M113 Armored Personnel Carrier

M113 Armored Personnel Carrier

Infobox Weapon

origin= United States
type= Armored personnel carrier
is_vehicle= yes
service= 1960–present
used_by= Numerous nations, see text
wars= Vietnam War, Gulf War, others
number= ~80,000 (all variants)
variants= Numerous, see text
length= 4.863 m
width= 2.686 m
height=2.5 m
weight= 12.3 tonnes
suspension= torsion bar, 5 road wheels
speed= 66 km/h (41 mph)
vehicle_range= ~480 km (~300 miles)
primary_armament= M2 Browning machine gun
secondary_armament= varies (see text)
armour= aluminium 12-38 mm
engine= Detroit Diesel 6V53T, 6-cylinder diesel engine
crew= 2 + 11 passengers
engine_power= 275 hp (205 kW)
pw_ratio= 22.36 hp/tonne

The M113 is an armored personnel carrier family of fully tracked armored vehicles in use with the U.S. military and many other nations.

It can cross lakes, streams, and rough terrain. The M113 family is based on a modular concept and has many variants and modifications that are used in a variety of combat and combat support roles by armies around the world. About 100,000 M113s of all types have been produced worldwide, making it one of the most widely used armored fighting vehicles of all time. [ [http://www.baesystems.com/ProductsServices/l_and_a_gs_m113.html BAE Systems] ] The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the US Army in the Vietnam War, earning the nickname 'Green Dragon' among the Vietcong, as it was used to break through heavy thickets in the midst of the jungle to attack and overrun enemy positions. Today around half of U.S. Army armored vehicles are M113 variants. Its design inspired newer generations of more heavily armored and armed infantry fighting vehicles.


The M113 was developed from the M59 and M75 Armored Personnel Carrier which were designed by Food Machinery Corp. and Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Co. in the late 1950s. The M113 was originally developed and manufactured by FMC of San Jose, California to fulfill the requirement to be an "Airborne Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle Family" (AAM-PVF) [Simon Dunstan, The M113 Series, page 5, Osprey Publishing, London, 1983] of all-purpose, all-terrain armored fighting vehicles .

Two vehicles were initially considered: two versions of the largely aluminum T113 - a thicker and a thinner armored one - and 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 US 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. [Tunbridge, 1978. p. 4]

Design and development

The M113 was developed to provide an air-mobile, survivable and reliable light tracked vehicle able to be air-lifted, air-dropped and parachuted by C130, C141, C-5 and C-17. Though initially US Army generals wanted to use it only to transport troops, protected against small-arms fire and shell fragments, to the front line where they would disembark, according to an outdated battle doctrine. The Vietnam War showed that the M113 could be of more use with the crew fighting mounted, which led to the development of the famous ACAV variant by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), a design which was later adapted by the US Army.

Entering service with the U.S. Army in 1960, the M113 requires only two crewmen, a driver and a commander, and carries eleven passengers inside the vehicle. Its main armament is a single .50-caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun operated by the commander.

Two years later, the M113 was sent to battle in Vietnam, but without the added ACAV sets, which consisted of gun shields and belly armor. During early engagements in the Vietnam War, when Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops were pinned down by fire, they found that they could not simply return fire from within and overwhelm opposing forces. The .50-caliber machinegunner's position exposed the gunner to enemy small-arms fire. They soon fitted makeshift shields for the vulnerable machine gun.

The predecessor to the standardized Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (or ACAV) variant was introduced by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam during the early 1960s. During the M113's initial fielding in Vietnam in 1962, it was found that the commander and cargo hatch positions were extremely exposed and the vehicle's armament was in many ways lacking. The ARVNs had modified the M113s to function as "amphibious light tanks" [Zumbro, 1998. p. 470] 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 "an over-sized tank crew." [Zumbro, 1998. p. 470 ] 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 theatre. Still, the M113 could carry 11 infantrymen inside, with two crewmen operating the M113.

The US 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, and 2 additional M60 machine guns with shields for the left and right rear positions, and "belly armor", which consisted of a sheet of steel, bolted from the front bottom extending 1/2 to 2/3 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 in such a role still suffered from its lightly armored configuration, having never been designed for such a role. A number of prototypes with factory-installed firing ports on each side of the APC were constructed, and at least one of these XM734 was deployed to Vietnam for testing. Reports from the field were reportedly not enthusiastic.

