M8 Greyhound

The M8 light armored car is a 6x6 armored car produced by the Ford Motor Company during World War II. It was used by the United States and British troops in Europe and the Far East until the end of the war. The vehicle was widely exported and as of 2006 still remains in service with some third world countries.

In British service, the M8 was known as the "Greyhound". The British Army found it too lightly armored, particularly the hull floor, which anti-tank mines could easily penetrate (the crews' solution was lining the floor of the crew compartment with sandbags). Nevertheless, it was produced in large numbers. The M8 Greyhound's excellent mobility made it a great supportive element in the advancing American and British armored columns.

M8 Greyhound
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Ford Motor Co.
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1941
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Ford Motor Co. View

In July 1941, the ordnance department initiated a development of a new fast tank destroyer to replace the M6 37 mm gun motor carriage, which was essentially a ¾-ton truck with a 37 mm gun installed in the rear bed. The requirement was for a 6x4 wheeled vehicle armed with a 37 mm gun, a coaxial machine gun mounted in a turret, and a machine gun in the front hull. Its glacis armor was supposed to withstand fire from a .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun and side armor from a .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun. Prototypes were submitted by Studebaker (designated T21), Ford (T22) and Chrysler (T23), all of them similar in design and appearance.

In April 1942, the T22 was selected despite complaints about deficiencies, due to the need for vehicles. By then, it was clear that the 37 mm gun would not be effective against the front armor of German tanks; so, the new armored car, designated M8 light armored car, took on a reconnaissance role instead. Contract issues and minor design improvements delayed serial production until March 1943. Production ended in June 1945. A total of 8,523 units were built, excluding the M20 armored utility car (see variants). The M8 was manufactured at the Ford Motor Company plant in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In May 1942, having viewed the prototype, the British Tank Mission turned down the offer to acquire the M8 through Lend-Lease. It was named "Greyhound" in keeping with other U.S. armored cars already ordered by the British, such as the (cancelled) T18 Boarhound, the T17 Deerhound, the T17E1 Staghound and the (also cancelled) M38 Wolfhound.

World War II

The M8 light armored car, the "Greyhound", entered combat service with the Allies in 1943. It was purpose designed to serve as the primary basic command and communication combat vehicle of the U.S. Cavalry Reconnaissance Troops.

The M8 first saw action in Italy in 1943 and was used by the U.S. Army both in Europe and in the Far East. In the latter theater, it was used mostly on Okinawa and the Philippines, and was occasionally employed in its original tank destroyer role as most of the Japanese armor was vulnerable to its 37 mm gun.

Over 1,000 were supplied via lend-lease channels to US allies; United Kingdom, Free France and Brazil.

The vehicle was considered fast, sufficiently reliable (after some technical problems were solved) and armed and armored well enough for reconnaissance missions. However, cavalry units criticized its off-road performance, which was even worse than the M3A1 scout car it replaced. In the mountainous terrain of Italy and in the deep mud and snow of North European winter, the M8 was more or less restricted to roads, which greatly reduced its value as a reconnaissance vehicle. It was also very vulnerable to landmines. An add-on armor kit was designed to provide an extra quarter-inch of belly armor to reduce landmine vulnerability. Some crews placed sandbags on the floor to make up for the thin belly armor. Another problem was that commanders often used their reconnaissance squadrons for fire support missions, for which the thinly-armored M8 was ill-suited. When it encountered German armored reconnaissance units, the M8 could easily penetrate their armor with its 37 mm gun. Conversely, its own thin armor was vulnerable to the 20 mm autocannons that German scout cars were equipped with.

During the Battle of St. Vith in the Battle of the Bulge, an M8 of Troop B, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was able to destroy a German Tiger I heavy tank. The M8 fired three 37 mm rounds through the relatively thin rear armor of the Tiger from only 25 yd (23 m), setting it on fire.

The U.S. Army started to look for a replacement for the M8 as early as 1943. Two prototypes, the Studebaker T27 and Chevrolet T28 were finished in summer 1944. Both were found to be superior to the M8, but it was decided that, at that stage of the war, there was no more need for a new armored car.

Post-war

After the war, the M8 was used for occupation duty; it also saw combat in the Korean War, being retired by the U.S. Army shortly thereafter. In French use, the M8 was used during the Indochina War (1946–1954) and Algerian War (1954–1962). Many vehicles formerly used by the U.S., Britain and France were exported to NATO allies and third world countries. As of 2002, some still remained in service in Africa and South America.

During the Vietnam War, the French organized Vietnamese armored regiments, each consisting of three companies equipped with a mixture of M3 half-tracks, M3 scout cars, M8 Greyhound armored cars and M8 self-propelled howitzers.

During the Congo Crisis, Indian peacekeepers with recoilless rifles destroyed at least one ex-Belgian Greyhound manned by Katangese separatists. The armored cars were deployed on both sides during UN attempts to end Katanga's ill-fated secession.

Several Greyhounds were deployed in Bogota on March 8, 2007, as part of the security measures for U.S. President George W. Bush's visit. They are regularly used as checkpoint security by the Colombian military, and usually can be seen in the northern parts of the capital.

Type Armored car
Place of origin United States
Specifications
Weight 8.6 short tons (7.8 t)
Length 16 ft 4.8 in (5.00 m)
Width 8 ft 3.6 in (2.53 m)
Height 7 ft 4.8 in (2.26 m)
Crew 4
Main
armament
37 mm gun M6
Secondary
armament
.30 and .50 machine guns
Engine Hercules JXD 6-cyl gasoline
110 hp (82 kW)
Power/weight 14.1 hp/tonne
Suspension 6x6 wheel, leaf spring
Operational
range
350 mi (560 km)
Speed 56 mph (90 km/h)

End notes