Armoured cars were first used by the British Army for the policing of distant colonial outposts. By the outbreak of First World War the allies in Europe were using armour-plated, open-topped vehicles with machine guns or other light guns or artillery pieces. The most popular British car was the Napier that was first produced in 1912. The design consisted of a number of alternative bodies which enabled the chassis to be adapted quickly for different roles Armoured cars were used on the Western Front but they were limited in trench warfare because they could not handle very uneven terrain. The British army used armoured cars with great success in Palestine and in Mesopotamia where they were deployed in what had previously been the Cavalry role of outflanking and pursuit.
Lanchester 4×2 Armoured Car: Lanchester Armoured Car was a British armoured car produced during the First World War. It is not to be confused with an interwar period six-wheeled design. In 1914, the Lanchester was the second most numerous armoured car in service after the Rolls-Royce. It was originally designed to support air bases and retrieve downed pilots. In 1915, the Lanchester underwent hull remodeling and was formed into armoured car squadrons. 36 Lanchesters were delivered to the Royal Naval Air Service. Three squadrons of 12 vehicles were formed and sent to France in May. One of these squadrons served with the Belgian Army. In addition, Belgium received 10-15 car on loan from RNAS. The Russian Army received 20 vehicles in 1915. With the establishment of the mountain to coast trench system of the Western Front, armoured cars were of less use and the British Army taking over all armoured car use standardizes on the Rolls-Royce pattern. The Lanchesters were then sent to Russia in January 1916 with the RNAS expedition force. The expedition force was deployed in Caucasus, Romania and Galicia in support of the Russian forces there; detachments were sent as far as to Persia and Turkey and the Lanchesters clocked up many thousands of miles. In early 1918 the expedition force departed Russia via Murmansk. Most of the Russian Lanchesters were used by the White Russian forces in the Russian Civil War. During most of its service life Lanchester was considered fast and reliable vehicle. Vehicles received by the Russian Army were fitted with a small cupola on the turret and with side shields for the machine gun.
In 1919 the British Army found itself with an acute shortage of armoured cars as many wartime vehicles were worn out. The Austin Motor Company of Birmingham agreed to manufacture armoured bodies based on the wartime armoured cars that they had built for the Imperial Russian Government, provided that the War Office could provide suitable chassis. These ‘Russian’ cars had twin side by side turrets. Some had served with the British Army’s Tank Corps. The War Office had a large number of American-made Peerless 2½-ton trucks in store and agreed to supply 100 chassis to Austin. The Peerless was a robust vehicle with a chain-driven rear axle and the British used large numbers in World War I. It was too long for the Austin bodies so that rather a lot of the chassis poked out at the back. It was the first armoured car to have the driving controls duplicated in the rear of the vehicle so that it could be driven in reverse to get out of ‘tight corners’. The resulting hybrid wasn’t a very good armoured car. It was too big, unwieldy and slow (six tonnes, 48-hp engine, 18 mph top speed, two .303-inch machine-guns) and the crew of four got a rough ride on solid tyres. Some of the Peerless cars were sent to Ireland in 1920 although the superior Rolls Royce armoured car quickly replaced them by the end of 1921. Some were passed on to the National Army of the Irish Free State and remained in service until 1934 by which time the chassis were worn out. The bodies and guns were reused on locally-manufactured vehicles. Peerless armoured cars were also used in Britain to escort food convoys during the General Strike of 1926. When they were withdrawn from front-line service they were issued to the Royal Tank Corps’ Territorial Armoured Car Companies; one lasted with the Derbyshire Yeomanry until May 1940 when it was relegated to airfield defence. Seen that The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, the exhibit is painted in the markings of the 23rd London Armoured Car Company, a TA unit.
British-built Austins: The story of Austin armoured cars began just after the outbreak of the Great War, in August 1914, when the Russian government decided to order a number of military cars including armoured cars abroad, due to limited own production capabilities. Russians demanded, that an armoured car should have twin turrets with machine guns and a full armour including roof. A special committee was sent to Great Britain, but did not find any existing armoured car to meet these requirements.
One of most significant armoured cars of the First World War period was the British-designed Austin armoured car. Built in several variants, Austin was the basic armoured car of the tsarist Russian Army, then it was the most numerous car used by all sides in the civil war in Russia, mostly by the Soviets. Unlike a trench war on the Western Front, conditions on the East made possible manoeuvre operations, and armoured cars played much more important role there, comparable to tanks. A number of Austin armoured cars were also used by the British, taking part in 1918 Western Front combat. In September 1914, Austin Motor Co. Ltd. in Longbridge, Birmingham, constructed a new armoured car, specially to meet Russian demands. It was armed with two machine guns in independent turrets, placed next to each other, on both sides of a hull. The Russian Army ordered 48 cars at once, and they were produced by the end of 1914. The vehicle used a chassis of a passenger car Colonial, with 30 HP engine and a rear axle driven only. They are distinguished as Austin the 1st series (or: model 1914). In a transcribed Russian spelling the car’s name was Bronyeavtomobil (armoure car) “Ostin”. One car costed 1150 pound st. The first series had some faults, most noticeable was a thin armour, vulnerable even to machine gun bullets. Just after their arrival to Russia, their armour was partially strengthened in turrets. After the first combat experience, all the vehicles were completely rebuilt by changing all their original armour plates for new, thicker 7mm plates, at Izhorski Works in Izhorsk. The armour shape remained the same. Some vehicles were also fitted with machineguns’ side covers in individual units. With a new heavier armour, the engine and chassis appeared too weak, though. The car could practically ride on roads or a solid ground only (this was a shortcoming of all wheeled Austins and most contemporary armoured cars as well, anyway, with rare exceptions of off-road cars, like Jeffery-Poplavko). Despite these drawbacks of the first series, the car’s construction was considered as a generally successful one. All other armoured cars bought by the Russians abroad were evaluated as worse (like Armstrong-Whitworth and Renault), or even useless (like Sheffield-Simplex and AML). This shows, that the Austin’s construction must have been really successful to win Russian recognition, in spite of mentioned faults. Source; http://www.republika.pl/derela/austin.htm#brit
In August 1914, Belgian Lieutenant Charles Henkart, put his two armoured Minerva cars at the Army’s disposal. Cockerill & Co (Engineers) in Hoboken had added some armour plating and a Hotchkiss machine gun to each as shown below. Despite previous efforts of both the German and French armies to build armoured cars, it was Belgium, which produced the first effective ones. One of Lt. Henkart’s Minerva armoured cars (pictured above) Crew of 3 or 4 4.9 m long x 1.8 m wide – Weight 4 tonnes 1 Hotchkiss machine gun 4 mm thick armour plating limited top speed to 40 kph Read More, Source; http://www.philatelicdatabase.com/po…ion-in-russia/