M113 armored personnel carrier

The M113 is a fully tracked armored personnel carrier (APC) that was developed and produced by the FMC Corporation. The M113 was sent to United States Army Europe in 1961 to replace the mechanized infantry's M59 APCs. The M113 was first used in combat in April 1962 after the United States provided the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) with heavy weaponry such as the M113, under the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) program. Eventually, the M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War and was used to break through heavy thickets in the midst of the jungle to attack and overrun enemy positions. It was largely known as an "APC" or an "ACAV" (armored cavalry assault vehicle) by the allied forces.[5]

A U.S. Army M113-OSV of 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, provides overwatch while conducting recon operations during exercise Allied Spirit at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Bavaria, in 2015.
TypeArmored personnel carrier
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1960–present
Used bySee Operators
Production history
No. built≈80,000 (all variants)[2]
VariantsNumerous, see text
Mass12.3 tonnes (13.6 short tons; 12.1 long tons)
Length4.863 metres (15 ft 11.5 in)
Width2.686 metres (8 ft 9.7 in)
Height2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in)
Passengers11–15 passengers

Armor5083 aluminum alloy 28–44 millimeters (1.1–1.7 in)[3][4]
M2 Browning machine gun
Varies (See text)
EngineDetroit Diesel 6V53T, 6-cylinder diesel engine
275 hp (205 kW)
Power/weight22.36 hp/tonne
Suspensiontorsion bar, 5 road wheels
480 km (300 mi)
Maximum speed 67.6 km/h (42.0 mph), 5.8 km/h (3.6 mph) swimming

The M113 was the first aluminum hull combat vehicle to be put into mass production. Much lighter than earlier similar vehicles, its aluminum armor was designed to be thick enough to protect the crew and passengers against small arms fire, but light enough that the vehicle was air transportable and moderately amphibious.

In the U.S. Army, the M113 series have long been replaced as front-line combat vehicles by the M2 and M3 Bradleys, but large numbers are still used in support roles such as armored ambulance, mortar carrier, engineer vehicle, and command vehicle. The U.S. Army's heavy brigade combat teams are equipped with approximately 6,000 M113s and 4,000 Bradleys.

The M113's versatility spawned a wide variety of adaptations that live on worldwide and in U.S. service. These variants together currently represent about half of U.S. Army armored vehicles. To date, it is estimated that over 80,000 vehicles in the M113 family have been produced and used by over 50 countries worldwide, making it one of the most widely used armored fighting vehicles of all time.[6]

M113 production was terminated in 2007. The Army initiated the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program to search for a replacement. In 2014, the U.S. Army selected BAE Systems' proposal of a turretless variant of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle to replace over 2,800 M113s in service.[7] Thousands of M113s continue to see combat service in the Israel Defense Forces, although by 2014 the IDF was seeking to gradually replace many of its 6,000 M113s with the Namers,[8] and with the Eitan AFV in 2020.[9]

Development edit

FMC T113 proposal
FMC T117 proposal

The M113 was developed by FMC Corporation, which had produced the earlier M59 and M75 Armored personnel carriers. The M113 bears a very strong resemblance to both of these earlier vehicles. The M75 was too heavy and expensive to be useful, as its weight precluded amphibious use and transport by air. The lightened M59 addressed both of these problems, but ended up with too little armor, and was unreliable as a result of efforts to reduce its cost.

The army was looking for a vehicle that combined the best features of both designs, the "airborne armored multi-purpose vehicle family" (AAM-PVF)[10] of all-purpose, all-terrain armored fighting vehicles. FMC had been working with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Co. in the late 1950s to develop suitable aluminum armor. It was known that use of this armor could produce a vehicle that provided the protection of the M75 and the low weight and mobility of the M59.

FMC responded with two proposals; two versions of the aluminum T113 – a thickly and a more thinly-armored one, along with the similar but mostly steel T117. The thickly-armored version of the T113 – effectively the prototype of the M113 – was chosen because it weighed less than its steel competitor, whilst offering the same level of protection. An improved T113 design, the T113E1, was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1960 as the "M113". A diesel prototype, T113E2, was put into production in 1964 as the "M113A1", and quickly supplanted the gasoline-engined M113.[11] In 1994, FMC transferred the M113's production over to its newly formed defense subsidiary, United Defense. Then in 2005, United Defense was acquired by BAE Systems.

U.S. Army soldiers dismount from an M113 during a mechanized infantry training exercise in September 1985

The M113 was developed to provide a survivable and reliable light tracked vehicle able to be air-lifted and air-dropped by C-130 and C-141 transport planes. The original concept was that the vehicle would be used solely for transportation, bringing the troops forward under armor and then having them dismount for combat, after which the M113 would retreat to the rear. Entering service with the U.S. Army in 1960, the M113 required only two crewmen, a driver and a commander, and carried 11-15 passengers inside the vehicle. Its main armament was a single .50-caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun operated by the commander.

