M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier | The Canadian Encyclopedia


M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier

The American-designed M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) became the most widely used tracked APC in the world. FMC Corporation introduced the M113 in 1960; eventually, more than 40 nations operated it. The M113 went through three major upgrades and many variants were produced.

M113 APCs, West Germany, Fallex 84
An M113 with a TOW anti-tank weapon, Fallex 82


During the Second World War, Germany and the United States used large numbers of half-track APCs. APCs allow troops to move on the battlefield while protected from enemy fire.

British and Canadian armies did not have a successful equivalent until the Battle of Normandy. After suffering heavy infantry losses, in August 1944, Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds, commander of II Canadian Corps, ordered the modification of Priest self-propelled guns to create tracked APCs, known as “Kangaroos.” Later on, Ram tanks and Sherman tanks were also converted into Kangaroos. While effective, these vehicles were still open topped, leaving the occupants exposed from above.


Development of the M113 began in the 1950s with a US Army requirement for an air-portable, amphibious APC with good mobility. It also required a simple design for adaptation to other roles and future upgrades. To meet these requirements, the M113 utilizes an aluminum-armour hull, resulting in a lighter vehicle. Aluminum also decreases the M113’s protection factor, however, making it safe against only 7.62 mm ball ammunition and artillery shell splinters. However, unlike early APCs, the vehicle is fully enclosed, providing good all-around protection.

The M113’s internal arrangement became the standard for most modern-tracked APCs. The engine compartment is at the front of the hull (providing extra protection from enemy fire), with the driver’s compartment beside it. The vehicle commander sits in the centre behind the driver. In addition to the crew commander and driver, a normal complement also includes 11 infantry soldiers. The soldiers sit in the middle and rear part of the M113, entering and exiting the vehicle via a rear hydraulic ramp. When the ramp is closed, a door in it could be used instead. In addition, a large hatch is mounted in the roof over the troop compartment, which provides light and fresh air when open. Inside, five soldiers sit on each of two inward-facing padded, foldable benches. The section commander sits behind the crew commander, facing the ramp. All seats are equipped with seatbelts.

Often referred to as a “battlefield taxi,” the M113 is intended to carry its infantry section close to its objective, where soldiers then dismount via the rear ramp to fight. Usually, the vehicle’s only armament is a .50-calibre heavy machine gun.

Upgrades throughout the M113’s service life resulted in four major versions.

Model Year Entered Service

Major Components/Improvements



gas engine, manual transmission



diesel engine, automatic transmission



improved engine cooling, reinforced suspension



more powerful engine, longer hull, increased protection, external fuel tanks

Canadian Service

In the 1950s and 1960s, Canada developed the Bobcat APC. Several prototypes were built, but problems with the vehicle’s armour and tracks caused delays. Subsequent political interference, lack of sufficient funding and an immediate requirement for a proven APC caused the Bobcat’s cancellation in 1963.

Instead, around 1964, Canada acquired M113A1 APCs. The APC was mainly for use in mechanized infantry battalions. It was also used in several other units in various roles. Later, Canada upgraded its M113s to the A2 version. In 2001, 289 M113s, out of 1,143, were upgraded to the A3 version. The remainder were declared surplus. Various wheeled light armoured vehicles have replaced the M113.


More than 40 M113 variants were produced. Canada purchased some of these, including the M577 command post and M548 cargo carrier, as well as anti-armour and ambulance versions. The M113 also served as the chassis for the Canadian ADATS (Air Defence Anti-Tank System) ― a dual-purpose, short-range, surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system.


In the 1980s, Canada upgraded a few M113s for service in the Balkans. (See Canadian Peacekeepers in the Balkans.) An armoured turret was added for the vehicle commander’s.50-calibre machine gun, plus protective shields on both sides of the APC’s rooftop hatch.