18 July 2012

The Motorpool: The Light Military Utility Vehicle

\As with society as a whole, the automobile, changed modern warfare, giving warring armies the ability to cover greater distances, adding firepower and combat effectiveness to units that traditional had little in small numbers, particularly the standard small infantry units. The concept of adding mobility to an entire army was not fully developed until World War II, and the primary tool responsible for that change was the Willys GP military vehicle, classically known as the 'Jeep'. In this blogpost, FWS will discuss one of the most iconic and used tools of modern warfare, the light military utility vehicle (LMUV).
FWS is not responsible if you run out and buy a ex-military diesel blazer, Jeep Rubicon Unlimited, FJ Cruiser, or even a Hummer after reading this post. So read at our own risk!

What is an 'Light Military Utility Vehicles' and its role?
The typical LMUV, from the World War II Jeep to the modern day Humvee, fits into a role as a lightly armored long-distance four wheel drive vehicle designed to haul limited cargo plus at least four soldiers over all manner of terrain and can be fitted with crew-served weapon systems.
LMUV represent the workhorse of any military organization, and the base platform  of these vehicles can be modified into roles varying from ambulance to fast anti-tank TOW vehicle, and even being the platform for mounting next-gen microwave and laser DEW systems.  

The Early History of LMUV
While the First World War introduced the truck to the field of battle, the horse was still used for work and mobility. However, the new weapons of warfare, the tank, machine gun, and chemical warfare killed the horse the same has the soldier, causes higher than usual horses losses during the Great War. This fueled military organizations and companies to research combat automobile that could replacement horse during the 1920's and 1930's. The search provided to be fruitless, and the horse remained the primary tool of cross country/overlanding military operations. World War II was the beginning of high mobile warfare under the doctrine of Blitzkrieg, demanding infantry/scout elements leave their horses to keep up with the tanks was forged. This led to the development of the first vehicle LMUV, the 3rd Reich's 'bucket car', the Kübelwagen, also known as the Type 82.
This vehicle was developed for the Nazi Army by none other than the Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, father of the greatest car company in the world. The 3rd Reich used the engineering of his 'people's car', the KdF-Wagen to retool it into a family of LMUVs throughout the war. The Type 82 was only two-drive, but made up for this in speed, light-weight, reliability, and fuel consumption. Two of the more interesting off-shoots of the Type 82 Kübelwagen was the Type 82E, which was an  Kübelwagen chassis with a Beetle frame, and served in North Africa, and the Type 87 Kommandeurwagen, which used a prototype 4x4 drive system of the standard Kübelwagen, mating it to the KdF Beetle body. Both of these military Beetles were porducted in small numbers, but remain a odd favorite of WWII buffs and an historical basis for the Baja Bug (There was 2003 VW modern Beetle prototype of a Dune Buggy that would have been equipped with the 4motion AWD system. It was never made).
I debate at these Nazi, mostly 2wd light military vehicles were the harbinger of the LMUV that we know and love today. I believe, as do most people, that honor belongs to  the 1941 Willys GP/MB 'Jeep'. After Pearl Harbor, the US military put down the requirements to US automobile manufactured for: "a general purpose, personnel, or cargo carrier especially adaptable for reconnaissance or command, and designated as 1/4-ton 4x4 Truck", and the government gave these auto makers just 49 days to delivery a prototype for testing. In an twist of historical irony, the winner of the army test, American Bantam Car Company, an American off-shoot of the Austin Car Company of Great Britain, with their BRC (Bantam Recon Car) was not given the production contract. Because Bantam lacked the production ability to mint Jeeps in the numbers needed in 1941, and the Army award production contracts for the Army Recon car to Ford and Willys Overland.
This little vehicle became used in all manner of roles, and since it was easy to repair, soldiers in the field could get them back into the fight. In foreshadowing of the role of future LMUVs, the Long Range Desert Group of the British Army used their modified Willys GPs for marauding overland strikes at Rommel's Desert Group in their own lines, which had the LRDG out manned and outgunned, but could not follow them into the deep desert. These brave men of the LRDG were credited with transforming the replacement for the horse into a  highly mobile quick-strike machine gun platform.   
Throughout the war years, nearly 700,000 Willy and Ford GPs were sent all over the global in the hands of allies and GIs. Even the Imperial Japanese and Nazis got their hands on Jeeps, and while the 3rd Reich was unimpressed, the Japanese copied the Jeep in their AK-10, which led to the bulletproof FJ40 Land Cruiser. The Jeep is often credited with the Allies winning the second world war, and set the standard for all LMUVs to come for the next four decades.  
In the post-war world, the Jeep template was used to develop all manners of copies, from the superior Toyota FJ40, the USSR  GAZ truck, the Indian Mahindra and most importantly, the original Land Rover. Much like the Willeys Jeep in the African deserts, the Series I Land Rover was utilized for long-range overlanding operations with the SAS operations in Oman during the Jebal Akhdar War in the mid-1950's. The British sent in SAS units to support the Sultan bin Taimur using tactics they learned against the Desert Fox. During the 1960's and 70's, the SAS used Land Rover series II/IIA coloured in desert pink for patrols and desert operations, giving a basis for the use of LMUVs for special operations missions that we see today in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a twist of fate, the Land Rover and it's upgraded father, the American M38 Jeep, would serve together in the Korean War.
The next major upgrade to the Jeep came in 1959 and throughout the remainder of its US military service with the M151 MUTT that was built by Ford Motor Company. While the MUTT was tasked with the purpose to replace original Jeep design, it had a major issue: rollovers. This, like the Ford Pinto, gave the M151 MUTT an unfair reputation, souring it to the public and the military on continuation the line of military Jeeps that existed since 1941.Some of the pressure was taken off of the M151 MUTT by militarized civilian off-road utility vehicles for roles like MP patrols, some limited military off-road work, and hauling gear to the front. the most famous of these militarized civilian SUVs was the Chevy K5 Blazer that was transformed into the diesel M1009 CUCV. By the time Vietnam ended, the US military would enter a time of doldrums, allowing the M151 MUTT to remain in service, however, the military was eyeballing a replacement. But it did not come in time for the M151 MUTT to serve in one last conflict, the Invasion of Grenada in 1983.
At this time, other military organizations were beginning to move away for the original Jeep design and fielding new heavier, more SUV-like vehicles to replace their aging Jeep-based LMUVs.This was seen when the German military replacing their Kübelwagen based VW IItis with the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, and the British Army fielding the Land Rover Wolf over the traditional Land Rover Series I/II. The United State military would have to wait until 1981 until the AM General HMMWV would be approved for service.            