On 30 March 1962, the first batch of 32 M113s arrived in Vietnam, and were sent to two Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) mechanized rifle companies, each equipped with 15 of the APCs.[12] On 11 June 1962, the two mechanized units were fielded for the first time.[13] During the Battle of Ap Bac in January 1963, at least fourteen of the exposed .50 caliber gunners aboard the M113s were killed in action, necessitating modifications to improve crew survivability.[14] Makeshift shields formed from metal salvaged from the hulls of sunken ships were soon fitted to the carriers, affording better protection. However, it was found that this material could be penetrated by small arms fire, so subsequent shields were constructed from scrapped armored vehicles.[15]

The ARVN 80th Ordnance Unit in South Vietnam developed the shield idea further and commenced engineering general issue gun shields for the M113.[15] These shields became the predecessor to the standardized armored cavalry assault vehicle (or ACAV) variant and were issued to all ARVN mechanized units during the early 1960s. The ARVNs had modified the M113s to function as "amphibious light tanks"[16] and not as battle taxis as U.S. designers had intended.

Instead of an armored personnel carrier, the ARVN used the carried infantry as extra "dismountable soldiers" in "an oversized tank crew".[16] These "ACAV" sets were eventually adapted to U.S. Army M113s with the arrival of the army's conventional forces in 1965. The vehicles continued to operate in the role of a light tank and reconnaissance vehicle, and not as designed in theater. Still, the M113 could carry 11 infantrymen inside, with two crewmen operating it.

The interior of an M113 at the American Armored Foundation Museum in Danville, Virginia, July 2006

The U.S. Army, after berating the South Vietnamese for flouting battle doctrine,[citation needed] came out with their own ACAV version. This more or less standardized ACAV kit included shields and a circular turret for the .50-caliber M2 machine gun in the track commander (TC) position, two M60 machine guns with shields for the left and right rear positions, and "belly armor"—steel armor bolted from the front bottom extending 1/2 to 2/3 of the way towards the bottom rear of the M113. The two rear machine gunners could fire their weapons while standing inside the rectangular open cargo hatch. This transformed the M113 into a fighting vehicle, but the vehicle still suffered from its lightly armored configuration, having never been designed for such a role. Canada also adopted the ACAV kits when employing the M113A2 during peacekeeping operations in the Balkans in the 1990s.

In order to improve the fighting ability of the mounted troops, a number of experiments were carried out in the 1960s under the MICV-65 project, which aimed to develop a true infantry fighting vehicle rather than an armored personnel carrier. Pacific Car and Foundry entered the steel-armored XM701, but this proved to be too slow and too heavy to be airmobile, even in the C-141. FMC entered the XM734, which was largely the ACAV M113, but whereas the M113 seated the troops facing inward on benches along the walls, the XM734 sat them facing outwards on a central bench.[citation needed]

Four gun ports and vision blocks were added[when?] on each side to allow the seated troops to fire even while under cover. Although neither the XM701 or XM734 were deemed worthwhile to produce, FMC continued development of their version as the XM765 advanced infantry fighting vehicle (AIFV). The AIFV was sold to a number of third party-users in the 1970s, including the Netherlands, the Philippines and Belgium.

Modifications edit

A United States Air Force M113 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in November 2008. The vehicle was a part of the 532nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron's immediate response forces (IRF) and equipped with slat armor and an M2 Browning

Modified versions of the Vietnam War ACAV sets were deployed[when?] to Iraq to equip the standard M113s still in service. The circular .50 caliber gun shields have been modified, while the rear port and starboard gun stations have been deleted for service in that region. Some of these modified vehicles have been utilized for convoy escort duties.[citation needed]

The M113 has relatively light armor, but it can be augmented with add-on steel plates for improved ballistic protection. Reactive armor and slat armor can be added for protection against rocket-propelled grenades.

Band tracks made of rubber are in use by Canadian and other forces to enable stealthy operation, less damage to paved roads, higher speed, less maintenance, access to terrain where operation of wheeled vehicles is impractical and less vibration and rolling resistance.[17]

Most of the 13,000 M113s that are still in U.S. Army service have been upgraded to the A3 variant. The current U.S. Army M113 fleet includes a mix of M113A2 and A3 variants and other derivatives equipped with the most recent RISE (reliability improvements for selected equipment) package. The standard RISE package includes an upgraded propulsion system (turbocharged engine and new transmission), greatly improved driver controls (new power brakes and conventional steering controls), external fuel tanks, and 200-amp alternator with four batteries. Additional A3 improvements include the incorporation of spall liners and provision for mounting external armor.

