M3 Scout Car

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M3A1 Scout Car
The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45 H17571.jpg
TypeArmored car
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used bySee list
WarsSee list
Production history
DesignerWhite Motor Company
ManufacturerWhite Motor Company
No. built20,894
Mass6.25 short tons (5.67 t)
Length18 ft 5 in (5.61 m)
Width6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)

ArmorMaximum .5 in (13 mm)
.50 cal M2 Browning
1–2 x .30 cal M1919 Browning
EngineHercules JXD 6-cylinder in-line petrol
110 hp (82 kW)
DriveWheeled 4x4
SuspensionLeaf springs
Fuel capacity30 US gal (110 l)
250 mi (400 km)
Speed50 mph (80 km/h)
ReferencesBishop[1] & Foss[2]

The M3 Scout Car (known as the White Scout Car in British Commonwealth service) was an American-produced armored car. The original M3 Scout Car was produced in limited numbers, while the improved M3A1 Scout Car saw wide service during World War II and after.


The main production variant, the M3A1 Scout Car, was a lightly armored, open topped, machine gun armed, four wheel drive vehicle designed to be used in the reconnaissance role. The M3A1 Scout Car was crewed by a driver and commander, while there was seating for six additional occupants in the rear.[1][2]

Powered by a Hercules JXD 6-cylinder in-line petrol engine delivering 110 hp (82 kW), the M3A1 Scout Car had a maximum road speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and the 30 US gal (110 l) fuel tank gave a maximum range of 250 mi (400 km). The vehicle’s four wheel drive and bumper mounted unditching roller enabled it to cross a 1.5 ft (0.46 m) wide trench and climb a 1 ft (0.30 m) high step, maximum fording depth was 28 in (0.71 m).[1][2][3][4]

The armored body of the M3A1 Scout Car was produced by the Diebold Lock and Safe Company, it had a maximum armor thickness of .5 in (13 mm) and was open topped, providing good fields of view but no overhead protection for the occupants, a canvas cover was provided for protection from the elements. The underside protection was also limited, giving little protection from the effects of land mines to the vehicle’s occupants.[1][2][5]

The M3A1 Scout Car was typically armed with a .50 cal M2 Browning heavy machine gun and one or two .30 cal M1919 Browning medium machine guns, all were mounted on a skate rail upon which the pintle mounts could be moved about. Due to its open top, the occupants were also able to employ their personal weapons.[1][2][6]



M1 Scout Car
M1 Scout Car
M2 Scout Car
M2 Scout Car
M2A1 / M3 Scout Car
M2A1 / M3 Scout Car
M1 Scout Car

The M1 Scout Car was the first of a new series of armored cars developed by the White Motor Company for the US Army. Tested in 1934, the M1 Scout Car was an improvised, open topped four-wheel drive vehicle based on a commercial White ½-ton truck design. It weighed appropriately 3.85 short tons (3.49 t), was powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) engine, and had a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h). The M1 Scout Car had a crew of four, a maximum armor thickness of .5 in (13 mm) and was armed with machine guns mounted on static mounts inside the vehicle. Seventy-six M1 Scout Cars were delivered to the US Army.[7][8][9]

M2 Scout Car

The M2 Scout Car was a development of the M1, tested in 1935 the almost identical looking M2 was larger and more powerful, designed with as many commercial components as possible to keep costs down it could accommodate a crew of seven. The M2 Scout Car weighed appropriately 3.95 short tons (3.58 t), was powered by a 94 hp (70 kW) engine and retained the top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h). Twenty M2 Scout Cars were delivered to the US Army.[7][10][11]

M2A1 / M3 Scout Car

The M2A1 Scout Car, later redesignated the M3 Scout Car, was a further development of the M1 and M2 Scout Cars. The M2A1 / M3 Scout Car retained the 94 hp (70 kW) engine and had a top speed of 60 mph (97 km/h). Sixty-four M2A1 / M3 Scout Cars were produced, all being assigned to the 7th Cavalry Brigade.[7][8][12][13]

M3A1 Scout Car
M3A1 Scout Car
M3A1 Scout Car
Interior of an M3A1
M3A1E3 Scout Car
M3A1E3 with 37 mm Gun M3
M3A1 Scout Car

The M3A1 Scout Car was the final development of the series. Primary external differences from the M3 were a widening of the body over the fenders, the removal of the rear door of the M3 and the addition of the front roller. Internally, the M3A1 had an improved engine and was fitted with the machine gun skate rail. A total of 20,918 were produced between 1939–1944. It was the only version to see service outside of the United States.[1][2][7][6][14]

The M3A1E1 Scout Car was developed to increase the range and fuel economy of the vehicle, it was powered by an 81 hp (60 kW) Buda-Lanova 6DT-317 six-cylinder diesel engine. 3,340 were produced, all were sent to the Soviet Union.[7][15]

The M3A1E2 Scout Car was a version with an armored roof. The M3A1E3 Scout Car was an experimental version fitted with a pedestal mounted 37 mm Gun M3. The M3A1 Command Car was a command version, fitted with an armoured screen and additional side armor.[16]

