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National WWII Reunion

Military Equipment Display

Throughout the Reunion site displays of military artifacts and equipment relating to World War II were exhibited, including the jeep, command car, ambulance, halftrack, Sherman tank, CCKW, DUKW, Navy deck gun, and an L-4 spotter plane.

List of artifacts and equipment:

Dodge, WC-1, Pickup (1940)

Courtesy of Jim Scott

Part of the G-505 series of 4 x 4 half-ton trucks, the WC-1 had a noticeably military appearance, unlike its predecessor, the VC series. It was distinguished by rounded brush guards, in addition to a flat grille and a sloped hood hinged in the center. Nevertheless, the WC-1 was effectively a pickup with an express-type body and a closed cab. It was equipped with a machine-gun mount for shuttling troops and cargo in combat zones.

Dodge, WC-51, Weapons Carrier (1942)

Courtesy of Jim Scott

The WC (Weapons Carrier) 4 x 4 three-quarter-ton truck, developed in 1942, was an improvement over its sister vehicle, the half-ton truck. The U.S. Army needed a heavier and larger truck for general hauling purposes. Both the Army and Navy used this vehicle to carry large weapons in the European and in Pacific theaters.

Dodge, WC-53, Carryall, USMC (1943)

Courtesy of Ernie Baals

Except for very subtle differences, the design of this vehicle is almost identical to that of the WC-51, a 4 x 4 three-quarter-ton truck. The WC-53 had lower sides for bucket seats, which facilitated getting in and out of the vehicle. In addition, unlike the cargo truck, the Carryall's hood and cowl provided enclosed transportation to military personnel. Following the production of 8,400 vehicles, manufacturing was shut down in April 1943.

Dodge, WC-54 Ambulance

Courtesy of the National Museum of Americans at War

This was the workhorse ambulance of U.S. forces in World War II. Part of a series of tough and reliable three-quarter-ton vehicles, these Dodge trucks could be used as command cars, weapons carriers, and carryall/communications vehicles. More than 26,000 of the ambulances were produced from 1942 to late 1944. They accommodated four stretcher cases or seven sitting patients, plus the medical attendants and their gear.

Dodge, WC-56 Command Car (1944)

Courtesy of Billy Bolton

Built in Detroit from 1942 to 1944, the three-quarters-ton Dodge Command Car was used both for transporting high-ranking military officials and for conducting front-line reconnaissance missions. Its production was soon phased out, however, because it was too easily identified by enemy troops. Of the over 24,000 Dodge Command Cars that were produced during the war, only a few hundred exist today.

Dodge, WC-57 Command Car (1942)

Courtesy of Bob Shawn

Built in Detroit from 1942 to 1944, the three-quarter-ton Dodge Command Car was used both for transporting high-ranking military officials and for conducting front-line reconnaissance missions. Its production was soon phased out, however, because it was too easily identified by enemy troops. The WC-57 command car was almost identical to the WC-56 except that it was equipped with a winch. Of the more than 24,000 Dodge Command Cars that were produced during the war, only a few hundred exist today.

Ford, GPW, Jeep (1941-1945)

Courtesy of Pete Byrne, Reise House, Jim Marcum, Marvin Morthimer, Julius Tauber

In 1940 the U.S. Army commissioned those automobile companies with mass production facilities, such as Willys-Overland and Ford, to build a "universal military vehicle." At Ford the vehicle was commonly called a general-purpose vehicle, or GP for short. When spoken quickly, GP sounded like "jeep," and the name stuck. The parts used on Ford GPWs and Willys MBs were completely interchangeable because the companies' designs were almost identical. These vehicles, recognized for their mobility, durability, and mechanical simplicity, fulfilled a host of duties including transporting military officials and carrying out reconnaissance missions.

What does GPW stand for?
G = Government-contract vehicle
P = 80-inch-wheel reconnaissance car
W = Willys-designed engine

Ford M-8 Armored Car (1943)

Courtesy of Tony Lambros

Prior to 1942, the U.S. Army hesitated to use armored vehicles because so many armored tanks were available for various military operations. However, since each of the foreign allied forces used armored vehicles, the Army commissioned the development of the Ford 6 x 6 model, otherwise known as the M-8 light armored car. Over 8,500 were produced between 1942 and 1943. These vehicles proved to be very useful for patrol, escort, and reconnaissance missions in both Europe and Japan because of their light weight, relative speed, armored protection, and mobility.

Ford Staff Car (1942)

Courtesy of Philip Schreier

When the United States entered the war, American automobile manufacturers converted their factories for military operations. This four-door sedan was the last new car model available until after the war. Reconfigured as an Army staff car, it features "suicide" rear doors (so called because they were hinged at the rear, instead of the front, and could fly open easily), a powerful V-8 engine, and a fuel-fired interior heater. Production of this model was very limited.

GMC, CCKW, 2 ½-Ton Truck

Courtesy of the National Museum of Americans at War

Except for the Jeep, more of these trucks were built during World War II than any other vehicle model. General Motors produced 412,385 units. They were used for hauling troops, equipment, and supplies. The principal truck of the U.S. Army, as well as other service branches, the CCKW is considered to be the truck that won the war. It was commonly known as the "Jimmy" (as in GMC) or the "deuce and a half" (its 2 ½-ton off-road carrying capacity). It could carry five tons on hard-surface roads.

