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T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!

T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!
with Adam Brooker

The Boarhound has got to be for me, one of the best looking British vehicles of WW2, and really to be accurate, it is a US designed vehicle, which the British asked to be designed given the success they’d had with armoured cars fighting against the Italians and Germans earlier in the deserts of North Africa. 

I think the reason I like it so much is that they have essentially done what the Germans did to the Sd Kfz 231 (8-rad), when they made the Sd Kfz 234 (5cm). They made an up-gunned and up-armoured fast armoured car, that can brush aside the enemy recon units, and then threaten the flanks. You could argue it is wasteful and unnecessary, as it is going beyond its typical battlefield role, and perhaps the Allies didn’t need it, but it certainly would have been effective. 

Unfortunately when it finally did arrive at North Africa, there was nothing for it to fight, as German armour was essentially defeated or penned-up in close up environments that the Boarhound was too big for, and any continued fighting in Western Europe or Italy was going to have the same problem, narrow roads and built up areas. The flat open areas where it may have been useful in, was only on the Russian steppes, and no British unit had any plans to be fighting there in the near future. It was just too big and would have been vulnerable to close anti-tank weapons like the panzerfaust and panzerschreck in built up areas. 

Before we get into the history of the vehicle, let’s have a look at how we use the Wildcard slot in the new North Africa Compilation book. Each Nation has a number of Wildcard Units that they can choose from, so far Germany has 1, Italy has 1, the British has 3, and the US has 2.

T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!

So what are the rules for using them? Each Nation can take up to one of each of their Wildcard Units per Force. So in the case of the British, you could take up to one of each of the three they have available, eg. TOG 2, Boarhound, and Churchill GC (3”). Right, that’s done, so let’s continue!

T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!

In 1941 the British requested that US vehicle manufacturers design them a heavy and a medium armoured car, three designs came out of this, the T17 Deerhound, the T17E1 Staghound, and the T18 Boarhound. Two of these designs were eventually successful in being produced for the British, the heavy T18E2 Boarhound, and the medium T17E1 Staghound. The T17E1 Staghound was successfully deployed by the British, in the Mediterranean and the Western European theatres, with over 3,800 built and they were used by multiple countries after WW2 and was used until the 1980’s. It was a smaller medium armoured car design, with 4x4 wheels and a 37mm M6 main gun which was well liked by its crews. The T17 Deerhound was a larger 6x6 wheeled medium design, that was unsuccessful, and was not chosen by the British, around 250 were completed by Ford, and were used as un-armed patrol vehicle for US Military Police on the continental US. 

The heavy armoured car design was developed by the US Yellow Truck & Coach company, and the T18 Boarhound went through a few iterations before they settled on the final T18E2 design. 

The initial design of the T18 was an 8x8 wheeled design, with the front 4 wheels used for steering, and thicker armour which brought the total weight up to 26 tonnes, which was a similar weight to large medium tanks of the time like the M3 Lee. It had a crew of 5 and was armed with the same 37mm gun that the M3 Stuart or M3 Lee was armed with, as well as a co-axial 0.3 cal Browning machine gun and a hull mounted 0.3 cal MG. A Driver and Assistant Driver (hull MG gunner) sit together in the forward driving compartment, while the Gunner, Loader and Commander sit in close proximity in the turret of the small fighting compartment.

Armour protection was also good for the type of vehicle it was, with up to 50mm of armour in places, it also had two GMC V6 125Hp engines, which gave it a road top-speed of 50 Mph, and a range of around 250 miles. It had improved suspension along all 4 pairs of wheels for good cross-country travel. 

T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!

But soon combat experience in the deserts of North Africa convinced the US designers that the 37mm gun would be inadequate to combat German medium tank designs like the Panzer IV as well as possible improved Italian medium tank designs. So they were asked to upgrade the gun to a 57mm gun, so a new mounting on the turret was needed. The British accepted the design provisionally, but required the gun be upgraded, so production was started. There was delays attributed to this design modification, as they needed to find a producer who could make this, which delayed production, initially 80 vehicles were supposed to be built by the end of 1942. 

