Thursday, November 1, 2012


The first production vehicles of the M113 APC (armoured Personnel carrier) family where produced by FMC (food Machinery and Chemical Corporation ) in the USA during June 1960.These first examples would go on to be the basis for the most widely used and most varied family of tracked vehicles in the Western Worlds Military forces.With up to 80,000 produced and serving up to and including today.
The idea behind the M113 was as a light Aluminium armoured transport to deliver and extract troops from the battle area .But not really to take part in the battle itself but this operational scope was soon changed as the units became part of the normal order of battle.

  M113A1 on display at 12/16 Hunter River Lancers Tamworth Base Beersheba Barracks.Which shows the  basic unit style and colourings.With this one  fitted with the T50 Turret.

Side view with half width side skirts fitted, black section is thick rubber with steel end caps which can be modelled as shown ,full width or removed. The purpose of the side skirts is to control the flow of the water over the tracks when unit is afloat.The tracks provide the propulsion and steering while in the water.Also note the ariel guards. 

Rear view with Jerry can holders on either side above track guard
And on right hand side of rear ramp door holders for the storage of wire rope slings.
Top cargo hatch in rear troop compartment on Australian carriers is raised up to include a ventilation unit and filters but still fitted to the original hatch cover.

Front view showing ply wood trim vain .For wading this is hinged at the bottom and the top moved forward
and braced .On trim vain is also the attachment point for a spare road wheel.With attachment points   for spare track sections on the right side front slope sheet above track. 

Shots shows removable sections of side skirts and colouring of track section with rubber road blocks fitted .Also the road wheels which the tracks ride on are steel with a rubber section on the outside (shown with chip missing) which is usually black.

This post will hope to give a brief history and explain the different variants .And to use this as a reference when modelling them in HO 1/87 scale to represent the units as used by the Australian Army .Using available models with castings of various parts i have produced.
The reason for this is to be able to recreate Military train loading's as run on the NSW rail system and the standard gauge network of Australia.
Which was a normal transport method for the Army right up until the mid 80,s.These trains could be a block loading of Military equipment Tanks APC,S , earth moving equipment,trucks.Or anything needing transfer to a area where a military exercise was taking place,or between maintenance centres and  regiment camps, and then the return workings
Or as a single item on a flat wagon run on a regular scheduled mixed freight being transferred to a unit such as the Hunter River Lancers at Tamworth

During 1962 to 63 two M113,s numbers 115422-115423, which where powered by a Chrysler V8 6 litre petrol truck engine where trialed against a British version of the same style of vehicle the FV432 Trojan in North Queensland. In areas ranging from tropical rain forests , dry outback , swamps , roads ,beaches , river crossing and amphibious operations.
In all areas the M113 came out on top and as a result the decision was made to purchase the M113 family of vehicles for the ADF.By this time a diesel powered version had been developed using a GM 2 stroke 5.2 litre engine .Thus changing the designation to M113A1 and all vehicles would be diesel powered apart from the 2 trial vehicles. These new vehicles would begin to arrive on Australian shores from early in 1965. Which over time would come to number in excess of 800 vehicles including variants.
The 2 trial units remained in service with 115422 being used for trials with the fitting of the 74C turret which was latter removed returning its exterior to its original configuration ,while 115423 was fitted with a T50 turret which it retained.
                                                      A M113A  in near original condition
                                                                 with full width side skirts.

USA M113 spec sheet  FMC

The first deployment of these new vehicles would come not long after there arrival in Australia .With the initial deployment of 10 carriers to Vietnam arriving there on the 27-5-65.This force would continue to increase through the coarse of the conflict.
 After some short battle experience in Vietnam the army found the need for some protection for the exposed commander / gunner position with the hatch opened so gun shields where fitted ,Some of these where made from steel retrieved from the hull side plates removed from Centurion Tanks.

                                          74C TURRET

This was an improvement but a better solution was tried with the purchase of 20 and fitting of 18 Model 74C Turrets  ( know by the US Army as the XM30 turret )  manufactured by Aircraft Armaments Incorporated and armed with twin M1919A4 machine guns.These 18 turrets were sent to and fitted in Vietnam.Although a much improved situation for the commander, the left hand machine gun had a tendency to jam because of the long angled belt feed and the turret was very cramped leading to the situation where the commander would use the turret in an opened hatch position .There was also the problem of spare parts needed for repairs from enemy action and the tendency for the traverse drive mechanism to fail.

                                                                   74C TURRET

                                The turret in the opened position showing the cramped conditions
                               The opened hatch would be used as a seat for the Gunner/Commander

                                  M113A1fitted with 74C turret and side skirts removed in Vietnam
                                                       Photos by Peter Purcell  1968

                                       T50 TURRET                         

So these 74C turrets would be removed and the APC,s refitted from the 8-68 with the Cadillac Gage T50 turret which were used in the V100 and V150 armoured cars and armed with 1x .50 inch M2HB Browning MG and 1x .30 inch L3A3 Browning MG.Or 2x .30 MG,s .Once teething troubles had be sorted ,Involving the gun placment and ball race dissintagration  these turrets went on to be the standard turret fitted to this day. Although the slow traverse and still cramped turret were never adressed.                   

