Lanchester 6x4 Armoured Car

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Lanchester Armoured Car Mk II
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Production history
Manufacturer Lanchester Motor Company
Weight 7 t
Length 6.10 m
Width 2.02 m
Height 2.82 m
Crew 4

Armour 9 mm
.50 cal Vickers machine gun
2 x .303 inch Vickers machine gun
Engine Lanchester 6-cyl. petrol engine
90 hp (67 kW)
Power/weight 12.9 hp/ton
Suspension 6x4, leaf spring
320 km
Speed 72 km/h

Lanchester 6x4 Armoured Car was a British armoured car of 6x4 drivetrain produced in limited numbers in the late 1920s and early 1930s. A heavier, more rugged improvement over the earlier Lanchester 4x2 Armoured Car, it remained in service with the Territorial Army and colonial units until the early 1940s and saw action in the Battle of Malaya.

Production history and description

On 19 July 1927 Lanchester Motor Company was awarded a contract for a six-wheeled armoured car. By March 1928 two prototypes, D1E1 and D1E2, were built, with different armament and turret shape. D1E2 had additional driving controls at the rear of the vehicle. Following the trials, which revealed that the chassis wasn't strong enough for a relatively heavy vehicle and not rigid enough for cross-country ride, 22 vehicles with improved chassis and other changes were ordered, designated Mk I and Mk IA (command version). Until 1932 orders were placed for 15 more cars, two of them instructional (D1E3, D1E4), the rest were designated Mk II and Mk IIA (command version).

The Lanchester had a purpose-built six-by-four chassis. The armoured body was similar in shape to that of the Rolls-Royce Armoured Car, its front part was occupied by the engine and the rest by the fighting compartment. The rear part of the vehicle, behind the armoured body, was used for storage of equipment. Above the fighting compartment a two-man turret was mounted, with .5 inch (12.7 mm) and .303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns in a dual mount. The turret had a cupola which could rotate independently. An additional .303 Vickers was located in front of the fighting compartment. In command versions, the hull machine gun was replaced by a No. 9 radio with a whip type antenna, and the machine gunner acted as a wireless operator.

Lanchesters had good cross-country performance and were considered reliable and easy to maintain, but too big, heavy and slow for reconnaissance missions for which they were originally developed.

Deployment history

Lanchester of the 12th Lancers during manoeuvres.

In January 1929 the first Lanchesters (along with Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars) were received by the 11th Hussars regiment. Because of slow rate of delivery, it took until 1934 to fully equip the unit. In November the regiment was relocated to Egypt to relieve the 12th Royal Lancers, which returned to Britain and took over the cars. In January–February 1935 a provisional D squadron of the 12th Lancers with eight armoured cars served as a peacekeeping force in the Saar region. On 31 December B and C squadrons were sent again to Egypt with 29 armoured cars as a response to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and strengthening garrisons in Libya. They were used in patrolling the western frontier. By the end of the year the squadrons were returned to Britain, where the regiment was re-equipped with Morris Light Reconnaissance Cars.

By 1939, most Lanchesters (13 Mk I, 1 Mk IA, 5 Mk II, 3 Mk IIA) were sent to the Far East and assigned to the Selangor and Perak battalions of Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, the Singapore Volunteer Corps, Straits Settlements Volunteer Force and the 2nd battalion of Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in Malaya. Some of these took part in the Malayan Campaign (December 1941 - 15 February 1942) against Japan.

About 10 Lanchesters were given to the Territorial Army; the 23rd London Armoured Car Company and 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry. In 1940 one was converted for use by Cabinet ministers and other VIPs. In 1941 two were given to the 1st Belgian Armoured Cars squadron.

The only surviving vehicle is Mk II on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.


  • Mk I (18 built) - dual rear tires.
  • Mk IA (4 built) - command version.
  • Mk II (7 built) - single tires, turret cupola with sloped sides.
  • Mk IIA (6 built) - command version.


External links