Landing Vehicle Tracked IV (E1949.358)
Precise Name: Landing Vehicle Tracked, Mark IV
Other Name: LVT(4), Buffalo, Water Buffalo, Amtrack, Alligator
Donald Roebling developed the Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) during the 1930s. Following the outbreak of World War 2 a military version was built for the US Navy as the LVT(1). Improved transport versions, the LVT(2), LVT(3) and LVT(4), followed and were adopted by the US Marine Corps and the US Army.
The LVT(2) and LVT(4) were supplied to British forces under the provisions of the 'Lend-Lease' Act.
Lightly armoured amphibious self-propelled guns, the (LVT(A)(1) and the LVT(A)(4), that could provide direct fire support to troops as they landed supplemented the cargo carrying versions.
There were a number of versions of the LVT, including the:
- LVT(1); first production version, 1225 built by FMC in Florida; derived from one of Roebling’s prototypes, the ‘Crocodile’; no armour or rear ramp
- LVT(2); a larger vehicle capable of carrying nearly 3 tons of cargo or 24 men; fitted with the engine and transmission of the Light Tank M3; no armour or rear ramp; 2963 built between 1942 and 1945
- LVT(3); developed by Borg-Warner Corporation; fitted with a rear ramp and twin 110hp Cadillac V8 engines and Hydramatic transmission; could be fitted with applique armour, 2962 built
- LVT(4); designed and produced by FMC; fitted with a rear ramp, the engine was moved forwards; could be fitted with applique armour; 8348 produced
- LVT(3)(C); a post war modification of the LVT(3) for the US Marine Corps; cargo space fitted with an aluminium cover to keep cargo and personnel dry and to provide some of overhead protection; 1200 converted from LVT(3)
The LVT(4) ‘Buffalo’ is a lightly armoured tracked amphibious carrier. The vehicle is divided into three compartments: the driver’s compartment is at the front, followed by the enclosed engine compartment and at the rear an open topped cargo or troop compartment. The cargo compartment has a manually operated rear ramp for rapid loading and unloading.
The LVT series were extensively used during US amphibious operations in the Pacific and they served with US and British forces in the European theatre. Many of the British LVT(2) and LVT(4) ‘Buffaloes’ were fitted with a Polsten 20mm cannon, mounted towards the front of the vehicle.
British ‘Buffaloes’ were used in Northern Italy and were issued to the 79th Armoured Division in Northwest Europe where they played an important role in the crossing of the Rhine (1945) and in the operations to open the port of Antwerp to Allied shipping (1944). After the war the LVT served with many Western Armies and was employed by the French in Indo-China between 1946 and 1954. The US Marines used the LVT(3) and LVT(3)(C) in the Korean War (1950-53).
The Tank Museum’s Buffalo is an LVT(4) and is displayed in the colours of the 79th Armoured Division. It is unloading an M29 Weasel light amphibious carrier. (E1951.50).
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0
Tank Board Information
The Buffalo was one of a range of large tracked amphibians built in the United States. The design stemmed from an idea by Donald Roebling of Florida for a rescue vehicle that could operate in the Everglades. IT was taken up by the United States Marine Corps who employed large numbers of them for amphibious operations in the Pacific. The LVT (IV) was designed and built by the Food Machinery Corporation of California and differed from most other models in having a hinged rear ramp that made it much easier to load or empty.
The Buffalo could carry 30 men or loads u to 3 tons although some carried Universal carriers across the Rhine, which weighed about 4 tons. In the water they were driven and steered by their scoop shaped tracks and they swam very well, despite limited freeboard. Out of the water they were a bit of a handful; the tracks did not work well in anything but sand and they presented the enemy with an enormous target. Some Buffaloes were fitted with a limited amount of frontal armour.
The British Army used Buffaloes in the Scheldt estuary and on the Rhine where a crossing was recorded for the BBC by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas. Our exhibit is painted in the markings of 11th Royal Tank Regiment at the time of the Rhine crossing, when it formed part of 79th Armoured Division. The Prime Minister crossed the Rhine in a Buffalo of 11th RTR.