UPDATED 2 August 2010


"It was the TRACK not the tank that won for us"

--German Panzer General Guderian said after the fall of France in 1940

Contrary to popular belief, light Armored Fighting Vehicles and heavily armed vehicles sized for transport by aircraft have always been available for Air-Mech 3D maneuver warfare. The Germans airlanded light tanks by Me-323 Gigant transports into North Africa/Russia and the British 6th Airborne Division glider-landed Bren gun personnel/weapons carriers and Tetrarch/Locust light tanks into Normandy and the Rhine river crossing. If we persist in foot-slogging its a dumb choice born of narcissism not an inevitability. If we digitally connect such vehicles we can provide "Strike" effects from joint fires in addition to organic weaponry, creating "Air-Mech-Strike" capabilities never before achieved in modern warfare. Read about it below!

Technothriller: Air-Mech-Strike solves the trouble in Treblestan

Wheeled vehicles

VIDEO: 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta AKA "Delta Force" Air-Motorized Pandur 6x6 Thinly Armored Trucks by C-130 and Cargo Parachutes


We certainly don't like the POS Pandur but at least here, its being shown being LVADed from a C-130, indicating that Delta is at least thinking about parachuting in AIR-MOTORIZED forces behind enemy lines to do missions. Its progress to have at least some armor protected mobility even if its road-bound except in the most driest and flattest areas.

The first and still the most widely available vehicle types for Air-Mech-Strike operations are wheeled All-Terrain Bikes (ATBs), Carts (ATACs) and powered vehicles (ATVs) primarily for resupply, reconnaissance and light infantry strike missions since even if armored, wheeled cars lack robustness and cross-country mobility in combat situations. The Belgian ParaCommandos used tric-cycle ATVs to good effect during the 1964 Congo rescue operation. Below is a picture from their museum of an AS-24 trike rigged for parachute drop and a 4x4 jeep being off-loaded from a CH-47 recently in Afghanistan.

ATV Dragoons staff study

M-GATOR 4x2 ATV in combat

Bad ATV Airdrop

When you airdrop by cargo parachute there is going to be a 15 feet-per-second impact and about a 1G of force applied to whatever it is your dropping. Human legs can act as shock absorbers if a parachute landing fall can be done well enough. Inanimate objects don't have this option and the ram-air parachute has a nasty landing at half-breaks at a minimum of 10 mph forward speed in addition to the 15 FPS sink rate. Only Canadian company MMIST has figured out how to point a ram-air parachute into the wind and flare just before landing to lessen impact. Whether this "guided parafoil" was used in the above test or if a round cargo chute cannot be determined from the video we have. It looks like the ATV without a piece of plywood with honeycomb stacked underneath it to cushion its landing was wrecked on impact. Its understandable why one would not want a bunch of honeycomb and a chunk of plywood to have to bury/hide etc. Perhaps an airbag is a way to get cushioning that can be collapsed and taken with or buried easily?


We in the AMS-SG do not advocate vulnerable wheeled trucks except for calculated scouting from mother tracked armored vehicles or light bicycle infantry in coup de main operations where they can fan out rapidly in numbers to stay dispersed and apply maximum military effect. Northern Europe has flat rolling open terrain which unarmored jeeps could move freely and hide with the help of a sympathetic civilian population--the exact opposite of what the 2003 British SAS gun jeep patrol encountered continuing to today's absurd presence patrolling in Iraq that engenders hate and rebellion that can easily explode our men in such vulnerable wheeled trucks. Special Forces need a context to hide in and if its absent they cannot sneak around. If special operating forces are to operate in contested territory, they need air-delivered, amphibious, all-terrain M113 Gavin armored tracks with stealthy electric drive and band tracks that can withstand enemy "compromises" and continue the mission if fired upon.

Russians actually streamlined external load (SEL) carry armored cars and light tanks under TB-series bombers to include AIRDROP WITHOUT PARACHUTES! The works of Grohovskiy with TB-1, TB-2 and TB-3 bombers.


Legendary Walter Christie's M1932 Flying Light Tank is still the best concept to date and still demands fulfillment using today's technologies.

The Flying APC


With WW2 underway, ways to make tanks fly are explored....

Hafner's Valentine medium tank with rotors to be towed in flight

Russian Antonov A-40 KT-40 fixed wings to tow a T60 Light tank as a glider

Japanese KU6 Light Tank Glider Combo

Project Maeda Ku-6

Even air/ground vehicles are considered...

Grohovskiy G-26 (Attempt of the creation flying car)

Research reveals that while the Russians were the first to air-motorize armored cars and air-mech tanks in war games by both airdrop and airland, the Germans deserve credit for the first airlanded air-motorized, air-mechanized combat operations on Crete in 1941 and North Africa in 1942. We do not buy into this notion that a military maneuver has to be in the face of enemy fire to be important, but to make the distinction for others who need the self-validation of combat, we'll refer to airland/airdrop operations into contested territory as "assault" operations. The British deserve the credit for the world's first combat air-mech assault delivering 20 Tetrarch light tanks and 9 Bren gun carriers by Hamilcar heavy glider into Landing Zone "N" on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Jeep with 57mm anti-tank gun rigged to airdrop

Moreover, Keith Flint reveals in his book, Airborne Armour on page 131, that on June 10th, 1944 "the Halifax squadrons involved successfully dropping six 6-pounder anti-tank guns and their towing jeeps by parachute into the airborne bridgehead" making the British the first to parachute drop wheeled combat vehicles in an air-motorized assault. What is significant about parachute vertical airdrop landing (VADL) is that if you can pay for it up front by complicated special preparations, no one has to land a fixed-wing aircraft to the ground, but simply get close or fly over the spot desired. The parachute decelerated load like the Paratrooper human "crash-lands" more or less vertically, requiring less space than sliding to a stop as in a glider. The rigging of items to do VADL is a complicated art form requiring dedicated Rigger professionals. If the parachute air items are not recovered, its very expensive for continual operations but the cash-strapped French could do multiple airborne assaults in the first Indo-China war so there's no excuse why we can't be less lazy than the current craving for a smooth runway to airland pampered USAF t-tail transport planes. What we need to do is to use sturdier TRACKED ARMORED M113 Gavins that can be VADL delivered with minimal amount of air items instead of fragile wheeled trucks like the jeep which as you will see below needs a lot of TLC to survive parachute delivery.

Translated from French into English from:


When British Airborne Divisions were setting-up, the question of transport, the routing and the delivery of their heavy materials was posed quickly. The glider took the principal role then, but for the SAS which operated in the greatest secrecy, using very small drop zones (DZs), the parachute remained the best means to put on the ground very heavy loads like a 4x4 small truck "jeep" for example. Its crew also had to be parachuted in separately... this operation in fact very little described and explained up to now!

It was SAS use that transformed the jeep beginning in 1944, to be able to be parachuted. The now Brigade-sized SAS reconstituted itself for future operations of unloading and of release of jeep-mobile teams into Northern Europe and it was necessary at the same time to develop all the concurrent techniques to insure the success of their missions. It was a mission common to the RAF - CLE to develop these new techniques.

In fact there were many droppings of jeeps during combat operations: A group of 4 jeeps will be released in Brittany (see below), some jeeps were also released in Morvan and in Vienna with the British SAS in Belgium for the "SAS Belgian Squadron" then 6 autes for 2è R.C.P in August 1944 and it will be all since the principal operation will be cancelled because of the bad weather to the great displeasure of General Calvert ordering Brigade S.A.S, at the time of the Amherst operation in Holland (April 1945).

The principal transformations carried out, which all were not intended to facilitate the dropping were:

Lawful modifications envisaged by the three plans that we have in our files, M.E 8/534 and M.E 8/535 "Details of modifications for S.A.S. Cars 5 CWT 4X4" and "Details for mounting for Vickers 303 MMG one Bus 5 CWT 4X4" ME8/SK/622.

- modifications of the chassis before vehicle, statement and reinforced (see photographs)

- modification of the avoid-shock before addition of additional fuel tanks under the seat before and two side tanks protected by layers from caoutchous-foam to the back from where

- removal of the back seat

- assembly of a pivot enters the tanks to adapt a machine-gun

- possibility of oter the wheel which was on this model of jeep maintained in place by a nut "butterfly" (for the dropping)

At far left flying prepared for the dropping - seen on the right, the wing nut

The detachable steering wheel of the Airborne jeep

Here are the problems which the R.A.F (298th & 644th Squadrons) had to face:

The dropping of a loaded vehicle is a very delicate operation. It is necessary to take account of multiple factors which all have their importance:

- weight of the load to be released

- its transport (out of compartment or outside)

- the system of dropping and the adapted support (plate shock absorber for a jeep for example), parachutes (some are then to create)

- constraints - weight - force of the wind - catch to the wind of the "parcel" - speed of the plane during the flight

- identification of the DZ - contact with the team on the ground - visual and radio

- the constraints approaches the zone altitude of dropping - reduction the speed of flight - direction of the wind - drift

The failure of the first droppings of jeeps at the time of the preliminary drives without protection entraina quickly, the creation of a "plate" of maintenance and transport of the vehicle provided with foam rubber shock absorbers thick to absorb the shock with the landing, straps, hooks and snap hooks of maintenance of the vehicle during all the operation. It then remained to define the model and the number of parachutes which would be useful for a successful dropping. After several tests, the parachute with heavy material, 42 foot diameter was retained. One would then use it in bunches of four per vehicle.

The unit was moreover to be easy "to dismount" once on the ground, the jeeps leaving immediately Drop Zone by their own means. The dropping at night was only authorized if the conditions which the jeeps are released is in clear weather (directives of the QG/SAS)

It as should be specified as if Airborne Divisions were installation on broad and roomy D.Z, it was not the case of those used by the S.A.S which were to be discrete, very camouflaged from sight of the omnipresent enemy, very protected, that could be exfiltrated from quickly at the speed of dropping a "handkerchiefs from the pocket".


SAS jeeps had characteristics inherited from modifications made to operate in the deserts of North Africa - which already made them very different from the standard G.I. models. Thus it did not have windshields, no back bench, a machine gun mounting different from the "desert" model and which thus lost the possibility of the ground tripod firing option. One was not going to remain in one location for very long and the jeeps were still going to evolve/change throughout 1944 -1945; in particular on the level of the shielding before which was non-existant on the desert model and the models used in 1944. As for their weapons for firepower, it was decided that they would be released within containers "C". The British SAS even made use of guns as large as 37mm---which they placed in trailer of their jeeps. As was the case for Squadrons parachuted on the Center of France!


The three operations necessary to preparation of a jeep:

- disassembling and conditioning of the rear one

- and accessory-delivered out of containers

- installation and fixing of the vehicle on the plate shock absorber and dropping

- installation of the 4 parachutes: two on the cap and two in back place - Mle heavy loads 42 feet

* Installation with the planes:

- 1 jeep with trailer or 2 jeeps alone by Stirling


- 1 jeep and trailer or 57mm or 75mm towed gun or 2 jeeps by Halifax

The dropping of the jeeps required:

- that the crews are parachuted in first

Paratrooper exit cone - "Bath-tub" of evacuation of the parachutists

Sight of lower part of Halifax: the figures indicate the usual position of the bombs. The yellow central parts show the position of a jeep and its trailer or 2 jeeps. Under the wings the yellow sites indicate the position of containers which will be released with the vehicle.

Compartment of transport of the bombs, it is in fact under this compartment that the jeep(s) was hung

Under the wings the containers which will be released at the same time as the jeep.

- or that a time ago necessary between the parachuting and the dropping of the vehicles

- that the D.Z is recognized with the folding screen and profits from a committee of reception on the ground "

Regulations of QG SAS
Note of March 30, 1945 - Signed Prendergast
Forecasts of operation AMHERST


Details of the shoes officially named shock absorbers "CRASH-PANS"

One sees clearly on this photograph, the transformation of the chassis before jeep and legs of reinforcement tube being pressed on to avoid shocking the framework of the vehicle

Assemblies of the parachutes on the back of the jeep. They are posed on a removable light sheet plate which covers all the back part. This plate is definitely visible on the right on the photo in top.

24. Bags of the parachutes

25. Bag of opening delayed of the straps

26. Double longes of maintenance of the parachutes in 2X2 bunches

27. Rubber band of maintenance of the automatic strap of opening

28. Snap hooks 914G type

29. Cable of suspension of the extractor-parachutes unit

30. 4 cables and 1 strap of pulling up 42 - bindings (pulling up 400 lbs.)

To be able to release the jeeps by means of bombers "Halifax " A MK-3 and MK V, and some since "Stirling Shorts" one due oter the doors of the bomb bay and the jeep was placed at this place. It in fact was suspended under the fuselage and it is the Warrant officer Bomber who actuated the device of dropping as for the "drops" of containers. At the beginning, with the drive, the jeeps were released without plate and some were crushed. A plate intended to deaden the shock at the time of the contact on the ground was created thereafter and numbers it parachutes was changed to 4 instead of 3. (parachute with heavy material 42 ft) the jeeps were parachuted only for the S.A.S, the vehicles of Airborne Divisions all being transported by sailplanes.


- SUNFLOWER X (code name R.A.F):

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK R.A.F. Station Tarrant Rushton

- Summary of Events - SECRECY.

June 17th, 1944: 1058 hours. Mass takeoff by aircraft of No. 644 Squadron - 15 Halifax-Hadrian combinations took share. `SUNFLOWER X' - 2 Halifax aircraft from each of No. 298 Squadron and No. 644 Squadron dropped 4 jeeps, 12 containers, 12 troops and 4 spare wheels for jeeps one DZ `Dingson 9'. Two aircraft from No. 298 Squadron and No. 644 Squadron dropped 4 jeeps, 20 containers, 4 troops, 1 pannier and has bundle of stretchers and blankets one DZ `Bullbasket 6'. Weather cloudy to dawn, later to fair to fine.

June 27th, 1944: Special operation `PROFIT VII' 1 Halifax piloted by Squadron Leader NORMAN of No. 644 Squadron dropped two SAS troops, 1 jeep, six containers and one pannier containing W/T sets one DZ. Weather cloudy with light showers afternoon and early evening.

August 4th, 1944: Squadron "Jeeps" 4th SAS (French), DZ Malachappe, Morbihan. N.W. Auray operation LOST

6 Halifax aircraft from No. 298 Squadron 6 jeeps dropped by parachutes

Signed: H. QUINLAN, (Flight Lieutenant)



The Parachutists of France-Free had always been appreciated by the British Command and thus Lt Marienne had set up at their request a Section of Experimentation of the airborne techniques within the 1st B.I.A which inter alia had remprté the famous record velocity emission per stick equipped since C-47 Dakota. For the chapter "Jeeps", French had been also largely solicited.