A M113A3/BMP-2 is followed by a M113A3/MBT during a demonstration at Fort Irwin National Training Center.

The M113 has also been adopted to replace the aging fleet of visually modified M551s being used to simulate Russian-made combat vehicles at the U.S. Army's National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California as well as the M60A3s formerly at the Combat Maneuver Training Center near Hohenfels, Germany. These M113s, like the M551s they replaced, have also been modified to resemble enemy tanks and APCs, such as the T-80 and BMP-2. One of the advantages of the M113 being used to simulate the latter is that the infantry squad can now ride inside the simulated BMP instead of in a truck accompanying a tank masquerading as one, as was often the case with the M551s.

In March 2007, a group of U.S. Army soldiers sit on the rear ramp of an M113, staging for a reconnaissance mission in Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.

Nicknames edit

The M113 has received a variety of nicknames over the years. The South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) called it the "green dragon".[citation needed] United States troops tended to refer to the M113 simply as a "113" (spoken as "one-one-three"), or a "track".[18] The Israel Defense Forces employ the M113 in many different variants, all designed in Israel, and have given each of them official names, from the baseline "Bardelas" (lit. Cheetah) to the "Nagmash" (Hebrew acronym equivalent to "APC"), "Nagman", and "Kasman" variants for urban combat up to the "Zelda" and "Zelda 2", which are fitted with ERA-suites.[19]

The Australian Army refers to its M113A1s as "buckets", "bush taxis"[20] and modified M113A1s fitted with 76 mm turrets as "beasts". The German Army has various nicknames, depending on location and branch of service, including "elephant shoe",[21] "Tank Wedge"[22] and "bathtub". In Spain's Army it is known as "TOA", the acronym of Transporte Oruga Acorazado, which is Spanish for Armored Tracked Carrier.[citation needed] In the Ukrainian Army it is called "Emka" (M).

Design edit

Australian M113A1 with the Cadillac Gage T50 turret fitted with twin mounted M1919 Browning and M2 Browning QCB machine guns.

Armament edit

The basic M113 armored personnel carrier can be fitted with a number of weapon systems. The most common weapon fit is a single .50 caliber M2 machine gun. However, the mount can also be fitted with a 40 mm Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. A number of anti-tank weapons could be fitted to the standard variant: the U.S. Army developed kits that allowed the M47 Dragon and BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile systems to be mounted.

In the case of the M47, the system mated to the existing machine gun mount, without having to remove the machine gun. This allowed the commander to use both weapons. A large array of turrets and fixed mounts are available to mount high explosive cannon ranging from 20 mm to 105 mm on to the M113 series, making them function as assault guns and fire support; while in many cases still having room inside to carry dismounted infantry or cavalry scouts.

Armor edit

The M113 is built of 5083 aircraft-quality aluminum alloy. Aluminum alloy is lighter than steel but requires around three times the thickness for an equivalent level of ballistic protection, meaning the armor of the M113 was only designed for 7.62 mm and shell splinter protection.[23][24] All variants of the M113 are capable of mounting anti-landmine applique armor.[3] The M113A3 was upgraded with internal spall liners and additional applique armor which provided 14.5mm ballistic protection.[3] In comparison, a modern APC such as the Stryker has all-around 7.62 mm armor-piercing protection, plus 14.5 mm protection on the front, sides, and rear, and a protection against antipersonnel mines.[25]

Mobility edit

Brazilian M113 during a water crossing.

Its weight allows the use of a relatively small engine to power the vehicle, a Detroit 6V53 V6 two-stroke diesel engine of 318 cubic inches (5,210 cc)[26] with an Allison TX-100-1 three-speed automatic transmission. This allows the vehicle to carry a large payload cross-country and to be transported by fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Original production M113s can swim without deploying flotation curtains, using only a front-mounted trim vane; they are propelled in the water by their tracks.

Operational history edit

Vietnam edit

A combined arms operation in Vietnam. M113s clear the way through heavy bushes while infantry follows.
The 4.2" Mortar Platoon of D/16 Armor, 173rd Airborne, on a fire mission in Operation Waco in Vietnam

The Vietnam War was the first combat opportunity for mechanized infantry, a technically new type of infantry with its roots in the armored infantry of World War II, now using the M113 armored personnel carrier. In addition, armored cavalry squadrons in Vietnam consisted largely of M113s, after replacing the intended M114 in a variety of roles, and armor battalions contained M113s within their headquarters companies, such as the maintenance section, medical section, vehicle recovery section, mortar section, and the scout (reconnaissance) section. United States Army mechanized infantry units in Vietnam were fully equipped with the M113 APC/ACAV, which consisted of one headquarters company and three line companies, normally with an authorized strength of approximately 900 men. Ten U.S. mechanized infantry battalions were deployed to Vietnam from 1965 until their departure in 1972.[27][Notes 1]

