The M38 was intended as a replacement for the ubiquitous, go-anywhere, do-anything M8 Greyhound series of armored reconnaissance scout cars that gave sterling service for the Allied powers throughout World War 2. Scout cars, as battlefield implements, were lightly armored machines with equally light armament fittings, allowing them to reconnoiter territories ahead of the main force and utilize their speed to escape trouble. Such vehicles were armed with small-caliber machine guns and even cannon to deal with light threats but direct contact with enemy units was not usually in the best interest of the crew. The M38 was born in a 1944 initiative that looked to improve upon the Greyhound's inherent qualities and modernized the breed based on battlefield experience. The idea being to produce an end-product scout car with excellent off road and on road capabilities through the utilization of six powered road wheels and excellent range. Armament would again be more defensive-minded in nature for the simple purpose of self-preservation.
Design of the M38 was conventional and her most defining design characteristic were her three pairs of large rubber road wheels to a hull side. The chassis was mounted high off the ground to allow for maximum clearance over uneven terrain. Each wheel was held under a fender covering to control mud dispersal. The glacis plate was well sloped with the front of the vehicle coming to a sharp point to aid in basic ballistics deflection. A turret was fitted at the center hull roof to allow for unfettered, 360-degree traversal when engaging targets. Consistent with other vehicles of this type, armor for the M38 was relatively thin within the range of 6mm to 12mm, enough to provide some protection from small arms fire and battlefield "spray" from explosive projectiles landing nearby. The driver was seated in a position to the front left of the hull. Total operating crew was four personnel to include the driver, commander, gunner and loader. Operational weight was just under 7 tons with a running length of 5.11 meters, width of 2.44 meters and overall height of 1.98 meters.
Armament was held within the traversing turret emplacement and primarily operated by the gunner/gun layer and commander. Primary armament was a 37mm M6 gun that could penetrate lightly armored targets and fire both an armored piercing projectile or high-explosive round. Armored piercing projectiles were naturally used against targets protected over in armor where its penetrative abilities were required whereas high-explosive shells were used against "soft" targets and infantry concentrations. Secondary armament was a .30 caliber Browning M1919A4 general purpose machine gun in a coaxial mounting next to the main gun, this also controlled by the gunner. The .30 caliber machine gun was suitable for use against infantry and utilized when the 37mm main gun was deemed overkill. The commander managed a .50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine gun against both lightly-armored land targets and low flying enemy attack aircraft. Smoke grenade dischargers were installed to allow the M38 the ability to generate its own smoke screen. 93 x 37mm projectiles were kept in tow as were 440 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, 1,750 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition and up to 18 smoke grenades.
Power was supplied by a single Cadillac 42 series V8, water-cooled, gasoline-powered engine developing up to 110 horsepower. This provided the platform with a top road speed of 60 miles per hour with an operational range of nearly 300 miles. Of course, these values dropped off considerably when going it off road (35 mph) where uneven terrain expectedly worked against the vehicle. The engine was mated to a Hydra-Matic transmission system. All wheels in the 6x6 wheel arrangement were suspended along independent swing arm suspension fittings and evenly positioned for excellent cross-country capabilities and displacement was evenly distributed across the six ground points. The two front axles controlled vehicle turning.
The M38 initially existed in pilot (prototype) form as the "T38". The M38 Wolfhound was formally selected as a replacement for the M8 Greyhound series in March of 1945. The Chevrolet Division of the General Motors Corporation was tapped for its production. However, the war in Europe was slowly coming to a close by that time and, in May of 1945, Germany officially capitulated after the suicide death of Adolf Hitler and mounting losses in the East and West Fronts. As such, production of the M38 was essentially limited to just a few pilot vehicles though no production forms. The Wolfhound program, designed to deliver a product no longer required by the US Army, was officially canceled in full with the outcome of the war now firmly held in check. In essence, it suffered the fate of many of the late-war programs then in development as the American war machine settled down.
Some modifications of the M38 were undertaken during its development and one notable result was in the fitting of the M24 Chaffee Light Tank turret to the chassis of the M38, producing an armored scout car fielding a capable 75mm M6 L/39 main gun - a vast improvement over the original's 37mm armament. Other than that, the M38's claim to fame was slim, falling mostly to the pages of military history.
Manufacturing Chevrolet Division of General Motors - USA
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