The Modern history of LMUVs
By the late 1970's, the tradition role of the military Jeep was being replaced by vehicle similar to the Land Rover and the German G-Wagon, and allowed these newer LMUVs to serve along side the mechanized units that would dominate strategic thinking at the time. This would require a larger vehicle than the typical M151 MUTT Jeep. In 1969, the American firm FMC Technologies began to develop a prototype known as the FMC XR311, or as known as the 'GI Hotrod'. This vehicle was meant to fit the role occupied by the Jeep and militarized SUVs, the US Army was uninterested, and the FMC XR311 was stillborn with only nine prototypes. However, the FMC XR311 would live on with the 1977 Lamborghini Cheetah.
Much like the XR311, the 1977 Cheetah was an open-cockpit designed vehicle designed to be a part of the mechanized armored units that populated military thinking at the time, however, unlike the XR311 scout car, which was designed for two, the Cheetah had seating for four. The similarities between Cheetah and the XR311 were not lost on FMC, which brought a lawsuit against the American firm, MTI in 1977, who had contacted Lamborghini for the actually construction of the vehicle. The US Army did test the vehicle in desert trials, crashing and destroying the prototype, but ultimately rejected the Cheetah due to its being built by a foreign company.
Without the government contract, this left MTI and Lamborghini out the money for the prototype, causing serious hardship on the two companies. There was attempt to sell the Cheetah to Arab nations and arms companies, however there was no interest, and no further prototype was constructed.The legency of the FMC XR311 and the Lamborghini Cheetah would manifest themselves later into two very different future vehicles, the AM General Humvee and the Lamborghini LM002, the 'Rambo-Lambo'. 
The next great evolution of the LMUV came in 1979, when the US military put out the need and specifications for the next military vehicles, and by 1981, AM General was awarded the contract to build the next generation of the US military LMUV over five other bids. By 1985, the first batches of Humvees were being tested at Fort Lewis, and first saw combat in the Invasion of Panama in 1989, however, the first major test of the Humvee came in 1991 in the deserts of the Middle East. It seemed that the Humvee was designed for the local conditions of Kuwait and Iraq, it allowed for infantry to be supported by the Humvees heavier weapons during cleaning operations in villages.
But it would be an urban operation in Mogadishu, Somalia, especially the infamous Blackhawk Down incident were military planners decided to increase the armor protection of the Humvee. After September 11, 2001, the Humvee would be called on again for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the off-road and cargo capability would be critical for long-range operations, especially for US Space Forces. As before in the Gulf War, the Humvee would serve along side the Land Rovers of the British and Australian forces in extreme conditions.
It would in the post-hostile operations where the weakness of the Humvee would be discovered when the enemy resorted to IEDs and mines rather than open attacks. US Soldiers would also take the Humvee on urban patrols where the wideth of the vehicle would hamper its abilities. While the Humvee was not as effective in the urban battlefields of Iraq, the vehicle was heavily used for escort duties for the many trucks that transversed the Iraq highway network. 
It is not just vehicles like the Land Rover, or Jeep, or even Humvee that serve as LMUVs, in many smaller conflicts, especially Africa, armed pickups called Technicals. This grewout of the handiness of pickup trucks, which does not just extend to trips to Lowe's, but to also transporting troops/rebels to the battlefield and act as mobile gun platform with mounted 12.7mm machine guns,  No where is this more true than in A-Stan and Africa. There Toyota trucks, like the unkillable Hilux or Tacoma in the States, serve as mobile gun platforms and troop-movers across the harsh unforgiving terrain. These Special Forces operating in Afghanistan have adopted the Hilux for low-profile operations to maintain OPSEC because nothing screams Americans quite like the Humvee. This makes for a queer battlefield, Humvees, Toyota trucks, and now, the heavy MRAP all serving in the same role. These are truly disturbing times we live in, my friends
In 2007, the US military began the process of replacing the aging Humvee with a next-generation LMUV to be called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or JLTV. This JLTV would be built to fit the needs of not only the big army, but USSOCOM, and the Marines. In the short-term, while various companies and designers field prototypes, one of the primary roles of the Humvee is already being replaced by the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle or MRAP in 2009. This type of heavier, near APC/IFV armored vehicle was not original developed for the threat of IED attacks in Iraq, but for mines during the Rhodesian Bush War, and MRAP vehicles are made by several companies, like Force Protection Inc, Oshkosh Corporation. and  Textron. Due to MRAPs like the Cougar, being better to withstand attacks with mines, IEDs, and RPGs than the Mad Max'ed armored Humvees floating around, causes the MRAPs to be the choice for outside-the-wire combat patrols today, morphing the Humvee into an inside-the-wire vehicle, much like the old civilian military Blazers of the 1980's.
 This could signal a shift in the world of LMUVs as a whole, heavier vehicles like the MRAP Cougar could become the choice for operations in dangerous urban patrols or even in overlanding patrols in hostile regions, much like what we have seen in A-Stan. Then lighter military utility vehicles, similar to the proposed JLTV designs would take up for less risky operations, and possibly, special vehicle operations, and there could be even a third LMUV, that would operate has a workhorse and inside the wire. This third type of LMUV could mean that the Jeep could return into the fold of the US military service with the JGMS J8. It has been suggested by JGMS, that their light military vehicle, based on the current JK Wrangler platform, could be used in place of vehicles like the Toyota Hilux/Tacoma pickup, and certain models of the Humvee. J8s are already serving in the Israeli and Egyptian Armies,  plus this little badass could serve as an inside-the-wire vehicle. I personally love the J8, and would like to have one...you know, for paintball games, zombies attacks, and runs to Target.

