80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softcover
After WWII, the US Army was looking for a replacement for the M3 halftrack to carry its motorized troops. The half track worked well on hard surfaces, but what was really needed was a relatively fast, fully tracked vehicle. It also had to be fully enclosed to offer the best protection to the troops inside. A number of vehicles were proposed and tested. Most designs were too large, too heavy or did not have the sort of performance that was required. Several were simply too complex.
What was initially chosen was the M75. This proved to be very expensive and was later replaced after a short production run, by the less expensive M59. However, this vehicle was underpowered and had very short range. Nonetheless, over 6,000 were produced up until 1960. Thus we get to the subject of this book, the M113.
This vehicle had to be lighter, with similar armor protection to the M59, have greater range, be air droppable and be able to operate in water. A tall order, indeed. Out of all this, the Food Machine and Chemical Company (FMC) was chosen to be the one to develop this vehicle. It also had to be sort of a jack of all trades and be used as a mortar carrier, command vehicle and whatever else was required. As you can guess, it was able to do so.
This book pretty well covers the development of the vehicle, including its predecessors, as well as the multiple variations on the theme. A big part of this volume is its operational service in Vietnam with not oly the US Army, but also the Australians and the South Vietnamese. Other nations in the fight also used this vehicle and those are covered. A goodly portion of the book is the M113's operation in combat. It is, of course, not possible to cover every action, but the book picks some of the most important and show that, though the Army brass did not think that tracked vehicles would be useful in country, they were proven wrong. So successful was the M113 that even today, some 50 years on, the type is still in active service with some nations.
In all, it is a great book that provides not only a primer on the type for tyros, but is a good read in its own right. Well worth picking up.
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