Company D, 16th Armor edit

Company D, 16th Armor, 173rd Airborne Brigade, was the first U.S. Army armor unit deployed to Vietnam. It originally consisted of three platoons of M113s and a platoon of 90mm M56 Scorpion self-propelled anti-tank guns (SPAT). It was the only independent armor company in the history of the U.S. Army. Upon the company's arrival in Vietnam, a fourth line platoon was added; this was equipped with M106 4.2 in. mortar carriers (modified M113s).[28]

The mortar platoon often operated with Brigade infantry units to provide indirect fire support. It also deployed at times as a dismounted infantry unit. The remaining SPATS platoon was reequipped with M113s in late 1966 and the mortar platoon was deactivated in early 1967. From early 1967, D/16th had three line platoons equipped with M113s and eventually, its diesel version, the M113A1. It was also standardized in late 1968 with three machine guns per track, one M2 .50 caliber and two M60 machine guns mounted on each side.[28]

ACAVs of the 3rd Squadron 11th Armored Cavalry assume a herringbone formation during Operation Cedar Falls. This formation gave vehicles optimal all-round firepower in the event of an ambush in a restricted area.

General usage in combat edit

The M113s were instrumental in conducting reconnaissance in force (RIFs), search and destroy missions, and large invasions (incursions) such as the U.S. invasion of Cambodia on 1 May 1970 and later Laos (Operation Lam Son 719) in 1971; all of which used the M113 as the primary workhorse for moving the ground armies. While operating with cavalry and armor units, the M113s often worked in conjunction with U.S. M48 Patton and M551 Sheridan tanks. During the Vietnam War, U.S. Army gun trucks, along with V-100 armored cars, conducted convoy escorts for military traffic.

The USAF used M113 and M113A1 ACAV vehicles in USAF security police squadrons, which provided air base ground defense support in Vietnam. Also, M113s were supplied to the ARVN. One notable ARVN unit equipped with the M113 APC, the 3d Armored Cavalry Squadron, earned the Presidential Unit Citation.[29][30] Additional M113s were supplied to the Cambodian Khmer National Armed Forces, equipped with a turret for the machine gun and a M40 recoilless rifle mounted on the roof.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam also used M113 armored personnel carriers. In 1975, 1381 ARVN M113s were destroyed and captured. Losses in other years are unknown.[31]

The Australian Army also used the M113 in Vietnam. After initial experiences showed that the crew commander was too vulnerable to fire, the Australians tried a number of different gun shields and turrets, eventually standardizing with the Cadillac-Cage T-50 turret fitted with two .30 cal Browning machine guns, or a single .30-single .50 combination. Other turrets were tried as were various gun shields, the main design of which was similar to the gun shield used on the U.S. M113 ACAV version.

In addition, the Australians operated an M113 variant fitted with a Saladin armored car turret, with a 76 mm gun as a fire support vehicle, or FSV, for infantry fire support. This has now also been removed from service.

Subsequent to Vietnam all Australian M113 troop carriers were fitted with the T50 turret. The FSV was eventually phased out and replaced with a modernized version known as an "MRV" (medium reconnaissance vehicle). The MRV featured a Scorpion turret with 76 mm gun, improved fire control, and passive night vision equipment.

Regiments using the M113 included former Citizens' Military Forces (CMF) units like the 4/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment (Armoured Reconnaissance) and Regular units such as 2ns Cavalry Regiment (Armoured Reconnaissance) and 3/4th Cavalry Regiment (APC Regiment) An Armoured Reconnaissance Troop consisted of Alpha Track – Charlie Track (M113 LRV) Bravo – Delta Track (M113 MRV) Echo Track (M113 APC) with Assault Section (Armoured Infantry) later known as Scouts... Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV) – 50/30 cal MG in Cadillac-Cage T-50 turret Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) – 30/30 cal MG in Cadillac-Cage T-50 turret Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle (MRV) – Saladin Turret (later Scorpion turret) – formerly known as a Fire Support Vehicle

Israel edit

The Israel Defense Forces are the second largest user of the M113 after the United States, with over 6000 of the vehicles in service.

In 1967 some Jordanian M113 were captured in the West Bank during the Six-Day War and were integrated into the Israeli Army. In 1970 Israel started to receive M113A1 to replace the antiquated half-tracks. The IDF M113s were armed with M2 HB machine guns, and two MAG 7.62 mm machine guns on either side of the upper crew compartment door.

