Car, Light Reconnaissance
(Otter I, 4X4)

The Otter Light Reconnaissance Car was designed by General Motors of Canada in 1942 in an effort to standardize the existing reconnaissance vehicles currently employed by the Canadian Army. It was based on the G.M. 4X4 15-CWT chassis, and was powered by the G.M. 270 engine. Standard armament was a .303 Bren Gun in an AA mounting which could also be used in the ground support role. A 4" smoke discharger was prominently mounted on the front plate of the car. Armour protection was 8mm thick on the turret, 12mm on the hull front, 8mm on the sides, 10mm on the rear, and 12mm on the roof. Operationally, it was used by Canadian armoured and infantry regiments, most prominently in the Italian theatre; and by Royal Canadian Engineer field squadrons and companies, and motor transport companies and transportation platoons for AA convoy protective duties. While the Otter appeared to be an ungainly design, it proved to be a reliable, if underpowered armoured car. Perhaps the most often complained about feature of the Otter was a tendency of the side doors to slam shut on misplaced fingers and hands. A total of 1,761 Otters were produced by General Motors. While the Otter did not remain in Canadian service postwar, it soldiered on in foreign service. The Arab Legion was equipped with some Otters in early Middle East conflicts. Several examples of the car have survived in private hands in Canada and abroad, in addition to an example held by the Canadian War Museum.


Otters of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards
Italy, October 1943


Otter, May-sur-Orne, France, August 1944,
mounting a Bren MG. Note the "51" Arm
of Service Marking.


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Chris Johnson, 1997