The technique well developed, it only remained to try out it in natural size and it is what was made in the night of the 17 at June 18, 1944. The 4th B.I.A still comprised "Squadron Jeeps" in its flow chart and a Group of 4 jeeps was brought back to Fairford there to be affrêté and embarked (Pon Grandière). The four jeeps which answered in the name of baptism of "Pirate", "Pirate", "Corsaire" and "Flibustier" were embarked on board 4 Bombers "Halifax" of the 161ème Groupe and were released a few hours aprés with the top of the D.Z Baleine which bordered the PC of Nouette on the commune of Sérent meadows of St-Marcel.

The operation in it even was a mitigated success because only one jeep fell on the D.Z the others fell into the trees which it borden and it took hours to recover them, extremely fortunately all intact. The Vickers machine-guns had less chance. Conditioned in containers with lighters, those in contact with the ground fused, causing irrevocable damage to the firepower of the jeeps. One needed Sergeant Gall to show the ingeniousness of an arms manufacturer to dismount the remainders and to assemble of them what remained parts to reconstitute... and then only one of them! The jeeps were thus armed only with a F.M Bren, the more so as dice the following day, they had to deliver combat then following the dispertion of the Base "Dingson" aprés the combat St-Marcel being camouflaged under the straw in farms of the area and Vickers K Gun required by radio thus did not arrive...any action and any dropping being temporarily suspended.

The British had less luck and several jeeps were wrecked. One of them having fallen in a large tree and is folded in the middle in "V" shape.

When with the remainder of Squadron "Jeeps" of the 2nd RCP, on August 3 with Malachappe, Morbihan. N.O. Auray within the framework of operation LOST 6 jeeps joined by parachuting. It was the last parachuting of jeeps for Brigade S.A.S. the following day 12 jeeps were air-transported by gliders. At mid-August, 2 RCP passing from the "motorized" mode accepting its jeeps in Normandy where they were unloaded just like Squadron Jeeps of 3 RCP. But there they were completely normal jeeps and not having undergone the transformations intended to parachute them. It is only for Operation "Amherst" that a batch of special jeeps were allotted but it is known that they were not released because of the bad weather.

Astonishing photos showing the dropping by a SAS jeep by 4 x 42 foot parachutes. This operation was carried out by the RAF at the time of the filming of the mythical movie "BATTALION of the SKY". There is not much documentation of the dropping of the French jeeps in Brittany in June and July 1944.


Heavy night bomber modified to the transport of the parachutists and of their heavy material like to the towing of the heavy gliders "Hamilcar" for vehicles. Nickname given by the Paras "Halibag"!

ENGINE: 4 piston engines Bristol-board Hercules C out of star of 1.800 CH

PERFORMANCES: maximum speed alt 6.705 m, 502 km/h; rise 6.096 m in 50 mn; practical ceiling, 7.315 Mr.

WEIGHT: With vacuum 17.690 kg - maximum on takeoff, 30.845 kg

DIMENSIONS: Scale: 31,75 m - length: 21,82 m - height, 6,32 m - surface wings 118,45 m ē

ARMAMENT: 1 put of 7,7 mm in the turret from nose, 4 in 1a dorsal turret and 4 in the turret of tai

CAPACITY: maximum 5.897kg

RANGE: 3330 km

Copy official Note treating of the problem of heavy load release of jeeps

System of dropping of bombs used for the dropping of the containers - On the right the compartment from where the jeeps were released, the two doors were dismounted beforehand.

Rare documents of time (1944) showing the dropping of a jeep then of its crew. R.A.F

It can transport 16 Parachutists equipped and two Dispatchers, also 3629 kg of load out of containers in the low part of the fuselage (bomb bay). The principal door which is also useful for the exit of the parachutists is located in the back floor of the apparatus and opens internally or outside. A luminous device "red-green" actuated by the Dispatcher and a cable of fixing of the "static-line" (S.O.A) are installed in the fuselage. Also, the apparatus can carry a jeep on plate of dropping.

Other Airdropped gun-jeep operations:

Operation Dingson - 160 men and 4 jeeps of 4 French Parachute Battalion (4 SAS) parachuted into Vannes area of Brittany to organize local resistance, establish a local base of operations, and harass enemy forces in the area. (July - October 1944)

Operation Franklin - 186 men from 4 French Parachute Battalion (4 SAS) deploy in 31 jeeps to support U.S. VIII Corps during the German Ardennes Offensive. (Belgian Ardennes, December 1944 - January 1945)

Operation Hardy - 55 men from 2 SAS (with 12 jeeps) parachuted into eastern France to establish a base on the Plateau de Langres, northwest of Dijon and carry out intelligence and harassment operations. (July - September 1944)

Operation Kipling - 107 men and 46 jeeps from "C" Squadron 1 SAS parachuted into the area west of Auxerre, central France, and tasked with aiding the Allied airborne landings due to take place in the Orleans Gap. (August - Sept. 1944)

Operation Lost - Seven men from 4 French Parachute Battalion (4 SAS) parachuted into Brittany, France to meet up with parts of 4 SAS and conduct large scale operations against the enemy in the area. (June - July 1944)

Spenser - 317 men of 4 French Parachute Battalion (4 SAS) mounted on 54 jeeps, infiltrated enemy lines and conducted operations designed to effect major casualties to the retreating German Army. (August - Sept. 1944)

Operation Wallace - 60 men from 2 SAS in 23 jeeps (divided into three groups) landed at Rennes, tasked with strengthening SAS bases in the area, later attacked the German HQ in Chatillon. (1944)

Tracks for Light Wheeled Trucks

A new development that replaces the air-filled rubber tires on ATVs that bust easily and often and improve all-terrain mobility are the Litefoot tracks system.



LiteFoot(tm) ATV Track conversion with the revolutionary SCS(r) Suspension* provides adjustable suspension for different weights of vehicles, allowing for easier steering.

LiteFoot's patented track conversion features a rubber torsion anti-torque system, designed to prevent track units from over rotating and the exclusive Shape Changing Suspension (SCS). This adjustable suspension allows for a larger or smaller footprint, changing the approach angle of the leading edge of the tracks for better "lift" in softer conditions. Suspension automatically adjusts approach and departure angle when encountering obstacles, without effectively changing track tension.

*SCS System allows leading wheels to move up and back while the center wheels move down and forward adjusting to the terrain without the loss of track tension, giving the driver the ability to negotiate over most obstacles. [Go to video clip page www.litefootatv.com/html/video_clips.htm]

Our all-season, all-terrain one piece molded rubber track.


LIGHT WEIGHT CONSTRUCTION - frame, drive sprocket and suspension parts are made of high-tensile strength aluminum, keeping the track unit durable and light weight.

INTERNAL LUG DRIVE SYSTEM - designed for high efficiency, the positive internal drive lug is a direct drive system and does not require excess track tensioning.

ALUMINUM DRIVE SPROCKET - engineered to provide a natural gear reduction, producing the extra power and torque required to travel over snow, mud, marsh and swamp, without significant reduction of speed.

RUBBER TORSION, ANTI-TORQUE SYSTEM - works to dampen torque surge during acceleration and deceleration and prevents over-rotation of the track unit. Provides controlled movement of the LiteFoot tracks and keeps the track in contact with the ground gaining more stability and control over the terrain.

ALL-SEASON TRACKS - molded rubber composite design with lateral reinforcement that's required to traverse over ruts and provides additional stability. The track is designed without perforated openings, preventing debris from entering through the track. The all-season tread design performs equally well in mud, sand, snow or hard surfaces.

SELF-CLEANING - specially designed internal drive lugs continually work sand, snow, or mud out of the track, keeping track and SCS Suspension clear of debris.

TRIPLE-SEALED BEARINGS - keeps out contaminants, extending bearing life.

LUBRICATED SUSPENSION POINTS - the SCS suspension is engineered for easy maintenance, smooth operation and reliability.

COMPOSITE WHEELS - constructed of UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) material and rubber, for high strength, light weight and quiet operation. SCS (Shape Changing Suspension) - allows full travel without effectively changing track tension, while adjusting to variations in the terrain.


Assembly Weight
Approx. 100 lbs. per track

Track Width
11 inches

SCS(r) System*

Ground Pressure
Depending on your machine less than a pound per square inch (Approx. 3/4 psi)

Maximum Operating Speed
LiteFoot(tm) is engineered to operate at speeds within ATV manufactures factory specifications. Top speed is reduced by 25 to 30%. 60 MPH top speed = 40 MPH

Weight Capacity
2500 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight

Warranty 1 year limited

Available today!

Track system is fully assembled and includes mounting brackets and linkages.

LiteFoot ATV Track Features

VERSATILTIY - Use your ATV year round! LiteFoot Track Conversion fits most 4x4 ATVs and can move with you to your next ATV, just using a different adapter kit.

ADDED STABILITY - Increase ground clearance! LiteFoot ATV Track Conversion System will generally raise your ATV 4 to 6 inches. At the same time, it widens the stance, lengthens the footprint contact from front to rear, and since most of the weight of the tracks system is below the center of the axle, LiteFoot, in most cases lowers the center of gravity. This provides incredible stability compared to tires!

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY - LiteFoot tracks have less than three-quarter pound per square inch surface pressure, which minimizes ground compression, providing flotation over soft terrain with minimal impact on the environment. EASY INSTALLATION - LiteFoot tracks come fully-assembled and are as easy to install as changing tires!

Mattracks supports responsible use and operation of All-Terrain Vehicles. We recommend you follow your ATV Manufacturers operational instructions. Use proper safety equipment including a helmet and respect private property and the environment while operating your ATV.

Frequently Asked Questions??

Question: How easy is it to steer your ATV with LiteFoot(tm) tracks?

Answer: When stopped or moving very slowly, steering is more difficult when compared to tires. Once you get going a little faster, steering becomes easier and you'll find it's about the same as tires.

Question: Will LiteFoot(tm) track conversion system work on any ATV?

Answer: LiteFoot is designed to fit on most all major brands of 4X4 ATVs, this is done through the use of a linkage and adaptor kit which allows you to remove the wheel/tire and bolt on your LiteFoot tracks.

Question: Do I have to make modifications to my ATV to install LiteFoot tracks?

Answer: Although during initial track installation some hardware and brackets will be installed, very little or no modifications to your ATV are required depending on make and model of ATV.

Question: How fast can I drive my ATV with LiteFoot ATV tracks installed on it?

Answer: LiteFoot ATV tracks are engineered to operate at speeds within your ATV manufacturers factory specifications and top speed is only limited by the size of your ATV. In most instances there will be a reduction in top end speed of approximately 25 to 30% due to the natural gear reduction gained through the smaller diameter drive sprocket. For example an ATV that can travel at 60 mph top speed on tires, would travel about 40 mph top speed with tracks.

Question: How much time is required to change between tracks and tires?

Answer: Once you have completed the initial installation of your LiteFoot ATV tracks, changing back and forth between tracks and tires requires little more than the time required to change tires, the conversion can be completed in as little as 45 minutes using regular tools.

Question: What type terrain can you go through? Will the tracks go through mud, snow or rocks?

Answer: LiteFoot will allow you to go where tires normally are not able to go. The tread design and added surface contact you get from a track compared with a tire gives you great traction on soft terrain such as snow, mud and sand. The larger footprint of LiteFoot gives you low ground pressure (averaging about 3/4 psi) providing you flotation and allows you to travel on top in snow, mud, sand or swamp.

On rocky surfaces or rough terrain, the LiteFoot SCS(r) (Shape Changing Suspension) allows you to follow the contour of the trail while keeping more of the track in contact with the ground.

Question: How long do the tracks last?

Answer: The rubber track on LiteFoot is designed to provide you with many miles of enjoyment and service. The life of the rubber track, just like tires is dependent on a number of factors including; weight, speed and surface abrasives. In soft nonabrasive terrain at low speeds and lighter loads you will have longer track tread wear. Hard abrasive surfaces such as asphalt or concrete, like with tires, will cause more track tread wear.

Question: When I upgrade my ATV will I be able to use my LiteFoot tracks on my new machine?

Answer: LiteFoot is designed to be installed on most any 4X4 ATV, if you buy a new ATV that has a different bolt design then your current machine, it's likely that all you'll need for the installation on your new ATV will be the correct linkage and adaptor kit.

Question: Does the LiteFoot tracks raise my machine and make my ATV more likely to tip?

Answer: It's true that you gain about 4 inches of vehicle clearance when you install the LiteFoot tracks, but since you also gain a longer and wider wheel base you actually lower the overall center of gravity gaining stability.

Question: Will tracks have an effect on the turning radius of my ATV?

Answer: Although LiteFoot tracks do add width and length to your ATVs wheelbase your overall turning radius is not significantly effected.

Question: How much power does it take to pull the tracks?

Answer: LiteFoot has a very low power requirement and because of the LiteFoot design you gain power. How is this done? The LiteFoot drive sprocket is smaller then your ATV tire (by about 1/3), naturally gearing down the power to drive ratio delivering more power to your LiteFoot tracks.

Question: Will my ATV still fit in the back of my pickup with tracks on it?

Answer: With LiteFoot tracks installed on your ATV, your ATV will be a few inches wider when compared to tires, but it should still fit in your pickup box. You may need to provide raised support, for example simply stacking two wood pallets in the back of your pickup allows you to drive the tracks in and clear the fenders.

Mattracks supports responsible use and operation of All-Terrain Vehicles. We recommend you follow your ATV Manufacturers operational instructions. Use proper safety equipment including a helmet and respect private property and the environment while operating your ATV.

(c) Copyright 2005
P.O. Box 239 - 202 Cleveland Ave. East
Karlstad, MN 56732
Phone (218) 436-6000

Tracked vehicles

Why Tracks are better than wheels for everything; including Air-Mech-Strike!

NATO Mobility study proves wheeled armored cars inferior to TRACKED AFVs in cross-country mobility

On of the cliches' of the Korean war is that vertical take-off and landing helicopters (VTOL) were the major innovation.

Not true.

