Innovation Allows the Beast to Swim

Innovate to Get the Weight Out

Simplicity is the Answer

Weight in any moving vehicle is always a primary concern, but rarely is it of more vital import than in regard to a vehicle specifically designed for combat which must also 'swim'.  Weight affects transportability, maneuverability, fuel consumption and, in some cases, the ability of an armored combat vehicle to “swim.” Indeed, some combat vehicles do possess the remarkable capability of swimming in open water. This amphibious quality is also useful for fording streams and rivers.

The LAV-105 (Light Armored Vehicle) designed for the U.S. Marine Corps is just such a combat vehicle. Requiring a four-person crew, the fully armored LAV-105 stands ten feet tall, eight feet wide, and twenty-one feet long. It weighs 30,000 lbs—fifteen tons of solid metal. Ensuring that such a vehicle can “swim” is a major accomplishment, especially when the vehicle becomes top-heavy due to the addition of a turret-mounted 105 mm tank gun system!

Weight in any moving vehicle is always a primary concern, but rarely is it of more vital import than in regard to a vehicle specifically designed for combat. Weight affects transportability, maneuverability, fuel consumption and, in some cases, the ability of an armored combat vehicle to “swim.” Indeed, some combat vehicles do possess the remarkable capability of swimming in open water. This amphibious quality is also useful for fording streams and rivers.

The LAV-105 (Light Armored Vehicle) designed for the U.S. Marine Corps is just such a combat vehicle. Requiring a four-person crew, the fully armored LAV-105 stands ten feet tall, eight feet wide, and twenty-one feet long. It weighs 30,000 lbs—fifteen tons of solid metal. Ensuring that such a vehicle can “swim” is a major accomplishment, especially when the vehicle becomes top-heavy due to the addition of a turret-mounted 105 mm tank gun system!

This combat vehicle was required to employ an auto-loader for the main armament tank gun. Shells for this particular gun are more than than three feet in length, weighing forty pounds each. Given the LAV-105's strict weight limitations, the complete eight shell autoloader mechanism was restricted to a total weight of significantly less than two hundred pounds. Thus, every ounce became a critical design driver during the development engineering phase of this unit.

With this design restriction in mind, John sought to devise a lightweight, simple, yet rugged design for securing the shells within the autoloader. The design concept that he proposed originated from the metal spring clip holders with which brooms, shovels, and other long-handled tools are typically fastened to a pantry or garage wall. From this concept, the engineering team created a non-powered, larger, articulated version of the clip which, when paired, could hold a round secure during the wild gyrations that frequently occur as a combat vehicle traverses open ground at speeds of up to fifty miles and hour. However, the clip could dependably release continuous rounds into the autoloader mechanism with the least possible amount of force.

With no moving parts expect two pin bolts per clip, and no electrical power or locking requirements, the solution represented the simplest, surest, lightest, and least costly design alternative. When the U.S. Marines Corps technical representatives first saw the newly conceived clips, they actually laughed in disbelief, certain that no design so light and simple could possibly maintain shells' stability, retaining absolute control under live combat conditions. After the first day of field trials, however, even the skeptics became convinced by the simplicity and utility of John's uniquely designed solution.

John's design solution for the LAV-105 was later patented by a defense contractor, and has since been utilized in other programs.

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