Armoured Car Lanchester, Mark II (E1949.332)
Taking advantage of the long chassis, the armoured hull and turret were enormous and contained three machine-guns. Yet the Lanchesters were much too big for reconnaissance duties, being almost impossible to turn around in narrow roads. For this reason a rear steering position was provided and the cars had detachable tracks which fitted over the rear wheels to assist them over rough country. They were also extremely expensive and the War Office was soon looking for something cheaper.
Thirty-nine armoured Lanchesters were built, starting in 1928, and they were issued to the newly mechanised cavalry regiments. They spent most of their time in Britain although in 1935 the 12th Lancers took some cars out to the Saarland and a few were tested in the Middle East. The cars were used for training in the early years of the war and one was converted into a secure VIP transport for use in London. A few were still operating in Malaya in 1941 with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; these ultimately fell into Japanese hands.
Restoration : 18 Command Workshops, REME, February 1979
One of a contract for four Lanchester Mark IIs (V2247) dated 13th July 1931 (see 623.438(41) Vehicle Numbers, 7 & 8). Gives details of vehicle's plaque and states that car was at Woolwich during the Second World War. Plaque (removed) read:: "The engine of this Lanchester Armoured Car was restored to running condition by 18 Command Workshop REME 19 February 1979"
Chassis No. LAC 34
Precise Name: Armoured Car Lanchester Mark II
Early British armoured cars were based on a four-wheel chassis and had a relatively poor off road performance. The Royal Army Service Corps (RAOC) developed and patented a six wheel chassis for military vehicles in 1927. It was adopted by a number of vehicle builders and was used on the majority of British Army lorries over the next ten years.
It was thought that the six wheel chassis would give better cross-country performance so several types of armoured car were built on the six wheel chassis. One of these was based on a chassis developed by the Lanchester Motor Co. It was fitted with a standard Lanchester 40hp six-cylinder engine although the 6x4 configuration was a new venture for them. The two driven rear axles were based on the RAOC patented system. Some of the Lanchesters were fitted with a more powerful engine that developed 60hp.
The long chassis was fitted with a large armoured body that mounted two machine guns in a turret as well as a third, optional, hull mounted gun. The Lanchesters turned out to be much too big for reconnaissance duties and were almost impossible to turn around on the narrow roads found in Britain at that time. In an effort to solve this problem they were fitted with a rear facing steering position. In an attempt to improve their cross-country performance the cars carried detachable tracks that could be fitted over the rear four wheels to create a makeshift half-track.
Four prototypes were built in 1927 (the D1E1 and D1E2). Thirty five more Lanchesters were built in four versions but the War Office considered the vehicles to be too expensive for large scale use. The differences between the versions were relatively minor:
· The Mark I had dual rear wheels and a circular flat topped cupola for the commander, 18 produced
· The Mark IA resembled the Mark I but carried a Number 9 radio set in place of the hull mounted machine gun, 4 built
· The Mark II had single rear wheels and a cupola with sloping sides, seven built
· The Mark IIA resembled the Mark II but carried a Number 9 radio instead of the hull mounted machine gun, six produced
Initially the cars were issued to the 12th Lancers who used them in the UK but also took a small number the Saarland in 1935. A small number were tested in the Middle East. The cars were used for training in the late 1930s and a few were sent to Malaya where they served with various volunteer units and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1941/42. The survivors fell into Japanese hands. One car was converted into a secure vehicle for VIPs and was used in London.
The Tank Museum’s exhibit was built under a contract placed in 1931 and was restored by 18 Command Workshop Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in February 1979.
Fletcher D.; Mechanised Force, British tanks between the wars; ISBN 0 11 290487 4; HMSO, London, 1991
White B. T.; British Tanks and Fighting Vehicles 1914-1945; SBN 7110 0123 5; Ian Allan, London, 1970.
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0