ARM: Review - M1935 Armoured Car in Canadian Service

Book Review: "Weapons of War" Series; 1935 Armoured Car in Canadian
Service by Roger V. Lucy; Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada, 2005; 24 pp. with B&W photos and one painting diagram; price
CDN $9.95; ISBN 1-894581-28-8
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Advantages: truly obscure subject, but presented in an interesting way
and in historical perspective
Disadvantages: may be too obscure for some modelers or armor history
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Canadian armour fans and armor fans in general
Everybody has to start somewhere - that's somewhat fatuous, but a
true statement when you consider how technology became inculcated in
modern societies. This little book from Canada, part of the continuing
and excellent series from Service Publications, covers a truly obscure
armored vehicle which appears to have been the seminal armored vehicle
produced in Canada.
During the 1930s, the USA, UK, and Germany were dabbling with new
armored vehicle designs, the French were determining the direction in
which they wanted to move, and only the USSR was plowing away full
steam on developing and building armored vehicles. Canada too decided
to dip its toe into the waters of modern armored combat, and the option
they chose was the creation of a heavy armored car. It must be noted
that it was proposed in 1927, but it was 1932 before any action was
taken on that proposal. Mechanization had begun in 1929, and the
natural place to turn was to Ford (Canada) and GM (Canada) as they had
both the expertise in mechanicals and the production capability to
carry this out.
Between 1932 and 1935, both companies proceeded to work on candidate
vehicles to meet the proposal for a 6 x 4 heavy armored car armed with
two .303 machine guns, and in 1935 prototype designs emerged. Based on
a 1931 Crossley 6 x 4 Light Armoured Car design, the chassis chosen
were the Ford BB 4 x 4 truck chassis and the Chevrolet Maple Leaf 4 x
4, both of which had a 131" wheelbase. Input was received from the War
Office in London as to designs of some components, specifically the
turrets, but the rest was of Canadian design.
While the Ford prototype had no problems in conversion to the dual
rear axle (similar to the Ford Model AAA truck design, but using a
Sussex bogie modified to become what was called the Warford axle bogie)
GM (Canada) did not have a bogie unit, and had to purchase one from
Leyland to meet the specifications. Most of the haggling was over price
and not technicalities, and the vehicles were deliveredto Petawawa,
Ontario, for testing in May 1935.
Both were similar, but the Ford design wound up being a 10 wheel
design whereas the GM one used six large "balloon" tires. Both used
stub axles with free rolling mounts located between the front wheels
and the first bogie axle. Both underwent two years of mechanical
testing before their machine guns showed up in 1937, one mounted in the
armored windscreen in front of the co-driver and one in the rotating UK
designed turret. Both provided valuable information, but were deemed
obsolete by 1939. While kept around for training, once the units they
were attached to deployed to the UK for wartime service, they seem to
have vanished from Canadian service and appear to have been scrapped
after 1941.
The concept is interested to compare with the Soviet BA-3/6/10 series
armored cars, which used the similar Ford AAA chassis, stub axles, and
rotating turret, but with a 45mm gun and coaxial machine gun. These
cars were used until 1942 in the west and later in the east, but it
shows that the Canadians weren't that far off the mark in 1935.
Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review copy.
Cookie Sewell
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