Korea taught the need for the tracked armored personnel carrier for protected, all-terrain mobility and firepower. General James M. Gavin and his VISTA research group were there in Korea during the debacle where wheeled trucks were road-bound and even the medium weight tracked tanks were too heavy to go cross-country. Light tanks were needed in the form of a "Sky Cavalry" and VISTA recommended that C-123 STOL and long-range C-124 aircraft be purchased to move 9-ton Ontos light tankettes as troop carriers (M56) and with 6 x 106mm recoilless rifles as (M50) recon/assault guns.

With the eventual demise of the true, dedicated Self-Propelled Anti-Tank (SPAT) platform for general combat use, attentions turned to the specialty of air-portable SPATs which are essentially the German turretless STUG assault guns. Here, the quest was to develop an armored vehicle which could be airlifted and/or dropped with Airborne troops to give them a measure of defense against enemy armor. Granted, Airborne Soldiers could tote around anti-tank missiles such as LAWs or the Soviet RPG series but having an armored vehicle with them gave the troops mobility, protection, logistical support and a measure of comfort that they had something to at least throw at the enemy armor as well as offer fire support against enemy infantry in trenches, bunkers and buildings. In the desire for this type of vehicle, one can see that a light weight was needed to allow the unit to be air carried for landings or be air-droppable.

The U.S. was also in the field of developing an air-portable and air-droppable armored vehicle, the most well known being the M113 "Gavin" and M551 "Sheridan". The years of the Vietnam War is where we will halt our brief look at anti-tank vehicle development to begin our look into two SPATs which were developed in the 1950s. One, the M50 "Ontos", was developed in the U.S. for its Army and marines. while the other, the Type 60 Self-Propelled Recoilless Rifle (SP-RR), was to be fostered in the East, in the country of Japan for the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF). The AMS-SG has just calculated that the Type 60 can be transported inside CH-47 helicopters and we are researching for photos showing if the JGSDF realized this and tried it. Both were to see service, both shared a specific niche and unique concept, and both shared a very unique main armament arrangement.

We should begin by looking at the main armament which equips many air-portable AFVs: the Recoilless Rifle. Burneyīs designs largest incarnation was the post-war 120mm Wombat RR series as used by Britain as late as the 1982 Falklands war.

In the U.S., inventors Kroger and Musser formed the basis for the shape of U.S. recoilless rifle developments in their Kromuskit design. This design was superior to both the German designs and the Burney rifles in that the driving band featured the rifling already on it, unlike the previous designs which forced a copper ring into the rifling to impart spin. Thus, less gas pressure was to be had and by consequence, the weapon could be made lighter. 57mm and 75mm rifles saw action in the closing weeks of the Pacific War with good results and these weapons saw extensive action in the Korean conflict, the former caliber being copied by the Chinese. What was to arm the M50 and the Type 60 began its life with a rather poor showing. Originally called the M27, this rifle, a 105mm weapon, proved to be lacking in accuracy as well as reliability and was soon put out of service. Soon, the M27 was redesigned as the M40 and, to avoid confusion and to also prevent use of the M27 ammunition still in stocks in the new weapon, the M40 was classified as a "106mm" weapon. The standard M40 is the M40A1 and it has, since its debut, been highly successful in the military arsenals of countries, rich and poor, around the world. The M40A1 is 340cm long from breech to barrel tip and weighs 209.5kg in firing order. Three types of ammunition are provided and they are: HEAT, HESH, and a anti-personnel round, the HEAT round able to penetrate up to 150mm of armor at a 60 degree angle of impact. The maximum range for the M40A1 is 7,700 meters but the effective range is around 2,750 meters with a muzzle velocity of between 500 to 503 meters per second. To aim, the gunner uses a spotting rifle. This semi-automatic rifle is attached above the gun barrel and fires a .50cal. explosive bullet. The gunner uses the spotting rifle to aim the M40 and if the bullet strikes the target, the gunner knows the M40 is lined up and he can then fire the recoilless rifle with assurance the shell will strike the intended target. The M40A1 has a barrel life of approximately 2,500 firings. It is this advantage which was to serve as the motivating factor in the armament for the M50 and the Type 60.

The idea of mounting recoilless weapons on tanks is not new. Beginning in World War II, the idea was tried as well as experiments with recoil reducing methods which paralleled the recoilless rifle concepts. The Germans looked at arming their PzKpfw IV tanks with two 7.5cm RFK 43 recoilless rifles and the MK103 30mm automatic cannon in a highly modified turret. This idea advanced no further than a wooden model. The British attempted to mount a recoilless rifle, using the Davis Gun principle, upon the Churchill III chassis. Called the "Ardeer Aggie", the 10ft. long projector was mounted in a turret, the attempt being made to improve the Petard mortar then in use on the Churchill AVRE. The Ardeer failed to prove its worth and the project was scrapped. Both the U.S. and Germany utilized rockets and vent ducts to offset the thrust of the rockets upon the gun mount. While technically not a recoilless rifle in the true sense, the concepts are similar. The U.S. worked on the T76 and T105 7.2in. rocket projectors which replaced the 75mm gun on the Sherman and the most radical of them, the T31 Demolition Tank which sported a highly unusual turret housing a 105mm howitzer and two 7.2in. rocket projectors upon the M4A3 HVSS Sherman chassis. Unlike the U.S. and British, only the Germans were to field into battle something similar and this was the Sturmtiger, packing a massive 380mm rocket launcher in a armored superstructure upon the Tiger tank chassis. In the case of the M50 and the Type 60, the M40 recoilless rifle offered superior penetration power (for the time), critical for a tank killer, as well as offering the advantage of no recoil which allowed another critical factor to come into play, that of small size. Small size meant low weight, something highly desirable in a light AFV.

Russian D-8 Armored Cars and T-27 tracked light tanks

Were airlanded by Russian TB-1 and TB-3 bombers during 1930s maneuvers before WWII...
TB-3 bomber and D-8 armored car
D-8 armored car color painting
T60 light tank color painting
KT40 Glider formed by connecting to T60 light tank!


In March of 1930, ordered by M. N. Tukhachevsky, the first motorized airborne forces were formed. Initially, the troops were equipped with MS-1 [T-18] light tanks, but later on they were replaced with T-27 tankettes. The troops consisted of four battalions. By 1933, each battalion included one company of T-27 tankettes.

In 1935, T-27's were transported by TB-1 and TB-3 bombers during military maneuvers. The tankettes were suspended under the planes by a special mechanism developed by engineer A. F. Kravtzev.

German Fallschirmjaegers: LG 40 75mm RR and Kettenrad motorcycle half-tracks






A Recoilless Rifle (RR) seeks to do away with the recoil forces which regular guns have. It does this by sending force backwards to counter the force going forwards, canceling out any recoil. Through the years, there have been many attempts to attain this affect. Perhaps the first successful application was the Davis Gun, invented prior to the beginning of WWI. The Davis Gun had two charges, one to push the projectile, the other to push a countershot out the rear of the gun tube. The mutual effect of the projectile leaving the front of the tube and the countershot leaving the rear of the tube negated the recoil forces. The Davis Gun was developed in many calibers and a scant few saw service with the British air force to battle Zeppelins and submarines before the war came to an end. It should be noted that the Davis Gun principle was resurrected by the warring nations in the 1930s, the Germans and the Russians the most notable, in an attempt to equip aircraft with large caliber cannon without having to impose the recoil stresses of conventional cannon upon the airframe. Many of these experiments came to nought. What one might call the direct ancestor to the modern recoilless rifle is the German 7.5cm Leicht Geschutz 40, or the 7.5cm LG40, deployed in 1941 by German Airborne troops at Crete. Ironic that the first combat action of the recoilless rifle was with Airborne Soldiers, the LG40 being made to be light of weight, suitable for airdrop, and airlanding through the right cargo door of the JU-52 and offer heavy firepower to the Airborne trooper...all the ingredients for the Airborne SPATs to come. Unlike the Davis Gun, the LG40 used a shell which, when fired, the propellant gas created the rearward force, a venturi allowing the gas to escape backwards. The Germans developed several larger versions of their recoilless rifles, up to calibers of 105mm and 150mm and there were plans afoot to create a 280mm rifle for coastal defense among other concepts. In Britain, Sir Denis Burney was the prime mover in recoilless rifle development for the U.K. and he created several designs which found favor with the British military...though, none of his wartime weapons saw any action and only a small number of rifles were issued postwar to infantry units to field test and devise tactics for recoilless rifle employment.

The Battle of Crete: World's First Air-Mech-Strike Operation: Airborne Victory, Amphibious Defeat

Kleines Kettenkraftrad SdKfz 2


This small motorcycle semicaterpillar designed by the Wa. Prüf 6 was developed by NSU during the year of 1939. Its principal assignment was to serve as tractor airlifted for the dragging of small pieces of artillery and supplies for the troops paracaiditas and airborne, beside serving commo vehicle of messenger company in those areas where not possible to cross with vehicles with wheels. Its first action was during the Invasion of Crete.

MYSTERY: we know with some certainty that the Kettenkrad motorcycle half-tracks were AIRLANDED by JU-52s at great risk onto Maleme airfield which was littered with destroyed aircraft. What we do not know is whether the LG40 75mm and LG42 105mm recoilless rifles were AIRDROPPED as 3 separate bundle loads from under the JU-52s and hand-towed into action initially or whether they airlanded with the motorcycle half-tracks.

LG40 75mm RR in ACTION on Crete!

LG42 105mm RR in ACTION on Crete!

JU-52 with right loading door open
Kettenrad tracked motorcycle that fit through JU-52 right side door
LG 40 75mm Recoilless Rifle towed by Kettenrad, scourge of Crete



CMH Pub 104-13

Page 45




"Immediately after the Crete operation the paratroops had requested the construction of special midget tanks (Lilliputpanzer), which could be carried along on airborne operations, as well as special light weight portable antitank guns. Experiments were begun in 1942 on a two-man tank which could be transported in a large troop-carrying glider and which because of its shape was called a 'turtle.' Because of difficulties in the armament production program, the experiments were discontinued toward the end of 1942 before it was possible to form a definite opinion on the usefulness of the model. In any case, it seems to have met the Army's three requirements of low silhouette, high speed, and great cross-country mobility as fully as possible."

Was this the mini-tank he was talking about?


VersuchsKetten VK601 & 602 ( Panzer I neuer art ausf C)

On September 15th 1939, the ordnance department was given the order to get a light reconnaissance tank developed. The company of Krauss-Maffei in Munich was responsible for making the chassis while Daimler-Benz got the responsibility for superstructure and turret. The project was known as VK601 or better known as Panzerkampfwagen I Na Ausf.C.

The engine in the proto was the Maybach HL45P with 150 metric hp, giving the vehicle a maximum speed of 65km/h.The tank commander/gunner had 8 periscopes in a tiny cupola.

The appearance of the Ausf.C was completely different from the previous Ausf.A and B. Additionally the armor thickness was significantly improved.

The crew of two men had as main armament a heavy machinegun EW141 machinegun and a coaxial MG34.

There is a lot of mistakes in the websites when describing the EW-141. Some say it was a 13mm gun some even describe it as a 20 mm cannon.

Actually this was a 7,92mm caliber Mauser desing originally called "MG-141" , the EW just mean "Einbauwaffe" or emplacement gun. This recoil-operated MG used large the cartrigdes of the Pzb 38 & 39 antiarmor rifles, the machinegun had a 600rpm rate of fire and a muzzle velocity of 1180 m/s and could penetrate 26 mm of armor up to 100 meters in a vertical plate. So in that way, the ausf C had a limited antitank capacity.

Mauser Ew 141 heavy MG.

The weight was 8.1 tons, a length of 4.19m, width 1.92m and height of 2.01m. The power to weight ratio of 18.2hp/t was remarkable, which was one of the reasons for the high speed. With a length of 2.2m where track touches ground and a track width of 39cm resulted in a ground pressure of 0.46 kg/cm2. The track had 89 single track links, . The VK601 was able to wade up to 78.5cm deep, pass over 1.2m wide trenches and could climb 30cm high obstacles.

Before production some changes were introduced, including a some dry pin tracks wich have less mantainance that the lubricated ones. Also a more powerful engine HL61 was installed. The vehicle was now denominated VK602.

40 Panzer I Ausf.C were produced between July of 1942 and april 1943, of which two were delivered to 1st panzer division early in 1943 and troop tested in Russia.

The remaining 38 vehicles were taken to reserve units of the LVIII Panzer reserve Korps in France. Those came in action in 1944 in the battles in the Normandy.

German Light Tanks and SP Marder II Assault Guns into North Africa-Russia by Me-321 gliders and Me-323 Gigant 6-engine aircraft

The British took 3 years to design and field their Hamilcar heavy gliders to fly in Tetrarch/Locust light tanks and Bren gun armored personnel carriers, the Germans designed and fielded Me-321 glider squadrons in under a year!

Me-321 Heavy Glider + Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Sd.Kfz.140



The LT (Light Tank) vz.(model) 38 was destined to become one of the most widely used Czechoslovak tanks, although not in Czechoslovak hands. Ordered into production in 1938, the LT-38 drew on the experience from earlier LT-35 and became the most successful product of the Czechoslovak industry.

In less than another year, they had a 6-engined powered version, the Me-323 in service. Keith Flint writes in Airborne Armour on pages 206-207, about how the Germans used their Me-323s in 1942 to do the world's first air-mech operation with tracked armored tanks:

They were not cleared for flight on instruments, and so could not be flown at night to avoid enemy interference.

Operations the Mediterranean began in November 1942 with the Gigants formed into Kampfgeschwader (z.b.V.) 323, with three groups of 6 aircraft plus a headquarters with three aircraft. The main task was flights from Italy to Tunis and Bizerta carrying supplies for the Afrika Korps. The Gigants usually flew in mixed streams with large numbers of Ju-52, three-engined transports, along with a large fighter escort. The missions continued through to April 1943, but losses to fighters en-route, and on the ground in Tunisia, eventually led to the withdrawal of the aircraft. The last straw was on the 22nd of April, when 14 out of formation of 16 Me-323s were shot down by RAF fighters, with another destroyed in a strafing attack on the airfield at Tunis. During December 1942, some Gigants had been moved to Russia to take part in re-supply missions to Stalingrad. Operations in Russia, after withdrawal of the aircraft from the Mediterranean, continued until at least May 1944, with main bases in Warsaw, Kecskemet (Hungary) and Focsani (Rumania).

The aircraft were assigned to Transport-geschwader 5 (Transport-wing 5), which consisted of two Gruppe, although according to William Green "the Messerschmitt transport was never available in really substantial numbers".[11] Production of the aircraft ceased in April 1944, and following continuous losses on the eastern front TG5 was disbanded in August 1944.

