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  • What was the best armoured car of the war?

    . What was the best armoured car of the war?

    The Germans, as was so often the case with arms design, seem to have taken this weapons system to ‘a whole new level’ to use the modern parlance.
    Their latter war designs, the SdKfz 234 series for example were probably a match for most Western Allied mainstream tanks.
    The early and even later Western allied models seemed almost like toys in comparison, though as usual they had about ten times as many as the Germans.

    The Soviets seem to have lost interest early after June ’41 as they had more important things to concentrate on (like war-winning tank designs).

    Armoured cars appear to have been categorised by wheel numbers (4 wheelers, 6 wheelers, 8 wheelers etc.) so perhaps we can discuss the best type in a category.

    One of the best four wheelers was the Italian Autoblinda 41 with freely rotating spare wheels on the side to assist cross country traverse and the ability to travel on railroads.

    And please can we not drift off topic and just deal with AC’s that actually served not models like the T17 Boarhound, which while no doubt an good design never saw combat.

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    lodestar




  • #2
    It would be much better to categorise them by the role they were intended to perform rather than the number of wheels. For example some were meant for forward recce and their job was not to fight but to get information back ASAP so speed was usually more important than being heavily armed, indeed having to fight meant that they were failing in their primary function. Some were effectively mobile forward observation posts and so having a low profile was important. Others were intended to provide protection for convoys of soft skinned vehicles and here armament and armour would be more important than speed. There would be circumstances when a small fast moving manoeuvrable open topped light car would be much better than a big heavy turreted car but it would be silly to say that one was a better armoured car per se than the other
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    • #3
      I would say the German Sdkfz 234 series was the best armored car of the war. It has good mobility on and off road, a reasonable turning circle, can be driven in either direction (important for backing out of trouble), and was large enough to support a variety of weapons and communications equipment. That the Germans crammed larger guns on this vehicle was more due to a need for anything mobile to take on tanks than out of a desire to put heavier guns on it for a pre-defined need they themselves had.
      Putting the 75/L24 on this chassis was to produce a support vehicle for the lighter 20mm armed cars. The Germans, as far as I can tell, never really saw a need for a gun larger than the 20mm on a reconnissance vehicle. That compares to the Allies using 2 pdr and 37mm guns on theirs.

      The US and Soviets both preferred light tanks to armored cars in any case. If anyone liked armored cars it was the British who produced and fielded a plethora of them. The Germans produced and fielded armored cars but never in large numbers.

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      • #4
        Well, the British / Commonwealth produced a plethora of designs in armored cars that range from mediocre to pretty good. Most, however, are at best average.

        You have early war ones like the Morris:



        This is largely a deathtrap on wheels. It's fine for security and rear area operations but as a reconnissance or frontline vehicle it is useless.

        These are converted from available commercial truck or car chassis and had iffy off road capability. Their armament was typically a Boys antitank rifle and a light machinegun of one sort or another.

        The Daimler and Humber armored cars are a bit better. They're proper designs and can do the job. The Daimler is probably better than the Humber as it has a better reverse driving capacity to get out of trouble. It's also a bit smaller and not nearly so slab sided. Better was the wartime developed Coventry of roughly the same capacity.

        Then you get into the big armored car, the AEC. This vehicle was created from a Matador truck chassis and had tank-like armor (up to 65mm) and was often equipped with a tank turret from a Valentine or Crusader. It's off road performance was excretable. It was also tall, rather slab sided, and clunky.

        The S. Africans produced a series of Marmon Herrington armored cars that were rough equivalents to the ones Britain produced. The early Mk I and II were about the equivalent of the Morris while the later Mk III and IV were closer to the Coventry or Humber in capability.

        The British also produced large numbers of the Dingo scout car. This was essentially a two seat armored jeep. While better protected than a jeep, it was definitely far less utilitarian. By 1942 it was largely redundant and could have been replaced by vehicles like the jeep at less cost and better performance.

        The US produced Staghound was to meet a British design request. It was much like the AEC with a bit better off road mobility. Its main redeeming feature was it was roomy and that made it an excellent command vehicle that could be stuffed with officers and radios.

        The US produced only two widely used armored cars (yes, they did produce a few other ones like a stretched armored jeep for airfield security), the M8 and the M20. The M8 was something of a "get it in service" thing. It was adequate as an armored car. Its biggest failing was a large turning circle and an inability to easily be driven in reverse.

        The M20 on the other hand was an excellent utility and scout vehicle. Its biggest plus was it could carry 6 men and mounted a .50 machinegun. By supplying the crew with small arms and a bazooka you had a ready made and very mobile security squad. For example, these vehicles were supplied to self-propelled tank destroyer battalions as security vehicles, providing small infantry defense groups for the tank destroyers.

        The US White scout car on the other hand, was a poor vehicle for reconnissance but proved valuable as a command and control vehicle being roomy and relatively speedy on roads even as it's cross country mobility was terrible.

