Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car Mk. IIIA (2cm Flak 38)

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Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car Mk. IIIA (2cm Flak 38)

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Vehicle design and service history:

In the early months of 1938, authorities in South Africa began funding the development of a new armoured car for their defence that could be manufactured locally. The initial progress was slow, but with the outbreak of the second world war, a vehicle was rapidly designed using the knockdown kits of the ford 3-ton truck chassis. This was due to SA completely lacking a locally developed automotive industry, leaving them dependent on imported vehicles to supplement their needs, with bodywork often done locally. The chassis was chosen, as it could be readily purchased from Ford Canada, which was further supplemented by a four-wheel drive train produced by the American firm Marmon-Herrington, resulting in its designation. The armament would be produced in the UK, except for the Browning machinegun, with only the armoured plates being produced locally at the South African Iron & Steel Industrial Corporation, ISCOR. With all the components accounted for the final assembly would then be done at the local manufacturing facility of the Dorman Long company, though it was designed in such a way that cottage industry production was possible as required.

Because of this simplified design the first version of the “South African Reconnaissance Vehicle” Mk I, was ready to enter service in 1940. The vehicle in question was a long-wheelbase four-wheel chassis, with the drive initially to only one axle. The armament was rather lacking, being just two Vickers machine guns, but even so it saw action against the Italians in the western desert before being swiftly relegated to training units, when the MK II became more readily available.

The MK II possessed a shorter wheelbase and was the first variant to be fitted with 4 wheel drive. This vehicle was known as the Armoured Car, Marmon-Herrington Mk II in British service. It was also known as the “Middle East Model” to denote it serving with the British in the North Africa Campaign. This variant was fitted with a Boys AT rifle, and a single coax Bren gun. A rarer variant was also made known as the Sub-Saharan Model, which was again armed with twin Vickers machine guns.

This Boys equipt variant would see extensive combat usage in North Africa, due to its reliability and large numbers. In 1941, the MK.II would see a revision to a similar MK.III variant, which possessed a slightly shorter wheelbase, a single rear door, no radiator grille and headlight covers. Due to the previous success in upgunning the Harrington and now with the addition of a fully traversable turret with a sufficiently large turret ring multiple more refined un-gunning projects took place. One such variant included the addition of a 2cm Flak 38, likely sourced from captured German or Italian stock, during the ever-shifting North African campaign. This variant was known to have served with the British in North Africa with at least one example captured by the Germans and later used in Greece in a secondary role. Unfortunately like the other up-gunned Harringtons, due to their unsanctioned nature Photographs are rather rare.

Vehicle specification:

Mass 6.4 tonnes

Length 15 ft (5.51 m)

Width 6 ft (1.83 m)

Height 7 ft (2.29 m)

Crew 4

Armour up to 20 mm

Main armament 1x 2cm Flak 38

Secondary armament: 1 x Bren gun

Engine Ford V-8 petrol (95 horsepower (71 kW))

Power/weight 14.2 hp/tonne

Suspension wheeled; 4 x 4 drive

Operational range 200 miles (322 km)

Maximum speed 50 mph (80 km/h)

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