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Canadian Armoured Snowmobile 

Or the Snowmobile, Armoured, Canadian, Mk.1. This page features a selection of quotes from various sources on the subject plus a number of links to others.


A Survey of Army Research and Development, 1939-45, p.19-20 (14 Feb. 1955) (Canadian Army Headquarters Report No.73)
"Typical of development work particularly suited to Canadian conditions and resources is the Snowmobile series of low ground pressure vehicles. The development of these vehicles was supervised by the Army Engineering Design Branch (A.E.D.B.) of the Department of Munitions and Supply. A survey of commercial types of snow vehicles was made in the fall and winter of 1941 on the instigation of the U.N. Following the study complete tests were carried out on the most promising one of these types, and a military vehicle was developed therefore by introducing a number of modifications to improve the performance under service conditions.
Some 129 of these "Bombardier" snowmobiles were built, starting in the spring of 1942. Most of the vehicles were shipped to the U.K. At the same time a project was instituted to develop, from the ground up, a vehicle of similar type (half track with skis at front), but greater capacity. Interest in this vehicle ceased in July 1943. However a pilot had been built and during tests it became apparent that such a vehicle could better be manoeuvred by means of the tracks than by ski steering. It was decided, therefore, to build an experimental fully tracked snow vehicle. Tests on the new vehicle were carried out in the winter of 1942-43, and their success led to a decision to adopt the full track principle for service snow traversing vehicles.
In the spring of 1943 the British Ministry of Supply expressed an immediate requirement for an armoured two-man reconnaissance snowmobile. The results of previous experience were devoted therefore to satisfying this requirement, rather than to a plan which had been contemplated of building an unarmoured personnel and cargo carrying vehicle, and a prototype was built of the vehicle which became known as the "Snowmobile, Armoured Canadian, Mark 1.". Production started in early spring 1944 and vehicles having been produced.
Meanwhile, in January1944, the Ministry of Supply had requested A.E.D.B. to develop a version of the Snowmobile for hot climate and amphibious operations. As an interim measure the Mark 1 snowmobile was modified for hot climate operation, while concurrently experimental work was instituted which led to the conversion of the snowmobile into the armoured amphibian Mudcat, of which pilot models were made in the spring of 1945. Design of a lighted load-carrying version of the Mudcat, subsequently called "Muskrat" began in October 1944. Pilot models only were produced.
The final member of the snowmobile family, the Penguin, reverted to the original oversnow function. With operation "Muskox" impending, work was started by D.V.S.A. in October 1945 on building, from the Mark 1 Snowmobile, a mock up of sedan type vehicle in which equipment and personnel could be transported in reasonable comfort in extreme cold conditions, a requirement which had been established from the experiences of previous winter exercises. Following brief tests 15 Penguins were made for the operations.
Operational user trials were carried out on several Mark 1 Snowmobiles in Italy in January and February 1945. Performance over all types of soft ground was excellent. They not only travelled, with ease, roads one and a half feet deep in mud but were able to assist bogged wheeled vehicles to firm footing. The mechanical reliability of the vehicles was good.
In operation "Muskox" (February to May 1946) which covered 3,100 miles under the most trying conditions of weather and terrain, it was dust which ultimately proved the worst enemy; during the last 200 miles (36 hours) of running six engines were knocked out from this
cause."



This suspension plan view from the maintenance manual shows the layout of the drive train: a Cadillac V8 petrol engine, coupled to a 4-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission driving the front sprockets through a Ford T16 Universal carrier axle with controlled differential steering. The engine and transmission were a proven combination, as a pair of each was used in the M5A1 Stuart and M24 Chaffee Light Tanks.

Technical characteristics as listed in Bart Vanderveen's Fighting Vehicles Directory:
Snowmobile, Canadian, Armoured, Mk I (Farland & Delorme)
Cadillac V8-cyl, 125 bhp, 4F1R (Hydramatic), 154x101x58 in, 9400 lb. Also known as Car, Armoured, Tracked. Role: Light Reconnaissance car with crew of two. No. 19 W/T set, Bren and Sten gun etc. 16 Run Flat tyres (4.50-16); 35-in tracks.


Survivors

A Snowmobile survives in the "Il Museo storico della Motorizzazione Militare" located at the Caserma Arpaia, Viale dell'Esercito 170, Roma-Cecchignola, Italy.

Scan courtesy of Don Dingwall.



Another survivor at the museum at the Museum of Armoured Forces, Kubinka, Russia.

Click here to see another photo of the Snowmobile at Kubinka.

Scan courtesy of Don Dingwall.


In the thread Penguin # 8 (on Maple Leaf Up Forum) Jim Webster (by way of Gordon McMillan) noted:
  • "Some went to Yugoslavia [100+] in the late 40's and one was even seen, apparently, during the late civil war carrying a quad .50cal mount. I spotted that in an intelligence document and I'll see if I can get an image."
  • "An unknown quantity were sold to Turkey in 1947 and three survivors are in a scrapyard somewhere near Amasya if I recall correctly".

