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Crossley Armored Car

Six-Wheeled Light Armored Scout / Security Vehicle [ 1931 ]

The Crossley Armored Car line saw service throughout the 1930s but was serving in a training role by the start of World War 2.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/13/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Crossley Armored Car was the first 6x6 wheeled armored car adopted for service in the British Army (1927). The type's three axle arrangement offered improved cross-country performance over the World War 1-inspired 4x4 wheeled forms prevalent through most of the interwar years. The Crossley series served from its adoption in 1931 up until 1940 to which, by this time, it had been relegated to training duty during the early years of World War 2 (1939-1940).

The Crossley existed as part of a new generation of British armored cars and based on a patented six-wheeled truck chassis designed and developed by the Royal Army Service Corps. For the new armored car, the chassis retained its 6x6 wheeled arrangement and to this was added an armored superstructure. The turret of the Mark II Light Tank was used to house the primary armament of 1 x 0.303 Vickers machine gun. A secondary machine gun was fitted to a limited-traverse gun port at the front of the superstructure. The driver sat at front-right with the secondary gunner to his left. The turret was fitted over the cabin roof with a full 360-degree traversal (manually-powered). The standard operating crew was initially three in the pilot vehicles but this then increased to four with the production forms. Side hinged doors offered the necessary entry/exit and any personal weapons carried by the crew could also be brought into play during a firefight.

Overall, the Crossley maintained a traditional automobile arrangement with the engine in a frontal compartment aspirated through a grille system at front. Road wheels were large, solid-rimmed, and rubber-tired with a steerable front axle and two fixed axle pairs seated under the mass of the car rear. Fenders were affixed overall all wheel installations to prevent the kick-up of mud. The armored superstructure made up of riveted plates and covered all major components. Vision for the crew was through small vision slits while the driver's position held a hinged visor which could be opened for a broader field-of-view. Armor protection reached 7mm in thickness.

Crossley Motors of Manchester handled construction of the chassis (hence the car's name) with the vehicles then sent to Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich to have their armor plating installed. Power was through a Crossley 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, gasoline-fueled engine of 26 horsepower mated to a manual transmission system featuring four forward speeds and a single reverse speed. The chassis was suspended through a leaf spring arrangement across all six wheels. Road speeds reached 40-45 miles per hour with a road range out to 200 miles.

The Crossley/Royal Ordnance Factory venture initially produced two pilot vehicles from the developmental "D2E2". Five production quality forms (as the "Armored Car, Crossley Mk I) then followed and these equipped the 11th Hussars and the 12th Lancers regiments from 1928 onwards - who gave up their horses in turn, a mechanizing of the storied British cavalry regiments. With formal introduction in 1931, the cars were deployed to Egypt where they fared rather poorly, primarily due to the operating climate - the hot and dry environment wreaked havoc on the engine and its associated, oil-lubricated parts. Additionally, the 26-horsepower engine proved too underpowered with the operating weight of the vehicle (9,000 unloaded, 10,800 loaded) and its hefty armored superstructure - a common failure of nearly all of the early armored cars. Cooling flaps were added over the radiator on these models for some relief and chains fitted over the rear wheels for improved traction on loose terrain but, by and large, Army units decided against their long-term operation in the theater - the cars resided for long periods in disuse and kept under cover for the most part.

With the limited value these cars held in Egypt, the stock was returned to home soil where they were then pressed into service as training platforms in the lead-up to World War 2. Britain joined the war in September of 1939 with the invasion of Poland. The cars did not see much use beyond 1940.

A complete example of the Crossley Armored Car Mk I exists in its Egyptian form at the Bovington Tank Museum of Southwest England. The radiator cooling fins and rear wheel chain tracks are clearly visible in this example.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

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United Kingdom


Crossley Motors / Royal Ordnance Factory - UK
(View other Vehicle-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Armored Car
Design, of typically lightweight nature, providing onroad/offroad capabilities for the scouting or general security roles.
Can conduct reconnaissance / scout missions to assess threat levels, enemy strength, et al - typically through lightweight design.
Special Purpose
Special purpose design developed to accomplish an equally-special battlefield role or roles.

6.3 ft
1.93 m
7.9 ft
2.4 m
7.9 ft
2.42 m
10,803 lb
4,900 kg
5.4 tons
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Crossley Armored Car Mk I production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: 1 x Crossley 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled gasoline engine of 26 horsepower.
40.4 mph
(65.0 kph)
198.8 mi
(320.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Crossley Armored Car Mk I production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
1 x 0..303 Vickers machine gun in turret
1 x 0.303 Vickers machine gun in front-left bow hull position.

Supported Types

Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
2,000 x 0.303 ammunition (estimated)

Crossley Armored Car - Base Series Designation; based on the Crossley D2E2 design.
Crossley Armored Car Mk I - Production form numbering five examples.
Armored Car, Crossley Mk I - Long-form designation

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