As modern armies became mechanized, they needed to find ways to transport material across uneven terrain. One solution, developed by several countries during World War II, was a truck with wheels in the front and tracks in the back to help drive it over rough country—the “half-track.”
The M3 Half-track was designed to transport soldiers as part of an armored advance. Its sides were lightly armored for protection against shell fragments. A back door provided easy entry and exit. Half-tracks were armed with .30 or .50-caliber machine guns, which could provide fire support during an assault. These vehicles were also used to haul supplies, evacuate the wounded, and act as mobile communication bases.
Date Introduced: 1941
Manufacturer: White Motor Company
Number Produced: 40,000+
Crew: 2 (Driver and Gunner), capacity of 12
Length: 20 feet
Width: 7 feet
Maximum Speed: 45 miles per hour
Engine: White 160AX, 6-cylinder, in-line
Weight: 17,650 pounds (gross)
Armament: One .50-caliber machine gun
Produced from 1942 to 1944, the Dodge WC-54 was the standard US ambulance. Roof-mounted slings and folding-bench seating provided room for four stretchers or six seated patients.
The Sherman tank was the most commonly used American tank in World War II. More than 50,000 Shermans were produced between 1942 and 1945. They were used in all combat theaters—not only by the United States, but also by Great Britain, the Free French, China, and even the Soviet Union.
The US Army began development of a light tank in the early 1930s. After a number of models which progressively increased armor and fire power, the M3 series was initiated in July 1940. Provided to British forces as part of the Lend-Lease Act, the M3 first saw combat with British forces in North Africa in November 1941. The British found the M3 to be under-gunned, but were so pleased with its mechanical performance that they nicknamed it “Honey.”
Trucks such as this 2.5-ton vehicle played vital logistical roles—mostly famous in the Red Ball Express, when over 5,000 vehicles maintained supply lines to the front-line forces after the D-Day landing. Most drivers in the convoy were African American, reflecting a segregated military in which black troops were often relegated to non-combat, but essential, roles.
This tracked vehicle was designed to rescue people in flooded areas after hurricanes, using its cup-like metal tracks to “swim” through the water and “crawl” over obstacles, such as coral reefs.