The military's armored (or armoured) car (see spelling differences) is a wheeled armored vehicle, lighter than other armored fighting vehicles, primarily being armored and/or armed for self-defense of the occupants. Other multi-axled wheeled military vehicles can be quite large, and actually be superior to some smaller tracked vehicles in terms of armor and armament.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a number of military armored vehicles were manufactured by adding armor and weapons to existing vehicles. The first manufactured one was the "Motor War Car" in 1902. The Italians used armored cars during the Italo-Turkish War. A great variety of armored cars appeared on both sides during World War I and these were used in various ways.
World War I
Generally, the armored cars were used by more or less independent car commanders. However, sometimes they were used in larger units up to squadron size. The cars were primarily armed with light machine guns. But larger units usually employed a few cars with heavier guns. As air power became a factor, armored cars offered a mobile platform for anti-aircraft guns.
In 1914, the Belgians fielded some early examples of armored cars during the Race to the Sea. The British Royal Naval Air Service dispatched aircraft to Dunkirk to defend the UK from Zeppelins. The officers cars followed them and these began to be used to rescue downed reconnaissance pilots in the battle areas. They mounted machine guns on them and as these excursions became increasingly dangerous, they improvised boiler plate armoring on the vehicles provided by a local shipbuilder. In London Murray Sueter ordered "fighting cars" based on Rolls-Royce, Talbot and Wolseley chassis. By the time Rolls-Royce armored cars arrived in December 1914, the mobile period on the Western Front was already over.
World War II
By the Second World War, there were different classes of armored car: at one end "Light Reconnaisance" or "Scout" cars used for scouting and liaison work between units and generally lightly armed such as the Daimler Dingo to, at the other, heavy armored cars with armament equivalent to that carried on tanks such as the 6 pounder armed AEC Armoured Car.
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