The Next-Generation of LMUVs
Due to the conditions that Humvee and other similar LMUVs found themselves in during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the allied militaries started to field more heavily armored vehicles. this altered blurred the lines between the traditional role of the light military vehicle and wheeled APC/IFV, like LAV-25. This translation to armored military utility vehicles is also an outgrowth of the demised role of tanks on the battlefield, with their roles between filled by vehicles like the IAV Stryker. During the height of the combat operations in Iraq in 2005, the US military began the process of replacing the Humvee with another vehicle. One of the designs came from Georgia Tech Research Institute, called the Ultra AP and the 2009 update, the Ultra AP II. The Ford F350 truck mated to a diesel engine is the underpinning of the Ultra AP, allowing for off-road ability with greater fuel efficiency, and the dome in the center of the Ultra AP is the so called blast bucket that offers greater protection for the crew against IED/Mine explosions, and uses lightweight composite material and some features found in NASCAR vehicles.  This vehicle received media attention for its unusual design from such magazine like Car & Driver.
By 2007, it looked certain that US military would be replacing their aging warhorse with a next-generation LMUV made of composite material for most of the body, allowing for greater crew survival, and modernizing the basic design of this beast. That looks uncertain now, with the recent purchase of more Humvees by the US military and lack of process on the JLTV project as a whole since 2009. The reasons given where that no design seems to be protect to the degree of the MRAP, coupled with the recent economic and current drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the military is eyeballing a date of 2016 for the deployment of a JLTV, and another more heavily vehicle similar to the MRAP and can transport none soldiers, the Ground Combat Vehicle, is on the drawing board for 2019.  

