A scout car is a military armored reconnaissance vehicle, capable of off-road mobility and often carrying mounted weapons such as machine guns for offensive capabilities and crew protection. They often only carry an operational crew aboard, which differentiates them from wheeled armored personnel carriers (APCs) and Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMVs), but early scout cars, such as the open-topped US M3 Scout Car could carry a crew of seven. The term is often used synonymously with the more general term armored car, which also includes armored civilian vehicles. They are also differentiated by being designed and built for purpose, as opposed to improved technicals which might serve in the same role.
The British developed a number of scout cars by adding armoured bodies to existing chassis - such as the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car - or the purpose-built Daimler Dingo. In comparison to British armoured cars, they carried no more armament than a single light machine gun and were generally turretless. Their duties were fast reconnaissance and liaison work. The Dingo remained in use until replaced by the Ferret, also by Daimler, in the 1950s.
Due to scout cars' heavier protection and armament compared to lighter reconnaissance vehicles, crews often attempted to emulate tanks during World War II. In violation of doctrinal principles, the vehicles attacked hostile positions rather than merely reconnoitering them - a practice that resulted in heavy losses and interfered with the parent unit's ability to observe the battlefield. On some examples, such as the American M3, it was even proposed that armour levels be reduced to resist the temptation of using them as fighting vehicles.
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