scout car

M3 Scout Car

The M3 Scout Car was an armored car in U.S. service during World War II. It was also known as the White Scout Car, after its manufacturer, the White Motor Company. It was used in various roles including patrol, scouting, command vehicle, ambulance and gun tractor.


The vehicle was developed in 1938 by the White Motor Company. The original order was for 64 units, all of which were given to the 7th Cavalry Brigade. Eventually the Army decided to adopt an improved version, designated M3A1. The new version had a longer and wider hull. In front of the bumper an unditching roller was mounted. The M3A1 could carry up to seven infantry and provide fire support with three machine guns - one .50 caliber (12.7 mm) and two .30 caliber (7.62 mm) - mounted on a skate rail around the hull.

Production of the M3A1 started in 1941 and lasted until 1944, with 20,918 vehicles built.

The design influenced the later US halftrack designs such as the M3 halftrack and the post-WW2 Soviet BTR-40. The early M2 halftrack copied the armor layout as well as the skate rail machine gun mounts.

Combat history

The M3A1 first saw combat in the Philippines in 1941-1942, and was also used by the cavalry units of the US Army in the North African Campaign and the invasion of Sicily. It was used in traditional cavalry roles such as scouting and screening; also as an armored command vehicle. By mid-1943, the drawbacks of the design - its open top, poor off-road mobility, and poor armament - were evident. During 1943 most US Army units replaced the M3A1 with the M8 armored car and similar M20 Utility Car. A small number of M3A1s were retained and employed in Normandy. A few M3A1s were used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific theater, but none saw combat.

The M3A1 was also supplied via lend-lease channels to the Soviet Union (3034; remained in service at least until 1947) and Britain, and used to equip Free French Forces, Belgian, Czechoslovak and Polish units. After the war, many vehicles were sold, mostly to Asian and Latin American countries. In Red Army service it was used primarily as a reconnaissance vehicle, but also as gun tractor for the ZIS-3 76-mm field gun. It remained in wide service throughout the war. In British and French service M3A1s were used as observation vehicles for field artillery observers, as ambulances, and as scout vehicles.

A few vehicles were used by Israel in the War of Independence. At least one Israeli M3A1 was modified with top armor and a revolving turret. France employed its M3A1s in Indochina and Algiers.

By late 1990, the only country to keep the M3A1 in service was the Dominican Republic.


Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Cambodia, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, France, Israel, Laos, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Vietnam, USA, USSR.


  • M3 (1938) - original variant. 64 units built.
  • M3A1 (1941) - bigger hull.
  • M3A1E1 - had Buda diesel engine. 100 units built.
  • M3A1E2 - had armored roof.
  • M3A1E3 - was fitted with 37 mm Gun M3 on mount T6 / M25. Never reached serial production.
  • M3A1 Command Car (1943) - thicker armor, armed with .50 cal MG.

References and external links

  • The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Amber Books, 2002
  • M. Baryatinskiy - US APCs of World War II, Modelist-Konstruktor, Bronekollektsiya 05-2004 (М.Барятинский - Американские бронетранспортеры Второй мировой войны, Mоделист-Конструктор, Бронеколлекция 05-2004).
  • WWII vehicles
  • Photo gallery at OldCMP
  • M3A1 Scout Car Photos at Prime Portal

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