Memorial Day 2014: Top Speed's Top-Five Military Vehicles

As Americans give pause to remember those men and women who honorably gave their lives in defense of the United States, we take a look at the top-five military vehicles that our troops used. It’s by no means a comprehensive list, but one of that celebrates a wide variety of military muscle spanning over the last 70 years of American history.

These vehicles have demonstrated their ability to perform their duties with amazing skill, while traversing all sorts of hostile terrain from hilly landscapes riddled with mud and ruts to sandy deserts miles away from civilization. Some have rather specialized tasks, while others are more general purpose. Either way, they’re fascinating to look at.

These vehicles not only inspire cheers of patriotism and pride, but also awaken our inner child for all things military. And while there are tons of military vehicles the world over that demand just as much respect, our list focuses on those hailing from the U.S.

Click past the jump for our list of Top Five Military Vehicle

5. Oshkosh M-ATV MRAP

Memorial Day 2014: Top Speed's Top-Five Military Vehicles

The M-ATV is designed to pick up where the famed HMMWV or Humvee is leaving off as it gets phased out of service. The M-ATV has a designation of MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected and has a specially-designed undercarriage in the shape of a V that directs blast waves from explosive devises out and away from the passenger compartment. Speaking of the passengers, the M-ATV is designed to carry four crew members plus a gunner up top. Power comes from a 7.2-liter, I-6 turbo-diesel sourced from Caterpillar. Making 370 horsepower and 925 pound-feet of torque, this 4X4 can trudge through nearly any terrain in relative safety. Run-flat tires keep the vehicle moving if gun fire or explosives get out of control, and thick armored plating keeps occupants safe from enemy fire.

4. Buffalo

Memorial Day 2014: Top Speed's Top-Five Military Vehicles

The Force Protection Industries’ Buffalo is a lot like the Oshkosh M-ATV MRAP in that it has a hardened hull designed to deflect explosive blasts. But while the Oshkosh works well at protecting its occupants, the Buffalo takes it to the next level. Going on the offensive is the Buffalo’s robotic arm attached to its front bumper and controlled from inside the vehicle. With its claw-like arm, it can dig up enemy mines without endangering personnel. Weighing in at nearly 50,000 pounds, the Buffalo is a massive vehicle, but its powered by an equally large 450-horsepower, inline-six turbo-diesel.

3. Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle

Memorial Day 2014: Top Speed's Top-Five Military Vehicles

Probably the coolest vehicle on the list is this sandrail first used in the 1991 Gulf War. It’s highly favored by U.S. Special Forces who use the DPV’s good handling and fast top speeds to get in and out of an area quickly. Power comes from a 2.0-liter, air-cooled Volkswagen Volkswagen engine that makes 200 horsepower, propelling the fast attack vehicle to 60 mph in roughly 8 seconds. Capable of carrying machine guns, the DPV works well for small missions that require precision.

2. HUMVEE

Memorial Day 2014: Top Speed's Top-Five Military Vehicles

The venerable High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee as it came to be called was and continues to be a staple in the U.S. Armed Forces. It first saw action in the Gulf War and quickly showed its worth by proving difficult to get stuck in the sand while offering plenty of room, and cargo capacity for extra troops and gear. As times have changed, the Humvee has adopted heavy armor plating to keep its troops safe, though the extra weigh severely hinders its already sluggish performance. Powered by a decades-old design GM 6.5-liter, turbo-diesel engine, the Humvee is nearing the end of its life as vehicles like the Oshkosh MRAP begin to replace it.

1. Willys MB

Memorial Day 2014: Top Speed's Top-Five Military Vehicles

No list covering top military vehicles could be complete without including the original Willys MB. The vehicle was commissioned at the start of WWII as a lightweight troop carrier and reconnaissance vehicle. It proved to be one of the most instrumental tools the troops had at their disposal during the world-wide conflict. Though powered by a small 60-horsepower, 2.2-liter, I-4 engine, the vehicle only weighed some 2,000 pounds. Simple, easy to fix parts helped the Willys remain in constant service. The men who fought beside the little vehicle soon began calling it a "Jeep." Though there are several theories behind the name, including the combination of GP for Government/Passenger and a mythical creature featured in Popeye comic strips named Eugene the Jeep. Regardless of the actual reason it received the "Jeep" nickname, the moniker became synonymous with the four-wheeled vehicle.

After the war, Willys continued production, calling it the CJ for Civilian Jeep. Though Willys would eventually fall to hard times, the Jeep name continues today, having been passed around between manufacturers like AMC, AM General, and Chrysler.


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