Power to the M59 series was through 2 x GMC Model 302 inline, 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled engines outputting at 146 horsepower each (292 horsepower combined). The engines were fitted one each to a hull side and mated to a Hydramatic Model 301MG transmission system. The hull was suspended via a torsion bar arrangement to allow for cross-country travel capabilities. All told, the M59 offered a top road speed of 32 miles per hour with an operational range of 120 miles - its speed much less that of the M75.
As with the M75 before it, the M59 was modestly armed with a single 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine gun fitted at the commander's cupola. The gun was afforded 2,200 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition and was capable of defeating lightly-armored targets, low flying aircraft and suppressing enemy infantry forces at range. An M3A1 "Grease" gun submachine was carried for self-defense.
The M59 arrived too late to see combat service in the Korean War (unlike the preceding M75) though the type was available in number during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). Sources state that the M59 was never to see combat in Southeast Asia, however. Despite its contained procurement, operating and maintenance costs - made possible by the less-than-stellar twin engine arrangement - the M59's powertrain proved unreliable and its light armor protection was highly vulnerable. As such, the M59, like the M75, featured a relatively short service life with American forces, the series being retired in the mid-1960s in favor of the ubiquitous and hugely successful M113 family of tracked armored vehicles which came online in 1960 (and is still in use today). The M113 owes at least some of its success to the pioneering M75 and M59 family vehicles, regardless of what their shortened operating careers reflect.
The M59 designation recognized the original production vehicles while the M59A1 was a slightly improved form of the original. Only one major offshoot of the M59 existed, this the M84 of 1957, a dedicated mortar carrier utilizing the chassis and hull of the M59 though with a six-man crew and fitted a 106mm mortar system.
Production of M59 carriers spanned from 1953/1954 to 1960 to which approximately 6,300 examples were completed. All were issued to the US Army and, upon their retirement from service, many passed on to foreign forces - Brazil, Ethiopia, Greece, Lebanon and Turkey. Turkey became the largest non-US operator with 1,550 vehicles in its inventory.
1 x 12.7mm Browning M2HB heavy machine gun
2,200 x 12.7mm ammunition
Variants / Models
• M59 - Base Series Designation
• M84 MC - Mortar Carrier; fitted with 106mm mortar; crew of six; 47,100lb operating weight.
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