Comparison: M1152 HMMWV  and the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited
The US Army's mammoth Humvee vehicle seems a colossal when compared to the original WWII Jeep with it's 60 BHP engine. But, even when comparing the numbers of the most capable out-of-the-box off-road vehicle, the Jeep Rubicon Unlimited, the comparison is staggering. The V8 turbocharged diesel Humvee, at 130inch wheelbase, can forage of 2.5 feet water (w/o the kit), ground clearance of 17.4 inches, has front, rear, and center locking differentials, with  approach angle of 45 degrees, and departure angle of 38.2 degrees. This beast can climb 60% hill gradient and has a low-gear ratio of 2.72:1 (A2 verison), with a 25 gallon fuel tank.
While the V6 gasoline powered Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has 116inches of wheelbase, can forage of 30 feet water (w/o snorkel), ground clearance of 10.5 inches, has front, rear, and center locking differentials, with  approach angle of 44.3 degrees, and departure angle of 40.4 degrees. This little mountain goat wonder can climb 40% hill grade and has a low-gear ratio of 4:1 (Rubicon verison), with a 22.5 gallon fuel tank.

How did the Jeep get its name?
According to the primary theory, the soldiers of WWII used the word GP for the vehicle until it morphed into another slang-name, the jeep (GP=JEEP), similar to the HUMMV=HUMMER. However my favorite theory is that Willys GP was christened Jeep after the 1937 Popeye cartoon character, Eugene the Jeep, the alien jungle animal that could go anywhere. It is no secret that GIs in WWII read comics, and it makes sense that the Willeys would be christened after this strangle little cartoon animal. 

Off-World LMUV
There already has been a vehicle similar to the original Jeep deployed off-world, the NASA Lunar Roving Vehicle, and the first vehicles off-world will be similar space program exploration vehicles. It would not take to too much imagination to mount a .50 caliber or laser emitter on these off-world rovers. Any colonial settlements on exo-planets will be mostly likely far apart giving rise to off-world Jeep-like vehicles. This also need would extend to off-world military sentry units needing the ability to cross distances with speed, firepower, cargo-space, and adapted to the local planetary conditions.
The first MLUVs will serve on Luna and Mars, and future military planners have two choices when it comes to MLUVs. One, would be to have to be sealed buggy-like vehicle that protected the soldiers against the hostile environment, and have room for the crew to don and repair spacesuits.
 These are the types of off-world buggies seen in NASA concept art, with six to eight wheels and are cylinder shaped. Contrary to that, is more of the approach that NASA used on the Lunar Rover, and hearkens back to the open Jeep-like vehicles, space suited soldiers would ride in a over-sized cab that would allow for easy entry/exit, and would mount some sort of protection against rocks and bullets.

