M113

The M113 is a fully tracked armored personnel carrier that was developed by Food Machinery Corp (FMC). The vehicle was first fielded by the United States Army's mechanized infantry units in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War, earning the nickname 'Green Dragon' by the Viet Cong as it was used to break through heavy thickets in the midst of the jungle to attack and overrun enemy positions, but largely known as an APC and ACAV (armored cavalry assault vehicle) by the allied forces.

The M113 introduced new aluminum armor that made the vehicle much lighter than earlier vehicles; it was 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 Bradley, but large numbers are still used in support roles such as armored ambulance, mortar carrier, engineer vehicle, command vehicle, etc. The Army's Heavy Brigade Combat Teams are equipped with around 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 represent about half of U.S. Army armored vehicles today. To date, it is estimated that over 80,000 M113s of all types have been produced and used by over 50 countries worldwide, making it one of the most widely used armored fighting vehicles of all time. The Military Channel's "Top Ten" series named the M113 the most significant infantry vehicle in history. The U.S. Army planned to retire the M113 family of vehicles by 2018, seeking replacement with the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle program,[6] but now replacement of the M113 has fallen to the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program.

M113
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer FMC Corporation
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1960
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan View
Argentina View
Australia View
Bangladesh View
Bolivia View
Bosnia-Herzegovina View
Brazil View
Canada View
Chile View
China View
Colombia View
Congo (Zaire) View
Cyprus View
Denmark View
Ecuador View
Egypt View
El Salvador View
Ethiopia View
Greece View
Indonesia View
Iran (Persia) View
Iraq View
Israel View
Italy View
Jordan View
Kuwait View
Lebanon View
Lithuania View
Macedonia View
Morocco View
Netherlands View
Pakistan View
Peru View
Philippines View
Poland View
Portugal View
Saudi Arabia View
Singapore View
South Korea View
Spain View
Switzerland View
Thailand (Siam) View
Tunisia View
Turkey (Ottoman Empire) View
United States of America 1960 View
Uruguay View
Vietnam View
Yemen View
Norway View
Bahrain View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
FMC Corporation 80000 View

The M113 was developed by Food Machinery Corp. (FMC), which had produced the earlier M59 and M75 Armored personnel carriers. The M113 bore a very strong resemblance to both of these earlier vehicles. The M75 was too heavy and expensive to be useful; its weight prevented amphibious capability, and being transported 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). 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. Use of this armor could produce a vehicle that provided the protection of the M75, and the light weight and mobility of the M59.

FMC responded with two proposals; two versions of the aluminum T113—a thicker and a thinner armored one—along with the similar but mostly steel T117. The thicker-armored version of the T113, effectively the prototype of the M113, was chosen because it weighed less than the steel competitor, while 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. 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.

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; the M113 would then 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 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 (M113s). On 11 June 1962, the two mechanized units were fielded for the first time. 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. Soon, makeshift shields formed from metal salvaged from the hull(s) of sunken ships were fitted to the carriers, which afforded better protection. But, finding that this material could be penetrated by small arms fire, subsequent shields were constructed from scrapped armored vehicles.

The ARVN 80th Ordnance Unit in South Vietnam developed the shield idea further and commenced engineering general issue gun shields for the M113. 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" and not as battle taxis as US designers had intended. Instead of an armored personnel carrier, the ARVN used the carried infantry as extra "dismountable soldiers" in "an over-sized tank crew." 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 did not operate as designed in theater. Still, the M113 could carry 11 infantrymen inside, with two crewmen operating the M113.

The U.S. Army, after berating the Vietnamese for flouting battle doctrine, 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 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. Four gun ports and vision blocks were added 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

United States Air Force M113 at the Theater Internment Facility at Camp Bucca, Iraq, Feb 10, 2008. The vehicle is assigned to the 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron's quick response force and equipped with M5 Crowd Control Munitions.

Modified versions of the Vietnam War ACAV sets have been deployed to Iraq (formerly referred to as Southwest Asia within the US military) 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.

The M113 has relatively light armor, but it can be augmented with add-on steel plates for improved ballistic protection. Also, reactive armor and slat armor can be added for protection against RPGs. Windowed gunshields developed by an armorer in Iraq are reminiscent of ACAV vehicle modifications so effective in Southeast Asia (Vietnam War). 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 was impractical and/or impossible and less vibration and rolling resistance.

Most of the 13,000 M113s that are still in U.S. Army service have been upgraded to the A3 variant.

The M113 has also been adopted to replace the aging fleet of visually modified (vismod) M551s being used to simulate Russian-made combat vehicles at the U.S. Army's National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. 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.

