Although the Staghound armoured car was an American product, it was not used by the American forces, all the output going to the British army and other Allied and Commonwealth forces. The design had its origins in a US Army requirement for a heavy armoured car which was not produced despite the building of prototypes since the requirement was changed to a call for a medium armoured car. Following the drawing up of a specification, which was much influenced by input from British experience in com- bat, two vehicles emerged, one was the Light Armoured Car T17, a 6x6 vehicle by Ford, and the other the Light Armored Car T17E1 from Chevrolet.
Only relatively few of the 6x6 T17 armoured cars were produced, as by the time the type was ready for production the requirement for a large 6x6 vehicle appeared to have passed. However, the 4x4 T17E1 went into large-scale production even though the US Army no longer had any requirement for the design. The British Tank Mission asked for an initial batch of 300, but more orders followed and by the end of 1942 the first examples were coming off the production lines. After the perilous journey across the Allan tic theT17Els were issued to British and Commonwealth units as the Staghound Mk I.
The Staghound emerged as a large and well-armoured vehicle with a tur- ret mounting a 37-mm (1.46-in) gun and a co-axial 7.62-mm (0.3-in) Browning machine-gun. The vehicle looked good and in service proved to be easy to drive and maintain, and in addition was fast and had a good operational range. The type first went into action in Italy in 1943, where it proved well able to deal with the difficult conditions that prevailed. Thereafter the Staghound was issued to Canadian, New Zealand, Indian and Belgian units. The
Staghound had several unusual features for the day, not the least of which was the fully automatic hydraulic trans- mission. The vehicle had two engines mounted side-by-side at the rear, and the crew were well provided with periscopes. The turret was hydraulically traversed, and additional armament was provided by two more 7.62- mm (0.3-in) Browning machine-guns, one pintle-mounted for AA use and the other in the hull front,
Once the Staghound was in service several variations appeared. One was the fitting of a 76.2-mm (3-m) tank howitzer in place of the 37-mm (1 .46-in) gun for use as a close-support weapon, he Americans had produced the T17E3 version with a short 75-mm (2.95-in) howitzer in the turret, but with the introduction of the British version, known as the Staghound Mk II, this was not further developed. Another British innovation was the Staghound Mk III, a rather drastic conversion of the vehicle to accommodate a Crusader tank turret mounting a 75-mm (2.95-in) gun.
Small numbers of these were issued to the heavy troops of armoured car regiments during 1944. A production variant developed in the USA was the Staghound AA (T17E2) which had the usual turret replaced by a new power- operated turret mounting twol2.7-mm (0.5-in) Browning machine guns for anti-aircraft use. An order for 1,000 of these was placed, but production ceased in April 1944 after 789 had been built: by then the decline of the Luftwaffe was such that there no longer seemed to be any real need for the type.
There were numerous other conversions and local variations of the Staghound, ranging from mine- clearing experimental models pushing heavy rollers to the Staghound Command, a version with the turret re- moved and increased internal stow- age for radios, plus a folding canvas tilt. Local modifications such as the provision of extra external stowage boxes were common, and extras such as smoke dischargers and machine-guns were added for additional protection. After 1945 the Staghound served on in the British army for several years, and the type was also passed to such nations as India, South Africa and Den- mark (which used the Staghound Mk III for some years). The Staghound was a sturdy and well-liked armoured car that gave excellent service.
Staghound Mk I
Weight: (inaction) 13.92 tonnes
Dimensions: length 5.486m (18ft 0in); width2.69m (8ft 10in); height2.36m (7ft 9 in)
Powerplant: two CMC 270 6-cylinder petrol engines each developing 97 hp (72 kW)
Performance: maximum speed 89km/h(55 mph) ; maximum range 724 km (450 miles); fording 0.8 m (2ft 8 in); gradient 57%; vertical obstacle 0.533 m (1ft 9 in)