Future Military Application of LMUVs
When a critical piece of technology is created that plugs itself into every facet of society, it cannot be unlearned.This extends to computers, TV, airplanes, nuclear weapons, video games, and of course, the automobile. The car has changed the face of Terra and her human population, allowing us to live further away from away for one another, but also makes the world accessible. We have even taken the car to the surface of the moon, sent wheeled rovers to Mars, and we will take them with us when we found exo-solar colonies. It will be there when we fight wars off-world. Any future military will not relay solely on Pelican-like aerial armed vehicles to get their soldiers from point A to point B, or even to operate inside-the-wire, there will be vehicles that will link themselves historical to the Willey Gp 'Jeep'.     

LMUVs and Science Fiction
One of the most critical military tools of modern warfare is the LMUV, and much like the Willeys Jeep, the Humvess as become a symbol of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but these vehicles are badly represented in science fiction. For much of the history of science fiction, it was not until the era of MSF pen-and-page RPGs that future Jeeps entered into the consciousnesses of sci-fi culture via Battletech and Traveller. Sure, there were vehicles similar to the NASA Lunar Buggy seen here and there, but none that I can remember with machine guns and lasers stripped to their roll bars. This is odd, considering that original Willeys Jeep is credited with being one of the factors of why the Allies won the 2nd World War, and there is not shortage of Jeep Wranglers on the road and Humvees on the news to remind us of LMUVs presences.
So, why is it that sci-fi seems to ignore the LMUVs in their works? During the classic period of sci-fi, when masters like Asimov were crafting their stories, they were not concerned with future armies and their tools of war, because most of them had lived through the 2nd World War, souring them on military stories. When military vehicle appeared, it was it was offer a truck-like vehicles, or the armored car seen in Isaac Asimov's 1953 Pebble in the Sky. By the time when future armies were making appearances in sci-fi works, the soldiers were seen during planetside warfare hopping around planets with powered armor or in landing craft. This point-of-view most likely comes from the air mobility that was granted by the helicopter, and entered the collective mindset during the Vietnam War. Hey, why roll around on the ground and be open for attack when you use a jumpshuttle to get from point A to be point B, right? In 2001 that all changed when HALO: Combat Evolved hit Xbox all around the world and gamers and sci-fi fans alike got to experience the M12 Warthog. With this example, more science fiction creators began to see the logic behind LMUVs in the future battlefields, both here on Terra and off-world.

The Best There is: The M12 'Warthog'  Force Application Vehicle
Prior to the Warthog, there was nothing like in the pages of science fiction and this vehicle alone caused  writers and creators of future war stories reassigning  the role of LMUVs within those fictional armies. This speaks to the design and impact of the HALO video games, and Bungie did one hell of a bang-on job with the Warthog. This vehicle was carefully designed to operate in all conditions, and survive to serve its soldier.  The Warthog uses a hydrogen-injected 12.0 litre liquid-cooled ICE plant mated to a infinity variable transmission.This hydrogen engine speaks to the level of thinking that Bungie invested with the M12 FAV. By the M12 FAV being powered by hydrogen and carrying its own onboard converter for turning all manner of water-sources into fuel, gives the Warthog a great deal of battlefield flexibility.
 Adding to this flexibility, the massive tyres of the M12 FAV are not traditional gas-filled pockets, but nano-tubes that allow the Warthog in the field not to be bogged down with tyre changes, and saving weight from not carrying extra tyres. Much like the modern Humvee and the old Jeep, the M12 FAV is a platform that other vehicles are based on, from the trooper-carrier, to the light anti-armored Gauss 'hog or the missile 'hog, and the most popular, the light recon vehicle. The overall design of the Warthog is similar to the LM002 'Rambo-Lambo', the Lamborghini Cheetah, the FMC XR311, and I believe, the 1982 GI Joe VAMP vehicle. 