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        • #5
          Well the most obvious feature was the Büssing-NAG ARK chassis, used in SdKfz 234. In my opinion quite ahead of its time and it influenced the design of cold war APCs, used even in modern 8-wheeled APCs from around the world. So I'm confident to say this was a very successful design.

          The armament on the Soviet BA-10 armoured car is also quite impressive with its two machineguns and a 45mm main gun, considering it was used around the same time as the SdKfz 231 6-rad which is quite incomparable in cross-country performance and firepower, since the SdKfz's chassis was basically an overloaded truck chassis.
          Last edited by KapetanBrina; 16 Sep 18, 09:02.

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          • #6
            With the german panzer forces, their armored recon battalions shifted away from recon and more towards being another combat battalion as they went defensive. So in the defensive the AA battalion was more often than not holding a frontline and not split up to enhance other combat groups.

            I also find that panzer regiments often used a couple point tanks as recon and didn't even bother with the AA battalion or their own meagre halftrack group.

            The best german armored car was the Puma.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by KapetanBrina View Post
              Well the most obvious feature was the Büssing-NAG ARK chassis, used in SdKfz 234. In my opinion quite ahead of its time and it influenced the design of cold war APCs, used even in modern 8-wheeled APCs from around the world. So I'm confident to say this was a very successful design.

              The armament on the Soviet BA-10 armoured car is also quite impressive with its two machineguns and a 45mm main gun, considering it was used around the same time as the SdKfz 231 6-rad which is quite incomparable in cross-country performance and firepower, since the SdKfz's chassis was basically an overloaded truck chassis.
              The Sdkfz 231 (6 rad) wasn't bad for the time it was introduced in 1932. It utilized a heavy truck chassis with 10 wheels (the rear pair are dual tire), and was modified to include a rear driving position allowing the car to operate in either direction equally. The interior was large enough to accommodate radio sets (bulky at the time) and the 20mm automatic gun was more than sufficient for a reconnissance vehicle.

              While not as good a design as the later 8 wheel cars, it was certainly better than the foreign competition in the early 30's.

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              • #8
                Unfortunately I dont' have the source at hand right now, but I read about Inspectorate of Mobile Troops' critique about the SdKfz 231 6-rad and why the mass production of these vehicles never took off. Basically, the 8-rad proved to be somewhat better overall, but beside that, the 6-rad, according to the Inspectorate at the time, lacked off-road mobility, mainly because of the chassis being inadequately strong to support the armour, turret and equipment and was therefore confined to roads and still suffering reliability issues, as the engine was underpowered as well. Yes, the 20mm autocannon is a good armament, however, the BA-10 was able to use a 45mm gun with two machineguns on a comparable platform. Basically, the experience on the 6-rad convinced the Germans to invest in a new vehicle for recce purposes.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                  With the german panzer forces, their armored recon battalions shifted away from recon and more towards being another combat battalion as they went defensive.
                  I would say the Germans often used the recon battalion for combat also when they were on the offensive. They often expected the recon units, if faced with the often disorganized, light resistance that a Blitzkrieg fluid situation might result in, to take on that resistance and quickly occupy critical chokepoints (say bridges or crossroads) on their own.



                  So in the defensive the AA battalion was more often than not holding a frontline and not split up to enhance other combat groups.

                  I also find that panzer regiments often used a couple point tanks as recon and didn't even bother with the AA battalion or their own meagre halftrack group.

                  The best german armored car was the Puma.
                  As MarkV already asked, best for what?
                  Michele

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                  • #10
                    My favourite A/C is the Puma.

                    The British found they needed 3 types of A/C; a scout car (mg only), an a/c with a 2pdr, and a few heavier types with weapons such as the 6pdrs or 75mm's were used. The 75mm's were preferred for their HE round.

                    Recce Regt OOB:
                    http://www.niehorster.org/017_britai...ps_ac-rgt.html
                    Each with 4 squadrons of these:
                    http://www.niehorster.org/017_britai...-rgt_sqdn.html
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                    • #11
                      Been a while since I thought about these things, but I seem to recall that the "heavy" version of the British AEC was equipped with a 75mm QF (quick firing) cannon and was quite useful in Africa despite its noted shortcomings.

                      The German 234/4 was very good, having 8 wheel drive plus 8 wheel steering, giving it a tighter turn radius, and it, too, came with a 75mm cannon making it very useful.

                      I have to refer back to an earlier post, however, and ask the same question: "best" at what? For scouting speed, mobility cross country, communication and light armament are all that is needed. If, however, your scouts are supposed to engage other units, then heavier armament is required, heavier armor and the whole paradigm changes. The ideal scout car is like a photo recon aircraft - too fast and maneuverable to need armament.

                      Overall, if I had to pick one to go to war in I would pick a German 234 series. Good characteristics all around.

                      It is interesting to note that 4G warfare has seen a rebirth of the armored car, culminating in America with the Stryker, although to my eye the Stryker is a big, boxy target and is actually classified as an AFV rather than an armored car. But that's a diverging subject.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                        Been a while since I thought about these things, but I seem to recall that the "heavy" version of the British AEC was equipped with a 75mm QF (quick firing) cannon and was quite useful in Africa despite its noted shortcomings.

