This rather dramatic exhibit features an LVT-1 as used in the landings on Guadalcanal and Tarawa (I don’t think they were used after that battle, correct me if I’m wrong).
For the benefit of those not familiar with the LVT story, this vehicle came not from a formal military development project, but from a civilian need to traverse the Florida Keys. Instead of storming hostile shores, the “Alligator” was to rescue those stranded by hurricanes. When Marine officers saw Donald Roebling‘s creation in magazines, they saw other applications for the amphibious vehicle.
The innovative tracks were a feature of the design. Notice there is not a “shoe” as on most tracked vehicles. Instead there is a chain, similar to that on a bike, running around the (unsprung) road wheels, idler and drive sprocket. But I’d bet you are fixed upon those “paddles.” Instead of some prop assembly with its own transmission drive, Roebling opted to let the track motion propel the vehicle in water. Worked good, except when moving on hard surfaces beyond the beach. Later versions of the LVT improved the tracks, offered spring suspension, and provided better mobility.
The passenger compartment of the LVT-1 showed the civilian roots of the LVT. The amphibian carried 18 men or 2.5 tons of cargo. Marines exited the vehicle by going out over the sides (see the foot holds down the side). While the driver and co-driver had shutters, the vehicle lacked armor. Note also the ersatz gun mount. The gunner stands upon an ammo can in order to fire that .50-cal! And spent casings on the floor!
And did I say dramatic? Sort of makes you want to get off the beach, don’t it? Reminds me of this wartime photo from Tarawa.
I wanted to yell “Medic!” when I saw this guy.
Overall a very well done display. If in the Washington, DC area, a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps is worth a stop. Fascinating exhibits at every turn.
For those interested, I did a piece on the Civil War exhibits in the museum last month.