An Israeli M113 variant in Lebanon, 1984

The M113 took part in the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, when the IDF was equipped with 448 M113s that saw action on the Sinai and Golan fronts. They proved inadequate for direct fighting due to their poor armor protection. In the Battle of Buq'atta most of the 7th Recon Company was wiped out while trying to assault Syrian commandos with their M113s.

They were used by the IDF in the 1978 South Lebanon conflict. In the 1982 Lebanon War, they saw heavy action. PLO ambushes with RPGs caused extensive casualties because of the tendency of the M113's aluminum armor to catch on fire after being hit by anti-tank weapons. Israeli infantrymen being ferried by M113s learned to quickly dismount and fight on foot when engaged.[32]

By the time of the Siege of Beirut, M113s were only used to carry supplies to the front line, always stopping at least 100 meters from enemy lines. M113s were subsequently used by both the IDF and the South Lebanon Army during the South Lebanon conflict.

The IDF utilized M113s during the First Intifada and the Second Intifada. In May 2004, two fully laden IDF M113s were destroyed by IEDs in the Gaza Strip, killing 11 soldiers, all those inside the vehicles on both occasions. This became known in Israel as the "APC disaster". The vulnerability of the M113 armored personnel carrier to IEDs and RPGs led the IDF to later begin to develop the Namer APC.[33] M113s were used again in the 2006 Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead.

Column of Israeli M113s approaching Gaza, during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

In 2014, during the first wave of the IDF's ground incursion into Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, a Hamas RPG-29 destroyed a fully loaded M113 in Gaza during the Battle of Shuja'iyya, killing all seven Golani Brigade soldiers inside the vehicle. As a result, the IDF faced calls from the Israeli public to build more Namer APCs over the next decade and to gradually reduce the number of M113s used in its future combat operations.[34] A group of 30 Israeli reserve soldiers subsequently notified their commanders that they would refuse to enter the Gaza Strip in M113s.[35]

The Israel Defense Forces still operates large numbers of the M113, maintaining a fleet of 6,000 of the vehicles. On numerous occasions since their introduction in the late 1960s, the IDF's M113s have proven vulnerable to modern anti-tank missiles, IEDs, and RPGs, resulting in the deaths of many Israeli soldiers riding inside the vehicles. The IDF has nonetheless been unable to replace the use of them in combat operations, due to budget constraints in equipping its large mechanized infantry regiments.[36][37]

Israel is prototyping the Eitan (Hebrew for steadfast), an eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicle to replace their M113s. Designed to serve alongside the tracked Namer, the Eitan is planned to be cheaper and lighter, at 35 tons, incorporating an active protection system and a turret. They are expected to begin replacing the M113 starting in 2020.[36][37] However, due to the slow rate of production of replacement APCs, the IDF is expected to be dependent on the M113 well into the 2020s.[8] The IDF has also increased production of Namer APCs to replace the M113.

Law enforcement edit

In the United States, M113s have been adopted by numerous law enforcement agencies. An M113 belonging to the Midland County Sheriff's Department was used in the 2008 raid of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound.[38]

The Brazilian Marine Corps's M113s were used in joint operations with Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais during the 2010 raid on Complexo do Alemão.[citation needed]

Ukraine edit

M113s were sent by the United States to Ukraine during the Russo-Ukrainian War. They are currently being used by the Ukrainian Army alongside US Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks. [39]

U.S. Army replacement plans edit

The U.S. Army stopped buying M113s in 2007, with 6,000 vehicles remaining in the inventory.[40]

The M113 will be replaced in U.S. Army service by the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program.[41] Some 2,897 vehicles in five mission roles are set to take its place at the brigade level and below within armored brigades. However, the AMPV program is not developing a vehicle to replace the M113 in supporting echelons above brigade level, which will have different requirements.[42]

BAE Systems proposed a turretless variant of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. In December 2014, the U.S. Army selected BAE proposal, the only proposal it received,[43] to replace over 2800 M113s in service.[7]

As of 2013, five variants of the AMPV are planned: M1283 General Purpose (522 planned), M1284 Medical Evacuation Vehicle (790 planned), M1285 Medical Treatment Vehicle (216 planned) and M1286 Mission Command (993 planned).[44]

The AMPVs are to be produced at a rate of around 180 vehicles per year, enough to equip 1.3 armored brigades. With 12 brigades to modernize, the M113 is not planned be entirely replaced in armored brigades until the late 2020s. With studies on what vehicle to replace M113s with in rear-echelon units ongoing, the M113 is not likely to be phased out of U.S. Army service until after 2030, over 70 years after entering service.[45]

Basic variants edit

APC by David E. Graves, Vietnam Combat Artists Program, CAT IX, 1969–70. Courtesy of the National Museum of the U.S. Army.