CCKW is the General Motors production code.
C = The year GM designed the truck, 1941
C = Standard cab
K = Front-wheel drive
W = Rear-wheel drive

GMC, DUKW-353 "Duck" (1944)

Courtesy of Tom Buonaugurio

The "Duck" was created in 1942 by GMC for the purpose of transporting troops and cargo from ships to shore without having to change vehicles. The British 8th Army first used it during the invasion of Sicily, and over the course of the war, this vehicle proved invaluable in both the European and Pacific theaters. For land maneuvers, the vehicle employed six driving wheels and a steering-gear assembly. In the water, a propeller drove it. Although the Duck is no longer used for military purposes, it now transports tour groups in Boston and Washington, D.C.

What does DUKW stand for?
D = First year of production code. "D" is for 1942.
U = Utility truck
K = Front-wheel drive.
        GMC still uses that on trucks today (K5 Chevy Blazer).
W = Two rear driving wheels

Indian motorcycle, Model 741 (1943)

Courtesy of Ted Ballard

During World War II, Indian Motorcycles converted most of its production to the war effort, refitting Scout models to fit military motorcycle specifications. Although the U.S. Army favored the Harley-Davidson WLA, the Model 741 became the primary motorcycle used by the Allied nations of Canada and Great Britain. This model came complete with "blackout" headlights and taillights, which made the bike more difficult for enemy troops to see, and a crankshaft for smoother running. The 741 was originally designed for desert warfare but came to be used primarily by soldiers relaying messages between camps.

M1A1, Wrecker, Ward La France (1944)

Courtesy of Mike Tauber

The production of the final Ward La France Heavy Wrecking Truck, Model 1000 Series 5, began in May 1943. Because of its powerful winch and crane, this model worked well as a recovery vehicle, though it often had trouble on rough terrain. Debris and stones would become embedded in the tires, and replacement of those tires was often very complicated. As a result, this model wrecker was used less than its contemporaries.

M3A1 Carrier, Personnel, Half-Track

Courtesy of the National Museum of Americans at War

Produced from 1941 to 1943, 12,499 of the M3 series of half-tracks were made by White, Diamond-T, and Autocar. A total of over 40,000 half-tracks in more than 50 different variations were produced during World War II. They were used by all of the Allied forces in multiple roles: reconnaissance, personnel carriers, ambulances, communication vehicles, and as weapons platforms. In the last role they were fitted with machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, mortars, and even howitzers.

M4A3 Tank, Medium (Sherman)

Courtesy of the National Museum of Americans at War

Designed to support infantry and not to fight other tanks, the M4 series was the backbone of the U.S. armored forces in World War II. Built between 1942 and 1945, it was produced in greater numbers (over 54,000) than any other tank in U.S. history. Its success was due to its reliability, simplicity, and ease of handling and maintenance.

M5A1 Tank, Light (Stuart)

Courtesy of the National Museum of Americans at War

The M5A1 Stuart tank first appeared in combat in North Africa in early 1943. It served as the standard light tank for reconnaissance forces until 1945. Twin Cadillac engines and an automatic transmission made it fast and easy to operate. Although its armor was vulnerable to German tanks and anti-tank guns, its 37mm main gun was effective against enemy light armored and soft-skinned vehicles, as well as enemy strong points. In the Pacific theater, it was very effective against Japanese armored vehicles.

M-29C, Weasel (1943)

Courtesy of Ron and Joe Bruno

This efficient, mobile cargo carrier, produced by the Studebaker Corporation, was originally designed for navigation over snow and ice, and was painted in a snow camouflage scheme. The U.S. Army initially developed the Weasel for use in a raid on Norwegian power plants that were thought to be producing heavy water for Germany's atomic bomb program. However, as the fear of such a program lessened over time, the 10th Mountain Division put the Weasel to use in other military capacities (including amphibious) in Europe, the Pacific, and Alaska.

Piper L-4 (1939)

Courtesy of Art Nalls, Jr.

The Piper L-4 was the military version of the famous "Piper Cub." When William Piper offered the Cub for military use, only minor modifications were needed: larger Plexiglas windows, a rear-facing rear seat, and olive drab paint. The L-4 was able to take off and land from short, unimproved grass fields, roads, and even ships. Because the L-4 was easy to fly but difficult to shoot down, it was the ideal vehicle for a variety of military missions, including reconnaissance, transporting wounded personnel, delivering supplies, and artillery spotting.

Plymouth, P-11 Staff Car (1941)

Courtesy of Mike Crosman and Dave Dannegger

When the United States entered the war, American automobile manufacturers converted their factories for military operations. This four-door sedan was the last new car model available until after the war. Reconfigured as an Army staff car, it features "suicide" rear doors (so called because they were hinged at the rear, instead of the front, and could fly open easily) and a six-cylinder engine. The P-11 was used widely by the Army for transporting VIPs and for many other tasks, such as courier service, military police, and general behind-the-lines transportation. The P-11 was used in the European and South Pacific theaters. The Navy primarily used the P-11 for transportation of flag officers at various naval bases. Production of this model was very limited.

Willys MB, Jeep (1942-1945)

Courtesy of John Como, Mat Curtis, Bob Dowling, Scott Johnson, Tim Ketchum, John McLeaf, Don Rollette, and Larry Tucker

In 1940 the U.S. Army commissioned those automobile companies with mass production facilities, such as Willys-Overland and Ford, to build a "universal military vehicle." At Ford the vehicle was commonly called a general-purpose vehicle, or GP for short. When spoken quickly, GP sounded like "jeep," and the name stuck. Between 1941 and 1945, Willys-Overland produced 360,000 of the model MB jeeps, out of the over 630,000 jeeps manufactured in World War II. The parts used on Ford GPWs and Willys MBs were completely interchangeable because the companies' designs were almost identical. These vehicles, recognized for their mobility, durability, and mechanical simplicity, fulfilled a host of duties including transporting military officials and carrying out reconnaissance missions.

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