The M113 is an amphibious armored personnel carrier that was put into service in 1960.  It was first used in the Vietnam War in 1962 and became the most extensively used armored vehicle in the US military in that war.  Though mainly referred to by the allies as an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) or ACAV (armored cavalry assault vehicle), the M113 was often referenced by its nickname ‘Green Dragon’.  This carrier was capable of breaking through heavy jungle thicket, allowing troops to attack even the most remote enemy positions.

The M113, unlike its predecessor the M59, was made out of aluminum armor, which still provided protection against small arms fire, but made it lighter in comparison.  The lighter weight of the M113 made it easier to transport.  The US Army mainly uses the M113 today as an armored ambulance, mortar carrier or an engineer or command vehicle.  Front-line combat missions were taken over by the M2 and M3 Bradley.

Development of the M113

The M113 was also developed by the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC), manufacturers of the M59 and M75.  It bore a striking resemblance to these two earlier personnel carriers and was a combination of the best features of each.  FMC worked in conjunction with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Company to come up with the M113s lighter armor.    FMC submitted two design proposals to the Army – the aluminum T113 and the T117, which was made mostly from steel.  The lighter aluminum, however, provided as much protection as the steel so in 1960, the US Army adopted the prototype, now known as the M113.  Once the M113 was implemented in Vietnam, it became quickly noted that survivability of the exposed commander was crucial.  Eventually, shields were created using scraps from armored vehicles.

Brief Look at the Military Use of the M113

Vietnam – the M113s were utilized heavily during the Vietnam War.  They were often used in offensive operations and search and destroy missions and were part of two of the largest invasions in Vietnam – Cambodia in 1970 and Laos in 1971.

Other Combat – Variants of the M113 Personnel Carrier have also been used in the Invasion of Panama, the Iran-Iraq War, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War and are still being used today in Afghanistan.  These later variants have been modernized with newer technology and upgrades.


  • Crew:  2
  • Passengers:  11
  • Main Armament:  M2 Browning machine gun
  • Operational Range:  300 miles
  • Speed:  42 miles per hour / 3.6 miles per hour in the water

The M113 variants remain in service today bringing total production of this armored personnel carrier well over 80,000 vehicles.

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