The Me-323 was used primarily as a normal transport aircraft, carrying supplies, men and fuel and evacuating casualties. There is evidence, however, that armoured vehicles were transported on at least one occasion in the Mediterranean. In Frank Vann's biography of Willy Messerschmitt he quotes the following letter to Messerschmitt regarding operations in November 1942:

The first Me-323 flew with an assault gun and the necessary ammunition to Bizerta immediately after our landing in Tunis. It unloaded there without any trouble and returned to its home base without any damage. It was this assault gun that we have to thank for being able to break through the ring of American tanks drawn up in a circle of 12 kilometres diameter around Bizerta. On the very first day 8 tanks were destroyed by it and on the next day that total went up to 28. More assault guns were flown over with the Me-323 and these opened up for the troops the possibility of driving the Anglo-Americans even further back.

...The transport of the assault guns was necessary because the Straits of Otranto had been completely mined by the enemy. This had the result that one of our transport ships loaded with tanks was blown up.

This information might be thought to dent the unique reputation of 6th AARR as the only unit to fly tanks into action in World War Two, but it must be pointed out that the German armoured vehicles were flying as part of a transport mission .rather than an assault landing. The type of assault gun is not mentioned, but they cannot have been the Wehrmacht's standard assault gun, the Sturmgeschutz III, as these vehicles would be too heavy for the Me-323. They would appear to have been one of the versions of the Marder self-propelled gun.


Me-323 Air-Mech Testing


British Tetrarch light tanks
Were glider-airlanded in WWII during the D-Day invasion, where were they at Arhem?

MYSTERY: the British tank museum's Tetrarch light tank has a 3" gun for high explosive fire support as shown above. So don't even try to whine about these light tanks being inadequate to kill heavier German tanks, they were needed primarily to BLAST GERMAN INFANTRY OUT OF BUILDINGS, BUNKERS AND DUG-IN POSITIONS. This was known AT THE TIME as proven by the Tetrarch with the 3 inch gun. Yet we only know the 6th Airborne Division having an Armored Reconnaissance unit with light tanks, not the 1st Brititsh Airborne which landed near Arnhem. The photo above of a Hamilcar at a landing zone west of Arnhem adds to the mystery as SOMETHING has rolled off its front nose ramp. We also know 412 Hamilcar heavy gliders were built so the question arises WHY DIDN'T THE BRITISH GLIDER-LAND A FORCE OF 100-400 LIGHT TANKS AND BREN GUN CARRIERS WEST OR ARNHEM AND PUNCH THEIR WAY THROUGH TO REINFORCE LTC FROST'S MEN? Why didn't they fit large guns to Bren gun carriers and glider land them?

Tetrarch light tank rolling off Hamilcar glider in WWII
Tetrarch in action
Color painting of Tetrarch light tank

Keith Flint in his startling book, Airborne Armour solves the mystery.

1. The slacker British industry didn't have any urgency to make Hamilcar heavy gliders so there were less than 50 at the time of Arnhem

2. The British military being smart to see the need for glider-delivered light tanks was not bright enough to realize that just because German tanks CAME TO THEM when in the DEFENSE at Normandy to be blasted by their static after being towed by trucks 6-pounder and 17-pounder anti-tank guns---did not mean they should not take any light tanks that could fire-from-the-move to Arnhem when in the OFFENSE. This fatal error cost them the battle and extended the war by 1 year.

3. 18 Bren gun tracked tankettes were glider-landed 8 miles west of Arnhem bridge but instead of mounting 75mm or other guns they were used to CARRY SUPPLIES for the infantry. According to General Gavin in his 1947 book, Airborne Warfare a mere two armored cars held up the British infantry from reaching LTC Frost's men already at the bridge by blasting Freddy Gough's 1st Recce Squadron's unarmored jeeps towing 20mm Polsten anti-aircraft guns that were not ready-to-fire.

4. 1st Airborne Recce Squadron commander, Major Freddie Gough had asked for the 6th Airborne Recce Squadron's unused Tetrarch light tanks for his coup de main mission but was ignored and thus failed because he was in unarmored jeeps.

American M22 Locust light tank
Glider airlanded by the British 6th Airborne during Operation "Varsity" the Rhine river crossing in 1945; tragic that the British 1st Airborne didn't glider-land Tetrarch/Locusts and Brens with large-caliber guns in light of their 8 mile distance from Arnhem?

Experiments were even conducted carrying Locusts with turrets removed under C-54 transport planes...

Experiments with new C-82 Packet transport plane

More M22 line drawings

Bren Gun carriers

Could have been glider or bomber airlanded had someone considered it to provide shielded infantry transport...which they were! 9 on D-Day and 18 at Arnhem--but none with large cannons to blast through the Germans to reach the bridge...if you have a tracked APC--don't forget to supply it adequate armament!
Bren Gun carrier at an outdoor museum


There are thousands of men DEAD who we left in the fields overseas who died because they were "A Bridge Too Far" for medium/heavy tanks to drive overland to reach them. The failure is ours for not supplying them with light tanks/APCs which they could have used to bust their way in minutes the 8 miles to the Arnhem bridge right from the Drop Zones--the entire British 1st Airborne Division holding both north and south ends, not just LTC John Frost's Battalion. Hold your seats!

Look carefully at XXX Corps traveling up the single lane highway in the film, "A Bridge too Far".....

See that open topped tracked infantry carrier the Brits are in?

Thats a BREN GUN CARRIER, 4 tons. A mass-produced vehicle that could have been supplied en masse to our Airborne troops by large Hamilcar or CG-13A gliders. America mass-produced them as T16s. British prototypes had 37mm, 40mm and 75mm fixed guns on some for bust-through fire support but were not produced. Again, no excuse.


Bren gun carrier; fast, furious and lots of help

If light tracked Bren carriers were AOK to "patrolling and policing" captured urban areas in WWII then why and the @##$%% can't better protected M113 Gavins can't do the same thing TODAY IN IRAQ? What's the mental block?

Technical Details

Carden-Lloyd Series: Universal (Bren Gun) Carrier

Crew: Varied between 2-5 depending on the role of the vehicle.

Length: 3.75m, Width: 2.1Om, Height 1.6m

Power-plant: Ford V8 water-cooled petrol engine developing 85 bhp.

Armour: 12mm

Armament: Usually one Bren LMG .303 cal or a Boys .55 cal anti-tank rifle.

Performance: Speed 50 kph range 256 km. trench crossing 1.6m

Makers: Major UK automobile manufacturers, also made in great numbers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA (where it was known as the T16)

Service History

The original role envisaged for the Universal Carrier was for a fast, lightly armed vehicle to carry infantry across ground denied by small-arms fire and specifically, the Bren light machine gun and its team, hence the name Bren Gun Carrier. (NB: A broad parallel can be drawn between that concept and the tactics of the APC (M113Al) Troop which carried an Infantry Company. Each infantry section, comprising ten men [one section to a vehicle] possessed a light machine gun crew of three men and a GPMG M60, cal. 7.62 mm).

There was only one version of this vehicle named the "Bren Gun Carrier" but whatever the task, the entire family of vehicles was known by its users as Bren Carriers. In fact, numerous copies of the original Bren Carrier were produced and these were commonly known as the Universal Carrier

The hull of these vehicles comprised a simple steel box with a motor compartment situated in the centre. In front, sat a driver and alongside him, a gunner. A radiator was mounted in a bulkhead between them, and the noise generated by the fan effectively drowned out any conversation between these crew members (NB: vehicles of this type were not fitted with any form of internal communications).

Behind the two crew, were two rectangular compartments, one each side of the engine, these were used to carry a variety of stores and/or personnel.

Loads varied, and it was common to find the Carrier employed in a number of roles e.g. carrying ammunition, infantry support weapons such as medium mortars (81 mm), Medium Machine Guns (usually the .303 cal Vickers machine gun). They were also used for towing anti-tank guns and trailers.

Because it was fully tracked, it proved to be a reasonably good, cross-country vehicle and it was both agile and very fast, for its time. It was controlled by a small steering wheel and steering brakes.

Carriers were used extensively in every campaign during World War II. Such was their versatility, that many of those captured by the German Forces in France during the "Blitzkrieg" of 1940 were quickly put to use in patrolling and policing captured territory.

Australian Service History

Because of their general usefulness, Bren Gun Carriers were allocated to all types of Australian Army Units. Within the Armoured Corp, they were used by a number of units. For example, they were used in the Western Desert by 9th Cavalry and in Syria by the 6th Cavalry, as machine gun carriers.

Owing to the shortage of tanks, in the newly formed 1st Australian Armoured Division (1st July 1941), a great number of Carriers were pressed into service to provide tactical training for tank crews.

An example of its limitations in closed terrain are best summed-up in the following account: On 23rd November 1942, General Clowes at Milne Bay, New Guinea ordered a small number of Bren Gun Carriers to Cape Endaiadere as direct support to American troops operating in this area. It was made clear to the Americans that the Carriers were too lightly armoured and the crews too exposed for them to be used in isolation as tanks. In addition, they lacked any overhead protection from sniper fire, shell splinters and were extremely vulnerable to flank attacks. Thus they were forced to work with infantry support.

The aftermath of an attack at Cape Endaiadere on 5th December, resulted in vehicle crews being roughly handled and resulted in the abandonment of five vehicles. The supporting American infantry found they could not advance any further and the attack was called off. Sadly, it proved yet again, the futility of attempting to use inappropriate infantry carrier vehicles as gun assault tanks.

At the end of the War, the remaining Carriers were relegated to a training role and numbers of vehicles were allocated to Reserve (CMF) Forces to make up the balance of equipment needed by newly formed tank units. Bren Gun Carriers were quickly phased out of service as more appropriate vehicles became available.

German service history

Original Designation: Bren Gun Carrier / Universal Carrier
Original Role: light transporter
German Designation: Gepanzerter Machinengewehr Trager Bren 731(e) Conversions/Role/Use: combat/reconnaissance/policing/training

Note: Bren Gun Carriers were converted to various roles such as:

Gep MG Trager Br 731(e) with Maxim MG08 gun
Panzerjager Bren(e) with 37mm PaK 35/36 L/45 gun
Panzerjager Bren(e) with three 88mm Raketenpanzerbusche 43/54
Schneeschaufel auf Bren(e) - snow plow
2cm Flak38 auf Fahrgestell Bren(e) with 20mm Flak 38 gun

That's right.

Bren gun Carriers and Tetrarch/Locust light tanks (see article below) could have been carried in Hamilcar Gliders (2 Brens per glider) and/or airdropped or STOL airlanded by heavy transport bombers Soviet-style. Right after Normandy, the British 6th Airborne Division had light tanks glider-landed to them to stop German Panzer counter-attacks, why not at Arnhem? The 82nd and 101st Airbornes had enough rest after D-Day in June and jumped into Holland in September, why not the 6th Airborne which had the light tanks?

Brens with cannon could have acted as assault gun "Mini-STUGs" to blast through German opposition to reinforce LTC Frost holding the north end of Arnhem bridge, securing the victory instead of having the war prolonged by 8 more months resulting in the enslavement of millions to Soviet Communism and Germany divided by an "Iron Curtain" of East and West Germany. Not being properly mechanized has STRATEGIC CONSEQUENCES.



Personal D-Day Stories - Gliders

Tank Museum photo No 4744/D/2

Crossing the coast of France, 1,500 feet up, and according to plan, it seemed too peaceful - rather like an exercise.

Casting off the air was crowded with other gliders, parachutes and discarded tow-ropes and we went down steeply on full flap, turning through 180 degrees. Without warning there came a tremendous jolting crash and the glider was partly stalled by colliding with another glider we hadn't seen, and we only had 600 feet to regain control.

Control was regained, just in time to round out but there was no time for anything else. We landed sideways, rushing through the tall French corn to a juddering halt.

My first pilot, Les, turned to me and said "time for a cup of char Tom!" we had two flasks strapped above our heads; one was still intact.

Staff-Sergeant Tom Pearce, Glider Pilot Regiment

Tank Museum photo No. 1424/B/6

Before D-Day we were all penned in near Tarrant Rushton. The gliders were herring-boned in formation along the runway which we believed to be the longest in Britain at that time. Our tow planes, souped-up Halifaxes, came later.

"Approaching Landing Zone, ready for cast off"..."Casting off!".

Then a gentle tug backwards, the nose dipped and turned and the wind whistled through the fuselage. The landing was a roaring, twisting, bumping skidding from high speed to a dead stop and we were all momentarily knocked out.

The side door opened and the pilot looked in "sorry for the rough landing boys" which woke me up. I unstrapped, dashed out of the door to let the undercarriage struts down only to find that it no longer existed and part of the wing was missing. The front was clear, vehicle engines running and all clear for exit except that the anchoring points were jammed. I took the escape hatchet from the wall, three or four good swipes, the [Bren] Carrier shot forward, the door opened and off they went.

Mr. A Darlington. 6th AARR.

Tank Museum photo No. 1617/C/6

We took off next day, June 6th in the late afternoon, wondering what we were going to find over there. Most of us landed safely and on leaving the glider I hitched up the three trailers to my tank.

These contained petrol in the wheels and ammo in the large box between the wheels. We had very little opposition, a few mortars a distance away, when suddenly the tank stopped. The driver did not know why.

I slid out of the turret to the ground and found parachutes wound round the final drive. It was hard work cutting them off and, on moving forward we came across the Squadron Leader in the same boat.

We moved out in the morning, passing quite a few of our knocked out anti-tank guns. We took up position near a crossroads, a few miles from Ranville. Down one road, leading off from the crossroads, were German infantry in positions on the roadside. Our troop was detailed to do something about this so Sgt Knowles in the leading tank, Troop Leader and then myself in rear went like hell, machine-guns roaring..

But alas the driver in the leading tank got knocked out somehow, blocking the road. It was very narrow, so the Troop Leader and I reversed out round a corner, back to the crossroads. On inspection we had a bit of paint missing and bullet holes in the tool boxes. Once again we had been lucky.

Corporal Sheffield. 6th AARR


6th Airborne Armored Reconnaissance Regiment

In 1942 "C" Special Service Squadron of the Royal Armoured Corps, formed partly from men of the 10th Hussars, was attached to 1st Airborne Division, complete with its Tetrarch light tanks. Later it became known as 6th Airborne Reconnaissance Regiment in 6th Airborne Division and was based at Larkhill, on Salisbury Plain.

