Armoured Personnel Carriers

The Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was developed during the 20th Century in order to protect infantry on the modern battlefield and assist them in moving forward. A later development, Infantry Fighting Vehicles refined the concept, and allowed infantry to employ their weapons from within the safety of an armoured vehicle. In addition to armour, later APCs and IFVs also allowed soldiers to operate in a radioactive or chemical environment.

First World War

As the tank was developed during the First World War, the necessity for infantry and tanks to work together was made apparent during the first combat use of armoured fighting vehicles. The tank itself, however had been developed to protect soldiers from the proliferation of automatic weapons and indirect firing weapons on the modern battlefield. A possible solution - an armoured carrier for infantry - was briefly considered.

(In the autumn of 1918)...the 4th Division experimented with tanks as armoured personnel carriers. Each tank accompanying the 12th Brigade, for example, carried an infantry or machine-gun officer, an infantry scout, a runner, a Vickers Gun with crew of five, and two Lewis guns with crews of three each; there were thus fourteen people packed into the tank or riding on top. The scout was to watch the advance while the others disembarked at the final objective to form strong points. Fumes from the engine, however, turned the experiment into a miserable failure, and the 12th Brigade reported that "Infantry personnel should not be carried in the tanks, as they become sick from the petrol fumes."1

Bovington tank museum drawing, via Wikipedia.

In the summer of 1917, the British had attempted to design an armoured vehicles with the specific requirements of infantry in mind. Two prototypes of the Mark IX were drawn up, but the design was not considered a success and the vehicle did not see action.

Second World War

Between the wars, the various militaries experimented with mechanization and mobile forces; the Americans and Germans both gravitated towards the use of half-tracked vehicles (a standard truck suspension in the front, with tracks in the back) for their motorized infantry. The British standardized Universal Carriers, and Canada also began to use these vehicles in large numbers early in the war.

The carrier was not well suited to the role of carrying motorized infantry directly into battle, and Motor battalions in the Commonwealth (i.e. motorized infantry units attached directly to armoured divisions) used a mixture of US-designed halftracks and Universal Carriers for transport.


In Normandy, the commander of II Canadian Corps, Lieutenant General G.G. Simonds, ordered the creation of a squadron of armoured personnel carriers using surplus artillery vehicles. A complement of 76 US-produced M7 Priest Self Propelled Guns had their 105mm guns stripped and troop seats installed in their place in order that infantry might be protected from shellfire during Operation TOTALIZE. The vehicle was named for the code name of the workshop doing the conversion: Kangaroo. The experiment proved successful, and later purpose built Kangaroos were made from Ram tanks. The squadron of Kangaroos was expanded to become the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment (renamed in Dec 1944 to 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment). A similar regiment was also created by the British in North-West Europe.


Priest Kangaroo

Ram Kangaroo



The Canadian Army utilized some stop-gap Kangaroo vehicles based on Sherman chassis after the war, but the first true APC to be adopted was the M113A1. The vehicle was fully tracked and offered complete protection for an infantry section riding inside. The M113A1s were used from 1965 onwards in mechanized infantry battalions. The first 1,045 vehicles entered service with transaxles and diesel engines from commercial trucks as a cost-savings measure, and rolled aluminum armour (proof against small arms and fragments but not armour-piercing weapons and unsuitable for explosive reactive armour). The M113A1 was also prone to mine damage due to its thinly armoured floor. (The original M113 had a gasoline engine; the diesel equipped versions were known as M113A1. Canada used the latter exclusively).

The M113A1 APC.

The vehicle featured a hydraulic ramp for disembarking infantry (the Kangaroo required fully laden infantryman to clamber over the high rounded hull sides) as well as roof hatches where a variety of weapons could be mounted. The TOW Under Armour was one such adaptation used by the Canadian Army. The vehicle was also used for engineering tasks by the addition of a dozer blade or crane. The M548 tracked cargo carrier was another variant used by Canada, as well as the M577 Command Post.