Modified versions of the Vietnam War ACAV sets have been deployed to Iraq (Formally referred to as Southwest Asia within the US military) for installation on the current M113 series vehicles in use. An improved circular shield turret deployed to Iraq, and such vehicles have been utilized without the 2 rear stations. However, they reportedly are modified with armor to protect the Track Commander (TC) position and are NOT employing the two rear left and right machine gun stations.The 10.5-ton M113 is built of aircraft-quality aluminum which gives it some of the same strength as steel at a slightly reduced weight, as the greater thickness allows structural stiffness. Its weight allows the use of a relatively small engine to power the vehicle, a 6V53 Detroit 2-stroke six cylinder diesel, with a Allison tx100-1 3 speed automatic transmission, and allows the vehicle to carry a large payload cross-country and to be transported by fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. It can also swim without deploying flotation curtains, and is powered by tracks, which was of tactical importance in battlefields like Vietnam which required crossing a multitude of terrain features: jungles, swamps, muddy dirt roads, forests, and rice fields.

The current M113A3 has a 480-km range and a maximum speed of 64 km/h. The upgraded M113A3 has spall suppression liners, armored external fuel tanks, a more powerful engine and transmission, and mounting plates for the option of bolt-on titanium, aluminum, ceramic, or high-hardness steel appliqué armor. Band tracks and hybrid-electric drive features can make the M113 stealthy and travel faster than 60 mph on roads while doubling range from 300 to 600 miles on one load of fuel, but these features have not be added to operational vehicles.Verify source|date=May 2007Today’s M113 fleet includes a mix of these A2 variants and other derivatives equipped with the most recent A3 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 incorporation of spall liners and provisions 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 M113 was named as the number one rated armored personnel carriers/infantry fighting vehicle by a television program. [ [http://military.discovery.com/convergence/topten/afv/slideshow/slideshow_10.html Top 10 Military Channel program] ]



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.

M113s were instrumental for escorting convoys through contested territory in Vietnam, and are commonly seen in combat photos, sometimes with M48 or M551 tanks for added firepower. During the Vietnam War, US Army gun trucks modified 2 1/2 ton and 5 ton cargo trucks along with V-100 armored cars conducted convoy escorts for military traffic. Some M113s with improved/modified main gun shields similar to or directly modified from existing ACAV equipment have been deployed to Iraq for similar duties.

The USAF used M113 and M113A1 ACAV vehicles in USAF Security Police Squadrons providing air base ground defense support in Vietnam. M113s were also supplied to the South Vietnam ARVN forces. They were also supplied to the Cambodian government army, equipped with a turret for the machine gun and a recoilless rifle mounted on the roof.

Australia operated the M113 in Vietnam. After initial experience showed the crew commander was too vulnerable to fire the Australian army tried a number of different guns shields and turrets, eventually standardising on 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 US M113 ACAV version.

In addition Australia operated an M113 variant fitted with a Saladin armored car turret with a 76mm 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 carrier version are 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 76mm gun, improved fire control and passive night vision equipment.

Law Enforcement

M113s have been adopted by some law enforcement agencies. Photos show an M113 marked "Midland County Sherrif" was used in the 2008 raid of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound.


The M113 has never received an official name, but has received a variety of nicknames over the years. The NLF called it the "Green Dragon"; the Swiss referred to it as the "Elefantenrollschuh" or elephants' roller-skate; the Germans called it the "Schweinewürfel" or pig cube.cite web |url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m113.htm |title=M113 Armored Personnel Carrier |accessdate=2007-02-26 |author= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |format= |work=GlobalSecurity.org |publisher= |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] [cite web |url=http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=51094 |title= Nicknames of army vehicles in your country |accessdate=2007-02-26 |author= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |format= |work=MilitaryPhotos |publisher= |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] U.S. troops tended to refer to the M113 simply as a "track". The Israeli official name for the M113 is "Bardelas" (Cheetah) but the troops call it "Zelda". The Australian Army refers to its M113A1s as "Buckets", and the modified M113A1 fitted with 76mm turrets as "Beasts". In the Norwegian army it is commonly referred to as the "Vietnam Dumpster". Among Danish soldiers it is often called "Dåsen" meaning "The (tin)Can". Spanish army called TOA (transporte oruga acorazado) as official name. Another nickname, "Zippo", is actually reserved for the M132 Armored Flamethrower which is based on the M113.