   The units basic dimensions with T50 Turret
                                                                   Length                         4.87 m
                                                                   Height                          2.41m
                                                                   Width                          2.69m
                                                                   Weight Unladen           9.372   Tons
                                                                               Combat          11.515  Tons                            

                                                                      T50 TURRET
                                                       Beersheba Barracks Tamworth

               Metal rail at rear of turret is a barrel stop,to stop the guns from shooting the rear of the carrier


                     FSV    -  FIRE SUPPORT VEHICLE

Out line drawing of FSV
John Myszka

With battle experience gained in Vietnam it was realized more powerful  armament was needed for close in support of the Cavalry Regiments.
With the retirement from the ADF of the British built Alvis Saladin armoured cars which numbering 15.Work started to trial the fitting of one of these turrets which were armed with a 76mm gun and .30 caliber Browning MG, to the hull of a M113A1.
With the successful trials of the prototype 14 more units where constructed on new M113A1 hulls purchased for this purpose.
These units with the extra weight of the steel turret 1803 kg and higher center of gravity ,had reduced performance and amphibious capabilities but proved there worth and went on to serve until there withdraw from active service during the early 80,s.
Some of the FSV,s were named and all where known as " Beast" to there crews.  6 ex FSV hulls were on sold to New Zealand were they were converted back to M113A1,s. 1 ended up in a UK collection . And 6 remain at various Australian Museums.

                                                   Alvis Saladin at Cosford Air Museum UK
                                                    Showing turret used for FSV conversion


                   Basic dimensions of FSV        Length  4.9      mtrs
                                                                 width    2.69    mtrs
                                                                 Height   2.790  mtrs
                                                     Empty weight    11.130 tonnes
                                                  Combat weight     11.940 tonnes
                                                                Crew      3


                                                   ASSAILANT at Australian War Memorial

                                                               Photo Maitias Roth


With the experience gained from the operation of the FSV,s.The need for an improved version which would combine improvements in design and operation was needed included the ability for air transportation in the C130 Hercules with a reduction in height required while keeping weight to a minimum.And improved amphibious capability.
The British designed Scorpion tank which was a proven design was available ,but in1971 approval was given for the building of 3 prototypes using the turret from the Scorpion FV101 tank mated to the hull of the M113A1 very much a modernised FSV.

                                         British Scorpion Tank at Bovington Tank Museum UK

The turret was a fully welded aluminium construction fitted with a 76mm main gun and .30 Browning MG. And additional aluminium foam filled floatation devices where fitted to the full length of the side of the hull and replacing the ply front trim vane.
The MRV,s could be seen with the side floatation devices removed to avoid damaged from narrow openings such as trees during exercises.And the side skirts at full width or cut down to half width, to remove the need for there removal for chaining down during transport or removed completely.
After testing and proving a total of 48 MRV,s entered service from 1979 and continued in service until Nov  1996.
These units did not serve in Vietnam.

Unit on display at Gaza Training Depot  Armidale

                                     Metal  tube with  cap on right hand side, houses a field
                                  telephone used to communicate with the crew of the MRV



    10 X M113A1 where used as ambulances 134326-134335. Visually similar to a T-50 tuuret version with the inclusion of a Red Cross emblem on a round white background at the top rear side hull position.  
The units could be armed or retain the turret with guns removed .The rear hull was fitted with up to 4 stretchers.


                                M125A1 81mm MORTAR

These units totalling 23 were numbered  134416-134432 and 30682-30687 .They had a reinforced rear floor area as a 81 mm F1 mortar tube is installed on a rotating base in the rear cargo area which fired through a larger semi circular 3 piece hinged opening which folded out to either side of the hull .One section folding to the left as shown and 2 pieces to the right .Providing a large opened area for operation.With ammunition ,spares and crew carried internally.The single hatch cover section to the left has the ventilation ,filter housing attached to it.
The mortar has a maximum range of 4,595 Mtrs,While 114 rounds can be carried for amphibious operations the maximum load is 90 rounds.
These units were armed with a .50 inch M2HB machine gun on a pintal mount with gun shield attached to the commanders cupola hatch.