Original version, powered by 209 hp (156 kW) Chrysler 75M V8 gasoline engine.[46]


Starting in 1964, the gasoline engine was replaced with a 215 hp (160 kW) 6V-53 Detroit Diesel engine, to take advantage of the better fuel economy and the reduced fire hazard of the diesel engine.[46][47] The suffix A1 was used on all variants to denote a diesel engine, i.e. an M106A1 was an M106 mortar carrier equipped with a diesel engine.


In 1979, further upgrades were introduced. Engine cooling was improved by switching the locations of the fan and radiator. Higher-strength torsion bars increased ground clearance, and shock absorbers reduced the effects of ground strikes. The weight of the M113A2 was increased to 11,740 kilograms (25,880 lb). Because the added weight affected its freeboard when afloat, it was no longer required to be amphibious. Four-tube smoke grenade launchers were also added. The suffix A2 is used on all variants to denote upgrade to A2 standard.[48]


In 1987, further improvements for "enhanced (battlefield) survival" were introduced. This included a yoke for steering instead of laterals, a brake pedal, a more powerful engine (the turbocharged 6V-53T Detroit Diesel),[49] and internal spall liners for improved protection. Armored fuel tanks were added externally on both sides of the rear ramp, freeing up 0.45 cubic metres (16 cu ft) of internal space. The suffix A3 is used on all variants to denote upgrade to A3 standard.

M113[50] M113A1[51] M113A2[52] M113A3[53]
Overall length 191.5 in (4.9 m) 208.5 in (5.3 m) w/ external fuel tanks, 191.5 in (4.9 m) w/o 208.5 in (5.3 m)
Overall width 105.75 in (2.7 m)
Height over machine gun 98.25 in (2.5 m) 99.25 in (2.5 m)
Ground clearance 16.1 in (40.9 cm) 17.1 in (43.4 cm)
Top speed 40 mph (64 km/h)
Fording Floats Restricted to 40 in (101.6 cm)
Max. grade 60%
Max. trench 5.5 ft (1.7 m)
Max. wall 24 in (0.6 m)
Range 200 mi (320 km) 300 mi (480 km)
Power 215 hp (160 kW) at 4000 rpm 212 hp (158 kW) at 2800 rpm 275 hp (205 kW) at 2800 rpm
Power-to-weight ratio 18.8 hp/ST (15.5 kW/t) 17.6 hp/ST (14.5 kW/t) 17.0 hp/ST (14.0 kW/t) (w/o external tanks) 20.2 hp/ST (16.6 kW/t) (w/o applique armor)
Torque 332 lb⋅ft (450 N⋅m) at 2800 rpm 492 lb⋅ft (670 N⋅m) at 1300 rpm 627 lb⋅ft (850 N⋅m) at 1600 rpm
Weight, combat loaded 22,900 lb (10,390 kg) 24,080 lb (10,920 kg) 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) 27,200 lb (12,340 kg) (w/o applique)
Ground pressure 7.3 psi (50 kPa) 7.6 psi (52 kPa) 7.9 psi (54 kPa) 7.9 psi (54 kPa)
Main armament M2 Browning machine gun

Field modification edit

M113 armored cavalry assault vehicle (ACAV) variant
An M113 ACAV in Vietnam, 1966
This American M113 has been equipped with hollow steel planking along the flanks in an attempt to improve protection against shaped charge weapons.

The "armored cavalry assault vehicle" or "ACAV", was a concept and field modification pioneered by the ARVN in 1963 during the Vietnam War.[54] The ARVN troops utilized the M113 armored personnel carrier as an infantry fighting vehicle and, more often than not, as a light tank[55] by fighting mounted rather than as a "battle taxi" as dictated by U.S. Army doctrine.

After it was found that the commander and cargo hatch positions were extremely exposed, and hence the commander and troops were vulnerable to enemy fire, South Vietnamese engineers thought out a simple and cheap remedy to this problem: Initially, field expedient shields and mounts were made from sunken ships,[56] but this was soft metal and could be penetrated by small arms fire. Then armor plating from scrapped armored vehicles was used. This worked well, and by the end of 1964 all ARVN ACAVs were equipped with gun shields.[57]

For the U.S. Army, ACAV sets were produced industrially in Okinawa for the 12.7 millimetres (0.50 in) machine gun, and rear aft and starboard M60 machine gun positions. Finally, the ARVN's ACAV modifications were adopted by the U.S. Army in Vietnam,[58] and by 1965 the full ACAV set was mass-produced in the U.S. The kit included shields and circular turret armor for the commander's M2 12.7 mm machine gun, and two additional 7.62 mm M60 machine guns, again with shields, fitted on either side of the top cargo hatch. This kit could be retrofitted to any M113.[58]

ACAV sets were sometimes fitted to the M106 mortar carrier, but the different rear hatch found on this vehicle required the left M60 machine gun to be fitted to the back instead of the side. Many kits were added in the field, but at least in the case of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the vehicles had their ACAV sets installed in the U.S. prior to their deployment to Vietnam in 1966 from Fort Meade, Maryland.[58] Additional armor in the form of a mine protective kit under the hull was also frequently fitted.

