Cadillac Gage Ranger

Cadillac Gage Ranger

The Cadillac Gage Ranger is a 4×4 armored personnel carrier (essentially an armored truck) produced by Cadillac Gage. The largest customer was the United States Air Force (where it was called the Peacekeeper, or P.K.) which at one time had over several hundred. It is also used by Luxembourg and Indonesia.

Rangers/Peacekeepers were produced in the early 1980s on a Dodge 200 or Dodge Ram pickup truck chassis. Many were subsequently sold off to local police as SWAT vehicles. A newer version called the PeaceKeeper II is produced on a Ford F-350 chassis.

Air Force Security Police personnel usually used the PeaceKeeper (or Truck, Armored, Convoy as the nomenclature plate described it) as a Fire Team vehicle. It had a crew of four: Fire Team Leader/driver, Rifleman/assistant gunner/front passenger, M-60 Gunner/left rear passenger, and Grenadier/right rear passenger (the fire team leader and the rifleman could swap positions in the vehicle). The seating in the vehicle was two up front facing the front, one directly behind the driver and one in the rear of the vehicle; both of the members in the rear faced the opposite wall.

The vehicle had firing ports providing 270° coverage. There was one in the front center, one in each of the four doors (driver's, passenger's, and two rear), and one on each rear side. All firing ports except the one in front had an armored vision block above it. The driver and front passenger had large armored glass vision blocks for forward visibility and two smaller ones in the doors for views to the side. The two front (right door and left door) vision blocks (for driver and passenger) were larger that the rest.

The doors were extremely heavy, and when opening them great care had to be taken that the latch engaged the top of the door. The doors were spring-loaded and if the springs were strong the doors would close immediately. On the inside, the driver and passenger both had door release pads located above the door openings. All one had to do to close the door was hit the pad and the door would slam shut.

The rear doors were a different matter. The grenadier had to lean out of the vehicle to use his thumb to depress the door hold open latch while pulling the door closed. These two doors were much lighter than the side doors.

The vehicle was equipped with a turret capable of mounting an M60 Machine Gun. The turret had an armored gun shield (which prevented the mounting of the M-60E3) bolted onto the front of the machine gun cradle. The cradle itself had a coaxial spotlight attached to its right side, enabling the gunner to illuminate any area; the cable of the spotlight was a constant source of entanglement for the gunner.

The hatch opening was notoriously small. Any gunner of extra-large size or larger, while wearing his body armor, would have trouble fitting in the turret, and it would be nearly impossible if he was wearing his gas mask case across his chest. The hatch itself had three positions: full down, half up, and full up; when full up it acted as a rear shield for the gunner. When opened, the spring-loaded hatch automatically went to the mid-point lock. This forced the gunner to pull down the handle in the rear so that the hatch opened fully. When closing the hatch, the gunner just pulled the rear handle down until he could latch the hatch. The gunner had a folding pedestal to stand on when behind the machine gun. Operationally, any time the gun was mounted, the gunner had to be behind it whether the vehicle was moving or not.

As initially produced, the vehicle was equipped with a convert|360|in3 gasoline-powered Mopar engine. This proved to be too powerful, leading to speeding incidents and accidents. It also proved to be too prone to overheating. In practice the vehicle crew would spend many hours parked with the engine idling and the air conditioning on. This was especially true during the long hot days of the short northern plains summers (sundown at Minot AFB North Dakota is between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm during the summer) where most of Strategic Air Command's ICBM bases and several of its bomber bases were located. As the 360 cubic inch Mopars failed, they were replaced with convert|318|in3 gasoline-powered Mopars, though a few vehicles did receive diesel engines.

The original grill made up of a series of interlocking inverted "V"s designed to catch incoming bullets and direct them down away from the radiator. It was found that this restricted air flow enough to also contribute to the overheating problems, so a new "Summer" grill with unrestricted air flow was installed on some vehicles. The "Summer" grill offered no protection for the radiator but by the time they were installed it was realized that the vehicles were expendable. The Ranger/Peacekeeper really did not need the protection, because they only had to survive long enough to get the fire team to the fight, or the convoy being protected out of one.

The vehicle was originally equipped with foam-filled "run flat" tires. These, however, caused control problems when operated for extended periods of time at highway speeds (convert|45|-|55|mph). The foam in the tires would heat up and liquefy, throwing the wheels out of balance; if this happened to all four at the same time the driver could lose control and roll over. While the vehicle was equipped with seat belts, and if they were used, the chance of a serious injury in a roll over was still 100%. By 1990 all of the foam-filled tires had been replaced with tubeless pneumatic types.

While the vehicle was mechanically four wheel drive, its off-road capability was nil (the four wheel drive provided for extra traction in the excessive snow of the northern plains winters). In fact, United States Air Force Space Command ordered that any P.K. operated on a gravel road not exceed convert|25|mph|abbr=on; on some of the worst roads, drivers would slow down further to convert|15|mph|abbr=on or slower.

Tactically the vehicle would pull up to a hostile area, with one of the two front corners pointed at the area of incoming fire. The machine gunner would lay down suppressive fire and the grenadier would deploy from the rear of the vehicle to an area of cover. Once under cover the grenadier would also lay down suppressive fire for the rest of the crew. The next person to dismount from the vehicle would be either the driver or passenger (who ever was on the side of the vehicle not taking fire). If that member was the fire team leader, he would follow the grenadier's example and seek a position of cover and lay down suppressive fire; if it was the assistant gunner he would take cover behind the engine compartment and wait for the gunner, in order to assist him with his ammunition. The last person out would be the machine gunner; once out he and the assistant gunner would move together to a tactical position.

The Ranger/Peacekeeper is no longer offered by Cadillac-Gage.

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