Examples of LMUVs in Science Fiction


Oddly, ROBOTECH as one of the most extensive lists of light military utility vehicles, and are seen in all of the three-generations of the ROBOTECH saga.The primary LMUV of the ROBOTECH saga is the RDF AAT30 and AAT40 assault transport, available in either 4x4 (AAT30) or 6x6 (AAT40) design with or without a flatbed, and mounted the 'earl' pulse laser cannon. This was used as a scout/recon vehicle, workhorse, and general military transport. Both variants of the AATs were in the inventory of the RDF, Southern Cross, and the REF. The flatbed AAT30 vehicle was seen by most of us being used by Robotech engineer James 'Luke' Austin during the 3rd Robotech War, and mounted a special anti-armor cannon.
The rest of the LMUVs featured in  Anime series are more basic and little is know about them, these are the oddball six-wheeled open-top vehicle seen running around RDF bases before the 1st Robotech War and onboard the SDF-1 (watch out for Roy Fokker!). Then one of my favorites was the six-wheeled heavy truck seen in Luke's flashback sequence during the episode Paper Hero. 

The M35 Mako from Mass Effect
In the original Mass Effect, there was few joys better than overlanding in the six-wheeled off-world/ off-road M35 'Mako' Systems Alliance LMUV. This badass vehicle was designed for atmospheric standard worlds and lifeless moons, due to off-road systems and thruster pack. These trusters allowed the Mako to be aero-dropped from the mother vessel in rather high atmosphere. To defend itself, it mounts an 155mm mass acceleration cannon and anti-infantry machine guns. While the HALO Warthog takes its design from other LMUVs, the M35 Mako is designed more as armed explorer vehicle, making it a unique sci-fi military vehicle and seen  going off-world to all manner of terrains. I would bet that the Mako will go on to be one of the most iconic military vehicles in science fiction.

Technicals from Terminator and Terminator 2

In the original Terminator and Terminator 2, Resistance fighters are seen using Technical-like vehicles savaged from junkers left over from the nuclear strike in 1997. Much like the current Toyota Hilux-based Technicals, these stripped down hulks of their former selves are mobile gun platforms designed to either run from or run at Skynet's war machines. In both examples seen onscreen, these ragtag vehicles are used to counter Skynet's ownership of the skies with either plasma repeater cannons and anit-aircraft missiles, leftover from military bases. Here is a link to a great article on the jerry-rigged Skynet equipment by the Resistance in the dark future of 2029:

The VAMP from GI JOE:
When I was young, I had one of these great plastic vehicles, it was such a great design, and really fun to drive through the mud! This LMUV toy was one of the great touchstones of childhood, and could be the point of reference for so many of the current crop of LMUVs in fiction, especially, the HALO Warthog. 
Red Faction/Killzone/Quake Wars
All of these video games mentioned feature various military-grade light utility vehicles that work off the basic Jeep design, the Warthog, and the Humvee. These vary from the truck in Red Faction, the armadillo seen in Quake Wars,to the more Jeep-like vehicle from Killzone 2 and 3. Unlike the HALO Warthog or others on this list, there is developed on the vehicles and are mostly set pieces for the game. The Jeep from Killzone series is of the better designed, looks to mimic the Land Rovers and Humvees used in desert operations, given the open cockpit design.

The Armadillo from GEARS OF WAR
The Armadillo is much the rest of the Gears of War universe, oversized, bulky, and powerful. Now, I love the Gears of War games, they are complete departure from the normal MSF shooter games that exist on the market today. The COG vehicle, the Armadillo, technical called a APC, is much like the COG soldiers themselves, big, armored, powerful. This vehicles runs over everything, and is outgrowth of the conditions on the ground in the war-torn Sera. This could be a great design for an off-world military vehicle. 

The GAV 'Swan' from AVATAR
The RDA uses the off-world 6x6 Ground Assault Vehicle (GAV) JL-723 for getting around Pandora, and providing close fire support. In practice, the RDA uses the Aerospatiale SA-2 'Samson' ducted-fan vehicle for movement outside-the-wire operations, making the GAV more of a technical than a troop hauler. The nickname of the Swan was due to its gyro-stabilized turret mounted machine gun. The GAV was briefly in one  scene in the film, but the Swan, as it is called, was seen in the first image released for the film, and can be used by the player in the terrible video game of the film. Unlike the AMP suit or the Dragon Gunship, the GAV is not a good design, and would not be my first choice to roll around Pandora.

