Described by one soldier as "a metal box designed by a sadist to move soldiers across the water," the Landing Craft, Infantry was a large beaching craft intended to transport and deliver an infantry rifle company to a hostile shore, once the beachhead was secured. The LCI, or as it was more commonly known, "Elsie Item," and its vehicle-delivery counterpart, the Landing Ship, Medium (LSM), were widely used by the allies during amphibious operations during World War II. They were mid-sized beaching craft filling the gap between the much larger LST and the many types of smaller bow-ramped, open cargo compartment landing craft. The LCI and LSM were the smallest landing ships assigned a Bureau of Ships hull number.
In 1943 the hulls of the LCI and LSM were used as the basis for a new type of gunboat. These specialized fire-support crafts were intended to place suppressive fire on the landing beaches using automatic cannons, rockets, and mortars. While LCI and LSM were phased out after the Korean War, some fire support craft remained in use throughout the Vietnam War.
Written by the author of Osprey's popular book on Landing Ship, Tanks, this book tells the developmental and operational history of this important tool of American amphibious military strategy that spanned three wars.