Morris Light Reconnaissance Car (LRC)
Fast Armored Car
The Morris Light Reconnaissance Car was developed as a Home Defence vehicle but saw considerable service overseas during the fighting of World War 2.
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Light reconnaissance vehicles were crucial to battlefield success in the World War 2 period (1939-1945). To fulfill this requirement, all major fighting participants of the conflict utilized some form of vehicle for the role. For the British, the Morris Light Reconnaissance Car (LRC) became just one of several fielded - but this type was hastily developed during 1940 as a Homeland Defence instrument to help shore up losses of armor in the desperate British departure from France back in May of that year (during the famous "Miracle of Dunkirk").
Even as British industry worked to develop long-term solutions for the military, local, smaller firms were pushed by the government to come up with cheaper, viable products to help defend the British mainland from enemy invasion - which was a very real threat following the fall of France, Norway, Belgium and the rest of the Low Countries. Morris Motors Ltd drew up plans for what became the Morris LRC in short order, relying on existing, off-the-shelf components as a cost-effective measure to bring the crude compact vehicle about.
A basic four-wheeled chassis was at the heart of the car's arrangement though the engine (an in-house Morris 4-yclinder gasoline unit of 72 horsepower output) was relocated to the rear and a crew compartment set at the front-middle. Interestingly, all three crewmen were seated shoulder-to-shoulder across the beam of the car - this to add to the already-cramped operating conditions of the lightly armored hull superstructure - with the driver positioned at center. Hinged doors along the sides of the hull offered basic entry-exit and hatches gave access to the armament fit over the hull.
Primary armament fitted was the 0.55in Boys Anti-Tank Rifle (ATR) set in an emplacement over the left of the hull roof while a 0.303 caliber BREN Light Machine Gun (LMG) was installed in a turret over the right of the hull roof. This provided the vehicle with a relatively effective arrangement against lightly-armored enemy vehicles as well as infantry. The ATR was installed over the radioman's position and operated by the left-hand-side crewmember. Double hatches gave access to the heavy rifle which could be positioned to fire forwards or backwards depending on the situation.
The initial Mark I production model had only rear-wheel drive power, limiting its tactical usefulness to an extent, and the Mark I OP offshoot was a developed "Observation Post" model sans its turret but fielding a pair of rangefinders. The Mark II rectified the drive limitation of the Mk I by introducing four-wheel drive capability. Beyond this, the line existed in several notable, yet unfulfilled, prototypes that included the Morris Experimental Tank (fitting two complete turrets), the "Firefly" (the bow had a 6-pdr field gun), the "Salamander" (two-seat model with single roof-mounted turret), and the "Glanville Fighter Car" (single-seat model with two machine guns in fixed mountings). None of the prototypes were evolved into operational forms.
The Morris LRC was utilized by British forces where it was needed - in Tunisia of the North African Campaign, along the West Front of Europe, and in the Middle East Theater. Polish forces were also handed the type. Total production of the series reached over 2,200 in all.