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. U.S. 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 and one mechanized brigade were deployed to Vietnam from 1965 until their departure in 1972.

Company D, 16th Armor, 173rd Airborne brigade was the first US Army armor unit deployed to Vietnam. It originally consisted of three platoons of M113s and a platoon of Self Propelled Anti-Tank Systems (SPATS). It was the only independent Armor company in the history of the US Army. Upon the company's arrival in Vietnam, a fourth line platoon was added; this was equipped with M106 4.2” mortar carriers (modified M113s). 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 SPAT 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 also standardized in late 1968 with three machine guns per track, one M2 .50 caliber and two M60 machine guns mounted on each side. After several years, the machine gun array varied considerably from APC to APC. The company conducted search and destroy missions, road and firebase security. Twenty-five D/16th paratroopers were killed in action and many more were wounded during the course of the war. D/16th ’s largest battle took place on 4 March 1968 at North Tuy Hoa. "During the day, the company lost 5 men killed, 16 wounded, and 3 missing (who are believed dead as two unrecogizable (sic) bodies were found). The enemy took a much greater loss. An estimated 2 enemy battalions, 85th Main Force (VC) and the 95th NVA Regiment, were rendered ineffective as they had 297 KIA's, with d-16 Armor receiving credit for killing 218." The revised official count for D/16 was 8 KIA and 21 WIA. The company commander, Captain Robert Helmick, was awarded the DSC, and many D/16th soldiers earned awards for valor. D/16 was awarded a Meritorious Unit Award for its actions in Vietnam. It was deactivated in 1969 and the company’s M113s were distributed to E Company, 17th Cavalry, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

M113s were instrumental in conducting Reconnaissance In Force (RIFs), Search and Destroy missions, and large invasions (incursions) such as during 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 work horse 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 (modified 2½-ton and 5-ton cargo 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. M113s were also supplied to the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). One notable ARVN unit equipped with the M113 APC, the 3d Armored Cavalry Squadron, earned the Presidential Unit Citation. M113s were also supplied to the Cambodian Khmer National Armed Forces, equipped with a turret for the machine gun and a recoilless rifle mounted on the roof.

The Australian Army also used the M113 in Vietnam. After initial experience 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 the MRV (medium reconnaissance vehicle). The MRV featured a Scorpion turret with 76 mm gun, improved fire control, and passive night vision equipment.

Recent history

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.

Today’s 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.

The future M113A3 fleet will include a number of vehicles that will have high speed digital networks and data transfer systems. The M113A3 digitization program includes applying appliqué hardware, software, and installation kits and hosting them in the M113 FOV.

The US Army stopped buying M113s in 2007, with 6,000 vehicles remaining in the inventory.

Israel

The Israel Defense Forces still operates large numbers of the M113 in its combat missions, from its total fleet of 6000 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.

In 2004, two fully laden IDF M113s were destroyed by IEDs, resulting in the deaths of 11 soldiers, all those inside the vehicles on both occasions. The vulnerability of the M113 armored personnel carrier to improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades, led the IDF to later begin to develop the Namer APC.

Operation Protective Edge 2014

In 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, a Hamas RPG-29 destroyed a fully loaded M113 in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of the 7 Golani Brigade soldiers riding inside the vehicle as part of Israel's ground incursion. As a result, the IDF faced calls to build more Namer APCs over the next decade and to gradually reduce the number of M113s used in its future combat operations.

Type Armored Personnel Carrier
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1960–present
Used by See Operators
Wars Vietnam War
Yom Kippur War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Lebanese Civil War
1982 Lebanon War
South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000)
Invasion of Panama
Iran–Iraq War
Persian Gulf War
Kosovo War
War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Waziristan War
Second Intifada
2006 Lebanon War
Gaza War
Libyan Civil War
Operation Protective Edge
Iraqi insurgency
Syrian Civil War
Production history
Number built ˜80,000 (all variants)
Variants Numerous, see text
Specifications
Weight 12.3 tonnes (13.6 short tons; 12.1long tons)
Length 4.863 metres (15 ft 11.5 in)
Width 2.686 metres (8 ft 9.7 in)
Height 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in)
Crew 2
Passengers 11 passengers
Armor aluminum 12–38 millimetres (0.47–1.50 in)
Main
armament
M2 Browning machine gun
Secondary
armament
varies (see text)
Engine Detroit Diesel 6V53T, 6-cylinderdiesel engine
275 hp (205 kW)
Power/weight 22.36 hp/tonne
Suspension torsion bar, 5 road wheels
Operational
range
480 km (300 mi)
Speed 67.6 km/h (42.0 mph), 5.8 km/h (3.6 mph) swimming

End notes