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November 14, 2004

Monteith provides this dope about the Ferret.

You asked, Monteith answers. Between the two of us, we have the makings of a pretty good museum! Bring in Chris, and heck, we could probably make money!

Where do I start...

The Daimler Ferret is an outgrowth of the WWII Daimler Dingo and Daimler Armored car. The Dingo, being a LMG (light machine gun) armed scout car (2 man crew, 3 tons, wireless set, etc) and the Daimler Armored car being a 'wheeled light tank' as the role was envisioned at the early stage of it's design.

The Dingo came first and was used by the BEF in France. It was a purpose-built vehicle with a chassis and drive line arrangement built for war from the start vs a civilian light truck chassis being adapted by fitting an armored body (ala the Humber Light Recce cars or earlier Lanchester/Rolls/Crossley armored cars). The power plant was a Daimler 2.5 liter straight 6 engine driving through a fluid coupling, Wilson pre-selector gearbox and separate transfer box for forwards and reverse capability. Thus the vehicle had 5 gears forwards and reverse (get out of trouble as fast as you get into it, you know).

The Daimler Armored car was largely an expansion of the existing Daimler Dingo chassis to a 7 ton size and with a 3 man crew. The armament was a 2 pounder (40mm) AT gun and a coaxial BESA 7.92mm MG. There was also a Bren LMG for AA and close in defense work plus personal weapons. The Daimler armored car had a similar drive line to that of the Dingo including the 5 speeds forwards and reverse but instead had a larger 4.5 liter engine.

At war's end the Daimler Dingo and Armored Cars soldiered on, but around the end of the 40's a replacement was sought. The Ferret was an expansion of the basic design with some refinements and a larger engine. Daimler was approached to carry out the development of the prototype and production after the prototypes were approved. There were two main variants, a liaison vehicle that had no turret (pintle-mounted MG) and a scout version that had a 1 man manually traversed turret containing a MG. The drive line was just as similar as it's two predecessors, just updated in a few areas for details and easier servicing. The engine in this case being a 4.25 liter straight 6 Rolls Royce design.

All three vehicles have an individual drive shaft running to each wheel station allowing a lower overall profile as there is less requirement to fit crew and other kit above a large front and rear mounted differential. The transfer box is what contains the differential. The two WWII era Daimlers have standard frames with the armored bodies fitted to them whereas the Ferret has the drive line components directly mounted within a monocoque body(meaning the body is built to be a single unit), this allows a low height, but increases noise as the drive shafts and other running gear are with in the enclosed space of body with the crew. Power is transmitted to the 4 wheels which have reduction gearing in the hubs for a lower amount of torque exerted on the drive shafts for a correspondingly higher amount of torque where the rubber meets the road.

Normal crew is 2 men for the scout car version and 2-3 for the liaison version. Internal stowage arrangements are dependent on which role the vehicle is assigned. Wireless sets were standard kit with 2 sets and an intercom component as part of the radio sets. Early ferrets used WS 19 sets with WS 88's for liaison with infantry units. Later on they used the Larkspur series C42/45 and B47/48 depending on arm of service. Ferrets in the 80s used the Clansman series of radios and intercom sets.

The Ferret had two larger siblings for the heavy armored car role and wheeled APC (armored personnel carrier) role. Those being the Saladin and Saracen. The Saladin and Saracen have 6x6 arrangements that follow the ferret's configuration with individual drive shafts for each wheel station. The Saracen swapped the engine from the rear to front for reasons of easy debussing (dismounting, 'un-assing' in US miltary parlance) by the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry) carried in the back area.

As John stated in comments, the Ferrets were built from '53 to '71 and were used up through the first Gulf War. The British used them everywhere their forces needed reconnaissance and scouting including, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Germany, Aden, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Several Commonwealth nations also operate Ferrets to this day. The last Ferrets were disposed of following the Gulf War and make a very good choice for wheeled armor by the average collector. Prices range from $10K up in the US.

Photo's of all three are available here.

Plus details and movies of the Daimler Armored
car are at this place.

There is also a parallel set of movies on the Humber Armored Car.

Photos (with lots of interior shots) of Monteith's Ferret, as well as some of the more interesting vehicles that took part in the Veteran's Day parade are available here.

Oh, and did I mention... I WANT ONE!