Tank Museum photo No. 4775/F/6

The expansion of airborne forces in Britain was due, to a great extent, to the success of German Paratroops during the invasion of Crete but, following the Allied landings in Sicily, in 1943 it was clear that troops would need immediate fire support when they landed, and it was believed that light tanks were the answer. The Airborne Division included Paratroops and infantry carried in gliders and it was by glider that the tanks would go to France.

Tank Museum photo No. 0032/G/3

On D-Day the plan was to drop Airborne troops on both flanks with the British on the extreme left, east of the Orne river. Once the troops were landed, and the area relatively secure the big gliders, carrying the Light Tanks and [Bren] Universal Carriers, crossed the Channel. In practice the tanks were not very successful. Many got themselves tangled up in discarded parachute lines when they left their gliders and those that did go into action were no match for powerful German anti-tank guns.

[Editor: teach Paratroopers to collect their parachutes and bury them or stuff into their kit bags. Build BETTER LIGHT TANKS with guns/missiles superior to enemy tanks, gun positions, bunkers etc.]

Tank Museum photo No. 3019/C/6

The regiment fought in Cromwell tanks for the rest of the war, except for the period of the Rhine Crossing in March 1945 when it was equipped with [M22] American Locust light tanks, once again in the Airborne role. Its last operational posting was to Palestine before amalgamation with 3rd Queen's Own Hussars.

Three museums cater for these Airborne units:-

The Tank Museum, Bovington.
Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop.
Airborne Forces Museum, Aldershot

1950s and 60s.....

Task Force Smith: Korea, 1950

Notice the terrain adjacent to the main road was/is only traversable by TRACKED vehicles, if TF Smith had taken some with them, they could have withdrew in good order

MacArthur's Japanese occupation army having a wonderful time chasing newly liberated Japanese women fell back onto the foot infantry default thinking they could fight WW2 Pacific-style if needed but forgot that looming to the west was the Asian continental land mass where tracked tanks rule the open terrains. You will see that these garrison cultural pressures to spend less money as troops goof off and adopt weak foot infantry battle techniques has manifested themselves again in the Shinseki era to do feel-good peacekeeping missions and perpetuates today with Schoomaker's "high-tech red-neck" gunslinger mentality. Its always easier to do less in the Army. The Korean War debacle that began with Task Force Smith entering battle after being flown in from Japan, at a rifle-and-rucksack default would be repeated again and again over the years.

TF Smith of the 24th Infantry Division flew by C-54s from Japan into South Korea and went by wheeled trucks to set up a blocking position for the inbound North Korean Army. When their T-34/85 medium tanks arrived, TF Smith's 2.36" Bazooka rocket launchers did nothing to stop them, and they were over-run. Had TF Smith been equipped with LIGHT TANKS AND APCs these could have been flown in by C-54s using the under belly SEL technique and then hit the enemy tanks in the flanks with 20mm to 40mm cannon fire as well as protect the infantry from shell bursts while providing cross-country mobility to withdraw in good order to another blocking position. The French were able to air deliver M24 Chaffee light tanks in pieces without the C-119s the USAF/Army had. And the 24th Infantry had M24 light tanks.

One account:

The battle began at 0816, 5 July. North Korean tanks initially broke through U.S. positions and continued to Suwon without slowing appreciably. With the exception of the artillery battery's direct fire on the tanks, the North Koreans suffered no losses. The old, understrength bazooka and 57-millimeter recoilless rifle shells just bounced off the Soviet-designed armor. After two heavy engagements, TF Smith began a withdrawal under pressure at 1400.

Unfortunately, the direct support artillery battery, "A" Battery, 52d Field Artillery, was defeated. The tanks cut the landlines to the forward observers, and all radios went dead. The tanks continued engaging the 105-millimeter guns in direct-fire duels. The 4.2-inch heavy mortar section ran out of ammunition. After the initial engagement there was no indirect fire support. Close air support (CAS) was nonexistent. Because of recent fratricide incidents, CAS was restricted from operating south of the Han River. This prohibition effectively hobbled U.S. ground maneuver elements and gave communist forces a distinct advantage.

Please take a few moments to read the detailed account below of TF Smith and examine the map showing where they were positioned to block the road and consider the terrain where it was go and no-go for tracked and wheeled vehicles.



They were parked behind their defensive positions on the road to their rear.

We doubt if even Stryker TOW ATGMs fired from their rubber-tired mounts would have changed the outcome as the T34/85s would have point/shot/blasted them on the road. Ditto that for MGS even if that 105mm gun variant worked.

Once surrounded and routed the foot troops would be no better able to withdraw in Strykers along roads than they were in 1950 in unarmored trucks.

Also ponder that when TF Smith flew in by C-54s they COULD HAVE HAD light tracked APCs: here is a photo showing a M22 Locust light tank underslung a C-54 transport plane which had tricycle landing gear...

Maybe we shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss C-54s carrying light tanks, huh? Maybe the Army light infantry egomaniacs should have paid attention to the M24 light tanks they had and instead of chasing Japanese women noticed then the USAF got C-124s they could transport their light tanks in a pinch?

Imagine if after WW2 we didn't go back to sleep and neglect ground warfare as General Gavin fought hard to warn us not to do...M22 Locusts could have been fitted with 106mm recoilless rifles capable of killing T34/85s and flown in by C-54s, others Bren gun style open-topped troop carriers....the M24 light tankss could have been flown inside C-124s...maybe we could have stopped the T34/85 medium tanks? At the very least we could have withdrew in good order...under some armor protection with some tracked mobility to pull out our wounded...when foot infantry is wounded it cannot walk anymore...if swarmed by enemy infantry you cannot afford to try to break out barreling down roads in rubber-tired trucks...

Only TRACKED armored personnel carriers (APCs) that could have enabled them to move cross country in the face of intense enemy fire would have helped them conduct a mobile defense and carried the heavy firepower that could have been brought to bear from unexpected locations and move themselves, their wounded and their supplies. The whole point of the Army experience after Korea was NOT to move men around in helicopters so they could afterwards get shot up. The Korean experience forced the Army to get serious about tracked APCs beginning with the M75 at war's end, followed by the M59 and finally the greatest AFV of all time, ever the M113 at the behest of Gavin that was amphibious, air-transportable so infantry was not orphaned after airlanding and could move boldly even nuclear devastated battlefields. We progressed with gunshields to fight mounted with the ACAVs, and had firing ports figured out with a shoot-on-the-move autocannon with the AIFV when we went overboard with the 2-man turret Bradley to escort heavy M1 Abrams tanks. Infantry became second-class citizens and security guards for tanks (armored infantry) when we should have simply kept improving our M113 Gavins so ALL our infantry would have armored mobility even those that come by aircraft (Army's 4 divisions of light infantry) for 3D maneuver.

1954: M24 Chaffee light tanks: the French in Indo-China make air-mech History: but how did they air-mech 10 x M24 light tanks into Dien Bien Phu?

So here's the question----

How far did the French disassemble their M24 light tanks to save weight?

Could you detach the entire turret and add it later?

How much weight could you save removing all the guns?

There is evidence that a special unit did the reassembly of the M24s at Dien Bien Phu:

www.thehistorynet.com/vn/bl_foreign_legion/index3.html+m24+tanks+dien+ bien+phu&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

2nd Foreign Legion Tank Repair Company (2nd CREBLE): Organized on July 1, 1951 to replace an inactivated unit within the Colonial Infantry Regiment of Morocco, the 2nd CREBLE was based at Haiphong, where it performed depot maintenance and repaired tanks and amphibious vehicles. A mobile armored repair platoon was based at Hanoi. The majority of the unit's personnel were German by 1953. An element of the company was airlifted into Dien Bien Phu to assemble the ten M-24 tanks that had been flown in, dismantled in sections. The unit was inactivated in Saigon on December 31, 1955.

"Dismantled in sections"

what does this mean?

Would you want a heavy tank hull without tracks/roadwheels ie the means to drive itself off the C-119 airplane?

Want to see how a M24 light tank would look in pieces?

www.ferreamole.it/ images/m24/m24_01.htm


1. The French amazingly flew in 10 disassembled 17-ton M24 Chaffee light tanks with short-barrel 75mm guns to the ill-chosen Dien Bien Phu location in 1953 with PISTON ENGINED AIRPLANES. We are researching the details; look on our Aircraft Photos web page for details under C-47, C-119 and Bristol 170 aircraft.

2. The squadron of 10 x M24 light tanks enabled the French to hold out for 55 days even though they did not command the high ground, leading counterattacks against superior numbers of enemy infantry while pummeled by artillery fire from surrounding hills.

3. The ONLY unit to fight its way OUT of Dien Bien Phu was the M24 light tank squadron. This is extremely significant.

Had the ENTIRE Dien Bien Phu force been air-mechanized with troop carrying M24s then in December after the satellite base camps fell, they could have BROKE OUT via TRACKED ARMORED MOBILITY and avoided decisive engagement that led to their strategic defeat.

Absurdly, TF Smith 3 years earlier had a "mini-Dien Bien Phu" when it failed to bring ANY tracked tanks to the fight even though we know now C-54s could have carried M22 Locust tanks underslung. Had the M22 been fitted with the 57mm anti-tank gun instead of the impotent 37mm gun it could have knocked out North Korean T34/85 medium tanks. We too, could have flown in disassembled M24 light tanks but didn't. You have to hand it to the French for having technotactical creativity to fly in M24 light tanks and tow F-8 Bearcat fighters into Indo-China but their brass lacked skill in the operational art.

We don't believe in half-baked light infantry that just looks different from heavy forces as a fashion/ego statement. The reason why anyone should want "light" is to get a MOBILITY DIFFERENTIAL as Stan Crist puts it. That is the maximum mobility through and OVER (by aircraft) closed terrain to offer "3D maneuver" that compliments a main body 2D maneuver. the AMS Study Group has broken new ground in understanding warfare as shown in the PPT slides below:


The point is just as Captain (now LTC) Woodgerd ended his 1987 article in ARMOR magazine "French Armor at Dien Bien Phu"....if the French had more LIGHT tanks for its LIGHT infantry it would not have been defeated at Dien Bien Phu.

Absolutely true.

Despite being stupid and not occupying the high ground, they were indeed in OPEN TERRAIN in the often muddy, low ground. This means they needed 3D maneuver from light tanks not what they had which was only 1D maneuver---after aircraft delivery only a foot slog through closed terrain. They were pinned down and unable to move from Viet Minh artillery fire from the high ground, so they burrowed--dug in and became decisively engaged. However, if they had had light tanks that can carry infantry (APCs) en masse even as screwed up as their situation was, they could have rejected burrowing in and decisive engagement and simply drove their tracks and themselves out of the valley.


What is a tank?

ANYTHING that is tracked and armored.

Did most WW1 tanks have turrets?


Did they carry infantry?


When we fully understand what a "tank" is in generic terms we can then fully understand their potential instead of the current fractured "us" and "them" Heavy vs Light, cligues and the illogical labels like "Main Battle Tank" they use to not understand generic battlefield FUNCTIONS.

Now fast forward to today.

If we fly in foot infantry into a Taiwan under CHICOM bombardment it will have to burrow into the ground and will be in a decisive engagement win or die situation. Wheeled Strykers will be immobilized by shredding their tires or simply unable to leave roads/trails--just like TF Smith. We also see the American light infantry narcissism no different from French infantry narcissism, both are egomaniacs without any humility to admit to laws of physics limitations and the moral courage to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT: ie; get LIGHT TANKS ie; M113 Gavins.

If American light infantry were to get 10.5 ton M113 Gavin light tanks then it could indeed fly (3D maneuver) to any location in the world and never have to be decisively engaged if we put our best armor and weaponry on these platforms. We could wage a mobile defense over a large area and keep the initiative.



Dien Bien Phu - A Fatal Gamble
By Wild Bill Wilder

French AMX-13 light tank
Used in combat in joint Air-Mech ops by French and Israelis in 1956 war, still in use today!

AMX-13 in action

U.S. T92 Program

T92 top-view
T92 by M41 side-view
T92 by M41 frontal comparison

The T92 was a light tank development program which commenced in 1953 and was terminated in 1959. It was a highly photographed and publicized configuration, no doubt because it was rather unique in appearance, looking low and racy for a tank.

The T92 design incorporated the following unusual features:

· Cleft turret, providing silhouette (415 height of the M41 tank)
· Large (89-inch) turret ring
· Semiautomatic loading of 76mm gun and automatic ejection of spent brass from the turret
· Dual machinegun cupolas (.50 and .30 cal) commander-and gunner-operated
· Entrance at rear of tank, providing ease of loading and protected emergency crew evacuation
· "Torsilastic" suspension utilizing rubber brushings n-stead of conventional steel torsion bars

The T92 was a development to replace the M41 in the early 1960's and be C-130 transportable. Despite high expectations. it did not measure up to the old "Bulldog" during tests. The T92 was not as fast as the M41 and could not fire its main gun as rapidly even with an automatic loader. The biggest problems, cramped and ucomfortable crew positions and lack of adequate ammo stowage for sustained combat, could not be overcome without redesign.

The T92 was a low-riding vehicle mounting a convention gun: the following statement best sums up final report. "Future vehicle procurement programs should give more attention to human factors engineering requirements during early equipment development phase"

T101 program
U.S. T101 sling-loaded under a CH-37 Mojave piston-engined helicopter

U.S. CH-54 Skycrane: Lifting the M56 Scorpion SP 90mm Assault Gun or M113 Gavin light armored tracks

Recently its become apparent that 10-ton M113A1 Gavins and 8-ton M56 Scorpion 90mm assault guns could have been "air-meched" by CH-54A/B SkyCranes into combat in Vietnam to avert near catastrophes like LZ X-Ray. Here's a pic of a CH-54 and a M56 Scorpion 90mm assault gun connected together as an outdoor static display:

Why did we have to wait 40 decades for 2 + 2 to be added together? Why wasn't this done in Vietnam to render fire support for Air Assault troops?

An M113A1 empty is 19,200 pounds (10 tons), the CH-54B can lift 12 tons, so track/engine removal is not required as the 25th LID caption implied. The M56 Scorpion was 8 tons.

When we get around to revising the 3rd edition of Air-Mech-Strike, we will have to raise the question of why wasn't this done? Our suspicion is that General Kinnard had a light infantry bias and was anti-armored vehicle resulting in the Army's helicopter 3D mobile units fighting the enemy at a disadvantage when not complimented by the 2D Armored Cavalry maneuveing in conjunction with them.

