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The Ferret Scout Car in in Canadian Service

The Ferret Scout Car in in Canadian Service Book Review

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2010 Title The Ferret Scout Car in in Canadian Service
Author Colin MacGregor Publisher Service Publications
Published 2009 ISBN 1-894581-55-4
Format 24 pages, softbound MSRP (CDN) $9.95


When one goes to military vehicle rallies and meets today, one of the most common armored vehicles encountered is the diminutive Ferret scout car in one of its many forms. Small and easy to maintain, it is popular with preservationists and reenactors for those reasons.

Since the British Army had been very partial to wheeled armored vehicles of all sorts during WWII, it was only natural that their development and use would continue after the war. As such, the Daimler company proposed the FV700 to replace its popular wartime Dingo scout car in 1947. The new car, smaller, more compact and better armored than the Dingo, was accepted for service in 1951 as the FV701C. Originally called “Fieldmouse” somebody apparently thought better of it and renamed it the Ferret Mark 1.

From 1954 to the late 1960s the Ferret Mark 1 was the main Canadian Army reconnaissance vehicle. While British service and foreign sales saw the vehicle go through five different marks and also be fitted with a small turret, the Canadian Army stuck with the Mark 1 and ignored most of the armament options except for a 7.62mm Browning weapon on a swivel. As it was a reconnaissance car, the Canadian view was keeping it low meant avoiding having it spotted, and as the turret added about 18 inches to the overall height of the vehicle it was seen as compromising that stealth. (There is also an old US Army adage that if you give a lieutenant a weapon to fight with he will be dumb enough to use it and not recall what his primary mission was supposed to be, namely recon.)

A total of 124 Mark 1s were purchased by Canada and served with the Army, given registration numbers 54-82500 to 54-82623.

In the 1960s the Canadian Army bought the US M113 APC, and it was soon found that the Ferrets had trouble keeping up with them in the field. The Canadian Army then purchased the “M113 ½" or Lynx tracked reconnaissance vehicle built from M113 parts, but while more mobile this vehicle was found in service to have some serious drawbacks.

While used for a number of worldwide duties, it is probably with the Canadian UN peacekeeping missions that their Ferrets are best known. Starting in Egypt in 1956, they were used in many different areas and missions .

Over the years the Ferrets underwent several refinishings and wound up with the registration numbers carried on license plates starting in 1970.

But all things come to an end, and beginning in 1980 the 117 remaining Ferrets were “pensioned off” with at least 81 sold to a US vehicle dealer (the source of many belonging to preservationists!) with many now in the hands of Canadian preservationists coming from BATUS stocks of British vehicles used for training. Go figure.

Overall a fun read and one that puts the little beast in a new light.

Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review copy.