ARM: Book Review - The Machinery Lorry in Canadian Service

Book Review: =93Weapons of War=94 Series; The Machinery Lorry in Canadian
Service by Doug Knight; Service Publications, Box 33071, Ottawa,
Ontario, Canada, 2011; 24 pp. with B&W photos and 1/35 scale drawing;
price CDN $9.95; ISBN 1-894581-70-7
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Advantages: fresh look at an often ignored subject, the =93Sinews of
Disadvantages: may be too obscure a subject to interest modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for Canadian army fans and also anyone interested in
what it takes to keep a force in the field
When armies transitioned from non-mechanized warfare to mechanical
support and more complex equipment, it meant that specialized
equipment would be needed and the days of simple supporting elements
such as an armorer, farrier and blacksmith would need to be augmented.
World War I saw the need for such specialization to maintain more
complex weapons such as artillery pieces with recoil and aiming
systems, machine guns, and most importantly, motorized transport and
armored fighting vehicles.
Over the years the United States Army developed what it termed five
levels of maintenance: 1 - company level; 2 - battalion level; 3 -
division level; 4 - corps level; and 5 - depot level. Manuals were
keyed to these levels; for example, a manual ending in =93-10" or a
=93dash ten=94 was the operator=92s manual and described what maintenance
and servicing he was responsible for; a =93-20" the battalion
responsibilities, =93-30" or =93Third Shop=94 what division ordnance could
repair, and then the higher level and eventually depot level
maintenance. A =93-15" was a parts manual that all echelons could use.
In WWII the Canadian Army was no different, and they eventually
developed four echelons of maintenance (a fifth echelon would have
been shipping them back to Canada, which was not an option in 1944).
Their WWII development began in 1940 when NDHQ in Ottawa issued
specifications to Chrysler Canada to develop a prototype mobile
machine shop truck. The first efforts were based on commercial
vehicles but were deemed too bulky and heavy, as well as pretty much
road bound and limited in deployability.
The solution came in the development of a series of vehicles, most of
which eventually used either the CMP 15 cwt light 4 x 4 chassis or a
60 cwt medium 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 chassis. Due to the volume of
specialization and variety needed, the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps
and Royal Canadian Army Service Corps had to combine their efforts to
field and man the resulting vehicles; in 1944 they were formally
combined to form the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical
Engineers (RCEME, virtually identical to the British REME and
Austrailian RAEME).
As noted the Canadian forces set them up in four echelons. First
echelon covered preventive maintenance and servicing. Second echelon
replaced defective parts up to engines and transmissions, usually if
repair was faster than replacement. Third echelon covered overhauls
and rebuilding of items removed by second echelon maintenance if
possible. Fourth echelon was forward area depot repair and rebuilding
as well as salvage from combat loss equipment.
The vehicles thus produced to meet these requirements =96 up to and
including two army-level mobile fourth-echelon depot units =96 were
numerous and highly varied. Each received a specific one- or two-
letter designator to indicate its function. To add to the confusion,
there were six different types of service detachments (A to F) to
support units by type: A and B for motorized infantry battalions, C
and D for armoured regiments, E for armourer carrier (Kangaroo)
regiments and F for the 1st Rocket Battery.
One of the most popular and sought after vehicles was the KL
machinery truck. This was a 15 cwt (Ford) truck with an electric arc
welder and towing a gas welding trailer.
The Type A Machinery Lorry was a 60 cwt 6 x 6 chassis with a 15 foot
long enclosed box body with drop-down workbench and folding sides,
which also towed a 9 kWt generator trailer. This was one of the more
common vans at second echelon level due to the drill, lathe and
grinder it carried. (A 1/35 scale four-view tone drawing of a Type A
is the center section of the book).
The book covers the plethora of different vans in detail, so I will
not cover them here. But one item of interest does come up when it
describes the order directing that 72 redundant self-propelled guns
(mostly US M7 Priests) be converted to armoured infantry carriers. A
special detachment codenamed =93Kangaroo=94 was formed from the No.2
Canadian Tank Troops Workshop near Beyeaux, France, and began work on
2 August. Later complaints by the Royal Canadian Navy were filed that
they were stripping steel plate from grounded landing craft to use in
the conversion, rendering the craft useless for further operations.
The resulting carriers were thus nicknamed =93Kangaroos=94 which is how
they are remembered today.
Later the Canadian Army dropped the term =93machinery lorry=94 for the US
term =93shop van=94 and today they use US M109 series vans for this
Overall this is a fascinating look into how armies arrange to
maintain and support their forces in the field, and for modelers who
like to do diorama work there are a lot of interesting and motivating
shots of field workshops in the book.
Thanks to Clive Law for the review copy.
Cookie Sewell
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