Modifications for Iraq

The M113 has relatively light armor, but is being augmented with reactive armor, add-on plates, and RPG standoff cages ("slat armor"). Windowed gunshields developed by an armorer in Iraq are reminiscent of ACAV vehicle modifications so effective in Southeast Asia (Vietnam War). Band tracks to replace the high maintenance, road damaging steel tracks are in use by Canadian and other forces.

Most of the M113s which are still in service have been upgraded. However, they are still lightly protected compared to modern APCs or IFVs such as the M2 Bradley or IDF Achzarit. Those larger vehicles cannot be transported in a C-130 plane so it may be argued that their capability to be air-deployed provides an advantage over more heavily armored vehicles. A fervent pro-M113 community has developed due to the versatility of the platform.

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 US Army's National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. These M113s, like the M551s they replace, 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.


The basic M113 armored personnel carrier can itself 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 40mm Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. A number of anti-tank weapons could be fitted to the standard variant. Mechanized Infantry and Cavalry units in Vietnam often removed jeep mounted M40 106mm recoilless rifles fitting them to their M113s instead. The US Army also 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 the weapon, as well as the machine gun.

Basic variants

*1964 diesel replaces gasoline engine

*1979, cooling and suspension improvements

*1987, further improvements for "enhanced (battlefield) survival"Yoke for steering instead of laterals. More powerful engine. External fuel tanks.

;M113 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV)The "Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle" or "ACAV", was introduced in the Vietnam war after it was found that the commander and cargo hatch positions were extremely exposed and the vehicle's armament was in many ways lacking. Initially field expedient shields and mounts were used, then a kit was produced on Okinawa for the .50 cal. machine gun. Finally, the full ACAV kit, manufactured in the U.S., was introduced. The kit included shields and circular turret armor for the commander's Browning M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, and two additional 7.62mm M60 machine guns, again with shields, fitted on either side of the top cargo hatch. This kit could be retrofitted to any M113. ACAV kits were also 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 extreme rear 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 were modified in the U.S. before the unit left Ft. Meade, Maryland for Vietnam. Additional armor in the form of a mine protective kit under the hull was also frequently fitted.


A huge number of M113 Armored Personnel Carrier variants have been created, ranging from infantry carriers to nuclear missile carriers. The M113 Armored Personnel Carrier 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. Not without its faults, the otherwise versatile chassis of the M113 has been used to create almost every type of vehicle imaginable. Few vehicles ever created can claim the application to such a wide range of roles.


