Standard Beaverette Mk III AA with Boulton-Paul type A turret
Vehicle Design and Service History:
The Standard Car 4x2,/ Car Armoured Light Standard, or more commonly known as the Standard Beaverette, was one of the more mass-produced British improvised armoured cars produced during the course of the Second World War. The first version of the vehicle was built by the Standard Motor Company at the instigation of Lord Beaverbrook, who at the time was the minister of Aircraft production. The vehicle was based on a commercial car chassis, on which a simple rivetted armoured hull was mounted. The armoured hull was composed of 11mm of steel backed by 3-inch thick oak planks, which covered the front and sides leaving the vehicle open at the top and rear. The armament consisted of a Bren Light machine gun which was fired through a slot in the casemate armour.
This initial vehicle was only a temporary solution though, as in the dark days after the Dunkirk evacuation, nearly all British armour had been lost or expended, necessitating a stopgap machine to be made. The mk1 and 2 Beaverettes were simply to serve the gap of urgently needed armoured vehicles for the British army, home guard and RAF Regiment, in what was thought to be an impeding threat of German invasion and the expected fifth column activity that would surely follow. Because of this, when the situation began to stabilize after the battle of Britain, A new and improved MK III Beaverette was conceived. With a more workmanlike vehicle being proposed based on the Standard 45 hp chassis which would be called the Beaverbug. This new design was rapidly developed, as it went from the drawing board to a manufactured prototype in just ten days, which was 2 and a half times longer than it had taken to initially design the MK I Beaverette.
Changes included the addition of all-round protection for the crew, along with a machine gun turret, which would either be enclosed with a Bren MG or open-topped mounting a pair of Vickers machine guns. Some vehicles were also modified to carry Boys’ anti-tank rifles. The chassis was also shortened along with a redesigned hull, which removed the curved front wings that had been held over from the civilian nature of the original chassis. Contemporary reports for the time praised the new design and reported that the vehicle was capable of touching the 60-mark [60 mph (97 km/h) on roads, though in service its top speed was severely limited due to the abysmal visibility for the driver inside the vehicle, leaving him dependant on the other two crewmen in order to correctly manoeuvre.
The Standard Beaverette Mk III AA was an attempt to increase the firepower of these vehicles, while also using up production capacity for aircraft turrets. The firm Boulton Paul Aircraft obtained a pair of MK.III Beaverettes and experimentally installed a type A Mk II four-gun turret in place of the hand-powered turret. The fitment was far from ideal, being found to be extremely tight, with the lower turret overhanging the flat top of at each side by fractions of an inch, with the inside space also made rather tight in order to accommodate the electrical rotation joints and ammunition bins/case collector bags. This turreted configuration just from the turret alone increased the weight by 133 kilograms, rising to 275 kilograms with the addition of guns and ammunition, rendering the armoured car rather top-heavy. This additional weight also hampered the light armoured car’s performance, and though one prototype was built and tested, production was not authorized rendering this a unique one-off prototype.
This setback did not stop the Beaverette from seeing extensive service though, as the Home Guard (United Kingdom), British Army and RAF Regiment used them to great effect for home defence service and training. A notable highlight was the capture of a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the destruction of another when they landed at RAF West Malling in April 1943. The reports of poor handling and excessive weight failed to hamper the Beaverette’s service and by the time production ceased in 1942, around 2,800 units had been completed and delivered.
Weight: 3.175 tonnes
Length: 3.10 m
Width: 1.73 m
Height: 2.30 m
Crew: 3 (driver, gunner and commander)
Armour: Mk III: 11mm of steel, backed by 3-inch thick oak planks
Main armament: Four Brownings 0.303 (7.7 mm) in a Boulton-Paul turret type A
Engine: Standard 4-cylinder petrol engine 46 hp (34 kW)
Power/weight: 14.4 hp/tonne
Suspension: 4x2 wheel, leaf spring
Operational range: 280 km
Speed: 60 mph (96.5 kph) on the road
24 mph ( 38 km/h) off-road
Additional photos and images:
- Panzerserra Bunker- Military Scale Models in 1/35 scale: Beaverette Mk III AA with Boulton-Paul type A turret (Source with lots of images and history)
- Mk.IX Armoured Car (Standard Beaverette in Irish Service) - Tank Encyclopedia (Additional info on beaverettes)
- Standard Beaverette - Wikipedia (Wiki page for the standard Beaverettes)
- Standard Beaverette Light Armored Car Mark III | The World War II Multimedia Database (additional source on top speed)
- https://en.topwar.ru/122293-broneavtomobili-standard-beaverette-velikobritaniya.html (Another source for higher topspeed)
- Standard Beaverette (1940) (Old tank encyclopedia source)
- Standard Beaverette (Additional source)