Quotes from other sources
  • Don Dingwall, Canadian Armour in the Italian Campaign:

  • "One notable Canadian-designed and produced vehicle that arrived for field tests was the Snowmobile, Armoured, Canadian, Mark I, often referred to as the Mudcat, and later known as the Penguin. This remarkable little vehicle was designed as an armoured, two-man recce vehicle for cold weather regions. This vehicle was the result of a verbal request by the British Ministry of Supply, and was a development of a full-tracked unarmoured snowmobile, upon which the Army Engineering Design Branch had already conducted tests in 1943. 

    Equipped with a Cadillac V8 engine coupled to a Hydra-matic automatic transmission, and a Ford T16 Universal carrier axle with controlled differential steering, this vehicle was tested by the 5th Armoured Brigade in the first weeks of January 1945, when it was issued with one M29 Weasel and 12 snowmobiles. With its armoured hull and ground pressure of only 1.9 pounds per square inch, it not only provided good fun for the Strathcona's recce troop but proved able to negotiate all types of mud, sand and snow encountered. It was compared against the M29 Weasel and the conclusions reached were that the Weasel was fine for carrying stores but not useful for much else because of its lack of armour, very short track life, and low horsepower-per-ton ratio of 10.9, compared to the Canadian snowmobile's 29 hp/ton. The Penguin proved to be an ideal recce vehicle, with provision for a No. 19 wireless set, a Sten gun, a rifle and a Bren gun that could be mounted on any of three pivots on the hull front and sides. It was also tested for bringing forward supplies to areas previously accessible only by foot or mule, and six-pounder guns were towed through mud up to the axles with no problems.

    For added load-carrying capabilities, two trailers were designed in the Mediterranean theatre for use with the snowmobile. One, designed at the Mechanical Experimental Establishment in Cairo, was based on the tracks and suspension from a Universal carrier and was quite serviceable. The other was designed in Italy and was found to sink in soft ground. The British discovered that while the vehicle was being tested in Egypt of all places, it overheated when operating in temperatures above 70 degrees F - a fact that was confirmed when the instruction book finally arrived. In all, 415 of these nimble little vehicles were made. Of these, three were shipped to Russia, 400 were ordered by the British, 10 by the Department of National Defence, and two Mark Is were supplied to the Army Engineering Design Branch. Orders were placed for a Mark II version with improved cooling and better weather protection for all-weather use. Unfortunately, this was after the major component assemblies were already out of production. This necessitated a cutback of four vehicles to the British order, under Contract #UN 4718. The fifth vehicle came under Canadian Contract #MP 10027. Therefore, the total production was 410 Mark Is and five Mark IIs. They were not taken on strength by Canadian units as there was no requirement for them in Canadian units and spring was approaching."

  • Bill Gregg writes:

  • "The vehicle proved to be one of the best performing vehicles to be designed during the Second World War. 410 vehicles were produced in late 1944 and early 1945, 397 of which were delivered to a British contract.
    During British and Canadian trials, it proved to be superior in performance to other Allied all-terrain vehicles, including the Weasel, in severe mud conditions. As a six-pounder gun tower, it proved to be superior to all other models in Allied use at the end of the war.
    Laden weight was just under five tons and, in spite of 14 mm side armour, ground pressure was just over 1.6 pounds per square inch. It carried a crew of two and was powered by a Cadillac V8 engine with hydramatic transmission."
    • From David Fletcher's The Universal Tank (1993):

    • "Naturally enough, Canada had considerable experience of building and operating oversnow vehicles, some of which were of considerable interest to the military. Marketed as the Snowmobile one developed into an armoured carrier powered by a Cadillac V8 engine, and seem to have proved suitable for all ground and weather conditions, since a sample vehicle was tested over mud and swamps by MEE in Italy and shortly after the war another was used experimentally on the otherwise impassable sand sea of the Quattara Depression in, of all places, the Sahara Desert!"
      The accompanying picture shows armoured Snowmobile Z5874162, painted overall white and marked "WVEE 1307", "on test in Britain".
    • From the AEDB DESIGN RECORD 1945:

    • "ORDERS
      Contract ~ Requisition Number ~ File No. ~ Qty
      UN 3110 ~ AID/GB - 1 ~ BSB-2827 (PC2621) ~ 400
      UN 11 ~ AID/USSR - 2 ~ P-187-2 ~ 2
      MP 5458 ~ MSX/292 ~ PE-134-292 ~ 2
      MP 5459 ~ CD/LV - 2535 ~ 20/LV7-85 Army ~ 10
      Approximate cost per vehicle $8000.00"

    Further reading on the subject

    For more information, follow the links to some web sites and forum messages:



    With special thanks to Don Dingwall, Colin McGregor Stevens and Geoff Winnington-Ball for their assistance in compiling this page.

    Page created: 13-Dec-2002 | Last revision: 18-May-2004  | Copyright © 1999-2004 H.L. Spoelstra - All Rights Reserved