The vehicle was upgraded in the 1980s for service in the Balkans by using ACAV (Armoured Cavalry Assault Vehicle) kits originally designed for US M113s in Vietnam in the late 1960s. This conversion included an armoured turret for the commander's .50 calibre machine gun.

In 1979, the US began upgrading the M113A1 to A2 configuration with improvements to the suspension and cooling system. Canadian versions similarly upgraded received the same designation. Upgrades beginning in 1987 created the M113A3 variant, with improvements to engine power and crew survivability. In 2001, 289 of the original 1,143 M113's delivered in the 1960s to early 1990s were upgraded to M113A3s, and the remainder were declared surplus.

M113A1 in West Germany, 1980. Sheldon Clare Photo.

M113A1. Ed Storey Photo C248-21.

Canadian M113A2s with ACAV kits in the Balkans. Ed Storey Photo.

M113 adapted for signals work, 1989. DND Photo.

  • TOW Under Armour - a platform for firing anti-tank missiles

  • M548 Manview - a tracked ammunition carrier

  • M577 Command Post

  • Armoured Ambulance


  • Length 5.29 metres

  • Width 2.69 metres

  • Height 2.2 metres

  • Combat Weight 11,748 kg

  • Capacity 2 crew + 10 passengers, fully equipped

  • Cargo Payload 1,364 kg

  • Engine 210 HP GMC Diesel

  • Speed 64 km/h Land, 5.6 km/h Water

  • Fording Depth 1 metre

  • Range 320 km

  • Armament .50 calibre or 7.62 mm Machine Gun


The Bobcat was a Canadian prototype vehicle designed in 1958.


None of the AVGPs were given a numerical designation, though the Grizzly did acquire several official names, including APC, Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carrier (WAPC), and Infantry Section Carrier (ISC), as well as the original name "Car, Armoured, Personnel Carrier."

The Grizzly featured rifle ports for infantrymen, and a crew of three including driver, gunner and commander. The Cadillac-Gage turret contained both a C6 machine gun and an M2 .50 calibre machine gun.2

In 2000, some Grizzlies were converted to gun tractors for RCHA guns deployed to the former Yugoslavia.

At right, a Canadian Grizzly in the colours of Jedinica za Specijalne Operacije


In 1990, 199 Bisons were purchased as APCs (or Infantry Section Carriers) for the Militia.The rear compartment of the vehicle was larger than the Grizzly. However, the Militia only had these vehicles a short time before they were shipped to missions overseas with the Regular Force. The first operational use of the Bison was in Somalia where the Royal Canadian Dragoons squadron attached to The Canadian Airborne Regiment used them. Ambulance and engineering versions were also built.




Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV))

The LAV III became a key component of the Army’s leading-edge battlefield systems, capable of operation in low-light conditions, battlefield smoke, and night, in most types of terrain. Computerized display terminals, thermal viewers, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, digital magnetic compass and laser range finders all made the LAV an exponential leap in technology over the Grizzly.

BV 206

The Bandvagn 206 (was originally designed in Sweden by Hägglunds in conjunction with the Swedish Army. The vehicle consists of two articulated units, with all four tracks driven. The trailer unit could be be adapted for different applications.


Whilst conceived for use on snow, the low ground pressure and powerful engine enabled the Bv206 to cope with a wide range of difficult conditions such as soft sand. The Bv206 could also be fitted with a trim vane to give full amphibious capability, with a speed in water of up to 4.7kph. Over 11,000 trucks were produced and saw service in more than 37 nations.


Engine Details


  • Length: 6.86 m

  • Width: 1.85 m

  • Track width: 6.2 m

  • Height: 2.4 m

  • Payload: 1.9 t

  • Weight: 6.34 t

  • Manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz

  • Transmission: Four speed automatic


  1. Rawling, Bill. Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps 1914-1918
  2. Diagram from the DND 101 website.



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