 The 57mm gun M1 was essentially just a US produced version of the British 6 pdr gun, which makes sense, as the British would be providing the ammunition, as they would be the main user. Eventually a producer was found for the new gun mount, and production continued, with the final version designated the T18E2. A 6x6 wheeled version was considered for use by US forces, designated the T18E1, but was eventually dropped by the US in January 1943.

The final design was accepted by the British in mid 1942 and 2500 vehicles ordered, the US kept the first 3 production vehicles for assessment, but showed no real interest. Design changes delayed production eg. the 57mm gun, as well as a transmission design change, as the initial hydramatic transmission was designed for a lighter vehicle and was unsatisfactory, so stronger torque converter transmission was selected.

Overall these delays as well as tooling bottlenecks, and obtaining appropriate clutch bearings meant that only 30 vehicles were delivered to the British as well as spare parts before the project was cancelled due to high production costs and basically a lack of need.

The Boarhound was a victim of the Allies own success, by the time it arrived in North Africa, there was nothing really for it to fight. The vehicles that did arrive in North Africa were used to guard bases or protect convoys, which given their speed and firepower they would be useful, but none ever saw any heavy combat. In late 1942 8 Boarhounds were assigned to the British 8th Army in Africa and used in a reconnaissance and infantry support role sparingly against Axis forces. 

If these vehicles were available in time, they would have replaced the AEC Mk1 armoured car as a heavy support vehicle in the armoured car squadrons Heavy Platoon. They also could have been mixed in with the other Daimler and Humber armoured car platoons, like the Staghounds were mixed in later in the fighting in Italy. 

Or they could have been fielded as a whole Heavy Armoured Car Squadron, an aggressive reconnaissance unit, that would have been impervious to other enemy armoured cars, pushing past them, to then locate and cut off the enemy, and harassing their flanks...

But it was not to be and the vehicle was eventually dropped by the British and relegated to the WW2 scrap-pile of what if’s... There is only one surviving vehicle now at Bovington Tank Museum in the UK, painted up in hypothetical LW Western European camouflage. But interestingly it does seem to have been a pre-cursor of many successful modern wheeled armoured car designs, like the LAV, Panhard EBR, Luchs and many others. So it would be interesting to see how British or US armoured car development would have changed if the Boarhound was able to show its true potential.

T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!

Now that we have looked at the history and development of the Boarhound, what little there was..... let’s see how this beast handles on the tabletop!

I am really excited to get these guys back in the desert! As soon as I saw these previously I knew I had to get a unit of them, and now I have an excuse to paint up 4 more to go with my MW Desert/Italy Force!

T18E2 Boarhound – A vehicle ahead of its time!

So as a wildcard you can only take one unit of up to 4 of these beautiful machines, with a minimum of 2. They are 4 points each, and I think they work best as a unit of 3 or 4, so I would be looking at spending 12 to 16 points on a unit.

This has a similar weapon to the 75mm Sherman, with a 28” AT 10, 4+ firepower gun, which only real downside is no HE, so it will have a harder time digging out dug in infantry or guns, but works really well against armour, so I would make those your primary target. Also at 4 points a vehicle, they are cheaper than 9 points a tank for a Sherman..... I know what I will be taking... If you need to target infantry, or beat off an infantry assault, each has 4 MG shots, so plenty of lead to spread!

They also can Spearhead, and have Scout, and a 3+ Skill, so Blitzing will be to your benefit, to get your guns firing at full RoF. The only thing they will be sub-par, is in assault, as their Scout role gives them poor Assault, Counterattack and Last Stand values, but really that is not their role. But they could do it in a pinch, or if the combat is heavily in their favour, their side armour of 3 is not terrible for MW.

Their front armour of 4, while not great, does give them a chance of bouncing AT9 shots, but try to keep them moving, harassing the enemy! Their best use will be hunting down German Marders and other high AT low armour assets, and well as making the enemy tanks check their flanks.

I am really, really looking forward to fielding these!

Last Updated On Thursday, March 17, 2022