Water has long been considered a formidable defense, whether a moat surrounding a castle or the oceans surrounding a nation. Of course, through the ages, considerable effort has been expended to counter this defensive strategy.
Within the U.S. Army, considerable emphasis was, and continues to be, placed on bridging, with armored launched bridge layers, ponton, and truss bridges--all capable of being quickly positioned--being at the forefront. However, such measures only successfully span narrow water crossings--and even the fastest of these consume valuable time for preparation and emplacement.
It is not surprising, then, that attention turned to developing amphibious vehicles that would be capable of operating both in water and on land. During WWII, designers, for whom amphibians were a priority, made considerable advancements in the development of these vehicles.
During the Cold War era, strategists believed that the ability to achieve water crossings en masse was critical to defending against the Soviet military. Therefore, deep fording capabilities were mandatory for virtually all U.S. wheeled and tracked vehicle. This led to some vehicles integrating full amphibious abilities.
The following photographic survey chronicles the development and deployment of amphibious vehicles in the U.S. arsenal.
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