Hum Dinger

A Hummer of an Experience

In a development sure to shock the free world, MSN has a very interesting article up today. It’s about the HMMWV – the Humvee – and the commercial offshoots that it has spawned.

No matter your opinion of the oil-guzzling behemoths on America’s highways or the tax breaks they get, the article is an interesting read. Of course, the majority of the info is about the development of the military Humvee and the Hummer H1, the consumer model based on it. The Hummer H2, which is a Humvee-styled vehicle based on GM’s sport-utility vehicle chassis, gets a mention, but not much.

The specs required that the new mobile transporter for troops have a 16-inch ground clearance, which is roughly double the ground clearance of today’s average sport utility vehicle. The new vehicle being sought by the U.S. military had to be able to climb a 60 percent incline and cling to a dramatic 40 percent slope without a problem. It had to be able to carry a 2,500 payload—akin to the payload of some heavy-duty pickups—and ford through 2.5 feet of water.

The military said it needed to carry the vehicle to inhospitable locations by ship, plane or helicopter. The chopper ride, by the way, could necessitate dropping the vehicle from the air at a speed of 200 miles an hour! The military also expected a 15-year service life, at a minimum, and the new vehicle had to be ready to travel in all manner of extreme conditions—Arctic cold of minus 50 degrees or on nine different kinds of sand found round the world.

South Bend-based AM General took just 11 months to meet the government specs. Its answer: The diesel-powered Humvee, also known as the outset as “the war wagon.”

I recall reading a big review of the Humvee in a 1982 (or so) issue of International Combat Arms magazine. (It was the issue with the kneeling one-man-army Boba Fett-looking super soldier on the cover, I think.) I remember the claim that the official nickname of the HMMWV was “Hummer” since “Hum-Vee” obviously wasn’t going to be used by anyone, but that most expected the troops to come up with something else. Funny.

AM General began delivering Humvees to the military in 1985. The vehicles saw first combat in Panama.

“One of the vehicles dropped by helicopter landed upside down; the (Army) Rangers rolled it over and drove it away,” Mac Nab said.

The MSN article goes on to compare and contrast the military version with the consumer model. Go check it out.

And, despite the total coolness of the Humvee, there’s no call whatsoever for this monster.