Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Militor!

It's been a very long time. My apologies.
To at least make a run at making that alright, let's have another rousing tale of the U.S. Army's glacially slow grasp of concepts; that of the tactical vehicle.
The funny thing is: The Army almost got it right in 1918 - like it did ten years later with the QMC Standard Fleet trucks, discussed a few months back along with deuce-and-a-halfs (halves?).
Those early, army built rigs died of budgetitis while the Militor's demise was due to apathy and idiocy.
The big strapping fella at the head of the little procession above would be the Militor.
Bringing up the rear is the four-wheel-drive Nash Quad.
The next in line looks like a Mack AC but it's a Renault and it along with the Nash are being towed up the hill together in a test of the Militor's power and traction at Hook Mountain in Nyack, New York.
Other tricks the Militor performed included climbing boulders, negotiating mud and, as you can see above; pulling heavy shit around.
And you can tell they're serious about it; this rig's chained up on all four wheels... in the summer.
 What this expensive fuss was in aid of was this: A problem had arisen  during the recent unplesantness, one which had its roots in the fact that no one was prepared for the challenges of the first, large-scale, industrial war (We weren't paying attention in the mid-19th century - what civil war?).
Johnny-come-latelyism aside, it became obvious that the the available technology re the cross-country transport of the bigger field peices, specifically the French, Schnieder, 155mm howitzer that the Americans had adopted and later began manufacturing.
 The Militor, brain-wave of the Army Caliber Board, was a five-ton, four-wheel-drive tractor. Or, depending on the source, a three-ton tractor. The weight designations used by the army tend to be somewhat meaningless in any case. Illustrated at closing.
One of the goodies built into the militor was the clever ring-gear drive pictured next which not only kept the drive line up out of things, but also added another level of gear reduction at the hub.
Cool though it was, it wasn't a unique system. The Nash Quad used a similar one and the Walter Motor Truck Co. (Later makers of the famous Walter Snowfighter, plow-trucks) even used a spur and ring-gear as their logo.
Problem was: The Nash Quad was only a two-ton truck and the FWD was a three ton and neither had been designed as tractor units. There were a few other four-wheel-drive trucks in use in the Great War but in numbers too small to be of significance.
The big ugly thing passed with flying colors but died anyway. The bureaucrats couldn't fathom why the ARTY guys couldn't be content sticking with the old, two-wheel-drive, Liberty trucks and Macks for road transport and slower-than-Christmas track-laying vehicles off-road.
And besides; Armistice.
Seventy-five were built, most configured as tractors but a few fitted with the standard, ammuntion body.
None exist anymore because they simply got plugged into heavy pulling jobs until they wore out. It was the same way with the QMC Standard Fleet  trucks. The only photos in existence of them, short of a few during trials show them just working - pulling big cannon etc. Not too glamorous but you'd think someone would have thought: "Ya' know... these are pretty handy. Maybe we ought to make some more.
QMC Standard Fleet 6 to 7 ton 4X4
Even though these rejected dinosaurs labored on pulling their shit-duty in obscurity, one Militor got to be the designated fixer on an important, high profile - and well documented - mission.
That would be the 1919 Motor Transport Corps Convoy.
That Wiki entry mentions the Militor as a "wheeled artillery-tractor" which was equipped with a winch.
 This from Lt. Col Dwight D. Eisenhower's convoy notes, 11/1919:

"The Militor, equipped with power winch and spade in rear, did wonderful work in pulling vehicles out of holes, sand pits, etc. The 5-ton tractor was also very efficiently used for this purpose. On one occasion at least, the Militor came into camp at night towing four trucks, showing that its power plant was almost perfect.

"The Militor". Pay attention to that. This experiment in long-distance truck transport involved eighty-one "vehicles and trailers" many in multiples the point being to test as many aspects of over-the-road transport as they could at one time.
They had along several 5-ton Mack AC's, several Garfords, FWD's and Liberty trucks representing the "heavies". In addition, lots of ton-and-a-half Packards, Whites, GMC's and Dodges.
August 15, 1919. Mack AC carrying Maxwell tractor falls through a bridge in Green River, Wyoming.

They used four different types of tires and evaluated each.
The convoy also included some obvious service vehicles which weren't the one actually being scrutinized. It brought along just 'cause, a five-ton Maxwell artillery tractor. The armor had been removed of course and this little dozer served as the Militor's slo-mo compatriot in the fight to keep these citified, Army chairwarmers out of the mud on their epic, transcontinental journey.
You can read the notes and the convoy logs and overall you'll see that the Garfords sucked ass. The other heavies did okay but slowed down the real stars which were the little, two-ton-and-under trucks.
The Packards were the stars of these trouble-free Olympics but GMC, White and Dodge proved reliable as well.
On balance, lots of  good intel was gathered: The chain-drive trucks like the Mack and the Garford were useless in deep sand. Who knew?
The only shot I can find of the Militor on the road in 1919. it's parked on the street somewhere in the midwest and is being checked-out by a local in bib-alls who seems to know how to hunker down to look under equipment.
My point and I do have one: They brought the Militor so it could pull their asses out when the commercial trucks they were so convinced could emplace a 155mm howitzer got stuck.
That's what it did. It and the Maxwell tractor (Brought along as payload it being the new darling of the off-road, ARTY transport scene.
I think of things like this whenever someone asks: "Why switch to the Johnson LMG when the BAR had been used forever?"
It's because... (sotto voce): When purchasing, considering, thinking about or otherwise somehow examining any sort of military equipment expenditures, our market-centered government goes stupid.
I'm pissed off and drunkish so I'm abandoning ship.
I think the Indian spam factory may have forgotten me so I'm going to go with comments again.
I did however promise to speak to the issue of the Army's system of rating the capacity of their equipment.
Offered without comment.

And just because; fuck that no comment shit.
What's with the Militor and that crazy looking hood?
Who, other than a lunatic Frenchman...
Latil
Renault
... would have thought of putting the radiator behind the engine... retarded!
Okay, the Mack AC did it as well.
So did the early Walter trucks.
But how about these mean, lean, brush-guarded,, ugly-as-homemade-sin, Kelly Springfield log-trucks?
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