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Peerless Armored Car

Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV)

The British Peerless Armored Car was born from the American Peerless truck series and armed with machine guns for service during the Interwar years.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 6/1/2016
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1919
Manufacturer(s): Peerless Motor Car Company - USA / Austin Motor Company - UK
Production: 25
Capabilities: Reconnaissance (RECCE); Security/Defense;
Crew: 4
Length: 20.08 ft (6.12 m)
Width: 7.32 ft (2.23 m)
Height: 9.09 ft (2.77 m)
Weight: 8 tons (6,909 kg); 15,232 lb
Power: 1 x Peerless gasoline engine developing 40 horsepower.
Speed: 16 mph (25 kph)
Range: 90 miles (145 km)
Operators: Ireland; United Kingdom
Prior to the arrival of the "tank" and trench warfare in World War 1, the Armored Car proved a viable battlefield implement due to their inherent mobility and armament-carrying capabilities. However, limitations were apparent, particularly across uneven terrain and their tactical effectiveness suffered as a result. The armored car generally consisted of a fixed armored superstructure fitted atop an existing automobile or truck chassis and were never wholly perfected for military service. The British adopted several forms in The Great War such as the American Peerless truck in 1915, appropriately modified for the role by way of armor and machine guns.

At the end of the war, the armored car was still en vogue as it remained a relatively inexpensive war machine, proved effective enough and could also provide security in support across the vast British colonial holdings. 1919 gave rise to an all-new design, this also based on the Peerless truck, and eventually christened as the "Peerless Armoured Car". The armored superstructure was developed by the Austin Motor Company and armament consisted of two machine guns for the crew of four.

These vehicles retained their Peerless 40 horsepower engines in their front compartments. The armored superstructure was set atop the chassis and made up the driving compartment, fighting compartment and provided protection to the engine. Road speeds could reach 16 miles per hour (due to their weight) and operational ranges peaked at 90 miles. The rear axle sported a double-tired arrangement to compensate for the added weight of the armor and weaponry. The rear of the vehicle was open-air in its design with alleviated some of the weight. All tires were solid rubber with metal, spoked rims. The vehicle measured a length of 20 feet, a width of 7 feet, 4 inches and a height of 9 feet. Armor protection was 10mm at its thickest. Armament included 2 x 7.7mm Hotchkiss machine guns, each weapon set within individual traversable turrets in a side-by-side arrangement. The turrets were seated atop cylindrical housings aft of the driver's compartment. The compartment featured hinged rectangular doors and flip-up armored vision visors. The driving controls were copied at the rear of the vehicle so the car could easily speed away from trouble without turning itself completely around. Crude by modern standards, the Peerless was nonetheless the accepted armored car form of the period.

In practice, the Peerless series proved adequate though it still suffered from the limitations seen in its war time counterparts - mainly in off-road travel endeavors which required a durable suspension system and a lightweight design. They proved largely ponderous in the action they did encounter and were relegated largely to security duty as was the case in Ireland. Indeed some seven examples were featured in the Irish Civil War. In time, several offshoots of the basic Peerless model arrived including an up-gunned variant mounting a 3" cannon while a 13-pounder gun served an anti-aircraft version. The Leyland Armored Car shared some history with the Peerless for a 1935 Irish initiative saw the armored superstructure of the Peerless set atop the chassis of a Leyland "Terrier" truck to which a Landsverk L60 series gun turret was added as primary armament. Four examples were modified in this way. Additionally, about fourteen remaining Peerless vehicles saw their machine gun turrets removed and installed atop the chassis of a Ford design to create the Ford Mk V Armored Car of 1940.

While wholly outmoded by the time of World War 2, Peerless Armored Cars were still in existence though their battlefield value by this time was extremely limited.


1 x 0.303" (7.7mm) Hotchkiss machine gun in left turret.
1 x 0.303" (7.7mm) Hotchkiss machine gun in right turret.

3" main gun
13-pounder main gun (AA variant)


Variants / Models

• Peerless Armored Car - Base Series Designation
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