|Ford Motor Company
Contributor: Alan Chanter
ww2dbaseThe US M8 armoured car, which would become the US Armyâ€™s most important armoured car of the war, started life as a design for a wheeled tank destroyer mounting the 37mm tank gun. This was originally intended to be a replacement for the 37mm-Gun Motor Carriage M6 (an anti-tank gun on an unarmoured Â¾-ton truck) but, by early 1942 it had become apparent, following American observation of operational trends in Europe, that there would be no requirement for such a vehicle and the specification was therefore reclassified to that of a light armoured car.
ww2dbase The T22 prototype was designed by the Ford Motor Company, in competition with other 6x4 and 4x4 designs submitted by Studebaker and Fargo. In any event only two armoured car designs would be accepted for series production-the General Motors' T17E1 and Fordâ€™s T22, modified as T22E2, and it was this last, that in June 1942 became standardized as the M8. Production commenced in March 1943.
ww2dbaseThe M8 was a six wheeled six-wheel-drive (6x6) vehicle with an all steel welded body, on top of which a round manually operated open-topped turret, mounted a 37mm M6 Tank gun with an elevation of +20 degrees, a depression of -10 degrees and a turret traverse of a full 360 degrees. Eighty rounds of 37mm ammunition were carried. Secondary armament consisted of a 0.30-inch Browning co-axial machine gun and a 0.50-in heavy machine gun on a mounting on the turret top.
ww2dbaseThe four man crew consisted of a driver and co-driver/bow gunner who were seated in the front of the hull (on the right and left respectively), and a gunner and vehicle commander who were located in the turret. The Hercules petrol engine and transmission were located at the rear of the hull.
ww2dbaseThe M8 was the most widely-used American armoured car during the Second World War. It was accompanied in service by the mechanically identical Armoured Utility Car M20, which was simply the M8 without the turret but with a ring-mounted machine gun positioned on a raised centre section of the hull. The M20 was normally employed as a command vehicle or personnel carrier and could carry up to six men, according to function.
ww2dbaseThe M8 (but not the M20) was also purchased by the United Kingdom (despite some initial concerns about its thin armour) for use by British and Commonwealth Armies. These were employed in action mainly in the Italian campaign towards the end of the war. Named Greyhound in British service, the M8's characteristics were summarized by one Armoured Car Regiment as having a magnificent cross-country performance and being capable of crossing Class 9 bridges, but being found to be difficult to reverse and extremely vulnerable to damage from mines (the thin steel floor armour, only 1/8 to Â¼-inch thick, having frequently to be reinforced with sandbags to provide adequate protection for the carâ€™s crew). Despite this, Greyhounds crews soon began to recognize it as a superb vehicle, appreciating particularly the excellent cross-country mobility, low silhouette which made concealment easy, and the useful 37mm gun which enabled it to deal with any similar enemy vehicle if needed.
ww2dbaseBy the last month of the war, when production was finally terminated, some 8,523 M8s and 3,791 M20s had been manufactured by the Ford Motor Company at their St. Paul Factory in Minnesota, United States. In post-war years the US and British Armies disposed of all their M8s, but large numbers were still in service throughout the world, notably in many African and Latin American countries for many decades thereafter. In post-war service many M8s underwent modifications including the fitting of a diesel engine, installation of a TOW anti-tank rocket launcher and replacement of the 37mm gun with a 12.7mm machine gun.
ww2dbaseAlthough it is doubtful that any M8s still remain today in active service, whilst researching for this WW2DB article, I did come across a list of countries which maintained stocks (either active or in reserve) at least until 1994. For information these were: Benin, Columbia, Gabon, Greece, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Taiwan (Republic of China), and Venezuela.
Ian V. Hogg & John Weeks, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles (Hamlyn, 1980)
Collins/Janes Modern Tanks (Harper-Collins, 1995)
B. T. White, Tanks and other Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1942-45 (Blandford Press, 1975)
Philip Trewhitt, Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Dempsey-Parr 1999)
Bob Connor & Bruce Rea-Taylor, Modern Equipment Handbook Part One (Tabletop Games, August 1994)
Last Major Revision: Jan 2012
|One 5,245cc Hercules JXD 6-cylinder petrol engine rated at 110hp
|1x37mm gun M6, 1x7.62mm co-axial Browning machine gun, 1x12.7mm heavy anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the turret top
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