Canadian XA-20 APC


ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
28 November 2006
Reaction score
Some time ago in a website that in the meantime disappeared from the Internet I found several pictures of an armoured personnel carrier that had been designed (and built as a prototype) in Canada sometime in the 1950s. According to the website its designation was the XA-20. Unfortunately there was no further info on the vehicle.

Does anybody know anything more on that? I would be really grateful for the vehicle's specifications and some info on its history.

Thanks in advance!



  • XA20.jpg
    56.9 KB · Views: 1,256
  • XA20_9man_seating.jpg
    53.3 KB · Views: 1,164
  • XA20_first_prototype.jpg
    34.7 KB · Views: 1,109
  • XA20_mobile_test_rig.jpg
    48.2 KB · Views: 1,008
  • XA20_plan_view.jpg
    42.2 KB · Views: 966
  • XA20_prototype_rear.jpg
    34 KB · Views: 192
  • XA20_test.jpg
    49 KB · Views: 258
I don't know the XA-20, but your pictures look like preliminary drawings and test rig for Bobcat


R M Ogorkiewicz(transl) / von Senger u Etterlin World's armoured fighting vehicles 1962


  • bobcat.jpg
    140 KB · Views: 351
Undoubtly the XA-20 was in a way a predecessor of the Bobcat. However it represented, I my opinion at least, a transition stage between a Universal Carrier-like concept (engine at the rear, troops dismounting above the vehicle's sides and so on) and a modern APC.
It remains a mystery, hence it is so interesting.

By the way, Canadians developed a few other weapons that were not adopted. Eg. the Velvet Glove air-to-air missile and the Heller anti-tank rocket launcher.

Below you've got some photos and drawings of the Bobcat variants (SP howitzer, nuclear fire-support vehicle and light recce tank).

Best regards,


  • 105sponXA92.jpg
    36.5 KB · Views: 275
  • Bobcat_105-mm_SP.jpg
    97.3 KB · Views: 335
  • Bobcat_DavyCrockett.jpg
    66.7 KB · Views: 466
  • Bobcat_Recce_Tank.jpg
    62.1 KB · Views: 506
The XA-20 was indeed the predecessor to the Bobcat APC. The Canadian Army raised a project in 1952 to develop a replacement for the universal carrier. After a slow start, Leyland Motors was given a contract to develop a protype in 1954, which they delivered in 1956. However, by that time, it was obvious that a common chassis could serve the needs of the infantry, artillery and cargo carrier, as well as a number of specialist vehicles. THe XA-20 project was modified to include the development of three prototypes (mild steel - no armour plate) - 2 APC and one 105-mm SP Howitzer. Canadian Car and Foundry absorbed Leyland Motors and delivered the prototypes for testing in 1958. the project became the bobcat project that eventually collapsed when the preproduction models failed their contractor proof test in 1963 and the contractor - by then Hawker Siddeley - demanded too much money to fix the problem, notwithstanding that they had not fullfilled the terms of the Bobcat contract.

In due course Service Publications will be publishing the Bobcat story as part of their Weapons of War series.

Where did you get the XA-20 photos from?


Doug Knight
In due course Service Publications will be publishing the Bobcat story as part of their Weapons of War series.
Could you post details of this publisher, please, Doug? I've concentrated on warships for some years and am out of touch.
Dougknight said:
Where did you get the XA-20 photos from?

Doug Knight

I downloaded the photos from a website that does not exist now. It was an article by Fred Olsen (if I recall correctly) on the Bobcat origins.

Best regards,
During the 1950s, the Canadian Armed Forces struggled to redefine themselves. As part of this process, they also wasted billions of dollars on dead-end R&D projects.

The Bobcat APC was the Canadian Army's dead-end R&D project.
Bobcat's design was problematic from the start. It started with tracks that were derived from snowmobiles. Problems with shedding tracks and short track life plagued the Bobcat through out its development process.
Secondly, automotive engineers never really understood the end user: the poor bloody infantry. AE prioritized balance over ease of entry. This produced a front engine with rear drive sprockets. The rear drive sprockets needed a centre drive shaft which took up valuable
cargo space, vibrated and created so much noise that troops could not talk about the next stage of the battle. The rear drive sprockets also raised the rear door will so high that it slowed entry and exit.

The sole SP artillery version was too light for its 105mm howitzer. Without recoil spades, it landed in a different grid square ever time it was fired!

Finally, slow funding dragged out the R&D process. For example, the Bobcat was originally meant to be small and light enough to fly in a Fairchild C-119
Flying Box Car, but by the time the Bobcat neared completion (1963) the RCAF had replaced Flying Box Cars with Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport airplanes.

In the meantime, the British Army had developed its FV 432 APC and the United States Army had developed three different generations of APCs culminating in the fine M-113, which dominated NATO APC fleets. The Canadian Army was forced to drop the Bobcat when they realized that M-113s would be available far sooner for a much lower price.
Meanwhile, the RCAF had wasted millions of dollars developing the CF-105 AVRO Arrow jet interceptor and the RCN had failed to perfect the HMCS Brador hydrofoil.
I've just found a drawing of an 'initial concept' of the Bobcat, or rather of what was designated XA-20. It differs from a prototype (mock-up?) of the XA-20 that you may see above in having the engine in the middle of the vehicle and troop compartment in the rear.



