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"British Armoured Car Production Figures 1945"

 

by Peter Brown - Wimborne, Dorset, England

 

Among the many documents in the archives are the "Half Yearly Reports on the Progress of the Royal Armoured Corps". This is a series of documents charting events in the RAC which covered all Armoured units in the British Army. They have a mass of details on organisation, training, vehicle development and related subjects. The early reports from 1939 (the RAC came into being in April of that year) were short, but by the war's end they were several inches thick with extensive appendices covering figures.

Reports were compiled each June and December covering the previous six months. That for June 1945 has a section listing production figures for those armoured vehicles of all types then in service. It also includes some notes on the vehicles themselves. As these cover some points not commonly known, it may be of interest to record what is in them.

The following article is based on the production section of the report. The original is in the form of a series of columns, with details for each vehicle under headings of Present Position, Orders Placed and Production Position to 31 May 1945, and Notes on Policy and Remarks. These I have rearranged to make them more readable, extracts from the original report are within quotation marks (") keeping as closely as possible to original spelling. I have added some supplementary details of my own.

 

Scout Cars and Light Reconnaissance Cars

1. Daimler Scout Car Mk. I, Mk. II, Mk. III

"This is a 4-wheeled Scout Car, weighing 3 tons 2 cwt, and carrying a crew of 2. The Car is fitted with a No. 19 W/T Set, and stows a single Bren Gun.

The Mk.III will come into production at Vehicle No. 340587, and will incorporate the following modifications.

(i) Larger Air Cleaner

(ii) Old Filter repositioned

(iii) Mine Blast protection

(iv) 2-speed Dynamo

(v) Con-rod bearings (Glacier strip)

(vi) 3-Batteries, Standard W.D.

Orders Mk I 1659 Mk.II 4527 Mk.III 660 Production Mk I 1659 Mk.II 4527 Mk.III 199

Daimler Scout Cars are issued to Armoured Units for reconnaissance, and intercommunication. These Scout Cars have been used in every Theatre of operations for a multitude of tasks, and have proved most reliable and popular. The Mk I is now obsolete."

This is the Dingo, which was used in France in May-June 1940 and for many years postwar. The Mk I was produced as the original I with four-wheel steering and sliding roof, Ia had ordinary front-wheel steering and a folding roof, Ib had a revised rear plate with the upper section slowing forward in place of the flat style of the I and Ia. The Mk II was a revised Mk Ib while the III did not have a roof. One of the more successful British AFVs, it was the only wheeled AFV in use in 1940 which was still in production and service at the wars end.

Orders in June 1944 were 6006 with the vehicles "in service" which they had been for some four years by then. By the December report orders had risen to 6506 with production quoted as 6042.

2. Humber Scout Car Mk I & II

"This is a four-wheeled Scout Car, weighing 3 tons 6 cwt, and carrying a crew of 2, with an emergency seat for a third member. The Mark I is fitted with a roof and mounts a single Bren on a P.L.M. Mounting. Production of Humber Scout Car Mk I is complete.

The Mark II will not incorporate the P.L.M. Mounting, since it has been necessary to delete this, the roof, and other items to counterbalance the increase in the weight of the additional Belly armour.

Orders and Production Mk I 1698 Mk.II 2600

Humber Scout Cars are issued to Armd Units for intercommunication. These Scout Cars are not considered by the users to be as reliable or capable of the various tasks, as the Daimler."

Production figures are confusing, it would appear all Mk I had been built but the numbers ordered and built for the II are the same which suggests they were also complete. The P.L.M. Mounting was the Parrish-Lakeman Mounting which was used as a AA mounting with twin Vickers GO guns on some tanks but on the Humber carried a single Bren with the 100 round drum original designed for antiaircraft use. It could be operated from inside the vehicle to elevate, traverse and fire. On later vehicles without a roof, the Bren would have to be carried loose.

Order status in June 1944 was 1698 Mk I which was "in service" plus 3250 Mk II with production yet to begin. The December 1944 report states total orders for both types as 4298 with 4102 built.

