WWII Vehicles

vehicles_1b1941 Dodge WC-21 Weapons Carrier
At the outset of WW II, Dodge produced the G-505 WC 1/2 Ton series of military light trucks in 38 individual models, thousands of some models were produced, while only a few of some others were made. The WC 1/2 ton trucks replaced the 1940 VC-1 to VC-6 1/2 ton Dodge trucks which were also part of the G505 series.

The lightweight and versatile Dodge half-ton 4×4 G505 WC series of trucks were built during 1941 and 1942. They were the first Dodge all-military design developed in the build-up to full mobilization for World War II. The various G505 models — Pickup/Weapons Carrier, Panel, Command and Reconnaissance, Ambulance — were carried over to the 3/4 ton G502 WC trucks that superseded the half-ton line in 1942.

Although often put forward as the explanation, WC does not stand for "weapons carrier." "WC" was a Dodge model code: W for 1941 (or later) plus C for half-ton rating. The "C" code was retained for the ton and 1 1/2 ton Dodges, an inconsistency in the codes. WC models 1 to 50 were part of the 1/2 ton range and were 80% interchangeable in service parts with the later 3/4 ton models.

Common features of the 1/2 ton trucks were:

  • Drive: 4×4
  • Wheelbase: 116 in (123 in for ambulances)
  • Track width: 59.375 in
  • Tires: 7.50×16
  • Brakes: Hydraulic
  • Engine: 6 cyl, in-line, L-head
  • Transmission: 4 forward/1 reverse, manual
  • Transfer case: Single speed

1943 Studebaker M29 Weasel
The Weasel began development in 1942, to meet a requirement by the First Special Services Force for transportation into Norway where the target was power plants supplying Germany with electricity. The vehicle specifications included:

  • Ability to move quickly and easily through the winter snows of Norway
  • Air transportable and able to be dropped by parachute
  • Cargo capacity to carry arms, explosives, and other supplies

An entirely new and innovative vehicle was needed, under wartime pressures to get it done yesterday. Studebaker Company accepted the challenge in May of 1942 and they immediately went to work on a 180-day schedule to produce the vehicle. In less than 60 days, they had a vehicles_3prototype, which, after testing and improvements, was standardized as the M28 Cargo Carrier. The Weasel was originally conceived as a snow vehicle. The concept for the Weasel received resistance in the beginning, but was eventually approved with the assistance of Dwight Eisenhower, then in the War Plans Division.

Utilizing a Champion 6 cylinder engine and other automotive components. The initial reaction to the Weasel was lukewarm as it had questionable handling characteristics in snow and frequently threw it’s tracks. When it was discovered however, that the little vehicle could go almost anywhere, Army officials were encouraged. Studebaker set about redesigning it, moving the engine from back to front and improving other design flaws.

While the mission to Norway had been cancelled, the Weasel proved to be a versatile vehicle that could be used for command, radio, ambulance, signal line laying, and light cargo. It operated effectively on difficult terrain such as snow, swamps, sand, deep mud, and lakes. The new version, designated the M29 worked beautifully on all terrains. Used in Europe and the Pacific, the military relied heavily on the Weasel and continued their use after the war. The last version, the M29C, was amphibious and found extensive use in the Pacific. By VJ day, over 15,000 Weasels had been built.

Museum Examples

1941 Dodge WC-21 Weapons Carrier
Most of the Dodge ½-ton military trucks that saw combat in World War II were those shipped to Russia and Great Britain as "Lend Lease" aid. Lend-Lease aid destined for France was redirected when France surrendered. Dodge ½-ton military trucks were extensively deployed in Northern Africa where the rapidly alternating successes in battle saw them captured by the Germans and recaptured by the Allies. Prior to World War II the Dodge W ½-tons were deployed in the Philippines for use by the US Army, although many were captured and used by the Japanese during the war.


1943 Studebaker M29 Weasel
The M29 Cargo Carrier (Weasel), standardized in November 1943, had four seats and moved the engine to the front right. It has tracks with a mild slant downward to the front, robustly supported by eight sets of road wheels on an improved suspension. The electrical system is upgraded to 12-volts. During production, the track width was increased from 15 to 20 inches.vehicles_5

It was used in Europe, the Pacific and Alaska during World War II, and by VJ Day, over 15,000 had been built. During the decades following WW II, the M29C was used in Arctic and Antarctic Operations, supporting explorers and scientists.