XM706 / V-100 Commando
The V-100 Commando was a highly mobile, fully amphibious armored car used for reconnaissance, convoy escort, riot control, security and as a personnel carrier. The vehicle protected the crew from small arms fire, grenades and anti-personnel mines. All surfaces were angled for maximum deflection. The armor was up 1/4 inch thick. The vehicle was powered by 215 horsepower, 361 cubic inch Chrysler V8 engine. Its 4 wheel drive, run flat tires and high clearance gave it excellent mobility. It had a 550 mile range. It also shared some additional automotive components with existing US military vehicles, such as axles similar to the M34 truck. Cadillac Gage built the V-100 series from the mid- to late-1960s.
The V-100 APC originally was designed for convoy escort, reconnaissance, and police riot control missions. The first prototype was completed in March 1963 and production began in 1964. It was an amphibious vehicle with a hull of welded, high hardness ballistic armor plating, which protected against small arms fire, grenades, and anti-personnel mines.
The V-100 was built in a wide variety of variants based on one of three basic configurations. The first was a standard armored car configuration with a hard top and capable of mounting a turret. The second had an parapet in the center of the vehicle's room, with armored doors which could be closed over it. The last featured a raised middle section to allow for personnel to stand fully upright in the vehicle. This last configuration was intended to be used for command and control, riot control, and other missions where the extra room would be of use. The open topped variant was intended to be used as a mortar portee, but in US Air Force service a total of four machine gun mounts were fitted, two facing the front, and two facing the rear.
Cadillac Gage offered a number of turret options for the basic configuration of the V-100, the T-60, T-70, and T-90. The T-60 could fit two .50 caliber machine guns, two .30 caliber machine guns, or one of each. The .50 caliber M2 machine gun was offered, but the turret could fit almost any .30 caliber machine gun available in the West at the time. Cadillac Gage also integrated the Fixed Machine Gun (FMG) variant of their 5.56mm Stoner 63 series into the turret, but sold none in this configuration. The T-70 turret had a 360 degree field of vision, with integrated vision blocks all around, and 4 tear gas grenade launchers for riot control duty. The T-90 turret featured a 20mm cannon and power traverse.
None of the prototype turrets went into production. A modified version of the T-60 was instead developed. On the T-60 the mounted weapons had been fitted to the outer edges of the turret. On the new version of the turret, they were centrally located. The placement limited the armament options to 2 .30 caliber machine guns or one .50 caliber and one .30 caliber weapon. A version of the modified turret fitted with General Electric's M134 "Minigun" was also developed, but never went into production.
The Commando was used extensively in Southeast Asia, not only by the US Army and US Air Force, but also by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and Thai forces. The XM706E2 USAF, was employed by Air Force Security Police personnel for base perimeter defense during the conflict in Southeast Asia. US Army M706s were used by military police units and saw extensive service in Vietnam as road patrol vehicles. The V-100 series experienced high rate of rear-axle failure during these operations.
In July 1967, V-100 Commando armored cars became a welcome addition to the 720th and 504th Military Police Battalions. Prior to their arrival, the 18th Military Police Brigade depended on gun-jeeps. The V-100 was tested and evaluated by the military police in Vietnam, resulting in an authorization for the procurement of 72 vehicles. They provided a big morale boost for the MPs and were a great augmentation for the gun-jeeps. Due to added military police commitments and the fact that the battalion's V-100s were positioned in Saigon to assist the 716th MP Battalion, the 720th MP Battalion acquired 12 M113 armored personnel carriers armed with .50-caliber machine guns. The importance of putting the carriers into action as soon as possible did not leave time for the MPs to receive formal instruction on the operation of this vehicle. The MPs instead took the initiative and learned on their own.
The MPs had earlier requested the Cadillac Gage V-100 vehicles, but had been denied. The initial XM706 vehicles acquried by the US Army were loaned to them from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, being returned when the US Army finally procured the vehicles for Military Police Units. The vehicles were an improved version, designated the XM706E1. The major differences between the XM706E1 and the earlier XM706 / V-100 Commandos included replacing the M37 machine guns with M73 machine guns and removing one window and associated gun port from each side of the vehicle. The XM706E1 was also to have had armored fuel tank covers, but many vehicles made it into the field without the modification. The US Army standardized the XM706E1 as the M706.
After the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, a number of M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) were ordered by the USAF to help provide the necessary firepower and protection to counter the threat of mass attack. Delays in delivery forced Air Force Security Police planners to accept 60 M706 Armored Cars as suitable substitutes. The older, lighter Armored Cars were found to be more vulnerable to attack because of their large pneumatic tires and lighter armor, and did not have machine gun mounts. The M113s were subsequently reordered, but maintenance problems and a lack of spare parts led to problems with those vehicles as well. By 1969 the USAF had not yet determined which of the 2 vehicles were more valuable in the South Vietnam. It had found that 2 factors favored the M706 over the tank-type tracks of the APC: (1) most of the roads on bases in South Vietnam were paved and (2) the terrain was predominantly low marshland. Air Force Security Police continued to operate both the M113 and XM706E2 vehicles until the end of the conflict, at which time many of the vehicles were turned over to the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces and the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
As of 1995, the US Air Force still retained a small number of XM706E2 vehicles, stored at Nellis Air Force Base, which were Visual Modifications (VISMOD) used to simulate SA-9 SAM systems and command and control systems.
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