3. Morris Lt. Recce Car Mk.II

"This is a 4x4 armoured light Recce Vehicle, weighing 4.2 tons with a one-man turret for the Commander. The turret has a mounting for one .303 Bren which is stowed loose. In additional 1 Rifle, and 1 T.S.M.G. or Sten Gun are carried.

Two schemes for increasing the belly armour have been developed and successful trials of both schemes have been carried out. The 21 Army Group scheme will be introduced for retrospective action for vehicles already in the Service. The D.T.D. Scheme will be incorporated in production.

Orders 2274 Production (to 30 June) 2244

This is the only type of Car Lt. Recce now in production. (Deliveries nearing completion) and according to the current G.S. policy will only be issued to the R.Es. It is only since the Recce Corps was amalgamated with the R.A.C. that this vehicle has been examined by the A.F.V. designers, and although it was not possible to carry out any major modifications certain stowage and Belly armour alterations have been incorporated."

The earlier Mk I was a 4x2 design and also carried a .55" Boys antitank rifle which was ineffective by the later stages of WW2. Of the abbreviations, T.S.M.G. was the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun which was used before the British Sten came into use though the Thompson was used in some areas throughout WW2 in British hands. R.E. is Royal Engineers, G.S. is General Staff and D.T.D. is Department of Tank Design.

As at June 1944 orders stood at 1050 though production figures were not given. By the December report 2274 were on order and 1914 built.

4. Humber Lt. Recce Car Mk III and III A

"This is also a 4x4 armoured light Recce vehicle weighing 3.4 tons with a one man turret for the Commander. The armament is the same as for the Morris Lt. Recce Car. The Belly armour is better than the Morris, and no increase is intended.

Orders and production 3599

Humber Lt. Recce are issued to Infantry Recce Regiments"

The Humber was developed from the Snipe passenger car, the Mk I or Humberette was a 4x2 open-topped vehicle was also known as "Ironside I" while the 4x2 Mk II mounted the one-man turret. Mk III and III A vehicles had a specially-developed 4x4 chassis with the III A having extra vision ports. Notes elsewhere state that the III A differed from the III in carburetor, air cleaner, diameter of brake drums and number of leaves on the suspension springs.

Earlier reports state 2799 ordered as at June 1944 with orders and production at 3599 in the December account. As well as the Reconnaissance Regiment who operated these cars alongside Humber Armoured Cars, the Humber Light Recce was used by the RAF Regiment.

5. Car Scout Ford I & II (Canadian)

These 4x4 Scout Cars weigh approximately 4 ton 3.5cwt, and carry a crew of 2. The armament is a .303 Bren Gun, and both the Mk I and II are powered by a Ford V.8 Engine.

Orders and Production Mk I 1603 Mk.II 2185

These Scout Cars are issued to British units in A.F.H.Q. and India."

The Lynx was in the same class as the Dingo though using stock truck components unlike the Dingos fluid flywheel. Mk II had revised cooling and no roof. It was widely used in Canadian armoured car units and some were used in Italy as well as the Middle East and India.

Lynx is not listed in June 1944, the December 1944 report says orders were "not decided" though 3072 had been built.

No mention is made of the Canadian Otter Light Recce Car.

 

Armoured Cars

1. Daimler I & Daimler II

"These armoured cars mount a 2pr and 7.92mm Besa coaxially. They weigh approximately 7.5 tons and carry a crew of 3. The Daimler II incorporates certain modifications and improvements, which were not introduced into the Mark I Production (See Policy and Progress Report for July 1944). Both the Daimler I and II are in the Service. A certain number of these are fitted with the Little-John adapter.

Orders Mk I 1900 Mk.II 1100 Production Mk I 1900 Mk.II 418

Daimler Armd Cars are issued to Units on the Scale of:- 45 per Armd Car Regt.