Derivatives edit

U.S. soldiers fire the M120 Mortar system out of an M113 at Camp Taji, Iraq, 2009.

A huge number of vehicles based on the running gear of the M113 have been created, ranging from APCs to tactical ballistic missile launchers. The M113 has become one of the most prolific armored vehicles of the second half of the 20th century, and continues to serve with armies around the world into the 21st century.

M58 Wolf system

A smoke screen generator vehicle

M106 mortar carrier
M106 mortar carrier and crew outfitted in NBC protective gear during exercise REFORGER '85, Germany.

A mortar carrier armed with an M30 mortar 106.7mm (4.2-inch, or "Four-deuce") mounted on a turntable in the rear troop compartment. On this variant, the single hatch over the rear troop compartment was exchanged for a three-part circular hatch. The mortar could be fired from the vehicle, but could also be fired dismounted. Currently, the U.S. Army mortar carrier is the M106 upgraded to A3 standard and armed with an M121 120mm mortar, a variant of the M120 mortar.

M1064 mortar carrier

Armed with an M121 120mm mortar, a variant of the M120 mortar.

M113A2 Huracán II

Chilean version of the M113A2 modified to implement canisters mounted on the sides of the hull and integration of two Wegmann 76 mm quadruple smoke launchers, in addition to mounting an Oerlikon KBA-B 25 mm cannon.


Mortar carrier, basically an M106 armed with an M29 81mm mortar.

M132 Armored Flamethrower

Variant equipped with a turret armed with a flamethrower and a .50 caliber machine gun. These vehicles are no longer used by the U.S. Army. Vehicles upgraded to A1 standard were known as "M132A1s".

Israeli M150 with Improved TOW (I-TOW) anti-tank guided missile launcher.

Anti-tank variant equipped with a TOW ATGM launcher.


Self-propelled variant of the M167 VADS short-range air-defense system, mounting an M61 Vulcan cannon with a radar rangefinder and 2,100 rounds of ammunition on a modified M113 chassis (M741 carrier).

M48 Chaparral

Anti-aircraft variant equipped with a launcher armed with four MIM-72A/M48 Chaparral missiles.


Unarmored cargo carrier equipped with a rear cargo bed.

M577 undergoing maintenance
Lithuanian Army M113 fitter and repair vehicle
M577 Command Post Carrier

Command variant, the roof over the rear troop compartment is higher. The vehicle also carries additional radios and a generator. A variant of this is the M1068 standard integrated command post system carrier, equipped with the newest U.S. Army automated command and control system.


A fitter and repair vehicle equipped with a crane. This vehicle was not taken into U.S. Army service.


Repair and recovery vehicle equipped with an internal winch and two earth anchors mounted on the rear hull.

M901 ITV (improved TOW vehicle)

Equipped with a launcher armed with two TOW missiles.

M113 "MBT" (NTC)

A variant of the M113 fitted with a modified Bradley turret as part of a vismod package specifically for training. This version also features MILES gear, a MGSS/TWGSS system, and fake explosive reactive armor (ERA) around the turret.

M113 "C&R" (command and reconnaissance)

A lowered and shortened version of the M113 developed for the Netherlands. It was used for reconnaissance duties with cavalry battalions and armored engineer companies. It had four road wheels on either side. The engine was moved to the rear of the vehicle although the drive sprockets were maintained at the front. Armament was a 25mm cannon in a remotely operated turret. Crew consisted of commander, driver and gunner. It has also been used by the Canadian Army as the Lynx reconnaissance vehicle.

Dutch AIFV, Model YPR-765, with Oerlikon KBA 25mm gun

A development of the M113A1 APC, upgraded with an enclosed turret and firing ports.


