The M114 Command and Reconnaissance Carrier followed the ubiquitous M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) series into operational service. The M113 of 1960 would go on to see extensive service on a global scale and be featured in the inventories of a multitude of American-friendly nations as a do-all, be-all multi-role platform. The M113 also survived in a variety of useful battlefield forms beyond her initial APC offering and went on to become a dedicated guided-missile launch platform, armored assault vehicle, dedicated command vehicle and smoke screen generator variant to name a few. In contrast to the 80,000 M113 systems built, a little over 600 M114s were ultimately delivered to the US Army.
The M114 was not as lucky as her older sister, a mount who found success in the Vietnam War and essentially ushered the way for the smaller M114. The newer M114 served a short operational life in service with the United States Army, seeing some action in the conflict though being subsequently forced into early retirement after just a few years of use. In all, her tenure would last just over a decade. Her reconnaissance value in the Vietnam War was eventually replaced by the more capable, four-man M551 Sheridan light reconnaissance tank of 1969 mounting its powerful 152mm main gun. Key limitations of the M114 became her poor mechanical reliability, especially when exposed to the rigors of the jungle environment. She was also deemed underpowered for the cross-country role and lacked much in the way of crew protection - particularly from land mines. Her hull also proved less than desirable when attempting to cross ditches and fording streams proved a chore. The M114 was removed from Vietnam War service as soon as November of 1964. It was not until 1973 that General Creighton Abrams formally brought about the retirement of the M114 from the US Army inventory - labeling the little machine as a "failure".
Whereas the M113 was specifically designed to transport combat-ready troops to battle zones while offering some level of protection, the diminutive M114 was specifically categorized as a "Command and Reconnaissance Carrier" built for speed and concealment from foes - ready to dictate enemy positions, movement or reactions ahead of a main operating force. As such, she remained a much lighter and smaller prospect - even capable of being air-dropped - when compared to the M113 and featured one less road wheel to a track side. Both the M113 and M114 were amphibious allowing them to traverse certain bodies of water though with some prior preparation, being propelled through the water by the power of their turning tracks. The M114's drive sprocket was held at the front of the hull (near the engine) with the track idler at the rear. No track return rollers were present.
Externally, the M114 looked as nothing more than a compact version of the M113. She was definitively boxy in overall shape with a sloping glacis plate and up-ticked bow section. Sides were straight-faced slabs and the roof was flat. The commander's cupola protruded from the hull roof and vision blocks were clearly identifiable. The cupola was decidedly offset to the left side of the hull roof and held the primary armament. The driver maintained a front left position in the forward hull with access managed via a circular hatch and the engine compartment was to the right front - marked by a rectangular access panel on the glacis plate and grilled venting on the roof. At the squared off rear face of the hull was a large rectangular entry-exit hatch. A third, rear-mounted roof hatch (diagonal rear from center) allowed for the third (and final) crewmember - the designated "observer" - to fire the pedestal-mounted secondary armament. Armor protection throughout the vehicle topped off at 44.5mm at its thickest. Overall the vehicle was of welded construction with a rolled aluminum hull.
Primary armament centered around a 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine gun with a 7.62mm M60 general purpose machine gun as secondary. This provided the vehicle with the capability of engaging soft-skinned targets and vehicles as well as enemy infantry as needed. Both gun positions could cover all sides of the vehicle. Up to three M72A1 LAW (Light Anti-tank Weapon) launchers could be stored on the rear door for an additional offensive "punch" when needed.
The M114 featured a listed weight of 15,000lbs. She held a running length of 4/46 meters with a width equal to 2.33 meters and a height of 2.39 meters. Power was derived from a single Chevrolet 283 series 8-cylinder gasoline engine delivering 160 horsepower. This provided the vehicle with a top speed of 36 miles per hour and an operational range of 275 miles. The suspension system was of the torsion-bar variety to provide for acceptable cross-country performance.
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