Libya M113


Recent photographs of US made M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers in Libyan service during the current Civil War have caused some surprise amongst spectators.

The relationship between the Libya and the US deteriorated in the 1970s due to Libya’s involvement in state sponsored terrorism.  This resulted in a US arms export ban and the suspension of a number of impending equipment transfers.  The extent of military deliveries prior to such restrictions is unclear.  Libya did receive a number of US aircraft types after this time, however the majority of these were delivered and/or manufactured (under license) via Italy.

The source and number of M113 deliveries is therefore uncertain. 

In regards to the source of these Libyan M113s a number of possibilities should be considered:
a) Imported by either Italy or Brazil, both of which operate the M113 in large numbers and are known suppliers of military vehicles to Libya.
b) Supplied by one of Libya’s allies in the Middle East and/or Africa.
c) US exported before restrictions.

Before the Civil War and with the recent thaw in US/Libyan relations, Libya reported sought a deal to refurnish/upgrade 50 M113s, thus giving an indication of minimum numbers.

A photograph of an M113 being transported, via a low loader, to the Benghazi on or around 18 March 2011.  The green flag indicates that it is being operated by pro-Gaddafi forces.

Free Libya Rebels gather around two M113s.  Neither of these vehicles are identical to the one above although may be part of the same convoy.  The circumstances of this photograph are unclear but the rear M113 has clearly suffered severe damage.

01 Apr 2011, Benghazi, Libya --- A burned out tank lies next to the street in Benghazi..."

A further photograph of the damaged M113, now removed from the trailer and left abandoned by the side of the road.  It is unknown if the other seemingly undamaged vehicle was put into rebel service.

A final archive screenshot of a Libyan M113 during a parade (date unknown)

From a 1/35 scale modelling perspective……

There are numerous M113 variants available from a range of manufactures, however the Tamiya and Academy offering are generally considered the best.   Libyan examples are likely to represent early M113/M113A1 so choose accordingly.

UPDATE 13/06/2011

In regards to the likely origin of Libyan M113s it seems increasingly likely that there were exported direct from the USA prior to any restrictions.  This is based primarily on the following two factors.

1. Closer inspection of the photos indicates that these are the early M113 base variants (as opposed to the M113A1 introduced in 1964), indicates by the thin front headlight bracket/guard.  
2. SIPRI indicates the delivery year for these vehicles as 1966.

Although it has been also pointed out that Italy licensed produced M113s, although I cannot be certain, it seems unlikely there were exporting or manufacturing such base models in the mid 1960s.

UPDATE: 10/07/2011

In this undated photograph of a further M113 example further indications of it being an early base model M113 are evident.  The headlight guard is clearly the thinner more circular cross section design when compare to M113A1 and later models.  The engine access panel also reveals the white circlur air cleaner upper body associated with the early M113 Chrysler 75M gasoline engine, subsequent variants all had diesel engines.


  1. Libya received a number of M113s before the break with the US. They are fairly easy to operate and maintain.
    Just about every country in the region operates them, including enemies and allies of Ghaddafi. Spares should be easy to come by, and Iran supposedly manufactures spares themselves.

  2. Yes, SIPRI (www.sipri.org) lists Libya as having imported M113s in 1966. They aren't sure of the source but suggest either Italy or the USA.

  3. And I'll also add a thanks for your blog and this interesting post.

  4. Thank you both for your comments, particularly in highligting SIPRI to me, which I will be no doubt using regularly in the future.

  5. Some pics of M113's in rebel hands available here: (one is an M557 variant)