Well-timed publication release coincides with two new plastic model kits of the Staghound; nice operational history of the Staghound
could probably have used some more comments on markings from a modeler's standpoint
Highly Recommended for all armored car and Commonwealth armor fans
There are few American weapons built during the Second World War which did not serve with the US Armed Forces in some way, shape or form. Even the P-63 Kingcobra had a number of aircraft serve as gunnery trainers. (There are others, such as the Martin Maryland and Baltimore, but those were designed for overseas sales and little used by the USAAF.)
The Staghound armored car is one of the few that was built and accepted for service with the US Army, but never used or wanted by them and thus nearly 100% of its considerable production run went to the Commonwealth for use as a heavy armored car. The US Army instead opted for the lighter M8 6 x 6 Armored Car and its companion M20 6 x 6 Armored Utility Car as they fit the US Army model for cavalry scouting vehicles. The US Army considered reconnaissance more important than combat, whereas the Commonwealth doctrine saw heavy armored cars used to engage light targets and provide infantry support.
The Staghound began as a 1941 US concept for a medium to heavy armored car, and was the 4 x 4 GM (Chevrolet) contender as the T17E1 versus a 6 x 6 vehicle dubbed the T17 from Ford. The T17E1 wsa determined to be the winner, but as it weighed nearly 14 tons (or more than the M3 light tank) it was considered as a "wheeled tank" by the Ordnance Board in November 1942. The British, thus far unable to come up with a suitable heavy armoured car design, liked what they saw and while under test order 2000 of them in February 1942. Overall, the British order ran to 2,687 Staghound armoured cars and 789 Staghound AA vehicles (T17E2) with an open turret and twin M2HB .50 caliber machine guns. These were delivered between October 1942 and December 1943.
The British developed four versions of the Staghound on the Chevrolet chassis: the Staghound I, armed with a 37mm gun in a three-man turret; the Staghound II, which replaced the 37mm gun with a British 3" howitzer; an American variant dubbed the T17E3 which was not further developed, which replaced the enclosed turret with the open turret from the M8 HMC with its 75mm howitzer; and the Staghound III, which swapped the 37mm turret for the complete turret from a Crusader Mk. III tank fitted with a 75mm gun.
The Canadians, via the Canadian Army Overseas or CAOS and as part of the Commonwealth forces, requested Staghounds in September 1942. The Canadian Fox I armoured car, a cross between a Humber armored car and a GMC truck chassis, was not suitable and they wanted to get a good, useful armored car for service in the ETO. Originally the Canadians wanted the T17 Ford armored car, but it was the loser in the US competition so they turned to the T17E1 as well. The Canadians eventually received enough Staghounds to equip two full regiments, the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons) and the 18th Armoured Car Regiment (12th Manitoba Dragoons), as well as several independent reconnaissance squadrons with divisions.
Changeover for British service to the vehicles was minor. All of the turreted vehicles were fitted with a 2" smoke mortar on the right front of the turret and the standard British No. 19 Radio Set (an HF AM set, unlike the standard US Army VHF FM radio sets in use and hence the necessary changes) in the turret bustle. Communications variants had their armament removed and were fitted with an American SCR-299 high power HF AM command set with a range of 200 kilometers. A turretless command variant, dubbed "Charger", was provided for regimental commanders.
Other options included the Bantu mine roller device, a roller system using electromagnets to detect buried mines but not set them off. The most useful device developed was a pair of 12 foot sections of No. 9 track bridge carried by one Staghound in a troop (three vehicles) that was useful for crossing ditches or short gaps. Other variants included rocket armed Staghounds with 60-lb rocket rails on the turret or a truly enterprising version with two 4-round "Land Mattress" launchers on the sides of the turret. These did have some problems, and Mr Lucy has included one photo of this vehicle with crushed rear fenders (mudguards) where the backblast of the rockets pressed them down.
Overall each of the regiments had a headquarters and four line squadrons of five line troops each with a total of 58 Staghound armored cars, two communications versions, and 5 AA Staghounds in its basic TO&E. There were also 8 Staghound II or III fire support vehicles per regiment. Later another 14 Staghounds were added for a total of 72.
The book covers the wartime exploits of the two regiments, and also provides a great selection of photos that should assist modelers in building up either the Bronco or Italeri kits of this neat little vehicle. They seem to indicate no two vehicles were the same nor did they receive the same modifications, with ammunition chests either welded to front fenders or in once case having the fenders cut out so the chests sit parallel to the ground. Markings details are somewhat sketchy but photos do give some indication on markings and locations, as they varied a great deal even with the two regiments. Photos of postwar Staghound use in Canada are also provided.
Overall, this is a very handy and timely book and one anyone building a Staghound model will want to get his hands on!