on the road in Vietnam.
The M274 Mechanical Mule was developed to replace
both the 1/4-ton and 3/4-ton 4 X 4 vehicles in
infantry and airborne infantry battalions. It
needed to weigh less than 750 pounds and carry a
cross-country load of 1,000 pounds plus a driver.
developed a pilot model in the 1950s which could
carry 850 pounds on improved roads with 2-wheel or
4-wheel drive. The driver's seat could be removed,
and the steering column moved to accommodate more
wheel had shackles for lifting by helicopter or
dropping by parachute. If it landed upside-down, it
could be turned over and still be driven away.
prototype showing the transport of two
litter patients, April 1956.
Mule's versatility was amazing. It could be fitted
with cable reels for signal use, used as a boat for
river crossing, equipped with recoilless rifles and
later TOW missiles.
The Mule is fitted with cable reels for
was a suitable platform for weapons
systems, including the TOW missile
launcher (shown above), the M40C
Missile, and the 106mm Launcher.
Wrapped in the cargo canvas of a 2-1.2
ton truck, this Mule is prepared for
popular with both the Army and Marine Corps in
Vietnam, most Mules only hauled equipment and
Transporting C-rations to waiting
helicopters to fly to troops in the
field, 20 June 1966, Vietnam.
were designed to keep pace with foot soldiers, but
by 1978 the Army determined that the M274 was simply
too old to keep. With the HMMWV (High Mobility
Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle) taking the place of
the venerable jeep, the Mule was retired from active
2000, the value of the M274 Mule was found once
again in the form of the M-Gator. The M-Gator was
an off the shelf, four-wheel drive platform that
serviced troops in combat as well as the M274 served
thirty years before.
M-274 Mechanical Mule: Truck,
Platform, Utility ½-ton, 4x4
varieties of Mules were made by Willys,
Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Baifield Industries &