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Re: S.A. Recce Cars in Malaya

June 8 2014 at 6:12 PM
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Nelson  (no login)


Response to S.A. Recce Cars in Malaya

 
Jacques,

> The South African Reconnaissance Cars produced during WW2 were commonly known in the British forces (but incorrectly) as Marmon-Herrington Armoured Cars even when as in the Mark IVF, no Marmon-Herrington components were used. At least the Dutch got it sort-of right and the 49 received in the NEI were called "Zuid-Afrikaanse pantserauto's". >

A couple of things. Whatever one calls them---South African Reconnaissance Cars, Zuid-Afrikaanse Pantserautos (I have also seen Pantserwagens, which is correct?), or Marmon-Herrington Armoured Cars---I believe ALL cars purchased (from Britain) for the NEI were Mark IIIs, with the shorter wheelbase (297 cm versus the older 340 cm), but still with the Marmon-Herrington four-wheel drive kits. Which is to say that all of these armored cars except the Mark I were 4x4 vehicles (though many of the Mark IIIs had seen such extensive and intensive service in the Western Desert that their four-wheel-drive linkages were broken). Despite concentrating on tank* production, Marmon-Herrington did produce a relative few armored cars domestically, though as far as I know, ALL Marmon-Herrington-powered armored cars seeing service in the NEI were built in South Africa. The NEI had ordered a sizable number of Marmon-Herrington tanks*, though only a few were delivered at the 11th hour before the Japanese invasion, most being diverted elsewhere or the ships carrying them being sunk by the enemy.

> They were certainly not "best of breed" but were the best available at the time and some reports speak of as many as 175 Mark IIIs shipped to Malaya during the latter part of 1941. (I seriously doubt this!) >

Well, hold on here. There were reportedly 6230 Mark IIIs built, so is 175 such an unlikely number? Perhaps the real question is how many of the 175 vehicles actually reached Singapore.

> Because of the simple commercial chassis and drivetrain, they proved reliable, easy to maintain and to operate - strange then that the 3rd Indian Cavalry managed to wipe out 13 of their 16 cars in accidents! I count 16 in this photo of Mk IIIs (sans armament) at Singapore, December 1941. >

Reports are that the vast majority of the Indian drivers had only their learner's permits. [For this snarky to work, everyone has to understand what a leaner's permit is. In North America, it's the permit issued to a learning driver, almost always a teenager. Such a permit does not allow the tyro to operate a motor vehicle alone, but he or she must be accompanied by a licensed driver aged 21 or older, sitting in the opposite front seat. The learner's parent may renew the permit if he or she feels the fledgling driver is not ready to face the driving exam.] Okay, see....the Indian drivers had only learner's permits....[no laughter from the tough crowd here].

*Methinks Pat Brennan and I would have REAL fun over the question of whether the tracked Marmon-Herringtons were REAL tanks! Maybe the more fascinating question is just how the USMC convinced itself to purchase such a sizable number of these...um...tanks.

Nelson

 
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  • transpositis... - Nelson on Jun 8, 2014, 11:24 PM
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