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Standard Beaverette Armoured Car
Feature on the Standard Beaverette: (or the Beaverette Virtual Museum)
Warning, this is a large page with lots of graphics and will take a little time to download, unless you are a broadband user.
Beaverette Mark III at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Photo: John Harris
I have put together on this page all that I (and my tame researcher, Google) can find about the Standard Beaverette. I really ought to get out more! Perhaps I will be presented with the Standard "Anorack" award for 2006? This material has been collected from a variety of websites and other sources, some of which contradict themselves. The idea of this page is that you should write in to me if you have any further information, pictures or details, so that in time, this becomes the definitive reference point for Beaverettes, though I don't purport that it is just yet!
How did it come about:
The idea for the Beaverette is accredited to Lord Beaverbrook, conservative MP and owner of the Daily Express and Evening Standard. (Before the war, The Daily Express had the largest daily circulation in the world)
Lord Beaverbrook was prominent in Churchill’s wartime government as Minister of Aircraft
It is to be expected therefore that Max Aitkin, for that was his "real" name, must have been acquainted with Captain John Black, who in the late 30's had received government funding to build two Shadow factories in Coventry to build aircraft for the hostilities.
The Beaverette therefore came about because of 3 facts:
Hence the Beaverette was born:
Beaverette Mark I and II
The first cars were the most crude in design. The 12Hp chassis was fitted with a 14Hp engine , to propel the predicted weight of the machine, which was fitted with a steel plate body of, shall we say, angular proportions. The Mark I is said to have carried oak planks to the rear extension for the armour did not reach that far back. Clearly Standard had a number of front wings also left over so these were the only consideration made to what might be called "styling". Whilst I can not confirm this, I believe the Mark II was steel plated to the rear extension as well, that being the only substantial difference.. A Bren .303 machine gun was the usual fitting and some carried a wireless set. The driver and gunner sat in an open cockpit, the driver having a horizontal slot to view the road and the gunner a vertical slot to fire out of. Some shots show a third crew member, though he appears to have no seat and stands behind the driver with the appearance of waiting to be shot!
These all appear to be Mark I or II's, though note that in the 4th picture there
is an extra rib around all sides -
The only distinguishing feature on the Mk I is the rib around the waist line, evident on the left hand car. The remainder are Mk IIs.
Today, we would call this a Beaverette Rally, is this the same gathering just breaking up in the large photo below
The page below is from an unidentified magazine of August 1940 where the cars are incorrectly titled "Mosquitos" and called Ironsides, . The text also says that they are in exercises with a "famous cavalary division" which contradicts the popular wisdom that these cars were only ever in service with the Home Guard and for RAF Airfield protection. It looks to me like the centre shot is at the same large gathering as the two shots above. Note also that the first shot is the only one available of a rear view and clearly shows soldiers jumping from the flat rear floor of the car
The above page can be enlarged, by clicking on it
Beaverette Mark III and IV.
By this time Standard appeared to have exhausted the supply of front wings and chassis so the next batches of cars were purpose built. The 12 Hp chassis was shortened to remove the rear overhang and the tin wings were replaced with armoured steel. For the mark III, a turret was added to the top of an enclosed cabin. There were two types of turret:
The Mark IV retains the enclosed roof and turret, but there is a redesign of the armour around the driver and navigators heads. Clearly this was designed to mean that the driver no longer had to lean forward to see out of his "slot" but his slot was also reduced in size". The navigator gained two smaller slots in a vee configuration, again designed to improve visibility (!)
All the below are Mark III's
The Mk III's with enclosed turrets and Bren Machine guns are above and those with the larger twin Vickers machine guns are below.
This Mk III resides in the Imperial War Museums collection at Duxford: My thanks to John Harris for these shots, all of which can be clicked on to show a larger version:
Access to the engine was good, provided you had the strength to lift the centre hinged bonnet!
The enclosed turret is fitted to this model
The crew had to crawl in through this, the rear ( and only) door and over the raised hump for the rear axle
The "office" is probably the most uninviting driving seat I have been in!
Modern Photos of Mark IVs
This is the Mark IV that I had the misfortune to drive ( see later) a number of years ago. The change in armour and slots can be clearly seen.
Photo: Phil Homer
Photographed a number of years ago in an underground museum in North Wales, this Mk IV has been cut down for civilian use, also evidenced by the fitting of headlights and sidelights
Photo: Phil Homer
Irish Army Service
The shots below have recently been sent to me by Brendan Bohan. Thes show vehicles
used by 11th Motor Squadron FCA (Forsa Cosanta Aitiuil -
The second photo, below, shows a line up of Ford Armoured Cars, they are the ones with the large gun on top. The Standards can be seen towards the rear of the convoy, just before the soldiers on bikes!
About 20 years ago, it was my "privilege" to drive a Mk IV. Well, actually, I got it off a low loader and into the exhibition hall in which the club was exhibiting at Brighton, that was quite far enough! I can report that visibility was next to nil, as was performance, and the noise was positively dangerous! As you might expect, the steering wasn't exactly light, but there was 2 1/2 tons to drag around without power steering! I have also found the following account of a wartime experience of driving one of these machines:
"We took a packed train to Plymouth, he in a first-
On the driver's side there were 2 slits at eye level, one directly in front the other
on the extreme right-
Within about 10 minutes the Officer was screaming at me "I thought you said that you could drive this bloody thing" and I was driving too fast. I told him that I could not drive any slower, the weight of the thing was the problem. We carried on a bit further and he became annoyed with the situation, saying I could not drive at all. He said "I'll have a go", we exchanged places. I was overjoyed to hand over. Within two minutes he was saying "I now know what you mean, its a terrible thing to handle". We then decided to take it in turns to drive, literally crawlng all the way to Bath where he lived in a grand house in beautiful Georgian Royal Crescent.
I was consigned to the basement to spend the night in the quarters of the domestic staff, the Officer was naturally upstairs a real "upstairs and downstairs" situation,
To my surprise, Google has found 4 scale models of the Beaverette, and two of them
still appear to be available. They will form the basis of another feature shortly
If you have spotted any errors in the above, or have other information or photographs to add to it, please send them to me.