The Cadillac Gage model V-100 Commando was developed as a private venture by the firm’s Terra-Space division in 1962. In response to Cadillac Gage’s marketing efforts, by 1965 the firm began receiving orders from Oman, Somalia and Sudan. These were followed by orders from other third world and Arabic nations; most notably from the Republic of South Vietnam.
The second and third pilot models had been purchased by the U.S. Advance Research Projects Agency and shipped to South Vietnam in September 1963, while the first pilot was purchased by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command for testing in the states. The field trials of the vehicle in Vietnam proved that the Commando was indeed suitable for use in that theater, albeit with some minor changes.
V-100s initially supplied to South Vietnam through U.S. aid were designated XM706. With the changes made at serial number 10596, the vehicle was re-designated XM706E1, and was later standardized in U.S. service as the M706. The turretless version was classified XM706E2.
Although early Cadillac Gage literature indicates that an optional diesel powerplant was available for the V-100, all production vehicles were powered by a Chrysler M75 V-8 gasoline engine of 361 cubic inch displacement. All versions of the Commando could swim without preparation with water propulsion being provided by the turning wheels. A bilge pump was provided, with a capacity of 50 gallons per minute, more than enough to deal with any leaks from door or vision block openings.
Despite the success of the Commando in Vietnam, after America’s withdrawal from that conflict the vehicle saw only limited use by U.S. forces. Upon return to the United States, many of the vehicles were expended as range targets, although a few went through a rebuild program for use as security vehicles in Europe.
Other examples were supplied to large cities for use in riot control and by police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams. Though developed in 1962, the design of this 4x4 amphibian still appears modern, and its descendants continue to see service around the globe.
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