                        The German 234/4 was very good, having 8 wheel drive plus 8 wheel steering, giving it a tighter turn radius, and it, too, came with a 75mm cannon making it very useful.

                        I have to refer back to an earlier post, however, and ask the same question: "best" at what? For scouting speed, mobility cross country, communication and light armament are all that is needed. If, however, your scouts are supposed to engage other units, then heavier armament is required, heavier armor and the whole paradigm changes. The ideal scout car is like a photo recon aircraft - too fast and maneuverable to need armament.

                        Overall, if I had to pick one to go to war in I would pick a German 234 series. Good characteristics all around.

                        It is interesting to note that 4G warfare has seen a rebirth of the armored car, culminating in America with the Stryker, although to my eye the Stryker is a big, boxy target and is actually classified as an AFV rather than an armored car. But that's a diverging subject.
                        If you look at the OOB of the British Recce Regt (Battalion in size) I posted above, the powers that be certainly preferred a/c's lighter than the AEC, aprox 2 per sqn, compared with 3 Staghounds, 11 2pdr A/C's and 13 mg S/C's.

                        The AEC's were there for firepower support. The heavy element originally had 4 towed 6pdr AT guns and 6 3" mortars, but it was found that these weapons could not be set up quickly enough, and so 6pdr AEC II was first introduced to replace the AT guns, and the III could replace both AT guns and mortars.

                        It should be noted that the OOB I have posted is almost certainly what was official, and not always standard. One regt used 3 M3 GMC 75mm instead of AEC's as an example.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

                          If you look at the OOB of the British Recce Regt (Battalion in size) I posted above, the powers that be certainly preferred a/c's lighter than the AEC, aprox 2 per sqn, compared with 3 Staghounds, 11 2pdr A/C's and 13 mg S/C's.

                          The AEC's were there for firepower support. The heavy element originally had 4 towed 6pdr AT guns and 6 3" mortars, but it was found that these weapons could not be set up quickly enough, and so 6pdr AEC II was first introduced to replace the AT guns, and the III could replace both AT guns and mortars.

                          It should be noted that the OOB I have posted is almost certainly what was official, and not always standard. One regt used 3 M3 GMC 75mm instead of AEC's as an example.

                          In the U.S. Army the line companies of the reconnaissance squadrons (battalion size) had the M8 armored car and jeeps to do the bulk of the recon work. The M8 with six wheels was often in the overwatch position while the jeeps did most of the closer work.

                          The U.S. didn't have the equivalent of the heavy armored cars the Brits and Germans had.

                          If more firepower was needed the U.S. squadrons had a company of M3/M5 light tanks and a company of M8 s.p. 75 mm howitzers that used the hull of the M5 light tank.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                            It would be much better to categorise them by the role they were intended to perform rather than the number of wheels. For example some were meant for forward recce and their job was not to fight but to get information back ASAP so speed was usually more important than being heavily armed, indeed having to fight meant that they were failing in their primary function. Some were effectively mobile forward observation posts and so having a low profile was important. Others were intended to provide protection for convoys of soft skinned vehicles and here armament and armour would be more important than speed.
                            I usually don't approve of posters moving thread-starter goal-posts to suit another agenda or recalibrating a question I asked (witness the predictable path my 'most versatile WWII aircraft' thread-starter took - it became a Mosquito discussion thread, just like I said it would).
                            However in this case I agree with you, let's categorize them by roles and performance not wheel numbers (sheesh, who came up with that one).

                            As you say recce was an important role. In some ways they were a modern version of light cavalry patrols and scouts used to probe enemy strength and identify enemy postions

                            In Tasmania they have a saying:
                            ‘The reason most people take an instant dislike to lodestar is that it saves time!’

                            Regards
                            lodestar

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lodestar View Post

                              I usually don't approve of posters moving thread-starter goal-posts to suit another agenda or recalibrating a question I asked (witness the predictable path my 'most versatile WWII aircraft' thread-starter took - it became a Mosquito discussion thread, just like I said it would).
                              However in this case I agree with you, let's categorize them by roles and performance not wheel numbers (sheesh, who came up with that one).

                              As you say recce was an important role. In some ways they were a modern version of light cavalry patrols and scouts used to probe enemy strength and identify enemy postions

                              In Tasmania they have a saying:
                              ‘The reason most people take an instant dislike to lodestar is that it saves time!’

                              Regards
                              lodestar
                              You may wish to read 'Only the Enemy in Front'. This concerns British Recce Regts, and does include copious opinions on kit used and required. One constant theme concerns their firepower, and its use to evade trouble quickly. These recce regts were effectively infantry battalions in afv's, but the additional firepower only exceeded a standard inf unit in its numbers of Brens and 2 pdrs. If we take this as an indicator of firepower a standard a/c needs, we should be looking at a vehicle with light (but fast) AT ability, plus the ability to give suppressive fire.
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