The Ferret was developed in 1949 as a result of a British Army requirement issued in 1947. ‘Light reconnaissance cars’ existed in during the Second World War, notably the Daimler Reconnaissance Scout Car.
Given its experience with the successful “Dingo” (6,626 produced and one of two British AFVs produced throughout WWII) Daimler was awarded a development contract in October 1948, and in June 1950 the first prototype of the Car, Scout, 4×4, Liaison (Ferret) Mark 1 was delivered.
Given the designation FV 701(C) it was one of several versions but the one that most closely resembled the original Daimler scout cars, and represented the basic model Ferret. This shared many similar design features with the Dingo, notably the H form drive train in which a central differential eliminates loss of traction due to wheel-slip, and parallel drive shafts considerably reduced the height of the vehicle (roughly equivalent to that of a tracked AFV), considerably reducing the vehicle’s visual signature over conventional armoured car designs.
Like the Daimler scout car the Ferret suspension consisted of pairs of transverse links and single coil springs, the wheels driven by Tracta constant-velocity joints, but the Ferret benefited from epicyclic reduction gears that reduced transmission torque loads, essential given the more powerful six cylinder 4.26 liter water-cooled Rolls Royce B.60 petrol engine. Connected by a fluid coupling to a pre-selector five-speed epicyclic gearbox, all gears being available in reverse, in its original form the Ferret this installation produced 116 bhp at 3,300 rpm and 129 bhp at 3,750 in its final form.
This improved power-to-weight ratio, longer wheelbase (2.29 m (7.5 ft) as compared with the Dingo’s 1.98 meters (6.5 feet)) and the fitting of larger 9.00 x 16 run flat tires both increased speed and mobility over broken ground.
When compared with the Daimler Dingo and Canadian Ford Lynx, the Ferret featured a larger fighting compartment, directly mounted to the hull (a feature that made the Ferret much noisier than Dingo, which lacked a full monocoque body).
Constructed of 6–16 mm (0.24–0.63 in) steel plate protecting the crew from shell splinters at most angles except directly overhead, as the basic vehicle was open-topped and unarmed, with the exception of six forward-firing grenade launchers fitted to the hull over the front wheels (normally carrying smoke grenades), a feature found on all subsequent marks and models.
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