*AFG 63
*flag|Albania: 130 former Italian
*flag|Argentina: 450
*flag|Australia (Australian Army): 700
*flag|Bangladesh (Bangladesh Army): on lease, For UN Peace Keeping Operations
*flag|Belgium (Belgian Army): 500
*flag|Benin: 16 former Belgian
*flag|Bolivia: (Bolivian Army): 50
*flag|Bosnia and Herzegovina: 80 [ [http://rieas.gr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=80&Itemid=42 DEFENCE BALANCE IN WESTERN BALKANS] Research Institute for European and American Studies]
*flag|Brazil: Brazilian Army: 584; Brazilian Marine Corps: 29
*flag|Cambodia (Forces Armées Nationales Khmères (FANK), (Khmer Rouge), (Royal Cambodian Army): 210.."only 20 are know to be fully operational"
*flag|Canada: 1,200
*flag|Chile (Chilean Army): 427
*flag|Colombia: 120
*flag|Cyprus (One captured example "239943"): 8
*COD -
*flag|Denmark: 632 (Designated PMV, Pansret Mandskabsvogn, literally translated to APC. Slowly being replaced in the mechanized infantry by the CV90.)
*flag|Egypt: 2,650
*flag|Ethiopia: 110
*flag|Germany: 4,000 (being phased out and replaced by the ATF Dingo [ [http://www.kmweg.de/pressenews_detail.php?id=41 kmweg.de: Neue DINGO-Variante für die Bundeswehr] (German) - Published 17 November 2005, Checked 23 May 2007] and Boxer MRAV [ [http://www.bundeswehr.de/portal/a/bwde/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLd4w39bQESUGYpvqRaGKGbn4IsSB9b31fj_zcVP0A_YLc0IhyR0dFALNCMzY!/delta/base64xml/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS80SVVFLzZfQV9HVTU!?yw_contentURL=/C1256EF4002AED30/W269HEWT902INFODE/content.jsp bundeswehr.de: Neue Waffensysteme] (German) - Checked 23 May 2007] )
*flag|Greece: 1,670
*flag|Iraq (New Iraqi Army): 233
*flag|Iran (Imperial Iranian Army), (Iranian Army): 5,500
*flag|Israel (Israeli Defence Forces): 5,000
*flag|Italy (Italian Army): +3,000 (Slowly being replaced by the Dardo IFV)
*flag|Jordan: 300
*flag|South Korea (South Korean Army): 540
*flag|Kuwait: 80
*flag|Lebanon (Lebanese Army) 1100+ [ [http://www.armyrecognition.com/moyen_orient/Liban/Liban_index_materiel.htm Index of military equipment Lebanese Army of Lebanon Index des équipements militaires armée libanaise du Liban] ]
*flag|Lithuania: 300
*flag|Morocco: 550
*flag|Macedonia: 30
*flag|Netherlands (Royal Netherlands Army), (Royal Marechaussee): replaced with YPR-765
*flag|New Zealand (New Zealand Army): 120 (Replaced with NZLAV lll)
*flag|Norway (Norwegian Army): 900
*flag|Pakistan: 1500
*flag|Peru: 245
*flag|Philippines: 66 [http://timawa.net/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=8e0cb81af01ecd6e36ffa52863da800b&topic=6053.msg53902#msg53902]
*flag|Poland (Polish Land Forces): 35 [ [http://www.militarium.net/wojsko_polskie/uzbrojenie.php List of armaments of the Polish Army as of June 2005] ]
*flag|Portugal (Portuguese Army): 150
*flag|Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabian Army), (Saudi National Guard): 1,750
*flag|Singapore (Singapore Armed Forces): 1,200 (being replaced by Bionix AFVs)
*flag|Spain: 860 (being replaced by the Pizarro IFV)
*flag|Switzerland: 400
*flag|South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam Army (ARVN)), (Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN))
*flag|Taiwan (Republic of China Army): 675 [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/taiwan/army-inventory.htm ROC Army Equipment] ]
*flag|Thailand: 385
*flag|Turkey: +3,000
*flag|United States: +10,000
**The M113 is also used by NASA for emergency evacuation of astronauts during a launch pad emergency, as well as some police SWAT units, like the Phoenix, Arizona police department.
*flag|Uruguay: 15
*VIE: 750
*flag|Yemen: 670

ee also

*FV432 - a contemporary British vehicle
*Pbv 302 - Swedish APC
*Boxer MRAV - Germany's replacement for the M113
*AIFV - FMC's "Product Improved M113A1"


*Dunstan, Simon. "The M113 Series" London, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1983. ISBN 0-85045-495-6.
*Nolan, Keith W. "Into Laos: Dewey Canyon II/Lam Son 719." Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1986. ISBN 0-89141-247-6.
*Tunbridge, Stephen. "M113 in Action". Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc, 1978. ISBN 0-89747-050-8.
*Zumbro, Ralph. "The Iron Cavalry." 1998, New York, New York, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01390-4

External links

* [http://www.army.mil/fact_files_site/m113/ Army Fact File for M113]
* [http://www.uniteddefense.com/www.m113.com/m113_vehicles.html United Defence]
* [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m113.htm FAS.org]
* [http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/cv/inf/M113.html Gary's Combat Vehicle Reference Guide]
* [http://images.ksc.nasa.gov/photos/2000/captions/KSC-00PP-1135.html NASA Kennedy Space Center site]
* [http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=7322 M113 performance vs. RPG-7]
* [http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/vehicles/armored_personnel_carriers/m-113/M-113.htm M113 at Israeli Weapons]
* [http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/lf/English/2_display.asp?product=58 Canadian Forces Official Website]
* [http://www.vhpamuseum.org/11thcav/11thcav.shtml M113 ACAV Operations with 11th ACR in Vietnam]
* [http://www.cavaleriemuseum.nl Dutch Cavalry Museum] has an M113 C&V (M113 ACAV) in its exposition.
* [http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/lsp/M113_Upgrade.cfm Australian DoD M113 Upgrade Project]
* [http://www.danskpanser.dk/Baeltekoretojer/M113.htm M113 in the danish army]
* [http://www.danskpanser.dk/Baeltekoretojer/M113G3DK.htm M113 G3 DK in the Danish army]
* [http://www.danskpanser.dk/Baeltekoretojer/M113G3Waran.htm M113 G3 Waran in the Danish army]
* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IAV/is_4_93/ai_n6362165/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1 "M113 APC: four decades of service and still showing potential"] , "Infantry Magazine", July–August, 2004, by Stanley C. Crist.

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