|Known as the "Green
dragon" to the VC in the early stages of the war. The M113 was
destined to become one of the most successful armoured vehicles of all
time. Seeing action in Vietnam on a wide scale from the DMZ to the
In 1962 the first M113s arrived in
Vietnam and were given to ARVN units. In March 1962 a consignment of 32
M113s that were on their way to Europe were diverted and also given to
These first M113s were powered by a
209HP Chrysler 75M petrol engine. By 1964 the M113 had been superseded
by the updated M113A1. The M113A1 was fitted with a General motor's
215HP Diesel engine which gave it an improved performance over the
Each M113 had a crew of two, a
commander and a driver, and could carry eleven men and their equipment.
The driver sat on the L/H side of the vehicle, and had a good field of
vision through four periscopes which were mounted in the cupola. The
commander was situated centrally in the vehicle and had a fully rotating
cupola with five periscopes. The commander also acted as the gunner and
operated the .50 cal machine gun, this could be rotated through a full
360 degrees to give an all-round field of fire if needed. The ammo for
the 50 was stored in portable boxes behind the infantrymen's seats.
Originally the .50 cal gunners
position was exposed and VERY unprotected. After the battle on Jan 2nd
1963 at Ap Bac, (in which fourteen ARVN M113 gunners had been killed) a
combination shield and turret was designed which afforded much needed
protection. This eventually was fitted as standard to all M113s.
Armour, Wheels and Tracks:
The cold rolled alloy hull of the M113
was made from Aluminium, Manganese and Magnesium. It's armour thickness
varied from 3/4" to a maximum thickness of 1 1/4". This
thickness provided protection from small arms fire and shell fragments,
but would not stop a round from the soviet made RPG-7, or withstand the
blast from a land mine.
One of the best features of the M113
was it's ability to operate in an amphibious roll with out the need of
specialist preparation. The hull of the M113 was constructed as a
watertight unit, with all hatches and doors fitted with rubber seals to
make them watertight. The front of the vehicle was fitted with a hinged
breakwater plate which helped to stabilize the vehicle during operations
In the amphibious role the M113 was
propelled by it's tracks, this was further enhanced by the rubber track
shroud on each side of the hull, giving the M113 a top speed of 3 mph
The 63-64 link tracks were 15"
wide and of a swivel link type, housed in rubber bushings to give them
maximum elasticity. The tracks themselves ran on ten pairs ( 5 each
side) of 24" Aluminium road wheels which were in turn each fitted
with a solid rubber tyre 2 1/8" thick.
The track life span on the M113 was
supposed to be about 3,000 miles, but this was regularly exceeded, and
has been known to go as high as 9,000 miles.
In 1965/66 some of the first M113s
were converted into ACAVs (Armoured Cavalry Assault Vehicle) by fitting
them with side mounted M60s and gun shields. Sandbags were placed on the
floor of the inner troop compartment to absorb some of the blast from
land mines. Sandbags were also placed on the outer hull and arranged as
parapets around the troop compartment so as to allow the infantry to
fire over the sides. As well as using sandbags for absorbing the blast
from mines, ACAVs were also fitted with Titanium plates beneath the
belly for the same reason.
Other mods to change the M113 into
ACAVs involved ripping out all but the drivers seat, to make more room
for the carrying of essentials like loads of ammo. The ammo was stacked
two layers deep, and wall-to-wall in the troop compartment. As well as
as much ammo as they could carry the ACAVs space was also filled with
the crew's kit bags, spare gun barrels, water, C-rations, crew weapons,
grenades, tool box, and a set of towing cables.
At a mere 22,000 Dollars per vehicle,
the US Army had come up with a good all rounder. The M113 proved to be
an excellent and effective Armoured Fighting Vehicle that went anywhere
in Vietnam and did everything - and more besides!
This section Copyright © 1996 Martin
Tingey. Non-commercial distribution for educational purposes permitted
if document is unaltered. Any commercial use, or storage in any
commercial BBS is strictly prohibited without written consent.