The Otter Reconnaissance Car in Canadian Service
by Roger V Lucy.
Canada’s Weapons of War Series, WOW032
A5 size softback, 24 pages
Review by Peter Brown
“The British “Car, Light Reconnaissance” was a lightly-armoured vehicle intended to be used by the reconnaissance units of Second World War Infantry Divisions to scout, observe or act as a protective screen as required. They were to be crewed by three men, armed with a Bren light machine gun and carry either a Boys anti-tank rifle or a radio set. As with many British requirements, Canada produced its own version.. Unlike the British Humber which used a 4×2 car chassis (or later a 4×4 version of that) the Otter was based around a standard General Motors Canada 15cwt 4×4 light truck chassis fitted with a more powerful engine. This resulted in a taller vehicles but gave it the advantages of better cross-country. Even the light armour overloaded the chassis though it proved to be reliable in service.
Production was slow to get underway and the requirement was reduced but over 1000 were eventually built for Canadian service with another 750 ordered by the RAF for its own armoured car units. Otters were used in Sicily, Italy and NW Europe but they were not considered ideal. Many recce units preferred either a proper armoured car or a better-protected scout car while some used the Humber. Others were used by engineer units for scouting and liaison and some as armoured observation posts by the artillery. Attempts to modify they as protected radio trucks came to nothing but fitted with a second Bren they were used as anti-aircraft escort vehicles for truck convoys. After the war Canadian and RAF vehicles were phased out or replaced, many were passed on to other countries and used in internal security roles.
Development, design and production of the Otter is covered in similar format to other books in this series, a well-written text gives facts and details as well as accounts by those who used them. Several period black and white photos show the cars in different guises in Canadian hands. A five-view plan on the centre pages shows a typical vehicle including markings and an additional side view of a turretless car which are also shown in the photos.
Thanks to Clive Law at Service Publications for the review book.”