ARM: Book Review - 3/4 Ton SMP Truck in Canadian Service

Book Review: =93Weapons of War=94 Series; The 3/4 Ton SMP Truck in
Canadian Service by Andrew Iarocci; Service Publications, PO Box
333071, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2C 3Y9, 2009; 24 pp. with B&W
photos and 1/35 scale plans; price CDN $9.95; ISBN 1-894581-56-1
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Advantages: Concise, neat little book on the postwar Dodge =93three-
quarters=94 and the Canadian versions
Disadvantages: probably not enough details for modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Canadian military softskin or =93three-quarter=94
fans in general
Occasionally a book pops up in the excellent =93Canada: Weapons of War=94
series about which I have more intimate knowledge than others. This is
one as I first made my personal acquaintance with the Dodge M37 series
trucks. Most of the ones in my unit in Vietnam were the M37B1 variant
with internal modifications, but among US Army drivers the most
obvious change was the driver=92s side door mount for the spare tire
(freeing up room for two more passengers in the rear compartment).
The =93Three-Quarter=94 (all we ever called it) was slow but faithful and
nearly impossible to destroy. Blessed with a semi-synchronized
transmission it took care to shift, but was fairly nimble and ran
well. My faith in one was shaken one night when, after taking
personnel back to their barracks at 3 AM, I was returning to my work
site when I passed a balcony with a bunch of ARVN (Vietnamese
soldiers) having a party. One was weaving around (obviously very
drunk) with an M1 carbine as I passed. Suddenly I hear a =93pop pop pop=94
and bullets began to hit the truck. The first one went through the
windshield in front of me, and the second behind my head; others were
going through the rear canvas. I downshifted in a hurry to =93Get the
hell out of Dodge=94 when the rear driveshaft universal joint snapped
and...it rolled to a halt.
Apparently this chap was trying to see if he could hit the white star
on the passenger=92s side of the truck. Another Vietnamese came over,
screamed at him (nice to speak Vietnamese, as you know what=92s going
on!) =93You idiot! That=92s an American!=94 and then took the carbine away
from drunk, butt-stroking him on the way. I shifted to low range (4WD)
and drove back to my work site albeit slowly using the front axle
drive. While the truck had failed me in my hour of need, it did get me
back.
After much discussion in Canada as to how to replace its aging fleet
of leftover WWII CMP Ford and Chevrolet light trucks (8 CWT and 15 CWT
types) in 1950 the Canadian military decided to go with the US Army=92s
new M37 3/4 ton truck. This had a number of advantages: it was
compatible with US Army vehicles so combat supply was assured; it met
the primary load carrying requirements; and most important, it could
be built in Canada at the Canadian Chrylser factory in Windsor,
Ontario.
Between 1951 and 1955 the Canadian government bought 3,071 M37 cargo
trucks for the Canadian Army and RCAF, 409 M43 ambulances (the
legendary US Army =93Crackerbox=94) and one the US Army turned down =96 the
M152CDN panel truck, of which they received 1,038. The latter was
similar to the M43 but fitted out inside for use as a command or radio
vehicle. (The US Army did not like the idea of dedicated vehicles in
case of combat damage or replacement, so opted instead for the M37
fitted with removable shelters like the S-144 or S-250 types.)
The truck was referred to as an SMP vehicle - Standard Military
Pattern - and all Canadian variants were flagged as =93CDN=94 - e.g.
M37CDN, M43CDN, and M152CDN. They mainly differed in that they used a
larger engine (251 cid versus the T245 230 cid one) and a better
transmission with three out of four gears synchronized versus only the
top two on the US model.) The engines and transmissions were
interchangeable so the Canadians could have swapped them in combat
with American parts. Also, unlike US trucks which all had soft or
canvas tops (the idea being you could remove them so the passenger
could then rise up and shoot at aircraft, a dumb idea when one did the
math) the Canadian ones were all fitted with insulated hardtops.
Most of the Canadian trucks paralleled their US counterparts with MWO
changes (Modification Work Orders) but did not change designations
when the US upgraded to the B1 variant nor differentiate between winch
and non-winch equipped trucks.
Most of the cargo trucks left the Canadian inventory in the 1970s but
the M152CDN remained until much later, and I recall seeing some still
in service at CFB Kingston in 1994.
Overall this is a good little book and does an excellent job of
describing the Canadian experience with the =93Three-Quarter=94 to the
general reader and military historian alike.
Thanks to Clive Law for the review copy.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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