Vehicle commander LVTPX12
THE LVTP7 FAMILY
A single prototype LVTCX2 command vehicle was completed in 1969. The exterior of the vehicle was similar in appearance to the LVTPX12 and it was fitted with the same weapon station armed with the Ml39 20mm gun and the coaxial M73E1 7.62mm machine gun. Obvious differences were the extra radio antennas and the blackout shelter stowed on the top rear. The driver was in his usual position in the port sponson.
The vehicle commander was under the cupola just to the rear of the driver. The assistant driver was seated on the sponson to the rear of the vehicle commander LVTPX12. When required, the vehicle commander manned the weapon station, in addition, the vehicle carried the unit commander, four staff personnel, and five communication systems operators. A five seat module and a folding staff desk were installed on the right side along with a sliding map board assembly. The unit commander was located at the forward end of the staff desk.
A five seat module for the communication systems operators was located on the left side along with the radios, telephone switchboard, and interchange boxes. The receiving and transmitting equipment was installed behind the sliding map board on the right side. Two jump seats were provided, one in the front and one at the left rear of the crew and personnel compartment (U.S. Army).
After type classification, the LVTCX2 was designated as the LVTC7. On these production vehicles, the original weapon station was replaced by the later version armed with a single .50 caliber M85 machine gun. Later, this weapon station also was replaced by an unarmed cupola with nine vision blocks and it was occupied by the vehicle commander LVTPX12. The unit commander now had two alternate positions.
The first was the cupola just behind the driver and the second was at the head of the staff desk on the right side of the crew and personnel compartment. In addition to the unit commander's seat, only three seats were now installed at the staff desk. The five seat module for the communication systems operators was retained on the left side of the compartment. FMC produced 85 LVTC7 command vehicles starting in 1972 (see also The LVTP7A1).
Two LVTRX2 recovery vehicles were completed based upon the LVTPX12. The recovery vehicle was manned by the usual crew consisting of the driver, assistant driver, and vehicle commander LVTPX12 plus maintenance personnel. The weapon station on the LVTPX12 was eliminated and replaced by an unarmed cupola with nine vision blocks. A recovery winch with a maximum line pull capacity of 30,000 pounds was installed on the top rear of the vehicle.
A crane with a maximum boom load capacity of 6,000 pounds was mounted on the top just behind the engine compartment. The controls and a seat for the operator were attached to one side of the crane. A portable electric welder, an air compressor, a portable AC electric generator, as well as maintenance tools and equipment were carried inside the vehicle. The LVTRX2 was type classified as the LVTR7 and 58 were built by FMC.
Two prototype LVTEX3 engineer vehicles were assembled by FMC in 1970. The original pilots were fitted with the weapon station from (see also the LVTPX2) the LVTPX12 armed with the M139 20mm gun and the coaxial M73E1 7.62mm machine gun. A dozer blade was installed on the front and the vehicle carried three rocket propelled line charges that could be launched, one at a time, from the top of the vehicle.
The prototypes were modified to a production standard under the designation LVTE7. As with the other family members, the original weapon station was replaced by the later version armed with the single M85 .50 caliber machine gun. However, the LVTE7 did not enter production.
The (see also the LVTP5) LVTP7 proved to be one of the most successful acquisition programs of that period coming in on schedule and below the estimated cost. At that time, the service life was projected to be ten years. However, in the early 1980s, a service life extension program (SLEP) was initiated to extend the service life of the LVTP7 family for an additional eight years. As it turned out, it was to be even longer than that. In addition to the increase in service life, SLEP included improvements in reliability, communication capability, and safety.
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