A top ten list of military vehicles is partial at best. The list has a variety of different vehicles, each representing a particular strength or preference that earned it a place on this particular list.
Get an up close and personal view of a number of military vehicles at the AFHM. These authentic vehicles have been fully restored and remain in operational condition. The museum has a WWII DUKW, an M16 Halftrack w/Quad .50cal mount, a number of jeeps including an experimental model M151-A2-LC. This prototype is the only known one in the world. The AFHM also has a 1951 M43 Dodge Ambulance used during the Korean War. Get a sense of the combat these vehicles endured throughout their service. Take a moment, put yourself behind the wheel – feel the power, feel the fear, feel the pride.
#10 – The Humvee
The Humvee is an exceptional design that was introduced in 1980. The contract for manufacturing this vehicle went to AM General. Initially an estimated 60,000 Humvees (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) were to be produced, but that number is now more than doubled to an estimated 160,000. The Humvee is sold to over 36 countries around the world.
The dependable, all-terrain Humvee has a low center of gravity and can be configured for a number of uses which include:
- Armored carrier
- Special operations
- Missile Platform
- Recoilless rifle vehicle
The Humvee’s top speed is over 65 mph and it can carry up to eight troops in addition to its crew. With this full load, the Humvee still has enough room for a .50cal machine gun. Currently, the US Army is using this vehicle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
#9 – LVT MK-4
This Landing Vehicle Tracked is an amphibious tractor (amtracks) was a crucial piece of equipment for the USMC landing in the Pacific theater during WWII. The LVT MK-4 was first introduced in 1944 and its innovative rear doors allowed for easy entrance and exit to the vehicle (saving countless lives). This vehicle could carry up to 30 troops.
The MK-4 was equipped with a 75mm howitzer, which could supply ground fire as troops disembarked. Another advantage was its ability to move from water to land due to it being driven by tracks rather than a propeller. The versatility in the MK-4s design, allowing it to navigate in water, on sand, in mud or any type of hard road or grass, is just one of the many reasons it has made this top ten list.
Most well-known as simply the Bren Carrier, the Universal Bren Gun Carrier was the single most widely used armored fighting vehicle in WWII. This military vehicle was capable of carrying anywhere from four to 14 troops, and like many of the military vehicles, it was capable of serving multiple functions. Various versions would be used for anyone of the following:
- Platform for machine gun, flamethrower, mortar platform
- Transport Troops
- Gun Tractor
Another feature of the Bren Carrier was its ability to be glider borne and even air lifted when equipped with a 6 lb. anti-tank gun.
The Universal Bren Gun Carrier was operated in every theater of during World War II and was the only carrier to be utilized by every nation that participated from its onset in 1939 through the surrender in 1945. The Germans managed to capture a number of these vehicles, which they modified by mounting a 37mm anti-tank gun. They referred to this newly modified vehicle as the Panzerjaeger Bren.
In the UK and abroad, over 110,000 Bren Carriers were produced.
#7 – BMP-1
After WWII, militaries around the world begin implementing the wheeled and tracked vehicles in their militaries. As these nations began making their own design improvements, the Soviet Red Army began addressing the need to allow infantrymen to actually fight from it as opposed to dismounting, at which time they become vulnerable to fire. Their design was first introduced in 2967 in a parade at Red Square. The design spotlighted firing ports and vision blocks, which allowed the troops to fire from inside. Another feature of this design was the automatic loading 73mm turret-mounted gun used to fire fin-stabilized HEAT missiles.
Despite advancements, the BMP design still cramped crew members and passengers. The predecessor of this tracked vehicle, BMP-2, is used today in Afghanistan and Iraq.
#6 – Sd.Kfz. 251
This cross-country vehicle’s design resulted from Nazi Germany’s realization that their blitzkrieg strategy would require troops and artillery be moved in a piece of equipment capable of keeping up with the tanks of the Panzer Division. What resulted was one of the prominent halftrack, fighting vehicles of its time. The track system on the Sd.Kfz. 251 was exceptional adding to the vehicle’s cross-country dependability. The downside was the lack of power supplied to the front wheels, making it more difficult to maneuver.
The Sd.Kfz. 251 first entered into service in 1938. When Germany invaded Poland, the halftracks proved themselves capable of keeping up with the swift speed of the German armor. Eventually, their role expanded beyond that of an armored personnel carrier. The Sd.Kfz. 251 took on additional roles:
- Anti-Tank, Anti-Aircraft vehicle
- Towing of artillery
- Command Vehicle
- Rocket Launcher – a variant referred to as ‘infantry Stuka’ or ‘howling cow’
The Germans used the Sd.Kfz. 251 in every major battle they fought in WWII. After the war was over, the Czech army continued to use this halftrack for an additional 10 years.
#5 – Stryker
The Stryker could carry nine troops in addition to its crew and had a top speed of 62 mph. The main armament on the Stryker is an M2 .50cal. machine gun or an MK19 40mm grenade launcher mounted on a specific remote weapon station. The Stryker can be airlifted with a C130 Hercules, which allows it to reach a combat zone quicker the heavier vehicles – such as the Abrams tank. This armored vehicle has been used in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
#4 – MCV-80 Warrior
The MCV-80 Warrior was another vehicle that reflected the need for armored personnel carriers to fulfill multiple roles, including a role as an infantry fighting vehicle. These vehicles were designed to give fire support, which was also strong enough for engaging enemy vehicles.
The Warrior has a range of 410 miles with a top speed of 47 miles per hour. In addition, it could carry a 7.62 chain gun and enough supplies and equipment to sustain troops on the battlefield for a 48 hour period. Its impressive performance record has earned its praises from those who have fought with it and those who have been on its receiving end. It is currently the standard vehicle for the British armed forces.
#3 – M-2 Bradley
In the late 1960s, the concept for an infantry-fighting vehicle began to surface. Previously, armored personnel carriers were basically utilized to carry troops to the battlefield, at which point they would dismount the vehicle and begin fighting. The new IFV concept would allow these same troops to fire their weapons while still inside the vehicle and also engage targets while still being protected by the IFVs armor.
Plans for the Bradley originated from the Soviet and German designs. The vehicle went into production in 1981 and provided better protection for the troops than the M113. Armament includes a 25mm chain gun, capable of firing depleted uranium rounds.
#2 – M-3 Halftrack
The US Army began working on their halftrack designs in 1938; and by 1941, their basic M-3 went into production. This vehicle was utilized extensively throughout the Army with each motorized infantry battalion have – on average – 62 of these halftracks.
By the end of WWII, over 40,000 M3 Halftracks were produced in a number of variants. Some were used as personnel carriers, while others were designed to as artillery tractors and communication vehicles. The M-3’s front axle made it easy to maneuver. Production on the M-3 Halftrack stopped in 1945, but the vehicle continued to be used into the 1980s by the Israeli Defense Force.
#1 – M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier
Production on the M113 began in the early 1960s. The armored personnel carrier carries up to ten troops plus its crew. It is an all-terrain (tracked) vehicle which could travel up to 40 miles per hour. Total range for the M113 was 300 miles. In all, more than 80,000 of the M113s have been produced and exported to almost 50 countries. The M113 is not only amphibious, but also capable of being air transported. It has been used in the Vietnam War, the Middle East and Iraq. The M113 has also been used as a mortar carrier, a command vehicle, an anti-aircraft vehicle and a flamethrower vehicle.
While a definitive list of top ten military vehicles could include any one of the hundreds of designs that have emerged since the early days of military history, those found on this list have certainly made their mark in history and on the incredible advancements in today’s military vehicles.