SOME OF OUR FAVORITE BEASTS-IN-RESIDENCE.
Curb weight: 13,000 – 16,000 pounds Dimensions: 112” tall, 96” wide, 277” long
MPG: 11 mpg hwy, 8 mpg city Horsepower: 134
Top speed: 56 mph Engine: 7.8 L, turbocharged, multi-fuel, in-line 6
We have two M35s – a 1971 M35A2 and a 1993 M35A3.
This family of 10-wheel M35 trucks was introduced in 1950 and quickly became the dominant medium-duty truck across all U.S. Military branches.
The M35 cargo is rated to carry 5,000 pounds off-road or 10,000 pounds on road, making it ideal for people who like to go to Costco but only want to do it once a year.
Because of its fording ability, the U.S. Army nicknamed the M35 “The Eager Beaver” for a few years. The name never really caught on, which was fine, as the M35 really isn’t a nickname kind of truck.
The M35 series was used heavily in Operation Iraqi Freedom before being retired for the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle – a truck that really could use a nickname, so if you have any ideas, you should send the Army a note. Be sure to include “Vehicle Nick-Naming Division” on the envelope.
The GMC CCKW is a close relative of the Chevrolet G506 – in fact, it was built in the same factory. One of the first things people usually ask is “What do the letters mean?” Well, here’s the breakdown: The first C indicates that it was designed in 1941. The second C indicates a conventional cab. The K indicates all-wheel drive, and the W indicates dual rear axles.
Why K and W were used to signify features that contain neither of those letters is a topic for further research – but it also makes it easy to understand why soldiers gave this truck other names such as the “Deuce and a Half,” and also the “Jimmy,” which has a less obvious rationale but is definitely a lot easier.
Whatever you call it, this 6-wheel cargo truck has a rich history. It was used heavily in World War 2 – in fact, it was the mainstay of the Red Ball Express, a truck convoy that kept supplies flowing to the Allied forces as they pushed eastward after the Normandy invasion.
The name “Red Ball Express” came from several old military traditions. Vice admirals’ ships used to fly white flags with red balls on them. Later, “red ball” referred to rail cars that were prioritized because they were carrying perishables. So “red ball” eventually came to be a descriptor for any type of transport that required priority treatment.
About 75% of the drivers were African-American because the prevailing idea in the military at the time –sadly– was that black soldiers were inherently less combat-ready than their white counterparts, and were therefore usually assigned to support roles in mess halls and motor pools.
gmc cckw cargo truck
Designed by: Yellow Truck and Coach Company Built By: Yellow/GMC Truck and Coach, Chevrolet
Production Years: 1941-1945 Number Built: 562,750
Weight: 8,800 lbs empty, 16,400 loaded Dimensions: 109" tall, 270” long
Horsepower: 91 Top Speed: 45 mph
The irony is that making a 54-hour drive at 25 mph on rough terrain while carrying highly explosive and flammable cargo, changing out tires and whole engines while under enemy fire, and driving through darkness using only cat eyes (headlights masked so that the beams are reduced to tiny slits in order to be less visible to German bombers) took a lot of brains and a lot of guts. But General Patton even called the Red Ball Express “our most important weapon.”
Built to run in incredibly tough conditions, the Jimmy was designed with simple, interchangeable parts that could be quickly and easily assembled – the same kind of design theory behind the Kalashnikov rifle. And that turned out to be pretty brilliant engineering, because under such incredibly tough conditions, these trucks had average life expectancies of less than a year.
The simple, modular design allowed for more than 20 specialized variants of the basic cargo truck, including bomb service, chemical decontamination, dental and surgical operating vans, a fire engine, a gun truck, a dump truck, a fuel tanker, a water tanker, and a welder’s truck.
The US Military used the M37 extensively during the Korean war. Between 1951 and 1968, Dodge produced a total of 115,000 of these versatile trucks.
The straight-six cylinder engine was derived from a widely produced 1930s passenger vehicle, which was in keeping with the long-standing military procurement strategy of using variants of commercially produced vehicles.
The horsepower output was surprisingly low – just 78 hp – but that’s because the M37 was all about torque.
In fact, the combination of the extremely low gear ratio and the long cylinder stroke resulted in aging M37s throwing a lot of rods at higher RPMs during the 1960s – and among the long list of complications that one would like to avoid while driving a truck full of ammunition through a combat zone, throwing a rod is pretty close to the top. So in the 1970s, the M37s were retired – but they had a good run.
Length: 37' 10" Height: 8' 8" Width: 10' 11" Curb Weight: 39,000 lbs
The first thing you might wonder is "what does PTS stand for?" Well, you might feel a little embarrassed to know that it simply stands for "Plavayushchij Transportyer Sryednyj."
(In case you don't speak Russian, that means "Amphibious Transport Medium.")
The Soviet Union introduced these unique beasts in 1965. Capable of carrying a 10-ton payload, the PTS is powered by a 350-HP diesel engine and is happiest when travelling through the river, through the woods, and through pretty much anything else that might be in front of it.
Its boxy hull is watertight, it features a rear loading ramp, and can easily accommodate trucks because they can just drive right up on top of it. The engine is located under the floor in order to maximize cargo capacity, although this feature could easily double as a very serious footwarmer – perfect for going to war in the winter months.
When travelling through water, the PTS uses a pair of propellers which are housed in tunnels to keep them from getting tangled up and thereby embarrassing the crew.
Since its introduction, the PTS has been adopted by many nations besides the Soviet Union, including Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Uruguay.