The Truck

There were many motor vehicles in the service of the Fil-Am forces on Bataan, probably more than the rough road network could support. Nonetheless the unsung truck played an important role in moving men and materiel.  Many were civilian vehicles impressed into military service. There were also newer military vehicles which arrived in the Philippines during the hasty buildup in 1941.  Images of these are seen in the prewar photos taken, such as this 1.5 ton truck.  Usually identification of such a “normal” object is left at just that, a truck.  But even a lowly truck has a pedigree.

Chevrolet G506 1 1/2 ton trucks rest along a roadside in the Philippines, in this prewar view (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

Chevrolet G506 series 1 1/2 ton trucks rest along a roadside in the Philippines, in this prewar view.  A G7117 is in front (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

In this case, more specifically, these photos are of Chevrolet 1 ½ ton 4×4 G506 series trucks. This closed cab truck was powered by a Chevrolet 235 cubic inch six cylinder engine generating 83 horsepower with a four speed transmission and a two speed transfer case. The wheelbase was 145 inches. It had a standard 9-foot bed which was either made of wood or metal.

A G7117 equipped with winch climbs uphill in this prewar view (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

A G7117 equipped with winch climbs uphill in this prewar view (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

The standard truck as seen here (there were many other variations on the basic chassis), is a G7117 which was equipped with a PTO winch at the front bumper. The G7107 (seen below behind jeep) was the same but without the winch. To differentiate, the G7117 can be seen with the fender extended forward a bit, two horns on top for tying chains to and a small roller on the bottom of the bumper.

Chevrolet G506 series truck, G7107, in midstream in prewar maneuvers (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

Chevrolet G506 series truck, G7107, in midstream behind a jeep in prewar maneuvers (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

So for the sake of posterity, we have now identified one of the trucks used by the Fil-Am forces in the Bataan campaign. Certainly there are other military vehicles to be identified from period images, but that is for another day.

A convoy of G506 series 1 1/2 ton trucks pass by a Philippine "tractor" aka a carabao, in this prewar image (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

A convoy of G506 series 1 1/2 ton trucks is ready to roll; in the foreground is a Philippine “tractor,” aka a carabao, in this prewar image (Courtesy LIFE, Carl Mydans)

References

Vintage Military Trucks, Chevrolet G506 Series 1 ½ Ton 4×4 Trucks
http://www.vintagemilitarytrucks.com/G7117_Chevrolet_4x4_Cargo_Truck_W-Winch.htm

Olive-Drab, Military Vehicles, Charts, Light Trucks, Chevrolet 1 1/2 ton 4×4 G506 Series
http://olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_chevrolet_g506.php

List of U.S. military vehicles by supply catalog designation, Wikipedia entry, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-numbers

Chevrolet G506 trucks, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_G506_trucks

 

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