Memorial Day Special: Top 5 Military Ground Vehicles

Hey there AK Readers!! First and foremost, Happy Memorial Day and we thank you for taking out time away form the BBQ and beach time to hang out with AK a little. Instead of the usual Monday Break Check, we figured we’d have some fun this week with a good ol’ fashion “Top 5”.

This Memorial Day, as we celebrate the brave men and women who have served our country for generations, we here at AK thought we would sum up some our favorite vehicles that got them to the battle, helped them win the battle and most importantly, helped bring them home, hopefully safe and sound. Without further delay, as I am sure there is hot dog already on the grill, welcome to AK’s Top 5 Military vehicles. (Small Addendum: Obviously there is a huge range of military vehicles, but for the purposes of this list I am sticking to ground based vehicles).

#5 – Willy’s Jeep

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Though at the bottom of our list, this original off-roader may be the most iconic military vehicle on this list. This icon finds it roots in the WWII production boom. Despite the name, this 4-wheeler actually was produced for the US Military as a combined project between Willy’s and Ford. The light utility vehicle was designed for the quick movement of troops across the battlefield and saw heavy use in the Second World War. The Jeep served as a replacement for the aging fleet of motorcycles with side-cars and modified Ford Model T’s. The 2 door off-roader was powered a “go-devil” 2.2 liter straight 4 engine mated to a 3 speed manual transmission. Between 1941-1945 nearly 700,000 units of this LUV were produced in Ohio to power the war effort in both theaters. Evolution of this grandfather of military mobility would serve our armed forces dutifully until the mid-80’s when it was finally pulled put out of commission by the now ubiquitous HMMWV.

 #4 – Sherman Tank

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Rolling forward on the beaches of Europe, where the Willy’s Jeep was seen, the M4 Sherman Medium Tank was never seen too far behind. It is an easy argument to make that this battle tank was the primary driving force behind the American victory on the European front. In a mere 4 years (41’-45’) nearly 50,000 of these 33.4 ton behemoth were pumped out on the battlefield as a combined effort of 8 American manufacturing companies and seen as one of the most impressive marvels of the American industrial age. The only tank to ever be produced on the same scale was it’s Soviet counterpart the T39.

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The engine, provided by Chrysler, was a fire breathing 30 cylinder, 20 liter, 480 hp engine. Surrounded by 76 mm of pure steel, brave soldiers fought back against the German forces with 75 mm shells and mounted .30 Browning automatic rifles. Despite being out-gunned and out-matched by the opposing German Panzer III tanks, the sheer number of Allied Sherman tanks, and the skill and commitment of its operators, often overwhelmed German forces.

#3 – Bradley Fighting Vehicle

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Move forward four decades from the battles of Europe and Asia and the battlefield was a drastically different place.  The enemy was new and the battlefield was different, but essentially the role of the combat vehicle remained the same: protect the solider, get them to the battle and help them win it. Enter the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. This APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) has seen action in every “hot zone” since the early 80’s. Staffing this moving monster is a crew of three: a commander, a gunner and a driver, as well as six fully equipped soldiers. The standard Bradley is protected by mix of various high-tech polymers that help protect against everything from small arms and 7.62-rifle fire to RPG and IEDs. In addition to all that are 2 25mm chain guns, 7.62 machine guns and a TOW wire guided anti-tank missile. It is worth of mention that while that is standard configuration, there are as many configurations and variants as there are roles to be filled on today’s modern and quickly morphing battlefield. Powering this people mover is a 600 hp Cummins diesel engine, giving the Bradley a top speed of 41 miles an hour and an operational range of nearly 300 miles.

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With the large increase of urban combat zones in the last 15 years, the Bradley has evolved with the needs of war. New remote control functions and even an unmanned concept variant have been tested to responded to closed quarter combat support scenarios.

#2 – M1 (A1-A3) Main Battle Tank

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As ground based killing machines goes, few vehicles are as efficient at raining hell down on our enemies as the M1 Main Battle Tank. This well armed and solidly armored tank is a third generation main battle tank and the main workhorse of the American ground forces in most combat theaters and at a price of $6.21 million it is a rolling fortress of armor and weapons.

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In the standard configuration, 600mm of high end polymer and alloys stands between the forces that wish harm upon us and the man and women to fight to preserve America and her interest around the world. Powered by a 1500 shaft horsepower gas turbine engine capable of pushing the colossal tank to 42 mph on roads and 24 mph off road. In it’s first real field test, the Gulf War I, a total 1848 M1’s were sent in against the occupying Iraqi forces, armed with Soviet T58 tanks. Only 9 were lost during the conflict, 7 to friendly fire and 2 more to self-destruction to avoid falling into enemy hands after sustaining immense damage and rendering the tank non-operational.

While soundly protecting Marines and Soldiers on the inside, the tank is an offensive force. Armed with a 120mm turret mounted cannon, 1 .50 caliber heavy machine gun, and a 7.62 caliber machine gun mounted on the front and co-axel, the M1 Tank brings the force of the American fighting troops to a whole new level.

#1 HMMWV (Humvee)

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Here we are at #1. This vehicle has stood the test of almost every imaginable condition in the last 40 years. The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMVW), or more commonly known as Humvee, has serves almost every imaginable combat and non-combat role in the armed forces since its introduction in 1984. Design as a replacement for the long used evolutions of the Willy’s Jeep, the Humvee has been in the field since the U.S invasion of Panama. In today’s modern wars, there are few more ubiquitous sights than this Light Utility Vehicle.

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The huge curb weight of 5900 lbs is moved by a 190 hp 6.2-liter turbo diesel engine to a top speed of 45 mph fully laden and up to 70 without cargo. The armor and weapons platforms that can be mounted on this truly modular vehicle are as varied as the battles they are a part of. Capable of everything from high-speed recon and incursion to heavy combat support, the HMMWV is the singular support that our troops on the ground can count on everyday.

Never Forget

As we sit with our cherished friends and family this Memorial Day, whether by the pool, at the beach or at a BBQ, take some time today to remember what it is that we celebrate. Our proud men and women who have served this nation for decade after decade deserve not only our admiration, but our support as well. To risk life and limb so that we may enjoy the freedoms and ideals that we as a nation hold so dear, that is the greatest sacrifice.

While many of our bravest men and women do not return and pay the ultimate price to protect us, there are many whom return back home to their lives. For the hundreds of thousands of veterans that return home with life changing injuries, the battle continues every day.

Still these defenders of the nation are not without help. Programs like the “Wounded Warrior” program give these great heroes the help they deserve and have so rightly earned in service of our nation. Please take the time this Memorial Day to remember those who have sacrificed so much for us and to help in any way you can.

From the AK family to you and yours, here’s wishing you the happiest Memorial Day.

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