Tackling MBTs is, as shown, comparatively easy - as long as you stay with Shermans and Centurions, that is. Armoured cars are of a slightly different nature.

Armoured Cars in the war of independence

During the war of independence various makes of so-called 'homemade' ACs were used by the forerunner of the IDF. Although 'homemade' suggests - and is sometimes described as - a motley collection of widely differing vehicles, actually a number of patterns can be discerned which you might just as well call 'types'.

Armoured White

To the casual onlooker it may seem that there was some kind of M3-sale in 1947/48 as many of the AC-conversions used in the war of independence were based on that armoured car. Originally an open-topped vehicle - rather an aroured truck than a true AC - it got a sloped top for ballistical protection. A 7,92mm MG was mounted in a roughly octagonally shaped turret, another MG was operated by the co-driver. Some pictures show an additional machinegun on an AA mount. For infantry support purposes these conversions seem to have been quite successful.

This picture gives a good overall impression of such an White-conversion. The red line shows the original outline of the M3 Scout Car minus the door.

A closeup of the turret atop the white. No AA mount here, but note the periscope mount and the vision slits in the sloped turret panels.

As a comparison, this picture shows a turret of a slightly different pattern, this time with an AA mount.

Another closeup showing the reserve wheel and tool stowage, antenna mount and rear vision port.

This White - the red line again shows the original outline of the M3 Scout Car - has a different armoured body offering less ballistical protection.

A few Whites - and by that I mean really few, perhaps only a handful! - were equipped with 37mm guns, probably taken from captured but unservicable Arab ACs. Information on these vehicles is rare; there can however be no doubt that these conversions were markedly inferior in performance to real gun-equipped ACs like the Daimler Mk I or the Humber Mk IV used by the Arab Legion.

Armoured Dodge

Another conversion type was based on the ubiquitous Dodge weapons carrier (or any other vehicle with that chassis). Armament seem mostly to have been the same as on the Whites, although some pictures show vehicles that have only the turret-mounted MG. I couldn't find evidence for Dodge ACs equipped with guns.

This picture shows clearly one of the main differences between the White and the Dodge. The armoured hull of the latter - outlined in red - is slab-sided thus offering lesser ballistical protection. The car in the background is a White.

Armoured M3 Halftrack

Quite a lot of Halftracks were used in the war of independence, many in the APC role, others however were employed in a different way (cf. here and here for the use of M3 Halftracks as APCs and SPGs). At least one Halftrack was converted to something resembling an AC. It mounted a hexagonal (? not quite sure!) turret with (probably!) a 20mm Hispano-Suiza gun. In my eyes this is a really interesting conversion, although pitiful little is known about it.

The picture above shows the turreted M3 Halftrack. Other pictures exist, but it is difficult to decide whether they show the same vehicle or others modified the same way.

A closeup of the turret. The longer I think about it, the more I would think this gun not to be a 20mm...

Converted Otters

To a lesser extent also ex-Canadian Otter ACs were used. It is, however, difficult to decide whether these were acquired directly by the Haganah or whether they are captured vehicles originally operated by the Arab forces - I know, I know, this is also some kind of aquisition...


... stands for 'Really Crazy Stuff'. Apart from the aforementioned types many trucks and other vehicles were converted to armoured vehicles. Here at last is a staggering variety of designs ranging from small cars to armoured buses.

The picture above is just one example. Matter-of-factly this is just an armoured truck and as such might just as well fit into the APC-category, however, many of these vehicles were also used as patrol vehicles. More on these converted trucks can be found here in the APC section.

Here we have a convoy consisting of homemade ACs. Note the differences between the three vehicles and the protective mesh screens.

A closeup of protective screens like the ones in the picture above, albeit on a different vehicle.

How to build these vehicles?

I have to admit that personally I find the war of independence from a modelers point of view most interesting due to the sometimes strange vehicles used by all sides (the Syrians fielded some uparmored Wagner-Fords that look simply crazy, but that's another story...). Reference material, however, is almost exclusively confined to pictures; this on the other hand allows you some leeway, especially if you are not a rivet-counter (yes, they do exist even in small-scale, lamenting about wrongly shaped tool clamps, missing rifling detail on guns and figures painted without detailed fingernails...). Generally speaking you will need a lot of scratchbuilding here, as no one produces kits of these strange vehicles - well, I guess the manufacturers have to make a profit out of their kits. Let's look at the vehicles mentioned above in detail.

Building the truly 'homemade' vehicles is pure and simple fun. Get a picture, some chassis that looks about right and some styrene sheet, and off you go! As most of these vehicles were in fact armoured lorries you can't be very wrong with a chassis taken from a truck.

This picture of Haganah armoured cars clearly shows the various kinds of conversions. Would you dare to tell the origin of these vehicles?

A closeup shows some differences between two of the cars. Interesting is the radiator protection of the car on the right. It also seems to have armoured skirts fo the wheels. This must have had adverse effects on the performance of that vehicle. Note also the crewmen with differing attire and equipment.


This company offers various makes of Russian trucks (GAZ-AA, GAZ-AAA and the like) in 1/72. The kits are very nice, and the trucks are almost ideal for the purpose, as the Russian GAZ trucks were more or less copies of an American design that was hugely popular in the 1930s and 1940s. A word on the scale here: I sincerely doubt that if you take only the chassis and build some armoured hull around it you can still tell it's 1/72. Build the armoured hull with some 1/76 figures in mind and you have a 1/76 model...


Apart from three variants of the American GMC truck they also have two Japanese trucks in their range, an Isuzu and a Toyota I think. I haven't built the latter, but probably they are comparable to the GMCs, which are quite acceptable. All of these can be used - who can tell the origin of a chassis if you put a box made out of steel on it?


The LRDG set should receive mention here. Not only is it a great source for a 1/76 jeep and a Chevvy truck, but you get also lots and lots of equipment that can be used for various purposes. However, this kit is increasingly hard to get.


Airfix has quite a lot of softskins in their range. As I am tired of naming them all, let's just say that again as long as it looks right you can use it.

Now to the other ACs. There is no M3 Scout Car kit on the market. As you might have guessed, Esci had once a very good kit in their range, but it's gone. The same story with the Dodge truck. If you still find these kits, they can be an excellent base for a conversion project.

Above we have an Esci M 3 Scout Car conversion, pretty much following the plans in the depot section. The longer I look at this picture, the more I think I overdid the wheathering.

What else can I say? Machine guns are Matchbox (I think), as are the sandchannels. The figure is a Hasegawa/Matchbox mixture.

As for the M3 mentioned above, cf. what is said here in the APC section.

after 1949

After the war of independence the IDF used - apart from captured vehicles, for these look here - to my knowledge only two types of armoured cars: the Staghound and later the French-built Panhard in a version mounting a 90mm CN gun. The latter ACs were however not completely satisfying and after a relatively short time withdrawn from service. The guns were obviously a different story, as you can see here.

The picture above shows Staghounds at an independence day parade.

This picture shows an IDF Panhard

As far as kits are concerned, well, it's a bleak situation - no plastic kits whatsoever of the Staghound or the Panhard. This only leaves totally scratchbuilding, when - better if - you can find wheels that look about right.

still under construction!!

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