The M2 Half Track was developed from the M3A1 Scout Car by adding half tracks to the rear of the vehicle. The post-War BTR-40 was a Soviet copy of the M3A1 Scout Car.[17]


George Patton's modified M3A1 Scout Car
British White Scout Car being used as an ambulance
US Army M3A1 Scout Car
US Army M3A1 Scout Car

The M3A1 Scout Car was used by cavalry units of the US Army in its intended cavalry role during the North African Campaign and the invasion of Sicily, being employed for reconnaissance, screening and as an armored command vehicle. The M3A1 was fast and reliable, making it popular with its crews. It was considered a major disappointment in US Army service, primarily due to its poor offroad performance, but also its lack of overhead protection. Cavalry units were forced to supliment it with M2 and M3 Half-tracks.[5][7][18]

Throughout 1943, most US Army units replaced the M3A1 with the M8 armored car and the similar M20 Utility Car, although the M3A1 was retained for rear area security and convoy escort duties. A small number of M3A1s were employed in Normandy. A few M3A1s were used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific theater, but none saw combat.[2][19]

General George Patton used an M3A1 Scout Car as a command vehicle, modified with additional armor and a raised fighting compartment.[7]

A total of 11,401 M3A1 Scout Cars were allocated for supply to US allies under lend-lease, 6,987 were supplied to the British Commonwealth, 3,310 to the Soviet Union and 104 to the Chinese Nationalist Army. Some were also supplied to Free Belgian, Free French, Czechoslovak and Polish units.[20][21][22]

M3A1 Scout Car
King George VI reviewing troops from a White Scout Car
M3A1 Scout Car
Soviet M3A1 of the 1st Guards Mechanized Corps, Vienna 1945.

In British Commonwealth service, the White Scout Car was regarded more as an armored truck, reflected in the designation Truck, 15cwt, 4x4, Armoured Personnel, and was used in a variety of secondary roles, being issued to engineer, artillery (as an observation vehicle for field artillery observers) medical (as a protected ambulance) and signals units; within the Royal Armoured Corps’ Tank and Armoured Car Regiments it usually served in Squadron or Regimental headquarters. It was used by British Commonwealth forces in every theatre they fought in except Burma.[2][7][8][16][21]

In Red Army service, the M3A1 was used as an armored personnel carrier by brigade and corps reconnaissance units and motorcycle battalions and regiments, operating alongside the BA-64. The M3A1 was also used as an armored command vehicle and a gun tractor for the ZIS-3 76-mm field gun, although the towing hitch proved to be unreliable, the M3A1 remained in widespread service throughout the war.[8][23]

The Chinese Nationalist Army received M3A1 Scout Cars from 1942 and used them throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.

After the war, many vehicles were sold, mostly to Asian and Latin American countries while they remained in Soviet service until 1947.

A few vehicles were used by Israel in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. At least one Israeli M3A1 was modified with top armor and a revolving turret. France employed its M3A1s in the First Indochina War[24] and the Algerian War.[22]

By late 1990, the only country with the M3A1s remaining in service was the Dominican Republic.[citation needed]



Second World War


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bishop 2006, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Foss 2007, p. 55.
  3. ^ US War Department 1942, p. 6.
  4. ^ Green 2016, p. 31.
  5. ^ a b Green 2016, p. 13.
  6. ^ a b Green 2016, p. 29.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Forty & Livesey 2006, p. 340.
  8. ^ a b c d Green 2017, p. 17.
  9. ^ Green 2016, pp. 12 & 25.
  10. ^ Green 2017, pp. 17 & 47.
  11. ^ Green 2016, pp. 13 & 25.
  12. ^ Green 2016, pp. 13 & 27.
  13. ^ Berndt 1993, p. 162.
  14. ^ Green 2017, p. 48.
  15. ^ US War Department 1942, p. 267.
  16. ^ a b The Desert Rats Association.
  17. ^ Chant 2004, p. 135.
  18. ^ Green 2017, pp. 17–18.
  19. ^ Green 2016, p. 18.
  20. ^ Green 2016, p. 14.
  21. ^ a b Imperial War Museum.
  22. ^ a b c "1939 M3 A1 SCOUT CAR". chars-francais.net.
  23. ^ PLAM.RU.
  24. ^ Dunstan, Simon (21 February 2019). French Armour in Vietnam 1945–54. New Vanguard 267. Osprey Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISBN 9781472831828.
  25. ^ Green 2007, p. 48.
  26. ^ a b "Trade Registers". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Legendarios". FAV-Club. Retrieved 2017-02-24.
  28. ^ Kočevar, Iztok (August 2014). "Micmac à tire-larigot chez Tito: L'arme blindée yougoslave durant la Guerre froide" [The Yugoslav armored arm during the Cold War]. Batailles et Blindés (in French). No. 62. Caraktère. pp. 66–79. ISSN 1765-0828.


External links[edit]