Borg Warner “A” vehicle 1942. Though this prototype vehicle did not go into production in this form, it led to the LVT 3 Bushmaster which was of similar appearance but ‘with rear ramp and without the turret.
LVT-3 Bushmaster (1944) Developed by the Borg Warner Corporation, this vehicle had engines moved to sponsons and a ramp installed in the rear similarly to the LVT-4. Some received armor kits. First used in Okinawa in April 1945. 2,964 units produced.
This was vehicle developed by Borg Warner which was similar in external appearance to the LVT 4, complete with stern ramp, but which had a single Cadillac 125HP engine mounted in each side pontoon and the Hydramatic automatic transmission used in the M5light tank (qv). This produced a vehicle of superior performance, more efficient than the Continental-engined designs. Called the “Bushmaster”, it was produced in 1944 and first used in action at Okinawa.
Compared with the earlier LVT 1 and LVT 2, the LVT 3 (or Bushmaster) was an entirely new design. For a start it had two engines (Cadillac units), each mounted in a side sponson. This allowed an increase in size of the cargo- carrying area and enabled a loading ramp to be installed at the rear. The overall outline remained the same as on the earlier vehicles, but there were numerous changes. The track was entirely new, being rubber bushed, and the width was reduced with no detriment to water propulsion which continued to be carried out using the tracks only.
The first LVT 3 appeared during 1945 and by the time production ended 2,692 had been produced. It went on to be the ‘standard1 post-war vehicle of its type but by 1945 the LVTs were used not only by the US Marines but by the US Army. This service had the usual doubts regarding the efficiency of LVTs, but after its initial misgivings came to value the type’s attributes just as much as did the US Marines (although the US Army used the LVT 4 mainly as a supply carrier). For a short while the LVT 3 was used by both the US Marines and the US Navy.
On the LVT 3 the driver and codriver were located in a cab forward of the cargo area. Behind them was the gunner’s firing step and by the time the LVT 3 arrived on the scene the armament of the LVTs had been increased from the initial single machine-gun to three; one 12.7-mm (0.5-m) heavy and two 7.62-mm (0.3-in) medium machineguns. Along each side of the cargo area were the sponsons containing not only the engines but the Hydramatic transmissions, bilge pumps and blowers to remove fumes. Some American references refer to these sponsons as pontoons, for they certainly added to the vehicle buoyancy. The rear ramp was raised and lowered by a hand operated winch and had heavy rubber seals along the sides to keep out water. Any water that did get in was drained through gratings m the cargo area deck to be dealt with by the bilge pumps.
The LVT 3 was armoured like the LVT 2 and LVT 4, but extra protection could be added by means of an armoured cab for the driver and codriver and by the use of add-on panels of armour. (These armoured panels could also be added to the LVT 2). Extra shields were also available to protect the machine-guns and their gunners. Perhaps the most reassuring item of equipment carried was a wooden box in the driver’s cab. This contained a quantity of rags, waste material and tapered wooden plugs of various sizes to stop any leaks caused by enemy action or otherwise induced. Other special-to-type equipment carried included signal lamps, a water tank and even some spare parts for on-the-spot repairs.
The LVT 3 represented the final wartime point in the line that could be traced back to the Roebling tractors, but it was not the end of the line. During the post-war years the concept was developed still further and many of the present vehicles now in use can trace their origins to the LVTs.