Vehicle Cargo Compartment
LOW GROUND PRESSURE VEHICLES
The watertight aluminum alloy hull was assembled by welding. The driver was located in the left front of the fiberglass cab. Access to the driving compartment was through two hatches in the cab roof. The engine was just behind the driver in the power plant well that extended across the full width of the cab. The engine air intake grille was in the center of the cab roof.
Both the cooling air and the engine exhaust exited the vehicle through a grille on the right side of the cab. Power passed from the transmission through the geared steer unit to the front drive sprockets on each side of the vehicle. The 20 inch wide, band type, tracks were carried on a flat track, torsion bar, suspension with five dual road wheels per side. Track tension was maintained by an adjusting idler at the rear of each track. A winch with a bare drum capacity of 5,000 to 6,000 pounds was installed in the front of the vehicle (U.S. Army).
The vehicle cargo compartment in the rear had a movable center deck that could be raised to provide a flat cargo deck across the full width of the hull. Entrance or exit from the cargo compartment was through a hinged door at the rear. The 65 gallon fuel tank was under the cargo compartment with the filler cap on the left side of the hull. Vehicle cargo compartment closure kits were available for both winter and summer operation. The winter kit could be fitted with ski racks on the top. The summer kit was a canvas cover installed over three bows. A personnel cushion kit was available for installation in the vehicle cargo compartment. A litter kit allowed four litters to be carried in the cargo compartment.
The M116 provided the basic chassis for a number of experimental programs. One of these was the aluminum armor test rig fabricated at the Tank Automotive Center in 1962. This was a lightweight vehicle armed with two machine guns and manned by a crew of two.
Later, it was dubbed the armored assault vehicle test rig and evaluated at Aberdeen Proving Ground during July 1965 to determine its transportability by the CH-47 helicopter. The test results indicated that with additional changes, it would be an effective combat vehicle for the Air Mobile Division in Southeast Asia.
After modification, the little vehicle was fitted with a new twin gun cupola and a commander's station. This station had a 360 degree view through a ring of vision blocks. The cupola was armed with a 7.62mm M73E1 machine gun and a 40mm M75 grenade launcher. An additional 7.62mm M73E1 machine gun was installed in a ball mount in the center of the front hull for use by the driver although some drawings show it offset to the left.
Designated as the armored assault vehicle XM729, it was intended for counter-insurgency operations in Southeast Asia. With its two man crew, The XM729 had a combat weight of 10,500 pounds. Its performance was similar to that of the M116 with a maximum speed of 37 miles per hour on roads and 3 1/2 miles per hour in water.
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