Certain Recce Regiments in Infantry Divisions, are now issued with Daimlers instead of Humber IVs. The Total strength of an Armd Car Regt comprises the following:-

45 Daimler Arm Cars

14 Staghound Armd Cars (includes: 2 Command Vehicles and 4 Control Vehicles)

8 AEC. or 75mm Half Tracks, or A.F.V. (Tracked C.S.) Alecto

5 Humber or Staghound A.A. Armd Cars.

65 Scout Cars."

The Daimler II differed from the I in its cooling louvres at the vehicle rear, a different gun mounting and an extra escape hatch for the driver as well as having only one side escape door. Production began around September 1944 and photos show them in use on post-war parades. Like the Dingo, they were to serve on for many years.

June 1944 orders were 1901 Mk I with production not stated plus 499 Mk II due to enter production in September. By December total production was listed as 3000 with 2100 built with no break-down between Marks.

The Littlejohn adapter was a muzzle attachment used with special ammunition to increase the armour penetration of small guns like the 2pdr and 37mm.

The formation of an Armoured Car Regiment is interesting in that it includes the Staghounds issued to the unit HQ - more on those later - and still lists the old 75mm halftracks as support weapons though there were replacements on hand. As to the antiaircraft cars, these were not needed in most of the NW Europe campaign as the Allies had air superiority but the War Establishment still listed them.

2. Humber IV

"It has been decided that no further Humber Armd Cars will be produced. The existing order has been completed, and the vehicles are in the service.

Orders and production 2000

This car is issued to those recce regiments in Infantry Divisions that are not equipped with Daimlers."

Short but not sweet! The Humber IV carried the American 37mm gun and a coaxial 7.92mm Besa in place of the 15mm/7.92mm Besa combination of the earlier Marks. As the Notes state it was issued to Reconnaissance Corps units in Infantry Divisions but was being replaced by Daimlers. Orders and production in the June and December reports are all 2000 which suggests production had ended by June 1944.

3. AEC. III

"This is a medium armoured car mounting a 75mm and co-axial 7.92mm Besa. It carried a crew of 4, with a 3 man turret, and weighs approximately 12.8 tons.

Orders and production 200

These vehicles are held by units on a Scale of :- 8 per Armd Car Regt. until replaced by Staghound III or Alecto."

Based on the AEC Matador heavy truck these big cars were used to give fire support more than as fighting vehicles, though their armament was the same as Shermans, Cromwells and Churchill 75mm tanks. The June report lists 200 on order and they were "in service", in December 1944 the production figure states 200.

Alecto was a small open-topped tracked self-propelled gun mounting a 95mm Howitzer based on the British Harry Hopkins light tank. The June 1945 report described it as "an alternative A.F.V. to the 75mm Armoured Car or half track in the heavy troop of each squadron". 300 were on order but only 3 had been built, 21 Army Group were expected to carry out trials "shortly".

4. Coventry I

"This armoured car mounts a 2pr and 7.92mm Besa coaxially, and weighs 11.2 tons. It carries a crew of 4. Reliability Trials have been carried out with a Pilot Model at F.V.P.E., and offensive and defensive firing trials have been held at E.W.(G) Lulworth and S. of E. Ranges Shoeburyness respectively. Modifications recommended as a result of reliability and Firing Trials are being incorporated in production vehicles.

Orders 300 Production 175

It has been decided that only 300 Coventry Is will be produced. It was originally intended that these cars would replace Staghounds as the RHQ and Squadron H.Q. vehicles, in Armd Car Regiments. 280 Coventry Is have been allocated to the French Army."

Sometimes referred to as the Humber-Daimler Armoured Car in earlier reports but looking like a bigger Daimler, these cars were not to see much British use with most going to the French who used them in Indo China (Vietnam). The June 1944 report listed orders for 300 Coventry I with production due to start June 1944 and 900 Coventry II with 75mm planned for 1945 production. By the December report 68 Coventry I had been built but the II had been cancelled.

5. Staghound I (T.17 E.1.) (U.S.A.)

"This is a 4x4 Armd Car weighing approx 14.3 tons and carrying a crew of 5. A number of these vehicles have been in the Service for some time and in use in operations. All vehicles passing through the parent firm will have all the latest series of modifications incorporated.

