Since the early days of naval warfare, the amphibious assault has remained a complicated, expensive yet ultimately important component to warfare. The amphibious assault boat has also evolved to coincide with the ever-changing face of war from the wooden assault units of old to self-propelled, armored and tracked vehicles of today. During the mid-to-latter half of the Cold War years, when the United States and the Soviet Union headed an arms range of unseen of proportions, the U.S. military relied on the LVT-5 as its proven ship-to-shore workhorse. The LVT-5 itself was born from a long line of such systems that debuted in the many amphibious assaults dotting the World War 2 (1939-1945) battlescape - this embodied in the LVT family line. The LVT-5 was more or less a continuation of this line which intended to bring ashore combat-ready personnel under protection and supportive firepower. These infantry elements, typically marine-type warfighters trained for such assaults, could embark the assault vessels from offshore warships, head towards shore in their vehicles and disembark, ready-to-fight, once reaching land.
The LTV-5 was taken into the U.S. military inventory in 1956, too late to see action in the assaults of the Korean War (1950-1953). However, they formed a critical component of assaults featured during the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
The "LTVP" portion of the designation stems from "Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel" which aptly describes the nature of the LVTP-5.
Compared to earlier LVTP offerings, the LVTP-5 series was a large, monster of a water-going craft. It was given a rather basic rectangular shape with a forward-slanted bow housing a powered ramp doubling as a section of the front wall. The sides of the vehicle were vertical as was much of the roof line and rear hull facing. The tracks were largely covered by the armor afforded to the sides of the vehicle, the tracks truly only exposed under the vehicle and at the front. The chassis sat atop a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement with road wheels numbering nine double-tired installations (utilizing a torsilastic suspension system). The drive sprocket at the rear of the vehicle with the idler at front.
The primary physical feature of the LVTP-5 was its powered loading ramp at front which allowed for deep access to the hold within. There proved other access/entry points in the form of circular hatches along the hull roof line for the standard operating crew of three. The driver was positioned at a dedicated station with the required control systems as well as an instrument panel. Another armored, covered position mounted a 0.30 caliber machine gun for support fire. The open nature of the middle-to-front hull required the engine compartment to take up the rear. In whole, the LVTP-5 could seat up to thirty-four combat-ready infantry.
The vehicle was powered through a Continental LV-1790-1 V12 gasoline-fueled engine installation outputting at 700 horsepower. This provided a top water-going speed of seven miles per hour and a maximum road speed of up to 30 miles per hour on land (assuming ideal conditions).
Several specialist variants of the base LVT-5 troop transport eventually existed. The LVTC-5 was a command vehicle variant with increased communications equipment while the LVTH-6 became a fire support platform mounting a serviceable 105mm howitzer. Some 210 of the latter were produced. Sixty-five of the LVTR-1 armored recovery vehicles were introduced as were 41 of the LVTE-1 engineering type vehicles. A proposed, though ultimately abandoned, anti-aircraft platform was considered as the experimental "LVTAA-X1". This version was to mount the complete 2 x 40mm cannon turret of the M42 "Duster" anti-aircraft gun tank. None were produced.
Total production of LVTP-5 vehicles, including all variants, totaled 1,124 vehicles.
Adoption of the LVT-5 went beyond the United States for the type was also taken into service with the forces of Chile, the Philippines and Taiwan. The LVTP-5 managed a healthy life cycle in frontline service until formally replaced in the U.S. inventory by the LVTP-7 beginning in 1972 (now the AAV-7). While mobility and protection were improved, the new vehicle took on a reduced passenger-hauling capability numbering 21 occupants (though retaining a three-man crew). The loading ramp was also relocated the rear of the vehicle and firepower considerably broadened.