The Trumbler from the Christoper Noland BATMAN films
The very cool Tumbler was original a military concept vehicle developed by Lucius Fox for Wayne Industries, and could make "rampless jumps" and cross gaps not cover by a bridge. This is undoubtedly one of the coolest military vehicle designs and would make for one hell of a LMUV.

The Combine Patrol APC from HALF-LIFE 2
 The Combine Civil Protection uses a rather oddly shaped APC, but is more of a LMUV, that mounts a pulse DEW machine gun, missiles, and hauls trans-human Combine soldiers to harass Gordon Freeman. This design is very alien for some reason, when I saw the first time, I could not believe how spot-on it was. 

The Terra Nova 'Rover' Electric Buggy
In the time-traveling cancelled FOX TV series Terra Nova, the primary settlement uses two main vehicles, the more up-armored Rhino, and the lighter Jeep-like buggy, called the Rover. The Rover makes up the main vehicle seen onscreen and appears to a 2149 LMUV that runs on either electricity or hydrogen that was modified for duty in the hostile past. Unlike the APC-like Rhino, the Rover does not use doors, risking the driver and passengers more to hostile animal attacks. The prop-vehicles were modified from Land Cruisers and Range Rovers from the 1980's and 90's, and were recently sold off for about $3000.
The Argo Buggy from Star Trek: Nemesis
According to Trekkie myth, even numbered Star Trek films are supposed to be good...that ended with the 2002 Nemesis. But the film did feature the only known Starfleet LMUV, the Argo. This 4x4 off-world off-road vehicle was armed with a rear-facing phaser turret, and part of the Argo shuttle carried by the Enterprise-E. It is believed that the Argo shuttle and vehicle are a new addition to Starfleet, and the E could be testing out the technology for widespread adoption.
Little is known about this vehicle or its role in Starfleet. Some Star Trek sites say that Starfleet, who possess anti-gravity technology, and let us not forget teleporters, would not resort to more traditional wheeled technology. I believe the Argo LMUV was put into the film to jazz it up, punching a bad script, and for audience to see something different in the Star Trek.  Oddly, the vehicle seems to be more Mad Max than 24th century with the skeleton buggy design...makes me think that Tina Turner is about to pop out at any moment.
It is unknown what real-world vehicle was the underpinnings the Argo ATV. It was a fun to see Worf, Data and Picard sporting eye-armor sunglasses, off-roading in the desert...reminding me of that Bridgestone Superbowl advert where some Astronauts off-road to House of Pain in a Lunar Buggy.


Top Gear testing a Vietnamese UAZ

The History of WWII Jeep (Part One of Five)

A great video of a WWII-era 1944 Jeep off-roading!

Jeremy Clarkson talks about the Warthog

A great video on the KDF-82E 4x4 Military Beetle

The Superbowl Brigdestone Moon Buggy Ad


  1. what a research mate, keep posting!


  2. Thanks! This blogpost was difficult to write and I've had it in the queue for about a year. Thanks for the comment and reading FWS.

  3. You did some pretty good research here, William!! Amazing how much there is to the history of military utility vehicles.

    Unless we develop antigravity vehicles that can hover feet off the ground, we will probably still use wheeled vehicles to get around on alien planets and moons. It does not take much imagination to mount some weapons on them. In low gravity environments, we could use rocket boosters to loft the vehicle over obstacles. On planets with no oxygen atmosphere (and no gas stations), the vehicles would have to have an electrical power plant of some sort, or at least provide an oxidizer to burn a chemical fuel.

    If you are on a habitable planet in a faraway star system, vehicles might be hard to come by. When you initially establish a settlement, there is no infrastructure, no roads, no auto repair shops, no factories manufacturing replacement parts, and no gas stations. Of course, by that far in the future we will probably have batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, or maybe even miniature nuclear power plants in our vehicles, but you won't be able to get those refueled, recharged, or replaced unless you bring along the necessary equipment to do so. Some SF authors have suggested we might revert to using horses to get around when a settlement is initially established. All you need are enough breeding pairs and seed grain, or so they say. I would ask how many breeding pairs we need to avoid inbreeding....

