The story of wheeled armoured fighting vehicles
In this publication we tell the story of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) on wheels, so tracked AFVs and half-tracks are not described here.
Early ‘armed cars’, without armour to protect the occupants, developed to become lightly-armoured reconnaissance cars and Scout Cars, capable of resisting small arms fire. Scout Cars usually had an open top, with vision slots in the armour-plated bodywork. Armoured Cars had all-enveloping armour and a gun, usually fitted into a revolving turret like a tank, but they were smaller and more manoeuvrable than tanks. All major powers developed many designs of armoured cars in the early years, though the USA preferred tracked vehicles. The armoured car all but disappeared in later years, as the IFV took over the role.
Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) were designed to transport troops safely with fixed armament or in a small turret. The APC was the principal AFV in most armed forces, defined as an armoured troop-carrier with a gun smaller than 20mm. On the other hand an IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) had a gun of 20mm or larger.
Armoured Command Vehicles (ACV) resembled large APCs, fitted out as an office, to serve as a mobile command post for senior officers.
Carriers were smaller vehicles carrying armament (machine guns, grenade launchers, mortars etc). These included Jeeps, Land Rovers and other similar vehicles not described here, because mostly they were ‘soft-skin’, or just lightly armoured. Some field cars with military-pattern bodywork may look ‘armoured’ but they were not, so they have also been omitted from our coverage.
Armoured trucks usually only had armour fitted to the cab area as a reinforcement to an essentially ‘soft-skin’ vehicle, so, they are mostly not covered in this publication. Soft-skin trucks were vulnerable to mine and IED attack, however, so a new generation of MRAP cargo vehicles developed which were closer to APCs in their conception.