The Landing Vehicle, Tracked was designed by Donald Roebling, after the United States Marine Corps had been impressed by the capabilities of a previous, similar design by Roebling, intended for civilian rescue work in Florida's swamps.
When production started in 1940 with the LVT-1 and later LVT-2, the vehicle was only intended for transporting cargo, and was built from mild steel. Troop landings were still done with the light LCVP, built from plywood, which could hold 36 soldiers.
At the 1943 amphibious attack on the Tarawa, LVT-2's, nicknamed Water Buffalo, were used as an interim solution to transport troops ashore. Despite its lack of armor, the LVT-2's were much more successful than the LCVP's, the latter stranding on the coral reefs around the atoll resulting in heavy casualties. It was therefore decided to built an armored version, the Landing Vehicle, Tracks (Armored), or LVT(A), dedicated to transporting troops.
As the war progressed, a large number of variants were built. Those that entered production were:
A total of 18 620 of all types were built. The LVT's were mainly used in the Pacific theater, though some were used in Europe as well, such as during the crossing the Rhine and the Elbe rivers. The LVT's were used by both the American, British, and Canadian armies during World War 2. After the war, they were used during the Korean War, as well as by the French during the First Indochina War.
|Weight||14.9 t||18.1 t|
|Height||2.5 m||3.1 m|
|Armour (range)||6-13 mm||6-38 mm|
|Speed (road)||30 km/h||40 km/h|
|Primary weapon||.50 cal. Browning Machine Gun (1)||75 mm Howitzer, M3 (1)|
|Secondary weapon||.30 cal. Browning Machine Gun (3)|