Bob Gordon and Thom Gordon
FOR BRANT NEWS
A total of 4,409 Ferrets were produced between 1952 and 1971. Canada purchased 125 of them.
They were built by Daimler, a company selected on the basis of its success in designing the earlier “Dingo” armoured car, which was used throughout the Second World War.
The Dingo was initially manufactured by Birmingham Small Arms (BSA). Ironically, however, in the immediate post-war era, BSA was taken over by Daimler and a decade after the Second Wold War Britain’s former enemy, Germany, was manufacturing its newest armoured car.
The Ferret was a tiny vehicle. It was only 1.91 meters tall, slightly more than the height of an average man and not even that wide. To reduce width, the two-man crew sat one behind the other. The driver occupied the front seat while the vehicle commander sat (more often stood) above and behind him.
The vehicle had a flat bottom designed to increase clearance and allow it to slide over impediments. Unfortunately, this design feature also made it particularly vulnerable to mines. While its unibody hull was as thick as 2.5 centimetres in the front, its principle defensive techniques were concealment, mobility and speed. It’s V-8 engine gave the Ferret a top speed of 93 km per hour.
Armoured cars perform a variety of functions, ranging from reconnaissance to command and control, communications and liaison. Lightly armoured and highly mobile, they were a key element of Canadian peacekeeping deployments for decades.
In the summer of 1974, a Greek coup followed by a Turkish invasion turned Cyprus into a war zone with peacekeepers from the Canadian Airborne Regiment in the midst of battles for the capital, Nicosia. Ferrets, the heaviest armoured vehicles available to the Canadians, repeatedly provided significant interventions, maintained patrols along the dividing line between forces and oversaw civilian evacuations.
In 1981, the Ferret was retired from service. The Ferret in the Canadian Military Heritage Museum collection was the 14th purchased by the Canadian Army.