  • 1955_Initial_Concept_Canadian_Bobcat_APC.jpg
    73.3 KB · Views: 220
XA20 suspension looks like it was based on the WW2-vintage Canadian Armoured Snowmobile with front drive sprockets and rubber road wheels. CAS suspension looks like a double-wide version of Armand Bombardier's B12. How much Armand Bombardier helped F&L is not clear. About 310 CAS were built by Forme & Delorme of Montreal. While CAS never saw battle, they proved reliable during post-war exercises. Roles included: recce, towing 6 pounder AT guns and supply sleds.

Post WW2, Alberta-based Nodwell copied CAS suspension to build several series of tracked vehicles that sold well to oil-exploration companies exploring swamps and muskeg.

Ironically, when Leyland was contracted to build Bobcat prototypes, they switched drive sprockets to the rear, making the crew compartment noisy and cramped while raising the infantry door sill too high for heavily-loaded infantry to exit quickly.
IOW Bobcat was a disaster because Leyland ignored an earlier, reliable design: CAS.
riggerrob said:
XA20 suspension looks like it was based on the WW2-vintage Canadian Armoured Snowmobile ...

The XA-20 suspension may have been inspired by the Snowmobile, Armoured, Canadian, Mark I ... but scaled-up and with the roadwheels set much closer together for proportionately narrower tracks.

riggerrob said:
About 310 CAS were built by Forme & Delorme of Montreal...

Not 'Forme & Delorme' but Farand & Delorme Ltd (433 St-Martin St., Montreal) - a subsidiary of the United Steel Company Limited (which also bought out Welland Steel Castings Limited). But F&D advertised itself as "Boiler makers" not vehicle designers. The armoured snowmobile design came from Bombardier (with technical assistance from the NRC).

The Joseph-Armand Bombardier plant in Valcourt was apparently too small to fulfill military orders in a timely manner, so Bombardier turned to a company [Farand et Delorme] in Montreal to assist in production of armoured vehicles for the Allies. Certain parts would still have been manufactured [by Bombardier] in Valcourt.

Translated from: Planification détaillée du secteur Griffintown: Analyse du cadre bâti, version préliminaire, 28 mars 2007,

The Snowmobile, Armoured, Canadian, Mark I used 'half' of an M5A1 Stuart's powerplant (a 346 cid Cadillac flathead V8 engine and a Hydramatic 4+1 automatic transmission) mated to the differential from Ford's T16 Universal Carrier. The engine means that the snowmo' sometimes shows up in Cadillac forums. In one, there is mention of a Farand & Delorme-built "B-FT2 Snow-A-1 snowmobile". Perhaps B-FT2 Snow-A-1 were internal designations for the armoured snowmobile?

Secondly, automotive engineers never really understood the end user: the poor bloody infantry...

Probably true but it was DND and the Canadian Army who came up with the Bobcat's multi-use chassis concept which dictated moving the engine forward. Leylands could have anticipated the desirability of a front-mounted transaxle but, as with the armoured snowmobile, they were likely instructed to use mainly off-the-shelf drivetrain components to meet the budget.

As for CC-119s, RCAF planners wanted to retain the Boxcars and were planning a major rebuild/modification program. But Ottawa was more concerned with meeting NATO commitments (especially being able to deliver CF-104s to Germany). So the CC-119 update program was dumped, in part, to fund the purchase of the C-130B Hercules. And, let's face it, the Feds have had worse ideas than replacing Boxcars with Hercs!
Some recently gathered info on the XA-20. Firstly, it was NOT an armoured personnel carrier (in the sense that later Bobcat was). The XA-20 was conceived as a Universal Carrier replacement and was to fulfill tactical roles of the UC such as carrying machine guns, mortars, flame throwers and recce parties on the battlefield etc. Its capacity was the driver plus FOUR men. It had overhead protection only for the driver and the vehicle commander (who was also a machine gunner).

Below you'll find quite a decent photo of the XA-20 prototype.

Length: 168 in = 4.27 m
Width: 90.5 in = 2.30 m
Height: 63 in = 1.60 m later reduced to 60 in = 1.524 m
Weight: 14000 - 15000 lb = 6350 - 6804 kg
Payload: 3000 lb = 1360 kg
Ground pressure: 5 psi later reduced to 4 psi
Armour: max. 10mm
Max. road speed: 48 kph
Nominal range on roads: 240 km
Crew: 1
Infantry carried: 4
Armament: no integral (?)

Source: "Canada's Mechanized Infantry: The Evolution of a Combat Arm, 1920–2012" by Peter Kasurak


  • XA-20.png
    743.7 KB · Views: 69
Last edited:

Similar threads

Top Bottom