In 1994, a stretched version of the M113 was presented by its manufacturer, also known as Mobile Tactical Vehicle Light (MTVL). Its hull is lengthened by 34 inches and equipped with an additional road wheel (six on each side) to sustain the added dry weight and payload. The vehicle was developed as a "production-tooled demonstrator" with private-industry funding from United Defense. United Defense LP proposed the MTVL for the Interim Armored Vehicle program in 2000. Although the U.S. Army did not buy it, it was acquired by other nations, and is copied today by Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt in their local plants. Some nations, like Canada and Australia, also stretched existing M113 hulls.[59]

The Army plans to convert four M113s into unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) by late 2019 to serve in experimentation roles to test unmanned movement and combat concepts prior to the fielding of purpose-built robotic combat vehicles, planned by 2028.[60][61]

M113 copies

Several countries acquired M113s and later copied the design and proceeded to produce clones or evolved models (post-M113A3-standard) in their own indigenous factories. Pakistan produces an armored personnel carrier known as Talha which has a number of mechanical and automotive parts in common with the M113. Turkey produces the ACV-300 based on the AIFV. Egypt produces many variants of the M113 including the Egyptian Infantry Fighting Vehicle (EIFV), which features a combination of an M113A3-base and the fully functional and stabilized two-man turret of the M2 Bradley. Iran is also producing its own M113s.

Operators edit

Current operators edit

Argentine Army M113 with 20mm gun, 2015
Lithuanian Armed Forces M113A2 with 50 cal. machinegun
An ARVN M113 without ACAV set during the Vietnam War
Portuguese Mechanized Infantry M113 cross a watercourse
A column of M113 armored personnel carriers and other military vehicles of the Royal Saudi Land Force along a channel cleared of mines during the Gulf War's Operation Desert Storm
Swiss M113A2 in 1964

Former operators edit

Civilian operators edit

See also edit

Footnotes edit

Explanatory notes edit

  1. ^ 2/2nd Mechanized Infantry, 1/5th Mechanized Infantry, 2/8th Mechanized Infantry, 1/16th Mechanized Infantry, 2/22nd Mechanized Infantry, 4/23rd Mechanized Infantry, 2/47th Mechanized Infantry, 1/50th Mechanized Infantry, 5/60th Mechanized Infantry, 1/61st Mechanized Infantry, and the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). The U.S. Army 1st Brigade, 5th (Mech) Infantry Division, in Vietnam was not composed of strictly mechanized infantry battalions. The 5th (M) ID (1st Bde), consisted of: the 5/4th Field Artillery, 1/11th Light Infantry (straight leg-no armored vehicles), 1/77th Armor (M48 Patton tanks), 1/61st Mechanized Infantry, A Troop 4/12th Armored Cavalry (only one troop of cavalry), and the 3/5th Armored Cavalry OPCON (operationally controlled) /attached from the 9th Infantry Division. The one troop of the 12th Armored Cavalry and the full squadron of the 5th Armored Cavalry were equipped with M551 Sheridan and M113 ACAV.

Citations edit

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References edit

  • El-Assad, Moustafa. Blue Steel III: M-113 Carriers in South Lebanon. Sidon, Lebanon: Blue Steel Books, 2007.
  • Dunstan, Simon. The M113 Series London, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1983. ISBN 0-85045-495-6.
  • Dunstan, Simon. Vietnam Tracks-Armor in Battle 1945–1975. (1982 edition Osprey Books); ISBN 0-89141-171-2.
  • Foss, Christopher F. Jane's Armour and Artillery 1987–88. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1987. ISBN 0-7106-0849-7.
  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (1999). Bradley: A History of American Fighting and Support Vehicles. Presidio Press. ISBN 978-0-89141-694-4.
  • Nolan, Keith W. Into Laos: Dewey Canyon II/Lam Son 719. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1986. ISBN 0-89141-247-6.
  • Starry, Donn A., General. "Mounted Combat In Vietnam" (Archived) Vietnam Studies; Department of the Army. First printed 1978-CMH Pub 90-17.
  • Tunbridge, Stephen. M113 in Action. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc, 1978. ISBN 0-89747-050-8.
  • Zaloga, Steven. Armored Thunderbolt, The US Army Sherman in World War II. 2008, Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-0424-3.
  • Zumbro, Ralph. The Iron Cavalry. 1998, New York, New York, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01390-4

Secondary sources edit

  • Joseph Hokayem, L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975–1985), Lulu.com, Beyrouth 2012. ISBN 978-1-291-03660-2 (in French) – L'armée libanaise pendant la guerre: un instrument du pouvoir du président de la République (1975-1985)
  • Kassis, Samer (2003). 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon. Beirut: Elite Group. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5.
  • Kassis, Samer (2012). Véhicules Militaires au Liban 1975–1981 [Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981] (in French). Chyah: Trebia Publishing. ISBN 978-9953-0-2372-4.
  • Paul Jureidini, R. D. McLaurin, and James Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas, 1975–1978, Aberdeen, MD: U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Technical Memorandum 11–79, June 1979.
  • Sex, Zachary; Abi-Chahine, Bassel (2021). Modern Conflicts 2 – The Lebanese Civil War, From 1975 to 1991 and Beyond. Modern Conflicts Profile Guide. Vol. II. AK Interactive. EAN 8435568306073.

External links edit