Malaya, 1941
A vehicle of the 12th Lancers, B squadron in Malaya, 1941. This particular vehicle (now on display in a museum) was reequipped with a Light Tank Mark III turret and had only two Vickers 0.3 in machine guns. The Lanchester 6×4 had good off-road capabilities and was rugged and reliable. However, it was too heavy and slow for effective operations in reconnaissance units.
Lanchester Mark IA of the 12th Lancers, A squadron
A Lanchester Mark IA (command version) of the 12th Lancers, A squadron.
Lanchesters of the 12th Lancers during training
Lanchesters of the 12th Lancers during training.
British Tanks of WW2, including Lend-Lease
British Tanks of WW2 Poster (Support Tank Encyclopedia)