Sunday, March 1, 2015

AAV and Amtrac

ComNavOps loves doing historical comparisons.

Let’s compare a WWII airplane to a modern one.  The Navy’s mainstay in WWII was the Hellcat.  Today’s mainstay is the Super Hornet.  That’s a vast leap in capability in 70 years.

Let’s compare a WWII Sherman tank to a modern M1 Abrams.  Not even remotely comparable!

Let’s compare a WWII amphibious assault vehicle, the LVTA4 Amtrac (and a few other names), to today’s version, the LVTP-7 AAV.  These are not as well known so let’s refresh our memories with a few relevant specs.

Today:  AAV (LVTP-7)

58,200 lbs
1.8” armor
321” x 129”
Mk19 40mm Grenade Launcher / 0.50 cal MG
18 hp/ton
Crew:  3+21
8 kts in water

WWII:  LVTA4 Amtrac

40,000 lbs
1.5” armor
313” x 128”
75mm Howitzer / 0.50 cal MG / 0.30 cal MG
14 hp/ton
Crew:  6+18
7 kts in water

Ahh …  Is it just me or are those two vehicles virtually identical with the WWII version actually getting a slight nod in weaponry?  Seventy years and this is the extent of our progress in developing and improving the armored amphibious assault vehicle?

I love the Marines but this is a serious indictment of their institutional focus.  The main tool of an organization whose main purpose is assaults from the sea is virtually identical to what was used in WWII. 


WWII Amtrac LVT-A4

Wake up Marines!  Quit screwing around trying to be an expeditionary, third air force and go back to what you’re supposed to be doing.  Figure out how to get from ship to shore because, right now, you don’t have a clue.


  1. One thing different in WW2 is that they split the vehicle into two units, one carrying infantry and one a support gun such as the 75mm howitzer since one vehicle could not do both with the technology of the time.

    The replacement for the LVTP-7 was the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) but there they tried to stuff infantry, support gun and high speed into one vehicle. From what I have read even if they got it working right the Marines were stuffed into whatever space was not taken up with the big engine, turret, and various hydraulics and had to leave the vehicle one at a time through the small rear hatch.

    Maybe a little less ambitious project with two vehicles, based on the same hull, both high speed but one carrying infantry and the other a support gun.

  2. Most of the troop carrying Amtraks from WW2 didn't have armor fitted, and when it was it was less than 15mm (0.6 inches) at the thickest.

    The speed, range, armament and armor he provided are for the 75mm support gun variant, while the number of passengers is for the troop carrier.

    In a straight line comparison between an LVT-4 and an AAV, the two aren't even close:

    LVTA4 Amtrac
    0.23 - 0.5” armor
    Armament: 0.30 cal MGs
    Crew: 3+30
    Payload: 9,000 lbs
    4 kts in water

    1.77" armor
    Armament: 40mm grenade launcher and .50 caliber MG
    Crew: 3+21
    Payload: 10,000lbs
    7kts in water
    Range: 300mi

    1. If true, I was not aware of that. Do you have a source for those numbers?

    2. Anonymous makes a point that is irrelevant to the bigger part of this discussion. As HQMC has stated, the AAV is THE unique vehicle that only the Marines operate. IT IS a lack of institutional focus on a critical vehicle and see that water speed is once again going to mirror what was accomplished in WW2. Spare me the babble about physics, hydrodynamics and the rest of it. The problem in my opinion is that the Marines work on a replacement and then put away the box until a replacement is needed. Notice how the US Army does thing! I won't go down the list again but while the Marines have been stuck with the AAV, the Army has gone through the M-113, Bradley, Stryker, AMPV, and are working on the Ground Combat Vehicle. We're going to buy an off the shelf 8 wheeled vehicle that will probably be out dated shortly after it enters service without upgrades!


    3. I thought the LVT-1,2,3,4 were designed to care a reinforced squad of 18-24 men, not 30 guys. I highlight this point because it seems to be a recurring challenge in defining the requirements for USMC transport vehicles and aircraft (e.g. the H-46 and V-22)

      Ironically, before you can build a specialized vehicle like the LVT(A)-4, you need to get a base chassis in production!


    4. Yes CNO, you did get your facts a little mixed up. And to be fair to the Marines, the LVTP-7 is basically a 45 year old design that they have been trying to replace for decades. Unfortunately, just like many current defense program, little attention was paid to what possible when the beancounters wrote their ironclad specification.

      IMHO it would be OK to set the bar high, but have to be willing to lower the height if no one can reach the mark.


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