Gama Goat

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The Gama Goat was a six-wheel-drive semi-amphibious off-road vehicle originally developed for use by the US Military for the war in Vietnam. It was famous for an articulated body, which allowed it to travel over exceptionally rough terrain and for a unique four-wheel steering arrangement with the front and rear wheels turning in opposite directions. The vehicle's nickname came from two sources; "Gama" from the name of the inventor of its powered articulated joint, Roger Gamount, and "Goat" for its mountain goat-like off-road ability. Its military designation was M561, 66 tactical 1-ton truck. There was also an ambulance version known as the M792 that could carry four litters. Overall, some 15,274 Gama Goats were built at a cost of US$8,000 each; this was considered quite high at the time. While the Gama Goat had exceptional off-road ability, its quirky steering made it hard to handle on pavement, and its tendency to founder in amphibious operations required drivers to have special training in order to operate it. This meant it could not be the "general purpose" vehicle the Army had hoped for, and production was halted after the original contract expired. This is somewhat ironic, as some[who?] claim the problems were largely due to cost-cutting modifications made at the request of the U.S. Army. The air-cooled engine overheated and high pitched noise issues resulted in a warning to all operators that hearing protection was required while driving the vehicle. The double hull construction and complex articulated drive train made maintenance difficult. While technically listed as amphibious, the swimming capability was limited to smooth water crossings of ponds, canals and streams due to the very low freeboard and the lack of a propeller. Propulsion in the water was supplied by the six spinning wheels, and bilge pumps were standard equipment. Drivers had to remember to close the hull's drain openings before swimming the vehicles. Some models had extra equipment installed which made them non-swimmable, such as heavy-duty winches, communications shelters making them top heavy or radar gear. The 'Goat is prized among military vehicle collectors because it is so unusual and in short supply. The vehicle was replaced by the CUCV and HMMWV. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]







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