Army Wheels in Detail - GM Otter Mk.1 Light Reconnaissance Car, by James Gosling and Petr Brojo
Booklet published by Capricorn in 2013, 44 pages. Square(ish) booklet - c.22cm by 24cm (N5765)
All text in English and Czech
From the introduction: In December 1940, the new British war establishment for a divisional reconnaissance battalion was decided upon. These reconnaissance battalions were to replace the cavalry regiments as the eyes of the infantry divisions and were to include the new light reconnaissance car. This was seen as a light, wheeled armoured vehicle, with good cross country ability and a high road speed. It was to carry a crew of three, commander/ wireless operator, driver and gunner and be armed with a Bren light machine gun and either a Boys anti-tank rifle or be equipped with the No19 wireless set.
When the specifications for this new vehicle arrived in Canada they were sent to General Motors and the Hamilton Bridge Company in Ontario who already had some limited experience in the development of armoured cars. They had been working on the design of a Canadian version of the Humber Mk.11 heavy armoured car for several months.
Whereas the British based their vehicle on the Humber Snipe car, it soon became evident in Canada that the 15cwt truck chassis produced by GM would be more suitable for their version. The overall weight of the proposed vehicle ended up at over 10,000lbs, nearly 2000lbs heavier than the Humber. In order to try and maintain its performance with this weight increase several engine options were tested and in the end the American made 270 engine was picked over the Canadian Chevrolet 216. This increased the available Horsepower from 85 to 104.
Production began towards the end of 1941 but due to many changes in design and problems along the way it was not until April 1942 that the Otter began to be built in greater numbers. The final build number was 1761.
The Otter was trialled by both the British and Canadian armies to mixed results. It proved popular with Canadian troops due to its roomier-hull and reliability when compared to the Humber. However the British disliked its lower speed and higher profile. Unfortunately the Otter began to be replaced by the smaller more nimble Ford Lynx by the middle of 1943 and this led to it having only a very limited frontline use.
The Otter first saw action in Sicily with A Squadron of the 4th Princess Louise's Dragoon Guards in July 1943. After the invasion of Italy the whole regiment reformed and every Squadron was equipped with a number of Otters. Each troop of the Sabre squadrons had two Otters and two Fox heavy armoured cars. The Regiment used the Otter up until the November of 1944 when their role was changed to that of an infantry battalion.
Other users included the Royal Air Force. Otters equipped units of the RAF Regiment and were used for airfield defence. In this role the turrets were sometimes altered to take a pair of Browning medium machine guns, greatly increasing the fire power.
Although not used in the frontline role in North West Europe, the Otter was still a vehicle in demand. Many had their turrets removed and were used as forward observation vehicles in Royal Canadian Artillery regiments, some had extra radios fitted and were used by regimental commanders as wireless and command vehicles. Probably their greatest use was by the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and the Royal Canadian Engineers as anti- aircraft escort vehicles for convoys and Field Engineer Companies. In these roles the Otter proved to be a capable and reliable vehicle.
After the war the Otter was used by the Arab legion and later by the Royal Jordanian Army in the Middle East, some finding their way to the troubles in Israel. In the East Indies the Dutch Army used many Otters during the Indonesian war of independence and recently two have been found and returned to Holland, possibly for restoration.
The book is packed full with drawings, schematics, and colour and black and white photographs of Otter Vehicles, and all explanatory captions are in both English and Czech text
Condition of the booklet is generally excellent. The covers are clean and bright, the staple spine is intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.