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Sunday, February 12, 2012

American Cargo Trucks

Logistics are as important to an army, if not more than the fighting units. An army without bullets or food can't fight. Napoleon's army became so powerful in part because he understood logistics well, which allowed his army to move fast and kept his corps well supplied -that is of course before they went into Russia. When you read the memoirs of German soldiers, often they are amazed at the amount of  food, fuel, medical supplies, and ammunition that the Americans had, and sometimes wonder what they might have been able to accomplish with such amounts of supplies. Of course, the Allies also had their share of logistical challenges, caused by their failure to quickly capture the port of Cherbourg, and the pace at which their land armies eventually broke out of the Normandy region. In order to keep the ground troops supplied, the 'Red Ball Express' was formed. This was a shipping operation running between August and November of 1944. It consisted of almost 6000 cargo trucks carrying supplies to the front over dedicated roads and a distance that grew up to 400 miles. Considering that the speed limit was set at 25mph, this was a very taxing journey for the drivers, as well as for the vehicles which had very little down time for maintenance. It is the vehicles described in this post which provided the foundation to keep the allies properly supplied in the field. In terms of scale models, there is not much available, but there are a couple of nice vehicles that we can examine.

Forces of Valor US 6x6 1.5 Ton Cargo Truck

Also known as the Dodge WC63, this was a light truck. The difference between the WC62 and WC63 was only the winch at the front. It weighed 3.25 tons and could carry 1.5 on its bed. It was used to move both troops and cargo. It had a mount in the front for a .50 cal Browning MG. This model from Forces of Valor comes with a driver and a MG operator. The top is removable. The only thing missing compared to pictures of real ones is the spare tire next to the driver. The model does have a small round bend on the side next to the driver, but I guess they did not get around to fastening a tire there. The only thing I have to complain about this truck is its price. It is one of the most recent releases and they have become increasingly expensive. In the past I might have purchased 2 or 3 of them to setup a small convoy scene, but at these prices I am not buying more than one!

Forces of Valor US 2 1/2 Ton Cargo Truck

Officially known as the GMC CCKW and unofficially called 'Jimmy' or 'deuce and a half' (all 2.5 ton trucks were referred to in this manner), this was a medium cargo truck in the US Army. Note how it has 4 extra tires compared to the 1.5 ton truck to accommodate the extra load. It is a six-wheel-drive vehicle. Over half a million of them were made before and during WWII in multiple variations, which gives an idea of the amount of supplies that had to be moved to keep the fighting forces supplied. Before the port of Antwerp was captured, all supplies to the forces in Europe had to be carried from the beaches in Normandy, requiring at its peak close to 6000 of these trucks. This operation was known as the Red Ball Express. Forces of Valor has delivered another nice model. It also comes with 2 crewmen, a winch up front, and a removable top.

 Forces of Valor U.S. GMC. 2.5 Ton Cargo Truck with 4 x 0.5 AA Machine Gun - Part I

Here is a variation of the GMC 2.5 ton truck, equipped with a quadruple Anti Aircraft 50 cal. machine gun. Not really a cargo truck, but built on top of one. The truck comes with the driver only. The two other figures are borrowed from other FOV sets. As with some of the other recent FOV sets, it is made mostly out of plastic and it hardly comes with any other battlefield accessories. And the price is also a bit hard to swallow, unless you manage to find it on sale as I did. The uniqueness factor is what tilted the balance in its favor.

Forces of Valor U.S. GMC. 2.5 Ton Cargo Truck with 4 x 0.5 AA Machine Gun - Part II

In this picture you have a better view of the front. not the distinctive grilles protecting the headlamps and the towing cable in the front.


The DUKW, informally referred to as 'Duck', was built on top of the GMC CCKW 2.5 ton truck described above, which meant that it was also manufactured by General Motors. It was used to move troops and cargo over land and water. It was particularly useful for landing operations, playing an important role in the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Normandy landings among other amphibious operations. Weighing 6.5 tons, it could move at a speed of 50 mph on land and 6.3 mph on water. Over 21,000 of them were built. This model was produced by MPC. It comes unpainted and it's not that well detailed. For instance, some Ducks had a ring-mounted MG. This one comes with three MGs, and no ring-mount. It does have a driver and it also comes with a winch in the back and a hook, to which you can attach a string. This vehicle was probably meant initiatlly as a toy, but given the fact that it is the only DUKW that comes assembled it has become relatively popular. Like other MPC vehicles, once it is painted it will probably look fairly decent.

TimMee M35 US 2 1/2 Ton Cargo Truck

This is actually a post war vehicle, which came into service in 1951 and widely used during the Vietnam War, which explains why TimMee released it to complement the Vietnam era GIs that were so popular in the 80s. It was also referred as a Deuce and a Half as its predecessor because of its 2 1/2 tonnage capacity. This model was released with a canvas cover for the back, but unfortunately it was missing when I got it.

Forces of Valor Dodge WC 54 4x4 Ambulance

 This is a nice vehicle from FOV. Mostly metal with a nice heavy feel to it. The back opens for you to load up your wounded and it comes with folding bunks in case it needs to transport additional casualties. The front doors also open and the paint work is very well done. In contrast with earlier FOV vehicles, it does not come with much in the terms of other battlefield accessories.

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