A Vietnam combat veteran writes:

Subj: [MASWG] Meet the CH-53E SkyCrane! (fwd)
Date: 9/7/2004 8:29:31 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: XXXXXX@att.net


Even without the mods, the CH54 could lift a M113... I had to call one in when I had a track blown up in Oct 1968. You have to watch out for the downforce upon lift. Well in Excess of 150 MPH when you are lifting 12 tons. Blew most of the BN HQ shelters out of the FOB. Sorry, no pics of same. I can only imagine what downforce lifting 20 tons would generate!

Again, nice job on the models. I was busy this weekend with Frances, still not recovered from Charley, and waiting on Ivan.


You mean, this?

EDITOR: the caption is incorrect; a M113A1 empty is 19,200 pounds (10 tons), the CH-54B can lift 12 tons, so track/engine removal is not required.



New Generation Skycrane Saves Damaged Carrier

Soldiers of the 25th Div's 2nd Bde scratched their heads in wonder recently as a armored personnel carrier (APC) from the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, went flying overhead.

The carrier had hit a Viet Cong mine the day before. Removing it from the swampy lowlands along the Oriental River would have meant dragging it 15 kms to the nearest road for pickup.

The only answer was to fly it out, but the APC weighs 13 tons. Battalion officers figured that it would take 13 HU-1D helicopters pulling at once to lift it out.

The answer came flying into the unit's forward base in the form of a giant "Skycrane" helicopter. The huge ship can easily lift a nine ton load.

To meet the weight restriction, the carrier's tracks were broken, and the vehicle literally driven off its metal treads. Then the engine was removed and all radio equipment was stripped off.

Two Soldiers battled the 120 mile an hour rotor wash and hooked the cargo straps to the Skycrane's hoist hook. Everyone stood back and watched as track number 33 flew off toward Cu Chi.

NEED A LIFT? - A "Skycrane" carries a damaged armored personnel carrier back to Cu Chi for repairs. (Photo by 1LT Karel)



Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968


Mech Displays Aerial Mobility

Story and Photos by SP4 Robert Rossow

3RD BDE - In a unique display of aerial mobility, the 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf, accomplished a vital piece of resupply work, airlifting two M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) by CH­54 "Flying Crane" from their Dau Tieng base camp to a forward base near the Cambodian border. The vehicles were dispatched to fill shortages caused by weeks of hard campaigning in the border regions.

CPT Theodore R. Sucher III, the battalion S-4, commented that airlifting APCs is rarely done, but that it is, nevertheless, not exceedingly difficult. "Weight is the main problem," said Sucher. "Slings and attachments strong enough to support the weight of an APC have to be procured. The track has to be stripped. After making reservations for the 'Crane,' final coordination between the pad crews and mechanics both in base camp and the field is made. The bird comes and goes, and it's all over. With our competent mechanics, the tracks will be combat ready a few hours after they are deposited in the field."

The two vehicles were unable to travel with the battalion when it moved out on Operation Yellowstone due to mechanical difficulties sustained in the previous operation. One required a new power pack, and the other repair of an idler arm which had broken away from the hub. When the repairs were completed, the only way to get the APCs to the field was by air. To prepare the APCs for airlift, four mechanics, directed by MSG John Pobodinski were assigned to disassemble the vehicles. Due to weight limits, it was necessary to totally strip them. First the mechanics removed the power packs, completely testing their performance before shipment on a test stand devised by the "Triple Deuces" maintenance section, then packaged them for airlifting. Then the basic load of ammunition was removed along with the basic issue items and personal belongings of the crew members. They then towed the two vehicles to the helicopter landing pad, where the tracks were removed to prevent damage to the suspension system during transit, and the carrying slings attached in preparation for flight.

On the appointed hour, the 'Crane' settled down over the first APC like a giant predatory insect descending upon its quarry. A man from the pad crew battled the fierce downwash from the rotors as he struggled to fasten the carrying hook. When the slings were attached, the 'Crane' lifted slowly off the pad taking up the slack; then with a staggering lunge, track and helicopter were airborne. Some twenty minutes later the 'Crane' set the track down at the battalion's advanced support base miles away near the Cambodian border, and returned to repeat the performance.

The Triple Deuces field maintenance section has had a great deal of experience at major field maintenance, and has several times replaced power packs away from base camp; so, aside from the airlift factor, the reassembly of the vehicles was a routine job.





M56 Scorpion 90mm Assault Gun in action on the ground...

The U.S. developed two SPATs in the Airborne arena, the M56 "Scorpion" for the U.S. Army and the M50 "Ontos", used by the marines. It is the latter, and its Far East relative, the Japanese Type 60, these two vehicles are unique among armored SPATs and armor in general. The M56 "Scorpion" and the Russian ASU-57 shared similar traits. Both sported heavy caliber anti-tank guns, the "Scorpion" mounting the potent 90mm M54 gun, and both were small machines. But size and the need for a light weight punished the M56 crew, giving them no armor protection save the gun shield. As the 1960s neared its end, the M56 saw action in the jungles of Vietnam, serving with the 82nd and 173rd Airbornes, the only units to use the M56 in combat. As history was to show, the M56 was never able to engage enemy armor for the enemy armor was few and far between. Instead, the M56 provided vitally needed fire support for operations by U.S. troops. Even the M56 "Scorpion", in one case, had its 90mm gun removed and a pintle mounted M40A1 was put in its place. It should be noted that these modifications were not official U.S. military designs...merely ones troops in the field created to enhance their firepower.

M56 Scorpion in Spanish Marine use!

M56 rear view on display at Fort Bragg, NC

Scorpion in Vietnam during the Tet offensive when 82d Airborne Division rapidly deployed
M56 Scorpion rigged for low-velocity parachute airdrop
Scorpion on display at Seoul, Korea War memorial Museum

M50 Ontos 6x 106mm Recoilless Rifle tankette


M50 loading into C-119

M50 + CH-53A Helicopters = Do-Able


Peter Brush writes:

1967 saw the introduction of CH-53 [A] Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopters for the marines in Vietnam. The first models had a six-ton external lift capability. This meant an Ontos could be transported by helicopter if it was broken down into components with the hull transported externally. It could then be reassembled and operated at destination, given it a transportability beyond its design considerations. M50s could also go where tanks feared to tread (or should have): in a 1966 operation, tanks got stuck in flooded rice paddies. Ontos, with less ground pressure, were able to drag timbers up to the tanks without bogging down.

The M50 "Ontos" (ontos meaning "Thing" in Greek) began its life in the early 1950s to meet a requirement for a light anti-tank armored vehicle to better equip anti-tank teams, then armed with only Jeeps to mount their anti-tank weapons. Designs were drawn up and prototypes built, the "Ontos" was the winner. Officially designated the T165, the "Ontos", designed and developed for the U.S. Army, was not to see service with them until late in the Vietnam war. The Army felt that its anti-tank teams were, rightly or wrongly, already well equipped with what they had. However, the U.S. marines were in the market for just such a vehicle. They were looking to replace their veteran and outdated Shermans but wanted a replacement which was light of weight to ease transportation issues and thus, by extension, enhance their mobility and deployment speed. To this end, they found it in the "Ontos". Beginning in 1955, the now designated M50 went into production with Allis-Chalmers and, by 1956, was issued into marine service with 45 x M50s in each divisional tank battalion. Between 240 to 297 vehicles were built by the time production ended at the close of 1957.

Rare video clips of infantry-carrying T56 version that was not put into production

The M50s hull was derived from the T55/T56 series of tracked APCs. The hull had a distinct pyramid shape to it, tapering at the top into a round cupola for the vehicle commander. Attached to the cupola were two sets of stalks. Upon these stalks were mounted a trio of M40A1C 106mm recoilless rifles (the "C" model had a slightly enhanced breech mechanism and a projectile indicator on the barrel). The sloping armor, which sloped upwards on all sides of the M50, supported a maximum armor thickness of 13mm.

The interior of the Ontos was rather cramped for its three-man crew. With a height of only 213cm, a width of 260cm, and a length of 383cm, the Ontos was a small machine indeed, tipping the scales at 8,641 kg in combat readiness. And due to the pyramid sloped hull, it only enhanced the smallness of the interior and fighting compartment. The engine, a gasoline inline V6 General Motors 302, provided 145 horsepower at 3,400 rpm with a power to weight ratio of 16.7 bhp/ton. This was enough to move the M50 at a maximum speed of 48 kph. The 47 gallon fuel tank offered a maximum range of 241 km. The M50A1, a later improved model (294 M50s were upgraded to the M50A1 standard in 1963), replaced the GM engine with a Chrysler water-cooled V8 HT-361-318 which developed 180 hp at 3,450 rpm. In all cases, the engine was mounted in the upper, right hand section of the hull. The exhaust was vented out a pipe which ran along the right side of the hull, just above the fender. To fuel, there was a fuel cap on the right side of the forward slope of the hull. The engine drove a set of front sprockets via an Allison XT-90-2 transmission, later upgraded in the M50A1 to the XT-90-5. Each track was supported by three bogie wheel assemblies, a rear idler wheel, and the front drive sprocket with an external brace mounting return plates as opposed to rollers. Ground pressure was .34kg/cm2. The M50 could climb a vertical obstacle no higher than 2ft. 6in. and could cross a trench no wider than 1.371 meters. Without any preparation, the M50 could ford water up to 2ft. deep and with the aid of a kit, could ford up to 5ft. of water. The driver was positioned in the front of the hull to the left of the engine. His station consisted of a brake pedal to his left, the accelerator pedal to his right. Centered in the middle were the two steering levers which the driver would direct the M50s motion with via a clutch brake steering system. Unlike other, larger armored vehicles of the time which had the steering levers more to the sides of the driver, the M50 had them right in the middle, almost like the control stick of an aircraft. Thus, the driver of the M50 had to pull the levers toward his chest to initiate steerage. To the driverīs right were to be found the instrument panel and also the gear shift which supported three forward and one reverse gear. There was storage space for a spare M13 driver periscope and also a section of the forward hull to mount a water canteen. The driver was provided with a hatch in the front glacis. The commander and the gunner shared the fighting compartment space in the back of the M50. Mounted centrally in the fighting compartment was the post which supported both the gunnerīs seat and above that, the commanderīs seat. On the backside of this post was to be found boresighting instructions and storage for binoculars which the commander would use. The gunner used the M20A3C periscope, in the M50A1 model, to lay his weapons and the rifles could be fired from within the M50. To the right of the central seat post was to be found a fire extinguisher and, on the floor, tubes to hold 4 rounds of 106mm ammunition for the rifles. Just forward of the gunnerīs position was a metal cage in which ammunition for both the spotting rifles and the M1919A4 .30 caliber (7.62mm x 82mm) medium machine gun mounted on the cupola were stored. All told, 80 rounds of spotting rifle ammunition and 1,000 rounds for the .30 caliber were carried onboard. Beneath the floor of the fighting compartment were 8 storage tubes for ammunition for the recoilless rifles and these could be accessed from outside the vehicle via a panel just under the main rear door at the back of the hull. Mentioning the main rear door, the entire back of the M50 was a set of double hatches to allow entrance and exit from the vehicle and could be locked from the inside. Radio communication came from a AN/PRC-10 radio set which was housed on the left sponson. The commanderīs cupola featured the sighting periscope and, on the outside of the cupola, the frame to mount the .30 cal. machinegun, the frame allowing high angle elevation and depression as well as good side to side traverse.

The main weapons, as mentioned, were mounted in triplets, three per side of the M50. Though each gun tube was rigged to mount a spotting rifle, only the top pair of each set of three supported the rifle. The cupola, to which the stalks which held the sets of rifles were attached, was manually traversed with an 80 degree range of traverse total. Elevation was also manual, through a maximum of 20 degrees to a minimum of -10 degrees. Once the target was successfully hit by the spotting rifle, the commander or gunner could fire one or more of the rifles, up to firing all six at one time. All told, the M50 carried 18 rounds of ammunition, one in each gun tube, four inside the fighting compartment, and eight under the fighting compartment floor. If needed, two of the M40A1s could be dismounted from the M50 and used as ground support weapons, much like the infantry version.

It is here that we will discuss the major, and the most detrimental, disadvantages of the recoilless rifle, for, unlike the Type 60, the M50 did see battle and these disadvantages came to the fore. The first is backblast. As we have noted, an equal force is needed projecting backwards to negate the force going forwards. In so doing, it creates a huge blast signature directly behind the gun which is detrimental to anyone caught in it as well as, more significantly for a tank hunting vehicle, it betrays its location, rendering any carefully constructed camouflage ambush position useless, lost in a cloud of smoke, dust, flash, and debris after firing. For the M50, which could fire its six M40s at once, aside from being rather spectacular to witness, the resulting signature spelled disaster since now it had exposed its position to the enemy to counterattack. Another serious drawback was that, because of this very blast signature, the recoilless rifles had to be mounted totally on the outside of the vehicle. This resulted in the gunner having to dismount the vehicle, leaving the protection of the M50s armor, to reload his weapons and it doesnīt take much to understand that in battle, this poses a tremendous risk to the gunner whom is now vulnerable to artillery, small arms fire, and the sniper.

