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Equipment Specifications:  RED BALL EXPRESS

Red Ball Express Intro | Personal Stories | Other Exp Routes


GMC Truck, 2-1/2-ton, 6 x 6, Cargo, CCKW

   Production of the "Jimmy" or "Deuce and a half," began in 1941 by General Motors Corporation and ended in 1945, with 562,750 manufactured.   This GMC truck was the most commonly used tactical vehicle in World War II. 

    The GMCs were originally fitted with a sheet metal type cab.  This was replaced after July 1943 by a tarpaulin or canvas cab, not only for the economic use of steel, but saving volume when transported by boat.

   The rear area was fitted with wooden side racks which folded down for carrying personnel.  The bed could also hold reservoirs for 750 gallons of water and fuel, provide shelter for radio communication or field medical procedures, transport elements of a Treadway bridge for engineers, or bombs for the Army Air Corps. 

    This version of the GMC CCKW was withdrawn from service in the US Army in 1956.


C = designed in 1941

C = standard cab

K = front wheel drive

W = rear wheel drive

Weight (net):             10,350 lbs
Weight (gross):          15,700 lbs
Winch weight:                700 lbs
Fuel Capacity:                  40 gals
Winch Capacity:       10,000 lbs
Fording Depth:           30 inches
Allowable speed:             45 mph


 * * * *

"The operation of GMC trucks is normally smooth and steady, with no loud rattling, knocking or unusual noises.

"A good driver will quickly become accustomed to driving a GMC truck and will get the feel of his vehicle regardless of his engineering knowledge."

                                    Extract from TM 10-1563, Maintenance Manual

  * * * *

Jack Finney and his Red Ball Express vehicle Jack Finney and his Red Ball truck

Above, Jack Finley, with his ‘trusty’ GMC, Red Ball Express.


The Universal CCKW

    During the Cologne offensive, men of the 1st US Army (below) used a Quick Way E55 crane to launch a Treadway bridge on the Ruhr River.

treadway bridge carried on a CCKW

The Treadway bridges were carried on a CCKW-353 specially fitted for this purpose.

optical lab on back of CCKW

Above, a spectacle workshop is installed on a CCKW-353 designed by the American Optical Company.


    In addition to equipment, it transported 36,000 corrective lenses and thousands of frames.  About 15% of American soldiers In World War II wore glasses. 

The CCKW as a Railroad Vehicle

    Prior to the Normandy landings, the US Army used CCKWs converted into rail cars on railway branch lines to warehouses filled with equipment throughout Great Britain.  These vehicles were converted in situ by the US Ordnance Corps, and helped overcome the shortage of steam locomotives.

CCKW converted for use on railroad

    The conversion involved chassis reinforcement by means of two steel girders, the installation of buffers in front and behind, ballast to improve track holding and traction power, an access ladder to the driving cab, and railway wheels.  These machines could move four to five small box cars.

    Less elaborate models were used for inspection and maintenance of railway lines.

The “Railbreaker”

CCKW that lays rail explosive charges

    This CCKW 352 was constructed to distribute explosive charges along railway tracks to ensure that they were destroyed. 

    The charges were stored vertically in eight silos (four on each side) and transferred on each side on a chain driven conveyor belt.  The chain itself was driven by a toothed pulley mounted on the hub of the last rear wheel.

    The charges descended to the ballast by gravity through two chutes supported by a trolley.  An armored plate at the rear of the vehicle protected the assembly against premature or accidental explosions. 

* * *

 Truck, 4-ton, 6 x 6, Wrecker 

   By 1939 the Diamond T Company had a reputation for well engineered, robust trucks.  The 4-ton 6 x 6 wrecker designed for World War II use was no exception.

    The 4-ton rating underestimated the vehicle's capability.  Intended to ensure that the load could be carried on rough ground, the actual strength of construction allowed it to carry twice this load on good roads.

    Equipped with a twin set of heavy-duty booms, a single boom had the capacity to lift a disabled vehicle out of a ditch, while the other boom was used as a stabilizer.  Either boom could operate as a normal crane, but together, they had greater lifting capacity when towing.  The lifting winch was power operated and rated at 15,000 lbs.

wrecker Weight (net):                    21,350 lbs
Weight (gross)                 21,700 lbs
Fuel Capacity                        60 gals
Winch Load Capacity:     15,000 lbs
Fording Depth:                 24 inches
Fuel Consumption (loaded)    8 mpg
Allowable Speed:               40 mph




Motorcycle, Solo, Harley-Davidson, Model 50 WLA

   Harley-Davidson produced the majority of motorcycles used by the American military during World War II.  The Milwaukee factory produced more than 88,000 machines for allied forces worldwide.

   The solo motorcycle provided the Army with fast, flexible transportation for reconnaissance, messenger service, police operations, and convoy control.

    They were shipped with ammunition boxes, a bracket for a machine gun scabbard [mounted left and right of the front tire], and saddlebags [straddled over the rear tire].  Metal legshields were authorized for winter use.

Weight (net):                      562 lbs
Fuel capacity:               3-3/8 gals
Transmission:  3 forward speeds
Fording Depth:              16 inches
Cruising range:             120 miles
Allowable speed:             65 mph


Harley Davidson, Model 50 WLA
motocycle MPs ready to move out

 August 1944:  A large group of U.S. military policemen, on 1942 Harley-Davidson WLAs embark for France at Southampton Docks, England.  They have just completed a training course ‘somewhere in England’ on the riding of motorcycles in combat. 


Truck, ¼ ton, 4 x 4, Command, Reconnaissance, “The Jeep”

    The Jeep was made to carry personnel primarily for reconnaissance, to transport light cargo, and to tow 37 mm antitank guns.  This Model MB was manufactured by Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.

    It used an L-head, 4-cycle engine also manufactured by Willys and hydraulic brakes manufactured by Bendix.   It could ford streams up to 25 inches.

the Jeep
Weight (net)                           2,450 lbs
Weight (gross)                       3,250 lbs
Fuel capacity:                           15 gals
Fording Depth:                              25 in
Fuel consumption (loaded)       24 mpg
Cruising Range (Loaded)       360 miles
Allowable speed:                       65 mph


Trailer, 1/4 ton, 2 Wheel, Cargo (Amphibian)

   Trailers of this type were used to transport general cargo on land or water.  They were manufactured by American Bantam Car Co and Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.

    Any vehicle equipped with a pintle hook could tow this trailer, including the 4 x 4 -  1/4 ton amphibious jeep, called a Seep, and would float with a 500-pound payload with 6 inches freeboard.

trailer for Jeep

Weight (net)                               550 lbs
Weight (gross)                        1,050 lbs



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