Orders and production 2844

These vehicles are issued to HQs of Armd Car Regiments"

Armed with a 37mm and coaxial .3" Browning with bow and AA Brownings, these were big cars but not used much in British service. Canadian units on the other hand used them in place of lighter cars. Only a handful were retained in the USA with most going under Lend-Lease. Quoted production is the number supplied to the UK. The same figures are listed in the June and December reports.

6. Staghound III (T.17 E.1.) (U.S.A.)

"This is a normal T.17 E.1. with a Crusader turret mounting a 75mm gun

Orders 92 Production 32

It has been decided that owing to the introduction of ALECTO I, production will be limited to 100."

These cars were intended to be used in the support role but only appeared right at the end of the fighting in Germany. The bow machine gun was deleted and the turret replaced with a Crusader III tank turret with modified hatches and its original 6pdr gun replaced with the British 75mm which was itself developed from the 6pdr bored out to fire American 75mm series ammunition. Oddly, orders were listed as 100 in June 1944 but only 50 in December.

7. Greyhound M8 (U.S.A.)

"This is a light Armoured Car mounting a 37mm and a .30 Browning Co-axially. Crew of 4, weight approximately 7.4 tons. It is powered by a 110 H.P. Hercules Engine. Design of extra Belly armour is now clear. No action will be taken to modify the few M.8s in the U.K.

Orders and production 496

The majority of these vehicles are with C.M.F."

Rarely used in NW Europe the Greyhound was to see some use in Italy - Central Mediterranean Forces - and in post-war occupation duties in Austria. Production refers to UK allocation. Orders at June 1944 were 500 with non received, in December orders and production were listed as 500.

No mention is made of the Canadian Fox armoured car.

There are references to other armoured cars in other sections. The one for "Command, Control, O.P. and Rear Link A.F.Vs" covers various command and Observation Post vehicles, mostly tank-based but some were wheeled. As befitted their role, they carried extra radios. Generally, "Command" vehicles carried two No 19 radio sets - one H.P. or High Power and one L.P. Low Power, "Control" had two No 19 L.P. plus one No 38 while "O.P." Vehicles had two No 19 L.P. plus one No 38 fitted with a second No 38 and a No 18 carried loose. "Rear Link" had a No 19 H.P. with some also carrying a No 38.

The Armoured Cars mentioned are:

8. Humber Mk.III Armoured Car - No Requirement for Command, OP or Control versions, but the Rear Link version was Approved in July 1943. No armament was carried.

9. Coventry Armoured Car - Not Required in any of these roles.

10. Staghound Armoured Car -

"Command" No gun, Approved 21 July 44. Final issue awaiting stores.

"Control" Approved, retained gun.

"Rear Link" Approved, also retained gun.

 

For A.A. Armoured Cars there is only one type covered:

1. Staghound A.A. (T.17 E.2.) (U.S.A.)

"This is a standard T.17.E.1. converted by U.S. to mount twin .50 Brownings. Modifications have been cleared to bring this vehicle up to U.K. standard.

Orders and Production 1000

These have been issued to formations in Italy but owing to continued air superiority no reports are yet available."

What the UK modifications were is not stated. AA vehicles generally were not seriously used by the Wars end. A note against the Crusader and Centaur AA tanks section says they were included in War Establishments "although at present they are nowhere implemented to carry out their proper A.A. Operational role. This situation has arisen because of the complete Allied air superiority." Some Staghound AA were used in NW Europe but with the general lack of need they appear to have been relegated to command vehicles. The same 1000 total is listed in the December 1944 report with no figures in the June report.

Humber AA are not included in the June 1945 report, these cars carried four 7.92mm Besas. As at June 1944 orders were in hand for 100 with no production stated, by December orders had fallen to 91 with all of these built.

A note on Weights

The figures quoted are for British Tons which contain 2240 pounds or lbs, not the American 2000 lbs ton. There are 20 cwt or hundredweight to the Ton while a Ton is around 1016kg.

(Author's footnote - while this article is based on notes made some time ago at the Tank Museum Bovington http://www.tankmuseum.co.uk/library.html  copies of the late-war RAC Progress reports are also in The National Archives in Kew    http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/default.htm ).

 

Peter Brown 9 July 2005