AEC Armoured Car Mark II (6-pdr) - actual usage?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Gary Kennedy, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I'm trying to address my shortcomings in British wheeled armour and have come up against the AEC Mark II.

    The AEC appears in three Marks during the war;

    The Mark I mounted the 2-pdr gun, and was introduced in late 1941/early 1942 it appears.

    The Mark II mounted the 6-pdr gun, and I've no idea when it appeared.

    The Mark III mounted the 75-mm gun and doesn't look to arrive until early 1944 from what I can see.

    The AEC gets some mention in a few documents I got a long time ago now, re AFV holdings in the Middle East theatre for 1942-43. It was in the theatre on a very small scale, around a dozen at most, and in the footnotes it's indicated they were to be issued in twos or threes to certain Armd Car Regts for evaluation purposes, and not to replace vehicles on establishment. None of the armoured cars listed are identified by a 'Mark' and likewise nothing on their main armament. From the date I have assumed these would be Mark Is with the 2-pdr.

    The Mark III is detailed in various 21 Army Group reports and goes into the Armd Car Regts as the vehicle for the Heavy Tp in each Sqn. In fact only 2 HCR and the Inns of Court have them in June 1944, while 11 H and the Royals have to make do with the 75-mm armed M3 halftrack. 1 HCR also had them when they arrived in March 1945.

    In between then comes the AEC Mark II with the 6-pdr gun. It is not listed on any AFV returns for 21AG for June 1944 or during 1945 (I've never found anything that covers the intervening six months). There are plenty of website references to the AEC Mark II being used in NWE, but I do not think that is supported by the available records.

    The obvious theatre would be the Med but again I've not got, and have never seen, any AFV returns for formations in Sicily or Italy.

    I wondered then if anyone may have come across mentions of the AEC Mark II, or 6-pdr armed cars, stretching from 1st Army arriving in North Africa and through the campaigns in the Mediterranean? It's more curiosity as to whether it actually made it into combat or not.

    Thanks,

    Gary
     
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  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    It has been suggested in a number of armour discussion groups that the Mk II is a retrospective classification for AEC Armoured cars that were up gunned from 2 to 6 pounders in theatre (N Africa)
     
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The Tank Museum states that the Mk II was "an improvised version" which suggests that Mk Is were converted to Mk II, introduced in 1943 and was used by the 10th Indian Division in Italy
     
  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Skinners Horse which was part of 10th Indian Division had a Heavy Troop equipped with AEC Mk II which were later replaced with Mk IIIs
     
  5. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Thank you, that could help to keep it 'invisible' in terms of records and returns perhaps. Seems there are a few 1945 photos of them in Yugoslavia, which is not too far for them to travel from Italy.

    Gary
     
  6. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    24 Mark II's were given to the Yugoslavs, and served with their 1st Tank Brigade. I think they knocked out a couple of Panzer IV's with them.

    The Mk.II's were definitely built in the UK, and not field conversions - the first six were produced in February 1943.
     
  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Can you give us a source?
     
  8. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I cannot give a source, except for David Fletcher, but from notes I made some years ago:

    The Mk 1 AEC was not much used in its intended role. In N.Africa two were assigned to each armoured car regiment and tended to be used for convoy escort and recovery roles rather that recce.

    The Mk II and MkIII were virtually identical and differed from the MkI. Both came from the same production contract in the UK. MkII had the 6pdr gun. The last 200 production vehicles were built as MkIII with the 75mm. This seems to have differed from The MkII only in the gun, which fitted the existing turret without modification, and an additional extractor fan to clear fumes.

    In service use is more difficult but the halftrack mounting a 75mm gun was generally preferred for the support role. It lacked the armour but was low profile and had better off road performance.

    A possible source of confusion is that a MkI was modified to take a 6pdr gun. This was a N Africa modification involving the fitting of a lightly armoured turret.

    Apologies for the general nature of this contribution but perhaps it will point in the right direction.

    Mike
     
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  11. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    It's the Ministry of Supply production stats for 1943. The relevant section is below:

    AEC.jpg

    For the numerical columns, the first two are output for Jan and Feb, and the latter two are the forecast for Mar and Apr.
     
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  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Thanks all for the replies. It does seem the AEC had a somewhat difficult history in terms of actual deployment. Certainly field conversions don't help in terms of clarifying the picture.

    Thanks,

    Gary
     
  13. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Active Member

    The difference between the Mk. II & III sounds like the same as happened with the Cromwell & Churchill tanks. The 57mm 6pdr being bored out to 75mm to take the ammunition from the US 75mm M3.

    I recall reading somewhere that there was a version in the Middle East with a 6pdr Crusader tank turret. Is that the modified Mk. I you refer to or just a trial vehicle of some type?
     
  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    I have seen that refuted as a misunderstanding of the Staghound development
     
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  15. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

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  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I can not find any evidence of an AEC with Crusader turret. There is a photo (which I cannot upload at the moment) of the MkI with 6pdr in a light turret. This seems to be an artillery 6pdr on a field mounting. According to Fletcher ten were ordered from S. Africa but almost certainly these were not delivered.

    Mike
     
  17. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    The Mk II gets several mentions, over months, in the Middle East AFV Technical reports. My take is that the Mk II’s gestation had been so laboured that it was superseded by the Mk III before it was fully sorted.

    Fletcher: “... work began in South Africa on a conversion to the Mark I. Known as the Griffin, it used the artillery-pattern 6-pounder in a large but thinly armoured turret. A pilot model was tested by the Mechanisation Experimental Establishment in North Africa, and thirty of the Mark I cars were earmarked for conversion, although there is no evidence to suggest that the scheme was completed. The Griffin should not be confused with the even bigger and uglier AEC armoured car, built on a front-engined Matador chassis at a base workshop in Egypt.” The Universal Tank, p.6.

    Middle East AFV Technical Report 16 – October 1943
    AEC ME TR16 Oct 1943.jpg
     

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