The M50 was first blooded in battle in 1965 with the 6th marines in the Dominican Republic. Here, the M50 was pitted against two types of light tanks crewed by Dominican rebels. The first were old, vintage Swedish Landsverk L-60 light tanks and the second, French AMX-13 light tanks. The L-60s, built at the outbreak of World War II, and the AMX-13 whose design was begun prior to the German invasion yet didnīt begin production until 1952 were to be proven beatable by marine gunners. In the scattered and sporadic actions, these two tanks fell victim to the M50, the 40mm armor of the AMX-13 and the lighter armor of the L-60 not proof against the penetrating power of the M40s HEAT rounds. But the M50 is more well remembered when it participated in the Vietnam War and where it was deployed in more numbers. The M50 was deployed with the 1st and 3d Anti-Tank battalions of the 1st marine division and by the end of 1965, a total of 65 M50s were in-country. Pretty soon, the M50s were modified by their crews to suit the conditions. When on the move, the lower rifle on each of the two stations was provided with a travel lock and the breeches were usually covered in tarp to protect them from the elements and grime. In the tradition of tankers in World War II, some crews draped spare tracking across the front and sometimes the sides of the M50 to provide just a bit more metal between the incoming round and them and other crews added in sandbags as well. To help the little machine carry more stowage, some "Ontos" has raised slats affixed to the sides of the track fenders to allow for a resting spot for items lashed to the hull. Jerry cans of fuel and water were often to be found strapped to the sides of the M50 and both a shovel and an axe were standard equipment. In one case, to provide night illumination, the .30 cal. machinegun was replaced with a large spotlight in a locally adapted mount. The first major action of marine armor was Operation Starlight in August of 1965, an attempt to spoil the suspected attack by the 1st. V.C. Regiment on the U.S. military base at Chu Lai. Starlight proved that armor could work in the muddy paddies and jungle...but at the same time it also showed that armor could not be without infantry. Starlight also shaped the way marine armor was to be employed and this was that M50 battalions ( and also M48 tank battalions ) were to be broken down and attached to infantry units to provide needed support. When in base camp or in a firebase, the M50 was given a defensive position to defend in case the base found itself under attack, providing additional firepower to the basesī own weaponry. In fact, the M50 was to become a lethal defensive vehicle when it used its recoilless rifles, firing anti-personnel "beehive" rounds which could decimate infantry in seconds. In 1968, during the siege of Khe Sanh, the two M50 platoons from the 3rd Anti-Tank Battalion were involved in mobile defense against NVA forces attempting to overrun the base there.


During the Tet Offensive, the M50 again played a critical role in the street fighting and adverse weather which grounded air assets and severely hampered artillery support. M50s of the 1st and 3d participated in such operations as Iowa, Mobile, and Deckhouse VI. Though the M50 performed well, the shortcomings mentioned earlier, its vulnerability to anti-armor mines and RPG rounds due to its very thin armor and the lack of protection given to the commander when he saw the need to use the .30 cal. machinegun eventually saw the M50 retired from service, its role replaced by the more conventional tank. By 1970, there were no more M50s in marine service.

Japanese Type 60 SP-RR STUG self-propelled anti-tank gun (SPAT) "Godzilla"



Designations Type 60

Manufacturer(s) Komatsu

Status Production complete.

Production Period 1960-1977
Production Quantity 252

Crew 3-4
Length, overall 4.3m
Length, hull 4.3m
Width, overall 2.2m = 87.12 inches = fit inside CH-47 helicopter, C-1 jet STOL transport
Height, overall 1.6m
Combat Weight 8000kg = 8.8 tons = light enough for CH-47 to heli-lift
Unloaded Weight 7600kg


Max. speed 55km/Hr
Engine liquid cooled 4 cycle diesel engine 150hp
Radio, external n/a
Communication, crew n/a


Main Armament 2 x 106mm recoilless rifle
Ammunition Carried 8x106mm
Gun Traverse 30 (left, right) (1)
Elevation/Depression +15/-20 (1)
Traverse Rate manual
Elevation Rate manual
Gun Stabilization none
Rangefinder 12.7mm MG
Night Vision no
Auto-Loader no
Secondary Armament none

Meanwhile, at the same time the M50 was undergoing development, so too was a vehicle which shared quite a bit in common with it.

This was the Japanese Type 60. The Type 60s design began in 1954 by two companies, Komatsu Seisakujyo and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Both these companies put forth a design, called the SS1 and SS2 respectively. In so doing, history was made as these were the first Japanese armored vehicles to be completed following World War II. However, the results were not very good and trails showed that both vehicles had unacceptable flaws and thus were deemed unsatisfactory. Both companies returned to the drawing board and revised their entries. Again, a vehicle was put up for contention by both companies and, after trails, the Komatsu design, the SS4, was accepted and standardized as the Type 60. By 1960, production was underway at Komatsu and entered service with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force that same year. By 1979, production was completed, with 223 vehicles delivered to the JGSDF, the vehicle still in Japanese service.

The Type 60 is a much smaller vehicle in comparison to the M50, which, in many ways is related to the smaller nature of the Japanese crewmen. Its height is 1.59 meters, width is 2.23 meters, a length of 4.3 meters, and a combat weight of 7,000 kg. This means that the Type 60 could indeed roll-on/off from inside a CH-47! Also airland and airdrop capable from their C-1 jet transport.

The chassis shares a likeness to the Mitsubishi Type SU 60 APC, in fact, were it not for the different arrangement of the bogie torsion-bar suspension, one would say the Type 60 was a variant of the SU 60. The hull is of welded construction, supporting an estimated maximum thickness of between 12mm-15mm of steel armor protection. The engine, a Komatsu Model 6T 120-2 diesel, is a V6 and air cooled, developing 120hp at 2,400rpm. Late production models of the Type 60 featured an uprated engine developing 150hp. Power to weight ratio is 18hp/ton with the 150hp rated engine. The Komatsu powerplant gives the Type 60 a maximum road speed of 45kph, the later models getting up to 55kph. Maximum road range is 130km out of a 77 liter fuel tank. While the speed is similar to the M50, the Type 60s road range is less than half the M50. The engine, unlike the M50, is mounted in the rear of the Type 60 and it drives a front drive sprocket, the track supported by five road wheels, an idler, and three return rollers with a ground pressure of .67kg/cm2. Should it be needed, the normal tracks can be replaced with wider snow tracks for such conditions. The Type 60 can climb a .55 meter vertical obstacle, cross a 1.8m wide trench, and ford up to a meter. The driver sits in the front of the vehicle to the left and he is provided with a hatch and two vision blocks. The armament, consisting of two 106mm recoilless rifles manufactured by the Japan Steel Works, is mounted along the right half of the vehicle. Behind the driver is the fighting compartment, where the commander and gunner reside. The gunner has a hatch located behind the commander, the commander having a small, raised turret topped off with a hatch which contains a trio of vision ports along with a periscope and optical sight. The vehicle offers no form of NBC protection and some models have been fitted with infrared night vision equipment.

The recoilless rifles, of which there are only two as compared to the M50s six, are, when in traveling condition, laid straight and kept secure by a travel lock on the front of the hull. In battle, the rifles can be deployed in the "low" position, allowing them an elevation of only -5 degrees up to 10 degrees with a traverse of 10 degrees left or right, 20 degrees in total traverse. In the "high" position, the rifles are raised upwards via powered controls in the roof of the tank and from this vantage, they can be elevated down to -20 degrees or up to 15 degrees with a total traverse rate of 60 degrees. Like the M50, the rifles are brought to bear on the target via a spotting rifle secured to the outer recoilless rifle and the procedure to target and fire is much the same. The commander is provided with a rangefinder. The Type 60 can hold between 8 to 10 rounds of 106mm ammunition total, a rather small sum indeed. Ammunition types arenīt usually mixed and so if the mission is anti-armor, HEAT rounds are carried while for infantry support missions, the load will be HE rounds. Like the M50, the recoilless rifles are kept completely outside the vehicle, requiring the gunner to expose himself to reload the weapons. On each side of the hull, housed behind the armor and facing rearwards, is a panel. Behind the panel are storage for 4 rounds of ammunition. So, with a round in each rifle and a full load of 4 rounds in each storage holds, the total ammunition carried is 10. The Type 60 carries no form of secondary armament outside of any small arms the crew may have.

The Type 60, unlike the M50 "Ontos", still sees service to this day. Both vehicles shared a similar mission, that of hunting armor in as small a package as possible, to present a minimal target and rely on speed to keep it alive and both mounted, for its day, the powerful 106mm recoilless rifle. Both had similar dimensions and almost equal performance. Both, however, shared the same drawbacks...little armor, few rounds onboard to sustain protracted battle, high risk for gunner and commander in having to reload their weapons without the benefit of what armor the vehicle offered, and the telltale backblast signature upon firing their guns. Of the two, the M50 was the only one to see combat action and, aside from the high toll in crew casualties, proved its worth in the anti-tank role but more notably in the fire support role.

M274 MULE with 106mm RR

As one can see, the advantage of the recoilless rifle is that, because it offers no recoil, it can be mounted on just about anything. From simple field mounts (such as the M79 and M92 mounts for the M40A1) for the infantry to mountings onto such small vehicles such as the Jeep or the M274 "Mechanical Mule". The M40A1 was also added onto existing armored vehicles for additional firepower, especially during the Vietnam War.

MULE ATV with 106mm RR

Jeeps with 106mm RRs
Toyota Land Cruiser with 106mm RR

ARVN M41s fly by USAF C-133s to stop a mutinee in South Vietnam

M113A1 Gavin APCs



The light infantry combat vehicle that can go anywhere a lightfighter can walk--to include breaking brush in closed terrain after 3D aircraft insertions is still the TRACKED M113 Gavin, the "Green Dragon" feared by the VC/NVA and enemies today that can spit out firepower in all directions behind gunshields...you can't do this in a Stryker or any other wheeled truck. We also have the armor to go on the outside of Gavins to make them RPG and landmine resistant as well as stabilized, shoot-on-the-move autocannons to smother all enemies with explosive shell fire. Band tracks and hybrid-electric drive can make extended hull MTVL, regular size or reduced size "Mini-Gavins" that fit into CH-47 Chinook helicopters stealthy and go 60 mph on smooth terrain...

Some example of 106mm RRs being mounted include M113A1 APCs and ACAVs which were field modified to mount the M40A1 at the rear of the APC to serve as fire support as M40-armed Jeeps and M274s proved lacking in protection and mobility. Some ACAVs even replaced the front M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun with the smaller recoilless rifles such as the 57mm and 90mm versions.

Its easier to rig sturdy 11-ton M113A3s for airdrop than 22,000 pound 5-ton trucks
M113 Gavin being extracted from a C-130 Hercules

M113 Gavin under multiple parachutes during airdrop

IDF Paratroops de-rig their Gavin after parachute airdrop

M113 Gavins and Wiesels from a C-130

The M113A3 is simple-to-operate with a steering wheel and can be operated effectively with little additional training by any U.S. Army infantry squad. The M113A3 swims without preparation, is light on roads and doesn't need a transporter to move around; is in use by over 66 allied countries, spare parts are cheap and available, can be lifted by heavy lift CH-47D/F Chinook helicopters by sling-load to any place we want on the battlefield.

M113 sling-loaded by a Chinook
Gavin heavy-lifted by a CH-47D/F
With "band tracks" is even lighter on roads than rubber SUV tired wheeled armored cars, while still able to go cross-country that would be no-go terrain for LAVs.

CH-47F Sling-loading a Gavin Fighting Vehicle
Gavin with 106mm RR
120mm turret for Gavin
30mm and Javelin turret on Gavin,/a>
Gavinwith M551 turret
Gavin Driver's panel
Engineer Gavin with gunshield
Fleet of Gavins!
Gavin with 1 man 25mm/7.62mm turret
Another view of Gavin 25mm ITVL
Gavin ACAV
Gavin infantry situationally-aware!
M113 in combat in Panama!
M113 infantry lead the way in Panama invasion

IDF Airborne C-130 airland: Victor at Entebbe


The 1st Cavalry converted back to a heavy armored division, we had no CAVALRY BRANCH to preserve the 2D/3D air/ground synergism created with helicopters and M113 Gavin tracks in Vietnam. We had the armor versus armor Yom Kippur war in 1973 where nearly everyone thought the ATGM had "killed" the tank. With current generation U.S. tanks vulnerable to ATGMs, Armor branch went crazy to create a heavy super tank that would slug it out with the Soviets in Europe.

What happened to Air Assault tactics, then?

Even though the TRI-Cap armor/helicopter experiment worked very well in tests, the conservative Army leadership went back to emulating WWII, perhaps they were excited about George C. Scott in the movie, "Patton"?

We know most of the readers would parachute out of a plane to gain 3D positional advantage if asked to do so. The following remarks are directed at those who are not even willing to sit on a bench seat in a helicopter or STOL fixed-wing plane to get a 3D advantage by low-personal risk airlanding, either. Our thesis is that American mounted and firepower-centric warfare is also a form of "posturing" going through the motions of fighting but not really fighting except when in the coverless desert where we can kill the enemy from the safety of our armored cacoons. Perhaps by going to too-heavy AFVs like the M1/M2 we have created a built-in automatic excuse so Armor branch will never have to fight in jungles or against thinking, adaptive enemies again, you certainly don't see any AFVs in the 25th LID anymore. General Don Starry and company certainly knew light tanks/AFVs were fantastic in Vietnam---perhaps they thought by going to heavy AFVs they could insure they wouldn't have to fight where infantry dismounted action would run the show? We'd love to interview these Army leaders that made these decisions and find out. Did they really think a 33-ton medium-weight BFV is going to be as terrain agile as a light tracked M113 Gavin rumbling over the rice paddies in Vietnam? If they do, they are truly idiots, but we doubt that.

Personally, we think the Army--particularly Armor branch deliberately made itself too heavy so it wouldn't have to fight a Vietnam again. Just like the marines deliberately land-lock themselves and ship-deploy just token evac forces, all the while by spending as much tax-payer money as possible. If the shoe fits, wear it. Now we have another "Vietnam" called Iraq and the lightfighter narcissists on foot are getting creamed and the tread heads have the answers, they just need to get on with it and add the extra armor layers and gunshields needed to win non-linear battles.

The failure of aviation/infantry/artillery to defeat the VC/NVA in Vietnam without taking too many casualties---resulted in leaders in the Army to resort to 2D heavy, armored cacoon mounted warfare oriented towards European confrontation against the Soviets. Instead of FIXING Airborne/Air Assault 3D maneuver units by giving them numerous air-deliverable light AFVs which would solve their vulnerability/firepower/ground mobility problems these heavyists who I suspect are "legs" (meaning unwilling to take personal risks by flying in aircraft=cowards) that are anti-3D maneuver because they think they can make up for this lack of 3D maneuver-gained-positional-advantage by extremely heavy armor protection/firepower that limits them to just 2D maneuver routes. A 2D force so heavy it cannot rapidly deploy strategically to be relevent in a world that moves by the speed of the AIR in a force that sits in the motor pool and watches the fight on CNN.

Heavyists want low/no risk warfare and think that those positions ahead that threaten them can be controlled by "deep fires" and thus they don't have to take any risks by flying forces ahead to control this ground. This is the "deep strike" mentality prevalent in the Army today because it thinks war is just killing and killing is firepower. These folks do not understand to control ground you need forces on the ground; and this means not relying on distant fires to do this. Controlling ground locally with close fires/patrolling is sound, trying to control ground miles and miles away with just the eyes of a robot plane or vehicle is madness. By being heavily mounted, they think they are so impervious to fires they can just stampede ahead without ill effect. Don't they see the repeated failures at NTC every time this is tried? Tracks are not Chobham armored--once BlueFor stampedes into a minefield kill zone its over. Heavyists are living on technotactical borrowed time as top-attack missiles are coming that will pierce their vehicle roofs that don't have 4 feet of Chobham/DU armor. A smart enemy will not let their fuel trucks travel down roads to refuel these heavy gas-guzzlers.

