LVT-4 ‘Water Buffalo’

Landing Vehicle Tracked Model 4, Amphibious Armored Personnel Carrier! Recently BAIV discovered this very rare vehicle and is up for sale including a partial restoration at our workshop for more information contact us.

Development of the LVT-4

The fourth model LVT (LVT-4) was designed in 1943 and was based on the previous LVT-2. It was the first to feature a stern ramp for the unloading of personnel and cargo. It was also the most produced of any LVTs during the war.

Iwo Jima

The rear ramp alone was a remarkable step forward, essentially dictated by early battle reports over casualties during troop landings. The vehicle was completely remodeled around this feature, with the engine relocated from the rear to behind the driver’s cab. This allowed a larger cargo area and thus provided enough space to accommodate a full rear loading ramp, and up to 30 marines (compared to the LVT-2’s 16). This configuration provided better protection to landing forces and facilitated loading. Another particularity was the addition of Wash Vanes (honeycombed boxes above the tracks) that forced the water out, pushed by the grousers when in motion.

The Continental W670-9A engine (same engine as used in the M3 Stuart light tank) drove the front sprockets through a very short prop shaft, together with a controlled differential and final drive unit. The Torsilastic transmission used a 5 forward one 1 reverse spicer gearbox. The driver could see through two large bulletproof glass slits and access/exit through two hatches on top.
It had 73 track links per side, with grousers, which propelled it both on land and on water. Track adjustment was provided by the moving the idler and sprocket. There were 11 independent bogie wheels and two return rollers.

The armament consisted of 12.7 (0.5 in) and 7.62 mm (0.3 in) machine guns, with or without masks, on four side pintle mounts, manned by the squad, plus a ball-mounted 30 cal (7.62 mm) in the front cab, manned by the co-driver. In addition, appliqué armor could be attached, 0.5 inches (13 mm) on the front and 0.25 inches (6.4 mm) on the sides.

However, when this was done, the payload was reduced by 3000 lbs (1,360 kg).

1.1   The LVT-4 in action

Only 8.300 LVT-4’s were produced from December 1943 until the end of the war by 4 manufactures being the Food Machinery Corp at Lakeland, Florida; Riverside & San Jose, California; Graham-Paige Motor Corp. in Detroit and Michigan and St Louis Car Co. at St Louis, Missouri.

The LVT-4s were first used in operation during Operation Stalemate II at the island Peleliu in the Pacific, along with LVT-2s.

This operation proofed the designer’s efforts, leading to a well-improved machine, useful, well-protected and very reliable.


Later LVT-4’s participated also in the Saipan campaign (June 1944), Guam and Tinian (July 1944) etc. Therefore the LVT’s became an iconic unit for all US military operations in the Pacific.

However LVT-4s were also used during the war in Europe.Crossing_the_Rhine_in_a_British_Buffalo

As well British and Canadian troops used them during their operations in the Netherlands.First time they were used was during the famous Battle of the Scheldt in October 1944 but the Buffalo saw also action in the liberation of Arnhem. Read also this nice story Private Arthur Moore who he helped liberate Arnhem 14th April 1945 with the aid of a Buffalo ( 79th Armoured Division). 13 April 1945, see link

Also the Buffalo’s were used in larges quantities by the US forces when crossing several rivers in Germany. The British used them also during their Rhine crossing in March 1945 (Operation Plunder).Others were provided, through Lend-Lease, to the Red Army . The Russian troops used these units when assaulting the well-defended Oder and Danube west banks. After the war, LVT’s continued services in many army’s. The French army used them in the Suez crisis intervention and also it the war in Indochina war. The American Marines (USMC) used many LVT4’s in the Korean war.

Below an impressive list were the LVT-4  performed an active duty during WW2:

  • Europe, river crossing operations during WW2 1944-45hrwllu
  • Battle of Saipan (Japan) the LVT-4 saw massive use in the Pacific theater of WW2 during 1944
  • South East Asia landings in Burma and Malaya (Japan) 1943-4585d30e2881aaa417529e2e7f110c82df
  • Battle of Iwo Jima (Japan) the LVT-4 was used in the Pacific theater of WW2 during 1945BB-43-LVT-okinawa