Vehicle design and service history:
During the North Africa campaign, British forces found the 2-pounder gun mounted in their armoured cars and cruiser tanks in service at the time lacking for knocking out German and Italian armour at range, necessitating an increase in firepower. This necessitated a series of up-gunning programs for existing vehicles using the QF 6-pounder, and the AEC was no exception. This new variant the MK II encountered teething issues during testing, as the projected delays called for a stop-gap measure to be implemented until the problems with manufacturing could be resolved.
This resulted in an order being placed with South African manufacturers in early 1942 to produce a turret of a similar design to those being tested for South African Heavy Armoured Car Mark V which at the time was in development. Due to the promise of fast manufacture, an initial order for 30 turrets, christened the “Griffin” were immediately placed, though the taint of manufacturing issues seemed to follow the project from the malingering AEC MK II.
The Griffin Turret mounted an artillery-pattern 6-pounder in a large but thinly armoured turret, similar to those used on later Marmon-Herrington Armoured Cars. This should have made the design easy to enter production, but this would not be the case, and the delay to production equalled that of what the AEC MK II was experiencing. An initial pilot tank was assembled in situ, and was then tested by the Mechanisation Experimental Establishment in North Africa. This design was deemed satisfactory for needs at the time, as it represented a great improvement over the Deacon MK I then in service, and the conversion of an additional 30 AEC MK I armoured cars was approved.
This number would never be completed though, as the scheme was only partially fulfilled, though Griffin turreted AEC armoured cars would go on to serve with British forces in the Middle East. These armoured cars would go on to be frequently misidentified as AEC cars sporting the turrets of crusader MK III tanks, a modification lacking any actual documentation or evidence of tanking place. This is likely a misconception caused by the modification of Staghound Armoured cars in late 1944 to 1945 mounting the crusader MK III turret in an attempt to upgun that line of armoured cars, due to the similar profiles present on both turrets. Regardless by the time production on the Griffin turret became readily available, the issues with the AEC MK II had been ironed out, and the AEC Griffin would only see limited service in British service in the middle east, as little more than a foot note.
Mass 11 long tons (12 short tons; 11 t)
Length 17 ft (5.2 m)
Width 9 ft (2.7 m)
Height 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m)
Armour 16–65 mm (0.63–2.56 in)
Main armament QF 6 pounder
Secondary armament 1 × Besa machine gun,
Engine AEC 195 diesel 105 bhp (78 kW)
Power/weight 9.5 hp/tonne
Suspension wheel 4×4
Operational range 250 mi (400 km)
Maximum speed 36 mph (58 km/h)
Page six of David Fletcher’s Universal tank pt 2 :
AEC Armoured Car Mark II (6-pdr) - actual usage? | WW2Talk (Forum that first clued me in to this armoured cars existence)