AMPS is all about armor modeling and the preservation of armor and mechanized heritage.

Casemate Publishing- U.S. Army Ford M8 and M20 Armored Cars

ISBN Number:
ISBN 978-1-63624-310-8
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Casemate Publishing
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
Chris Lloyd-Staples

U.S. Army Ford M8 and M20 Armored Cars


Compared to many other nations, the US Army did not depend on armored cars for the types of roles where Britain and Germany, for example, used wheeled armor.  In the years leading up to WW2, the US designers produced a few prototypes and limited runs of a number of 4x2 and 6x4 vehicles, each being essentially a modified commercial chassis.  As the war in Europe exploded across the continent and then into North Africa, it was clear that the armored cars were important for fast and long distance scouting, and the US doctrine would have to adapt to the concept of reconnaissance in force.  During 1941-43 the M8 car evolved from a new concept, built around a modern monocoque armored hull onto which the suspension was fitted, rather than onto a separate chassis.  This stronger design allowed the M8 to be low and well-armored, with the engine located over the four rear wheels.  The M8 was an immediate success, and was rushed into production alongside the sister M20 utility car.  By the end of 1943, more than half of M8 production had been completed and nearly half of planned M20 cars.  


The cars were too late to appear in North Africa, and were first issued to field units in Italy at the very end of 1943. only appearing in numbers during 1944. After the Overlord operation (Normandy landings) the cars found great value in the rapid advances as the Allies broke out into the open French countryside.  The cars were ideal for harrying the retreating Axis forces, with recce and flank security roles, continuing in a significant policing role after the German surrender.


This book from Casemate is a translation from a French publication, but you wouldn't know it as the writing is clear and technically correct.  Didier Andres has done a number of books, and they are worth getting!  A hardback book with 160 pages, this is a very good book for modelers. The chapters are:

  1. The Genesis of Light Armored Cars
  2. Car, Armored, Light, M8
  3. Car, Armored, Utility, M20
  4. Similarities
  5. M8 and M20 in Europe 
  6. Appendix

Each chapter is divided into sections which guide the reader through significant aspects in a helpful sequence, making the book very readable.

The first chapter covers the Inter-War designs, where several manufacturers put forward proposals which were not accepted for the emerging modern US Army.


Chapter 2 looks at the T22 prototype, which evolved into the M8.  The process of testing and acceptance was very rapid, partly because the need was so great, but mainly because the prototype vehicles had almost no faults, and were met with great enthusiasm by the officers testing them.

Within this key chapter, the early, mid and late versions are explained in some detail, so that modellers should be able to avoid mixing up the features.





In Chapter 3, the development of the M20 is covered, and interestingly the main problem involved the ring mount for the .50cal machine gun, which had too much flex and spread rounds too widely in a vertical scatter.  Despite modifications, this remained a problem.


The secondary armament for the M20 was a bazooka with ten rockets, but essentially the M20 was designed for communication rather than for fighting.  It was also the preferred mount for many generals.


The M8 and M20 were essentially on the same hull, so Chapter 4 looks at the common features in the engine, hull, and suspension, along with the drivers' area.  


Finally, Chapter 5 covers the cars in service in Europe (Italy, France, and Germany).


The pictures below will maybe give ideas for painting, weathering, stowage and damage!!


The book is awesome, and extremely useful for modellers who want to get details correct and want to add stowage and other features.  In particular, the photos are very well chosen, and sharply printed.  The book reflects the interests of the author in documenting the war in Europe, and the book does not cover the post-war use of the cars, and the wide employment of these vehicles in 60 other nations, including eight countries still using them!  If you want details of the cars in US service during WW2, then the book gives you just what you need for understanding the development of the vehicles and the specific details .  For example, looking at the Tamiya kit, I can tell it is late production with raised exhaust and embossed rear panels, and not suitable for an earlier setting.

I find this sort of book particularly useful because it is very readable and informative at the same time, providing a useful amount of detail that helps me get my model accurate.  I really recommend this publication to anyone who likes WW2 armor.

Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced modelers and researchers.

Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishers for this review kit.

Reviewed by Chris Lloyd-Staples, 2VP (International)


If you liked this review, consider joining AMPS. Your annual membership
includes six copies of AMPS's magazine, Boresight,
and helps to support our ongoing reviews.

Click here for more information about joining AMPS