Though the first concept of an armored personnel carrier was noted during WWI, their real impact was not felt until late in WWII. Since then, APCs have continued to evolve to meet the needs of present day military.
Brief Look at the Concept and Development of APCs
At the beginning of World War II, half-tracks and other armored vehicles were often used as APCs. Eventually, however, they began to evolve to more specifically meet the military’s need. The first major development came in 1944 when the Canadian Corps was replacing their US built, self-propelled M7 Priest. At that time, they decided to have the remaining M7s in inventory converted into personnel carriers. They removed the M105 Howitzer and plugged the hole with steel they had available. The new vehicle was referred to as the ‘Kangaroo’, the code name of the shop that did the work.
After WWII, the United States began developing a line of tracked vehicles. One, the M113, was referred to as a ‘box on tracks’. Over 80,000 of the M113 APCs were manufactured. Variants of this and other APCs have made the vehicle far more versatile than its predecessors. The newer vehicles are equipped to better defend as they deliver troops to the battlefield. They are also more heavily armed and armored, making them useful in direct combat when needed.
Basic Designs of the APCs
Many APCs are amphibious and most are built with diesel engines. The amphibious carriers are generally powered by their track in the water, whereas wheeled carriers are equipped with propellers or water jets. Either type requires calm waters for water travel and then can only reach speeds of 3-6 km/h.
The armor on these vehicles is generally comprised of a simple steel or aluminum. This allows for adequate protection from small arms and many shell fragments, but lightens the overall weight making them easier for air transport. Many of the modern day APCs are equipped with NBC protection, which keeps the troops safe from radioactive fallout.
Some of the more modern US APC designs include the TAPV, M117 Guardian, EFV and M2 Bradley. Beginning in WWII to present day, the evolution of the Armored Personnel Carrier has played a vital role in the military.