    It is interesting to think about how much we rely on faraway businesses and other people to supply us with various items and replacement parts. We couldn't so much as replace a broken firing pin in a firearm if we couldn't order these parts from a firearms dealer, unless you have some firing pins stored up somewhere, as some people do. But what if your car engine needs repair? Reliability, repair, and availability of space parts will be rather important to astronauts- especially if they are out on a voyage that lasts for decades. A ship like the SDF-1, which is said to be able to mine raw materials and manufacture spare parts and ammunition, would actually make a lot of sense in this regard. The term for using local raw materials during a space mission is called "in-situ resource utilization", which is a fancy term for saying that the astronauts go out and shovel whatever they can find into the propellent tanks, and then hunt around for some metal ores, water, and so on...

    Christopher Phoenix

    1. A fusion powered vehicle could in principle be eternally refuelled by it's owner with just one, probably rather small, facility. The huge energy output from proton-proton chain fusion (26 MeV or so for every He nucleus made) will lead to an excess of energy which can be used to power an electrolysis plant for splitting hydrogen out of water, which is abundant, although almost always frozen, on planetary surfaces. One can easily imagine a mars(or europa, enceladus, some exoplanet) colonist finishing his day driving around in his fusion powered vehicle and then plugging it in overnight, not like an electric car to charge itself but rather it would act as a powerplant exporting electrical energy to a small automated ice mining operation, a melting plant and an electrolysis plant. It would easily produce years worth of hydrogen fuel for itself in just one night, if the mining,melting,electrolysis system was inefficient it would produce less but still an awful lot. This would be a system which could be quite self sufficient, depending on the technology it may or may not be easily maintained. this might well be lower maintenance than a horse, it will also work in vacuum environment and other harsh atmospheres, as most of the rocks in our system have either no atmosphere or one that is hostile to respirating life it is reasonable to assume most planets and moons in the universe are cold airless places with large ice deposits. The key obstacle is first achieving break-even fusion at-all, then achieving proton-proton chain fusion, then miniaturising the reactor to fit in the back of a truck and have a low radiation output.

    2. Love the comment, and I could be using your scenario in an upcoming novel!

  4. I read recently that the use of horses in Firefly, and I plan on putting it somewhere on this blog. The lack of roads would be a major issue to later stages of colonization, and any invading power would have to use jumpshuttles for troop transport. I covered some of this in my novel.
    I think you are right on the point about replacement parts. Any space invasion platform would have machine shops onboard, like the Yamato, SDF-1, and the Galactica to continue the fight even LYs from their homebase. I plan on adding this to a post on planetary invasions!

  5. This blogpost nearly killed me...tons of research and I still think the history section is a little light. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. The Warhog? Seriously?

    It holds only three people, just like the Jeep

    Has one machinegun that is unprotected, just like the Jeep

    There are no doors,

    Any hand grenade could kill everyone inside,

    It doesn't even give you shade,

    The Jeep is from the 40s, the Warhog is not advanced even now.

    I mean I love Halo too but....just go for MRAPs, the future is MRAPS.

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  8. A variety of regular and custom Argo sales parts and accessories available for sale either you are located in US, Canada or even Russia. That's a nice piece of research information about Military utility.

    Custom Argo Amphibious

  9. There were Jeep like vehicles in both Traveler and 2300AD by GDW. I can't remember any of them right now and all my stuff is packed away.

  10. I really like the car in the 2nd picture look like nothing can hurt it. Humvee 1985 also very attractive, looks strong and sturdy. I guess inside it must have been of a modern and advanced technologies.

  11. another interesting real world one is the Steyr-Daimler-Puch Pinzgauer been wanting to pick up a 712 6x6 for some time

  12. Pretty good I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info.
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  13. Hi, I discovered your blog from a link on Atomic Rockets and I gotta say it's made for some fun reading.

    One thing though, how can you reference Top Gear in a post about military vehicles without talking about the Marauder?


  14. The Marauder video came out, I believe, after I posted the article. Thanks for the read! Enjoy your say!

  15. The comparison between the humvee and the jeep points to a problem these ever-larger vehicles have--size. Specifically, the larger the vehicle, the more places on Earth are closed to it and its occupants because the ground is too soft or the width too narrow.