GMC Model CCKW Trucks

Fortunately for the world, America was the birthplace of the automotive industry. Having such a vast supply of cars and trucks close at hand enabled the United States Army to become the first military organization in the world to be fully motorized and to respond accordingly when advancing Allied forces needed supplies during World War II. The Allies were able to get thousands of tons of supplies where they were needed daily by developing a massive convoy of supply trucks known as the Red Ball Express.

“Corporal Charles H. Johnson of the 783rd Military Police Battalion, waves on a `Red Ball Express’ motor convoy rushing priority materiel to the forward areas, near Alenon, France.” Bowen, September 5, 1944. 111-SC-195512. National Archives Identifier: 535970

The Red Ball Express operated around the clock. According to the National World War II Museum, there were, on average, 900 “deuce-and-a-half” trucks operating on the Red Ball Express highway at any one time.  “Deuce-and-a-half” is just one of the nicknames for GMC model CCKW cargo trucks like this one, located at the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington Nebraska.

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Also referred to as the Two and a Half, the Jimmy and the 6×6, these trucks are on my mind because I found this 1941 maintenance manual under a pile of junk in a dusty old antique store the other day:

The CCKW was a six-wheel-drive vehicle with a payload of two and a half tons.  It was approximately 7 feet tall and 7 feet wide.  The model 353 had a longer wheel base of 21 feet, while the 352 was shorter at 19 feet.   The engine was a 6 cylinder 270 with a max speed of 45 mph.

Driver’s view:

Tool kit:

Amazingly, this old War Department memo is still stuck in the front cover:

As you can see, the memo was issued by order of General George Catlett Marshall, the man Winston Churchill called the true architect of victory in the West European arena.  He was a great American, and he did it, in part, with this great American truck.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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