The M40 Armored Utility Car - Officially, "Car, Utility, Armored M40" - (informally known as the "Bearhound" because of its size) is a heavy armored car for reconnaissance and rapid response roles used by the United States Army and United States Marine Corps. The vehicle is well-liked by U.S. military personnel - if not always by its crews - and quite feared by its enemies for its formidability.
The M40 Armored Utility Car is an unusually large and heavy 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle for reconnaissance and rapid response missions. It is powered by a large 520hp Detroit Diesel 8V-71T 8-cylinder, 9.3L displacement engine, giving it a top speed of just over 80km/h (50 mph). The main armament of the Bearhound is a turret-mounted 76mm gun M32, taken from the M41 "Walker Bulldog" Light Tank but mounted in a turret unique to the vehicle's design with an autoloader mechanism for reducing crew requirements.
The M40 is unusually large and heavy for its intended role, but its powerful engine gives it more than enough speed while its large and numerous wheels help to distribute the pressure of its weight. Still, the M40 has more trouble than some lighter scout cars in negotiating certain terrains. In Alaska, however, its powerful engine and robust suspension have proven more than capable of tackling heavy snows.
Still, despite relatively heavy armament and armor, the primary purpose of the Bearhound is battlefield reconnaissance. It is fielded by the Cavalry Squadron [battalion] of most U.S. Division types (including Infantry), where it operates alongside mechanized infantry (a Cavalry Squadron contains two mechanized infantry companies and an armored car company equipped with M40s). However, when combat is required, the M40 is quite adapt - able to take on all but the heaviest of Russian vehicles and even menace enemy T-55 tanks. Still, it carries a limited amount of ammunition and its relatively thin armor is no match for a Russian 100mm D-10 rifled gun. In such situations, the Bearhound's primary advantage is speed. To this end, it is equipped with a unique dual planetary / epicyclic gearbox that allows reverse speeds equal to foward speeds and the ability for the wheels on one side to revolve at a different rate than those on the other, permitting the Bearhound to turn extremely sharply - or, when in neutral, to turn in place on its axis. The drive-train system is like that of an American tank, rather than a car; but like the M60 tank, the M40 uses a steering wheel that acts on the differential system, making it quite smooth and easy to handle.
M40 Bearhounds have essentially replaced the fuel-hungry, noisy, gasoline-powered M41 Walker Bulldogs in frontline service with units on the Alaskan Front. It has also superceded a host of older, Anglo-American War-era armored cars, and is generally regarded as the most advanced such vehicle currently in service in the world. Projects to create variants of the vehicle are currently being undertaken, but at present there exist three main versions:
- M40A1 - standard version, -A1 denotes the fitting of a Vampire nightvision system
- M40A2B1 - version of M40A1 equipped with a long-barrel, rapid-fire 40mm cannon and high-angle turret for anti-personnel / anti-aircraft. -B1 denotes Nightvision installation.
M40A4B1 - Command version of the M40A2 model with improved communications equipment. -B1 denotes Nightvision installation.
Manufacturer: Chrysler, Ford Motor Company
Weight: 16 Tonnes metric / 17.64 short tons
Length, overall: 7.5 meters / 24.6 feet
Width, without armored skirts: 2.5 meters / 8.2
Height: 2.25 meters / 7.38 feet
Track Width: 711.2mm / 28"
Crew: 4 (Commander, Gunner, Driver, Radio Operator)
Armor: 60mm / 2.36" maximum
Main Armament: 76mm Gun M32
- Coaxial .50-calibre M2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun
Engine: Detriot Diesel 8V-71T (530hp)
Transmission: Dual Planetary
Suspension: Transverse torsion bars
Operational Range, without external tanks: 900km / 559 miles
Road Speed: 80 km/h / 49.7 mph