M -8 armored car is used by the cavalry recon troop of an infantry division. It is a six wheeled rubber tired vehicle. A liquid is placed within the tires to prevent deflation when pierced by bullets. It is manned by a crew of ------ two in the turret and two forward. The car commander and gunner are in the turret-which is movable in a 360 degree circle by means of a hand crank. Communication within the vehicle is by means of an intercom: each man having a throat mike and earphones contained within the tank helmet. The gunner operates the 37 mm cannon and the 30 caliber machine gun. These are fired by foot pedals - the left for the cannon and right for machine gun.

         Communication with other M-8 s of the platoon and troop is achieved by either the commander or radio operator by voice on an SCR 506 frequency modulated radio using hand mikes. An SCR 300 continuous wave radio is used for contact with division headquarters and other troop units. The Morse code transmissions are sent by the radio operator using a key attached to a semi-circular steel strap clamped onto his right leg. Messages to division were encrypted and decoded using the army M- 209 encoder. A new setting for the M-209 was usually supplied each day.

          In addition to the cannon and machine gun, each M-8 had a fifty caliber machine gun located on a swiveled stand just behind the turret. After experiencing some casualties while using the fifty, ordnance fitted them with armor plate.

          The M-8 was propelled by a Chrysler gasoline engine located in the rear, aft of the turret. The turret was of cast steel, about four feet in diameter and approximately three inches thick the side armor is about one - half inch thick whereas the front is nearer one inch.

          The driver sits in left front and radio operator to his right. They enter their positions by climbing on top and then lowering themselves down into position. The "hatch" is then closed by first letting down the top cover and then closing the front section. The periscope is in the frontal hatch door. Their seats consist of thin pads (1/4 "thick) and 10" x 10". Since the engine is in the rear there is absolutely no heat up front and during severe cold weather, should you get wet and touch the inside with bare flesh your skin would become frozen to the metal. It then becomes quite painful to separate the flesh from the metal.

          The purpose of a cavalry recon troop, and of all infantry recon units, and scouts, is to proceed in front of combat troops, contact the enemy and, if possible, infiltrate behind enemy lines. If this is accomplished, the unit then reports to headquarters all data as might be obtained regarding enemy size, strength, weapons, etc.

          During ww1l, all recon units sustained higher percentages of casualties than did those of infantry units. Due to the extreme danger of the inherent mission of cavalry recon troops, the jeeps were outfitted with armor plating. These were the only jeeps thus equipped during WWII.

----- Mason ( Mickey ) Hardin Dorsey


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