Video on the M59 Personnel Carrier

The M59 Personnel Carrier was produced from 1953 – 1960.  The M59 had several advantages over its predecessor the M75; it was an amphibious vehicle, had a lower profile, and was cheaper to manufacture.


Only about 6,300 of the M59 armored personnel carriers were built.  This carrier was utilized during the Vietnam War and was eventually replaced by the M113.


Design and Development of the M59

Of the various prototypes that were developed in 1951 by the Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation (FMC), the T59 was chosen due to its performance.  In May of 1953, the first now classified M53 personnel carrier rolled off the assembly line.


Keeping overall production cost in mind, the FMC designed the M59 with two smaller civilian truck engines rather than a single powerful one.  Each engine was placed behind panels on either side of the hull.  Difficult to maintain, the two engines also proved to be an unreliable power system for this 42,600 lb. vehicle.   Armor for this personnel carrier was inadequate as well and also proved to be a disadvantage for the M59.


Specifications for the M59

  • Crew:  2 (Driver and Commander)
  • Capacity:  10 Combat Ready Troops
  • Speed:  32 mph
  • Fuel Capacity:  135 gallons
  • Operational Range:  120 miles


The M59 had five wheels on either side with three return rollers on each.  Its torsion bar suspension had shock absorbers located on the first and last road wheel.  Rubber seals installed on all hatches and doors created a safe, sealed interior when the M59 traversed through water where maximum speed was only 4.3 mph.  Entrance and exit for troops was provided by a rear ramp which was also equipped with an escape door.



Commander’s cupola could be fitted with a .50cal machine gun



The M59 Personnel Carrier was used not only by the United States, but also Brazil, Ethiopia, Greece, Lebanon, Turkey and South Vietnam.  The M59 Personnel Carrier was eventually replaced by the M113, which was the most extensively utilized armored vehicle of the US Army in the Vietnam War.