                                                        Spec sheet for USA Mortar Carrier  FMC

                                    M806A1 ARVL

The Armoured Recovery Vehicle Light was acquired during 1971-73 .With 19 units in total ,which travelled with the other elements of the armoured regiment for quick recovery of any vehicles that might become bogged or need assistance The unit has a large winch fitted internally for this purpose .
With 2 large spade shaped arms one either side at the rear of hull which are usually folded up against the back of the unit. But when required are folded down and a cross brace blade/spade section is placed between the arms ,and the unit backed up to raise the rear off the ground and dig the blade in for purchase when winching.The cross brace blade/spade is carried on the roof of the unit when not in use.The unit also has a small crane fitted to the roof area.A gun shield was not fitted to these units.
These units did not serve in Vietnam

 USA Spec sheet FMC

Rear of Australian unit showing the 2 side arms with cross brace blade fitted  and vehicle backed up to raise the rear clear of the ground, rear ready for winching.Steel grill on rear deck is raised up during operation to give protection for the operator should the cable brake.
Note opened top cargo hatch with raise up ventilation and filter section , side  buoyancy, flotation pods and no side skirts fitted as opposed to the US unit below.
These units did not serve in Vietnam.

                                 A US unit shown winching with protective steel grill in place

                            M113A1 ARMOURED  FITTERS

The full title for this variant  is  Carrier, Repair, Full Tracked, M113A1, Fitters .41 of these units where acquired between 1965 to 73 These units had the task of repairing equipment under combat conditions in the field and carried all the tools ,crew and spares necessary for this inside the hull of the vehicle. These repairs could be to any equipment in operation including Tanks and APC,s
Mounted on the roof at the left rear was a HIAB model 173  hydraulic crane which was controlled from the drivers compartment.The crane could lift 1,660 kgs at 3.29 mtrs reach on the hook at the tip of the boom or 3085 kgs at 1.67 mtrs on the intermediate hook The roof was fitted with a large roof hatch hinged on the right hand side, which when opened gave access to the inside of the hull. And by using the HIAB crane a complete engine, transmission pack could be removed from the cargo compartment and then fitted to a disabled vehicle.
The task could be carried out in field or at workshops with this vehicle.
The commanders cupola,hatch was fitted with a gun shield and armed with a .50 inch M2HB machine gun on a pintal mount.

                                               Additional buoyancy pod fitted to trim vain

                                           M577A1 ACV

58 of these units where acquired between 1965-74. Sharing the same design as the M113A1,s but with the rear troop compartment from behind the drivers position raised up by 190 cm.The raised roof has a commanders hatch with no weapons mounted .Although some where armed with M60 machine guns in Vietnam.
The units use the same rear access ramp and hatch as the M113A1.A canvas tent is carried rolled up attached to the top rear of the unit which when pitched with the use of frame work provides additional work space and cover.
A power pack providing 24 volt power is carried in a housing with canvas top in the lower centre ,front position to the right of the driver.This can be a 3 Kw or 4.2 Kw unit ,either used in place or dismounted .The 4.2 Kw unit requires a higher guard around the generator.

                                               M548A1 TLC

The M548 Tracked Load Carrier or better known as the " tillie" .103 of these units were acquired from 1970 to 79 and is based on the unarmored M113 chassis,drive train and engine although with a slightly longer wheel base and overall length .It is amphibious and can carry 5,443 Kgs of  all types of supplies to forward units in combat areas.The rear cargo area is fitted with a removable canvas cover fitted to a frame and can be seen used with or without this .The front cab is fitted with a removable front windscreen and side windows with a canvas rear and top covering.The roof is also fitted with a roof hatch and ring mount for a machine gun.
A 9,000kg winch is fitted to the front of the vehicle.
These units did not serve in Vietnam.

                                          M113AS3 /S4

Under a plan approved in the late 1990,s a minimum upgrade was approved which as the M113AS3 would involve an overhaul and the fitting of new engine,transmission and drive train to the hulls.Hull protection is increased for mines with additional external armour kits bringing the protection for up to 14.5mm rounds and spall liners fitted internally. Fuel tanks have been removed from inside the hull to an external position at the rear above the tracks guard on each side .And additional external stowage to free up the inside of the hull .
With a major upgrade to follow which as the M113AS4 would see the hull cut and stretched by 666mm , and an additional set of road wheels fitted bringing a total of 6 per side as apposed to the original 5.And increasing the vehicle mass from 15,000kg,s to 18,000 kg,s
The 2 main variant codes AS3 and AS4 received all the same upgrades with the AS4 receiving the hull extension.Under the plan upgrades will consist of.

                117  x  M113AS4 APC
                  50  x  M113AS4  Armoured Logistic Vehicle's (These are to replace the M548 Transports)
                  43  x  M113AS4  Armoured Command Vehicle's
                  38  x  M113AS4  Armoured Fitters
                  21  x  M 125AS3 Mortar
                  15  x  M113AS4  Armoured Ambulance
                  12  x  M806AS4  Recovery Vehicles

  The APC variant showing the stretched hull with additional wheel set,external fuel tanks and storage      and Tenix one man turret.


                                                        The Armoured Fitters variant

                                         Additional reaserch books covering the subject