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M59 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)
M84 Mortar Carrier

The FMC M59 and M59A1 were full-tracked, fully amphibious, armored personnel carriers designed to replace the M75. The M59 was designed as a lower-cost alternative to the M75 armored infantry vehicle. The program for the replacement armored infantry carrier was initiated in late 1951. The Ordnance Division of the Food Machinery and Chemical [FMC] Corporation produced a number of pilot models. The best of these, the T59, was type classified as the M59 in May of 1953, and a production contract was awarded to FMC. Deliveries of the new vehicle to armored infantry battalions began in the spring of 1954 and by the end of production in 1960, over 6,300 M59s had been manufactured at the San Jose, California, plant of FMC.

The M59 armored personnel carrier, which replaced the M44, met the requirement for a highly mobile infantry personnel vehicle. In addition, it offered all-around armor protection for the infantry squad. In view of possible operations under nuclear warfare conditions, the overhead cover afforded was of especial importance. In addition to its overall armor, the M59 possessed limited amphibious characteristics and was air transportable. Weighing 18.7 tons and armed with a .50 caliber machine gun, it became the standard armored Iniantry vehicle.

The .30 caliber machine gun organic to the squad and the .50 caliber machine gun were provided with tripods for ground mounting. Equipped with full-track, the M59 was abie to negotiate ali types of terrain in supporting its tanks. This ability to keep up with the tanks ensured the close-knit cooperation of the tank-infantry team as laid down in United States Army tactical doctrine. Of further importance logistically was the fact that the M59 provided for a maximum interchange of parts with other organic standard armored vehicles.

The most significant change introduced into the armored infantry rifle squad by TOE 7-27 N C1, 18 September 1950, was the replacement of the armored utility vehicle, M44, by the armored personnel carrier, M59. TOE 7-27 N, C2, 15 November 1950, eliminated the grade of stalf sergeant and made the squad leader a sergeant, first-class. This change was in accordance with the overall reorganization of the grade structure of the Army. The assistant squad leader remained in the sergeant grade. This elevation in grade and pay gave the rifle squad leader a position one grade below that of master sergeant, the highest noncommissioned grade.

The 18.7-ton M59 utilized civilian components in order to keep costs down. Its design took advantage of its relative bulk to give it limited amphibious capabilities, allowing it to operate in fairly calm water without any preparation. Mechanically, both the M75 and the M59 were similar to the M41 light tank, and as a result were capable of accompanying tanks over any terrain they could traverse. Such capabilities helped facilitate the development joint armor-infantry tactics.

The M59A1 was based on the M59 but included a few enhancements. The two small engines in the M59-series were inadequate and the vehicle never saw combat. The M59-series was replaced by the M113 in the early 1960s.

The engines and transmissions of the M59 were in either sponson, leaving the cargo and personnel area free. The transmission was attached directly to the rear of the engine, the engine facing to the rear so the transmission was pointed forward. Troop access to the vehicle was through a large rear ramp which was fitted with an escape hatch, and through roof hatches over the passenger compartment. M59s were amphibious, and a trim vane was located on the hull front slope. Early vehicles were fitted with the Model 300MG Hydramatic transmissions.

Early M59s featured a rotating mount for an M2HB .50cal machine gun around the commander's vision cupola. The commander's cupola on mid-production vehicles sported periscopes instead of the earlier vision blocks, but retained the external .50cal MG mount. Late-production M59s were fitted with the M13 cupola, which was armed with an internally-mounted .50cal machine gun. The early cupolas produced a height of 102.6" (260.6cm), and the mid-production cupolas were 112.5" (285.8cm) tall. Vehicles lacking the M13 cupola could only stow 1470 rounds of .50cal ammunition.

With the infantry bench seats folded up and the ramp down, a jeep could be driven up into the carrier compartment. The M59 was designed to be fully amphibious and a trim vane and rubber seals around all openings provided for a watertight compartment.

The M84 was the mortar carrier version of the M59. The mortar was mounted in the passenger compartment, facing the rear, and the rear roof hatches were reconfigured to include front, center, and rear hinged hatches, all of which folded to the front when the mortar was in use. The escape hatch in the rear ramp was relocated from the left to the right side, and the mortar ground mount was then stowed on the left of the ramp.

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Page last modified: 24-01-2015 19:13:18 ZULU