Armoured Car, Daimler, Mark II (E1963.20)
Production ran to some 2,694 vehicles and this is an example of the Mark II version which had improved cooling and better escape facilities for the driver. In both versions there was a rear driver's position to enable the car to reverse quickly out of a tricky situation. The gearbox allowed the car to be driven easily in each direction.
Daimler armoured cars saw service in all theatres of war starting in 1941 and proved to be extremely popular. Our exhibit, like many others of this type, remained in service for some years after the war when new features such as the multi-barrel smoke grenade dischargers were fitted.
Precise Name: Armoured Car Daimler Mark II
Other Name: Tank, Light, Wheeled, BSA
The Daimler Armoured Car proved to be a versatile and successful vehicle, serving with the British Army in all theatres of war from 1941 and remaining in service for some years after World War II.
The BSA Company started design work in 1939 and the vehicle was originally ordered as the ‘Tank, Light, Wheeled, BSA’. BSA was taken over by the British Daimler Company shortly afterwards. The design of the Armoured Car had much in common with BSA’s Dingo Scout Car: they both had a hull of welded construction without a separate chassis and four wheel drive via a Wilson Pre-Selector gearbox and a fluid fly wheel. (See E1985.96 Car Scout Daimler Mark II). All four wheels were fitted with independent suspension. The wheel hubs contained the final reduction gears and all wheels were fitted with disc brakes. The engine was mounted in the rear of the hull. A steering wheel was fitted in the rear of the crew compartment to allow the commander to take over the vehicle for rapid driving in reverse, enabling a quick exit from a tactically exposed position. Overall the design was probably the most technically advanced wheeled AFV of World War II.
The prototype was fitted with two Besa machine guns but production vehicles carried a turret mounting a 2 pounder (calibre 40mm) gun and a co-axial Besa machine gun. These were the first British armoured cars to carry a high velocity gun. Towards the end of World War II some 2pdr guns were fitted with the ‘Littlejohn Adapter’, a device that narrowed the bore of the gun towards the muzzle. Firing special projectiles it greatly increased the muzzle velocity of the gun and the penetrative power of the projectile. As an experiment a small number of vehicles mounted a 3 inch howitzer for close support work. Others, used as command vehicles in Northwest Europe, had the turret removed.
The Mark I Armoured Car was succeeded in production by an improved variant, the Mark II. Changes included an escape hatch in the roof of the driver’s compartment, a revised gun mounting, and a new type of radiator and armoured grill at the rear. A total of 2,694 vehicles were produced.
The Tank Museum’s example is a Mark II. It is painted in the markings of a unit that served in the successful counter insurgency operations against communist terrorists in Malaya in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The multi-barrel smoke grenade launchers fitted to the turret were a post-war modification.
British Tanks and Fighting Vehicles 1914-1945; B.T. White; SBN 7110 0123 5; Ian Allan, London, 1970
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0