M8 'Greyhound' Armored Car
The M8 Light Armored Car, the 'Greyhound', entered combat service with the Allies in 1943. It was purpose designed to serve as the primary basic command and communication combat vehicle of the U.S. Cavalry Reconnaissance Troops. The Greyhound saw service with other Allied armies. In the Pacific, against the weakly armored and armed Japanese tanks, the M8 was a successful anti-tank platform.
The Cavalry Recon troop served as a division's or corps' advance 'eyes and ears.' This mission demanded speed and agility - not firepower and armor. When on the march, the Cavalry's mission was make contact with enemy forces at the earliest practicable moment and maintained it thereafter. In this role, the recon troops identified hostile units and reported their strength, composition, disposition, and movement. During withdrawals, the cavalry often served as a screening force for the main units. No wonder assignment to the Recon Calvary appeared suicidal.
The M8 performed with distinction. Each 'Greyhound' M8 armored car was equipped with a long-range radio set to assist in the exercise of command or for the purpose of relaying information received from subordinate elements to higher headquarters. Another short-range radio set served to communicate within a Cavalry Reconnaissance platoon, reconnaissance team, or with headquarters. A '6 by 6' (six wheels, each with power), it weighed 16,400 pounds fully loaded with equipment and crew and was capable of cruising from 100 to 250 miles cross country or 200 to 400 miles on highways without refueling. On a level improved road, a sustained speed reach 55 miles per hour. Hence the nickname.
Each M8 armored car was equipped with a 37-mm antitank gun (the 'Peashooter') and one caliber .30 light machine gun. The vehicle was not designed for offensive combat. The resulting firepower was adequate only against similar enemy vehicles and infantry. The armor of the vehicles provided a fair degree of protection against small-arms fire but nothing more. Crews survived by using speed and mobility to avoid hits instead of withstanding them. The 37-mm antitank gun allowed mobile defense against lightly armored vehicles at ranges not exceeding 400 yards with armor-piercing ammunition. The gun also fired canister and high explosive shell. The light machine gun was the M1919 .30 Browning. An additional heavy machine gun, the 'Ma Duce' M2 .50 caliber antiaircraft machine gun could be added, positioned for firing from the turret. The M2 offered less than desirable mobility cross-country. Mobility was limited in heavily wooded areas and on broken terrain. A large turning radius and limited mobility across country made the M8 armored car susceptible to ambush on roads and in defiles. Performance on hard surfaces was exceptional, the M8's off-road performance in mud, snow or mountain terrain was disappointing. Under these adverse conditions, the Cavalry Recon would often employ the war winning Jeep instead of the 'Greyhound'.