We know this is cruel, but we think it boils down to personal cowardice. (we call them as we see them)

3D maneuver requires movement inside aircraft and the 2D heavyists are afraid of flying. Yes, some aircraft will crash in peacetime and some of us are going to die. But the more numerous lives we will have saved in war will make it worth it. Don't believe me? Order everyone at Fort Knox to go to jump school or they will be discharged and see what happens. Am I saying they are lesser Soldiers? Yes, I am. If you are not willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to win a war, to include risks in peacetime to have a 3D maneuver capability, you are a coward and a phony. If Generals want to shoot shells at map coordinates and assume they are under our "control" are posturing cowards, too. When our 2D forces come by these terrain areas and the enemy is there, the junior officers/enlistedmen will pay for it with their lives. The only guy who is really got the pressure on in mounted warfare is the Driver; everyone else can relax and enjoy the ride. Its the worse kind of Fort Knox BS mentality possible, a lot of General Shinseki's transformation opposition sadly emanates from Armor types who are scared to fly in aircraft when it should be opposition to being in a road bound armored car in order to be light enough to fly in USAF aircraft when you can have a better, x-country capable tracked AFV that is so efficient with its weight that its Army helicopter transportable, too. Be against road-bound wheels not 3D deployability and battlefield maneuver.

Russian ASU-57 SP Gun
Russian Airborne ASU-57 parachute drop video!


To meet this need, the Soviets chose a turretless design which began with the ASU-57 of the mid-1950s. This tiny little SPAT, weighing no more than 7,387 lbs. in combat readiness and with a maximum height of only 3 feet 10 inches had all the qualities of a small and relatively fast SPAT which was air-droppable. But, due to its size and the aluminum materials used to give it its light weight, its armor was a mere 6mm maximum. Indeed this is a graphic illustration of the price to pay for such a vehicle. However, its gun, a modification of the 57mm ZIS-2 anti-tank gun, was more than adequate to combat most of the vehicles it may have faced for its time, short of main battle tanks. But, the little ASU-57 had many shortcomings, notably its feeble armor, lack of any NBC and overhead crew protection, and, as time passed, the 57mm gun was unable to deal with the current crop of threats. To this end, the Soviets deployed the ASU-85. Using components of the Soviet PT-76 amphibious light tank, the ASU-85 was a fully enclosed vehicle with the heavy 85mm anti-tank gun mounted in the front glacis plate. Maximum armor was 40mm with NBC protection for the crew. Like the ASU-57, it was still air-droppable but a bigger vehicle like the ASU-85 meant more assets had to be used to transport an equal number of ASU-85s compared to its smaller predecessor.

ASU-57s by MI-6 Hook helicopters
ASU-57s and infantry on the march!
Map of world's first Air-Mech helicopter assault in Somalia in 1977

ASU-85 Assault Gun
ASU-85 on field maneuvers

8-12 ton BMD: the world's standard in a light Air-Mech AFV

BMDs and Paratrooper infantry in the assault

Russian VDV Airborne History & Today, Part 1


Russian VDV Airborne History & Today, Part 2


Meet the BMD-1








BMD with tracks retracted and rigged for airdrop
BMD with 120mm turreted gun-mortar (2S9)
BMD airdrop sequence from AN-12 turboprop aircraft
IL-76 loading a BMD
Retro-rockets fire to slow a BMD under canopy for landing
BMD after the paradrop, crew de-rigging for ground maneuvers

BMD-4: 100mm/30mm/7.62mm firepower out to 7, 000 meters, Airborne/Amphibious Maneuver


Foot-slogging, truck-hopping American Paratroopers and marines are not even close to being as capable. We suck, and we better get off our asses and start gaining capabilities instead of wailing about WW2 generation casualties otherwise we are going to join them in the grave, tombstones marked: LOSERS.

For BMD-3/4 pics:



"M113 1/2": the "Lynx" scout vehicle

Small Size = Excellent Mobility and Ability to Hide when Scouting!

The 4-roadwheel, "Mini-Gavin" Lynx out-performs the XM800 Scout tank, however in the aftermath of the failed M114 (hull overhang in front got it stuck in rice paddies in Vietnam) the U.S. Army without a CAVALRY BRANCH chose to make the bloated Bradley infantry fighting vehicle into an oversized scout vehicle. U.S. cavalry forces could slam into the enemy, but not stealthfully move ahead or swim across rivers/lakes in Bradleys/Humvee trucks.

However, NATO countries Canada and the Netherlands realized the value of small, light recon tracks and bought the Lynx and used it successfully for over 20 years! What's amazing is that none of them figured out that a Lynx could fit into a CH-47 Chinook helicopter or two at-a-time in a C-130 for 3D maneuvers, but they did aggressively swim them and mounted powerful 20mm autocannons to give them a nasty sting if anyone tried to stop them scouting.

Excellent Lynx photos from web site: bendijkstra.nl/M113%20C&V.html

Humvee trucks and 106mm Recoilless Rifles

Taiwanese 106mm HMMWVs
Art drawing of 106mm RR on HMMWV firing

8-ton Scorpion/Scimitar family: victors in the Falklands wars and Kosovo
U.S. CH-53D helicopter flies Scorpion light tank
RAF Chinook hovers to pick-up Scorpion light tank
British Airborne Air-Mechs into Kosovo

M551 Sheridan 17-ton light tanks
World's first combat parachute Air-Mech Assault: Panama M551 Sheridan 152mm gun light tanks



Sheridan sling-load under a CH-54 SkyCrane helicopter

Before envy struck, the U.S. Army Airborne parachute low-velocity airdropped (LVAD) M551 Sheridan Light Tanks and M113 Gavin Armored Personnel Carriers in the 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armored Regiment as a part of the 82nd Airborne Division in the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This video shows that the rear ramp of a C-5, C-17 or C-130 can be opened for light tanks to slide out, followed by the ramp closing and the Paratroopers to operate them to jump out both side jump doors. On C-130s, Paras can follow their M113 Gavins on Type V airdrop platforms immediately by a ramp jump currently not allowed on C-5Bs/C-17s with static-line parachutes. The U.S. Army despite inventing M113/M551 airdroppable light tanks in the 1950s thanks to Generals James Gavin and Hal Moore; had to play catch-up with the Russians who aggressively perfected air-mech in their force structure with a BMD assigned to every rifle squad while American Paras foot-slog after "seize & hold" defensive WW2 re-enactments.


Finally, in 1989, the U.S. Army Airborne stunned the world by airdropping M551 Sheridans into combat in Panama in 1989 while other Sheridans and Gavins on the scene by airland lead the way to a quick collapse and capture of dictator Manuel Noriega and his regime.


After another pair of victories in Haiti (1994) and Desert Storm (1990-91) where light tanks saved the day, the heavy tankers running HQDA in 1996-97 lied to the light Army Airborne with a "bait & switch"--retire your Sheridans and we will buy M8 Buford Armored Gun Systems (aka light tanks) to replace them. The Sheridans were placed on railroads cars to go to the National Training Center as training aids--and then HQDA cancelled the AGS buy. Thus, because of egomania, incompetence and envy, 3/73rd Armor was disbanded when thousands of M113 Gavins are available to re-equip them to be Assault Transportation for Light Infantry as Gavin always intended them to provide. HQDA racketeers refused of course, so in 2001 when Osama Bin Laden was escaping into Pakistan, General Meigs in Germany offered to fly-in his M113 Gavin Immediate Ready Force to give our troops ground maneuver capabilities, Clintonista wheeled peacekeeper racketeer, General Shinseki said "no! I don't want anyone seeing M113s rolling off C-130s"--it'd reveal his too-heavy-to-fly-by-C-130, LAV-III "Stryker" truck purchases were un-necessary and dismal failures. When the Airborne asked to drop Paras en masse to block OBL's escape routes backed with 4 of the Buford AGS light tanks the Army already owned, SecDef Rumsfeld and HQDA said "no!" to that, too. They don't want to get CIA-man OBL and defend America; they need him as a "boogie man" to boost defense budgets to buy junk trucks so our men can get killed on roads by land mines to keep the American public in a rage at "ragheads" when the truth is that walling off the rival sects in Iraq and having a low-key American advisorary and M113 Gavin tracked Quick Reaction Force presence in Iraq/Afghanistan would reduce justified outrage at our obnoxious presence and smother the civil war in the former and stop air strikes killing civilians in the latter. Bad for war profiteers like Stryker truck-maker GDLS, but good for the Iraqi and American people and their Army.

M113A3 Gavin AFVs


M113A3 rolling from C-17 Globemaster III
C-130 heavy drop
M113A3 Gavin under CH-47 Chinook using SEL concept

Australian M113A1s Air-Mech from C-130s into Dili to save the day in East Timor!

Notice the Australians actually know their M113 Gavins weigh 9.7 tons (see Loadmaster marking on front) band the dumb Americans think they weigh 13 tons and proceed to un-necessarily remove tracks and engine to fly by CH-54 SkyCrane.

East Timor montage
C-130s approach the airport
C-130 flaring to land at Dili airport
Aussie Digger Paratroopers run off C-130 rear ramp
M113A1: victor at East Timor
M113A1 as the mobile command post
Close-up of twin MG turret
M113A3 with applique armor
IDF M113 with "classical" configuration/reactive armor
Modern M113A3
M113A3 with MOUT vertical assault capsule arm

M8 Buford Armored Gun System: 105mm shoot-on-the-move ready for production
M8 rolling over a wall

BMD-3s: all troops can be air-dropped INSIDE
BMD-3 firing in action




Even a full-sized BMP-3/4 can be Air-Meched by paradrop or MI-26 HALO helicopter




The lessons of World War 2 armored vehicle design are that tanks need to be LIGHT and TURRETLESS.

The late armored vehicle combat veteran with General Percy Hobart's "Funnies" combat engineering tanks of the 79th Armoured Division, Major Kenneth Macksey wrote extensively after the war and came to the conclusion in his masterpiece, Tank versus Tank that in order to be as thickly armored as possible while still being light enough to have low ground pressure to go anywhere cross-country the future tank must not squander weight/space with a turret that also adds fatal height which makes the enemy detect you. Actual combat shows the most effective German tank of WW2 was NOT the vaunted turreted heavy Tigers, medium Panthers or even the light Mark IVs, but the turretless Sturmgeschutze or "STUGs", which killed a horrific 30, 000 Allied tanks in WW2.

STUGs were in production all throughout WW2 and were so effective because without a turret they were hard to see and had thick armor on their front so even if you did see them and returned fire, it was too late because the STUG was facing you with its thick frontal armor which even if you hit it didn't damage it and the Germans were blasting you to bits at the vulnerable turret/hull junction.

Today's Army vehicles violate these WW2 truths; the M1 Abrams is 70 tons overall but 30 tons of it is its huge turret, the 36-ton Bradley has a 4 ton turret begging to be shot off, and the Stryker and MRAP trucks while not having turrets squander away armor potential by being wheeled and 28% less space/weight efficient than a more compact tracked tank and are road/trail/street bound and subject to constant land mine and ambush attacks due to the high ground pressure of their vulnerable air-filled rubber tires.

There is only one vehicle in the U.S. inventory that embodies the truths of WW2 combat experience and is the most space/weight efficient to achieve STUG-like effects: the light, tracked M113 Gavin.

By not squandering its engine power moving turrets or an oversized hull box to fit over wheels, the M113 Gavin can be very thickly protected if we add armor to its baseline aluminum alloy hull that is medium caliber bullet and near-miss blast-proof. Now a let's examine the whole aluminum alloy armor thing.

The whole future combat system (FCS) selling point that if we built tanks from scratch that they could be built of composites aka a "plastic tank" and exceed the protection levels of aluminum alloy was considered by the South Koreans for their NIFV and rejected because its not proven if an entirely plastic hull can withstand daily wear & tear in the field and not catastrophically crack and moreover, all one gains is twice the kinetic energy bullet protection meaning heavy machine gun bullets instead of medium ones at the hull when to defend against high explosive blast and missile attacks applique' armor not a part of the basic hull holding the automotive parts together is needed and when these are added they automatically defeat heavy machine gun bullets. The hull is only to hold the automotives unless you want to lock yourself into the armor technology of the moment that you make a hull that is also to be the protective layering, too. Thick steel tanks lacking any excess engine power are all over the world in a state of obsolescence to the increasing landmine and ATGM threats because they have little wiggle room in their designs to get the necessary new armor types to counter these threats. Once all of these factors were weighed in, the South Koreans opted for an aluminum alloy hull for their NIFV with a plastic roof to experiment with this material type operationally. The BAE FCS NLOS-C demonstrator is likewise made of aluminum alloy and steel, its an AGS chassis. Thus, the whole point of starting off with a clean-sheet FCS is not functionally necessary for a LIGHT tank when we already have an excellent light tank chassis in the M113 Gavin which to modify into a series of high technology variants to exploit the STUG effect to fire support for our tankless light infantry as well as to move them by air and with maximum cross-country mobility through even closed terrains often thought only men on foot can traverse.

Our Future Armored Vehicle (FAV) Seminar that showed a glimpse into Air-Mech-Strike future!

FAV Seminar in December 2000/March 2001

If you can't wait...here is an early concept for an AMS-capable FCS:

THE FUTURE TANK? (U.S. Army Armor magazine, 1997)

M973A2 "Ridgway" armored SUSVs: CH-47D Chinook helicopter internal transportable

BV206S and CH-47D close-up
BV206S rolling off rear ramp!
BV206S close-up
downward angle
scale model
CH-47D ramp view
BV206S and CH-47D side-view close-up
BV206S and CH-47D side-view
BV206S and CH-47D 3/4s view


Legendary combat tanker, Ralph Zumbro writes:

That little beast has the same 90mm that we had in the M48 series and burns the same selection of ammo which is made by the Spanish, Belgians, French, and the Pakis. It also has the full length rubber tracks in five foot sections. The roadwheels, however, are air filled tires......Take some work but you could make a nice Hetzer type assault gun outa that sucker."


The Swiss "know what right looks like", do we?