M6 Gavin Infantry Fighting Vehicle
Country of Origin: United States
Builder: GM Land Systems
Dismounts (M6A1): 6
Other Users: European Alliance, Philippines, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Canada
Armament (M6A1): 1x 25mm M242 Chain Gun
1x 7.62mm M240 MG (Coax)
1x 7.62mm M240 MG or 1x 40mm M19 AGL
(M6A2 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle)
1x 25mm M242 Chain Gun
1x 7.62mm M240 MG (Coax)
1x TOW Missile Launcher (2 missile tunes per launcher)
During the Second World War the Allied powers fielded all manner of armored personnel carriers. From the British Bren Gun Carrier or the American M3 Halftrack and its German counterpart the Sdkf 251 and the late war M113 APC. The Soviet Union on the other hand stayed with a series of dedicated APCs most of the BTR family. Following the war the United States and European Alliance moved to create more standard APCs. While the United States settled on the M113, the British and the Germans began experimenting with the idea of an infantry fighting vehicle. Unlike an APC the IFV was designed to both fight and carry mechanized infantry. Older APCs like the M113 were lacking in the firepower department, mostly armed with machineguns.
An IFV would be armed with a light cannon and machineguns. The problem for the designers was trying to combine the right mix of armor and firepower, while still being able to carry a decent sized squad or dismounts. The first successful IFV would appear not from the Europeans nor the Americans, but the Soviets. When the BMP-1 was displayed in a Moscow military day parade in Red Square in 1964, Western observers were shocked. Not only was the BMP armed with a 73mm cannon but the new anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). News of the Soviet success caused a rush of crash programs in the European Alliance. Eventually the British, French, and Germans would develop IFVs of their own (Warrior, AMX-10P, and Marder).
The United States armed forces however couldn’t agree on what kind of IFV it should accept. One concept, the XM2 was a tracked IFV much like the eventual European designs. Another was GM’s concept which took an LAV and bettered its protection with it specialized armor. In theory the new armor retained its strength but was lighter and able to run on wheels. Thus the IFV was cheaper and quicker to produce. Even with this the Army selected the XM2, calling it the Bradley. However development of the M2 Bradley was problematic suffering design issues and further slowed by Congress. Hearings into misappropriations of funds by the M2’s parent company caused the program to be delayed nearly a year. Meanwhile the wheeled IFV got new life with the United States Marine Corps. Production began for the USMC whiles the US Army’s vehicle still in development. As tensions rose across the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Defense Department did not want to go to have to go to war with inferior equipment. So the Army jumped on the IFV production bandwagon, calling their version the M6 Gavin.
The M6 Gavin was a fast and maneuverable vehicle. Its firepower came from the rapid fire chain gun that could use AP, incendiary, and HE rounds. A coax machinegun could be joined by one mounted on the turret near the tank commander’s station. Later this spot would also be able to hold a Mark 19 Grenade Launcher. Since development of the Bradley was taking so long, the M6 eventually found itself used in a number of different roles. The first most basic model was the M6A1, which was the standard IFV. It could carry six soldiers and had firing ports for their weapons on the sides of the vehicles. Another model was the M6A2 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV). The CFV was armed with the same TOW missile launcher that would be featured on the M2 Bradley. Designed as a scout it had better optics (and was the first to get thermal sights) and radios, plus could only carry four scouts. In the place of the two dismounts it could carry more ammo and TOW missiles. An ATGM version, the M601 was armed with a TOW missile station, with a powerful thermal sight and four missile tubes. Eventually an air defense version with cannon and SAMs (M6A6) was developed and even an engineer vehicle (M691).
The M6 family would see early and extensive combat in the Third World War. Deployed with the Army in the central United States, the weaknesses of the M6s were found quickly. First it was less armored than the BMP. The lighter stronger armor did not fully live up to expectations. It would resist small arms and limited RPG fire. However it could stand up to neither the 73mm cannon of the BMP nor some of the rapid fire 30mm weapons found on other Russian AFVs. The standard model of the M6A1 also lacked the ability to take on Soviet tanks, making it highly vulnerable when the Russians launched attacks with their tank battalions. The strengths of the M6 were its speed and adaptability. During the war a crash program was launched to arm the M6A1s with TOW launchers (M6A3) and in just a year most of the original models had seen this deficiently fixed. Its high speed allowed the IFV to out run every Soviet AFV and this combined with its maneuverability allowed the Gavin to pepper the Russians with hit and run attacks.
Production wise the M6 Gavin was easier and quicker to produce compared to the M2 Bradley. As a result despite its weaknesses, the Gavin would remain in production for the rest of the war. It saw service in several European armies, including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Spain. Middle Eastern clients include Egypt and Saudi Arabia. During the brief conflict with Iraq, Saudi ground units used the M6’s as scouts and raiders to great effectiveness. In Asia the sole user of the M6 Gavin is the Philippines. They would field the IFV during the Pacific War against the Japanese Empire, where it proved a match for the various LAVs and IFVs Japan fielded during its invasion of the Philippine Islands. The M6 in its Marine version (LAV6) saw combat in both World War III and the Pacific War, used in the amphibious assaults on Texas, Cuba, Mexico, the counter landing on the Philippines, and the battles on Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
After a long wait, the Allied IFV of RA2 has appeared. I'm pretty happy with it, using a real LAV body (LAV-25) as the base. Not sure I'm completely happy with the engineering version but I wanted to include that one as it was one of the distinctive IFV options from the game.
Not sure what we'll see next, but thanks for any comments in advance.