M6 Tractor

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M6 38t High-Speed Tractor
M6-High-Speed-Tractor-2.jpg
Wartime photo of a M6 Tractor
Type Artillery tractor
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by US Army
Wars World War II
Production history
Manufacturer Allis-Chalmers
Produced February 1944 – 45
Specifications
Weight 76,000 lbs / 34.5 t
Length 21 ft 6 in / 6.55 m
Width 10 ft / 3.07 m
Height 8 ft 8 in / 2.64 m
Crew 11

Main
armament
.50 cal M2 machine gun
Engine 2 × Waukesha 145GZ 6-cylinder gasoline engine
2 × 190 hp at 2100 rpm (141.68 kW)
Suspension HVSS (Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension)
Operational
range
110 mi / 177 km
Speed 21 mph / 34 km/h

The M6 High-Speed Tractor was an artillery tractor manufactured by Allis-Chalmers and used by the US Army during World War II to tow heavy artillery pieces, such as the 8-inch Gun M1 and 240 mm howitzer M1. It’s G-number was (G-184).

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Although in the late 1930s the US Army lacked a clear mechanization policy, the success of the Blitzkrieg in 1939-40 highlighted the need of motorized vehicles for both tactical and strategic maneuver, which meant that towed artillery would need to move at a speed comparable to that of the armored fighting vehicles.

To achieve this, a series of “high speed tractors” was planned, which would tow the different artillery pieces existing (or planned) in the US Army inventory. The “high” speed was considered in comparison with horse-drawn artillery rather than that obtainable with wheeled prime movers. The models considered in the series included: 7 ton, 18 ton, 13 ton, and 38 ton.

Development[edit]

Description[edit]

Intended to tow heavy artillery pieces as the 240 mm howitzer M1 and the 8-inch Gun M1, the M6 artillery tractor was larger and heavier than the M4 Artillery Tractor, although they had a similar layout. The main differences between both were in the following areas:

  • Running Gear (6 running wheels in the M6, instead of 4 wheels in the M4)
  • Dimensions
  • Weight
  • Towing capacity
  • Engine

It was powered by two six-cylinder, in-line, Waukesha 145GZ gasoline engines, each of which gave 190 HP at 2,100 rev/min, with an engine displacement of 13,400 cm³. The running gear consisted on six rubber-rimmed wheels per side, with the drive wheel located at the front and a large tensioning wheel at the rear; a layout similar to the one used in the M3 light tank and later in the M4 Tractor.

Variants[edit]

Combat use[edit]

European front[edit]

The tractor M6 was used in the European theater only in the last months of World War II.

In the meanwhile, the movement of large caliber artillery was done by vehicles based on existing hulls, among them:

  • T16 Heavy tractor, based on the M3A5 tank. It did not pass prototype stage, as the rear engine location prevented even a minimum load of ammunition.
  • M33 Heavy tractor, based on the M31 recovery vehicle, which in turn was based on the medium tank M3.
  • M34 Heavy tractor, based on the M32B1 recovery vehicle, which in turn was based on the medium tank M4.
  • M35 Heavy tractor, based on the M10 tank destroyer

Pacific front[edit]

Use of this tractor in the Pacific theater seems to have been limited to training at Oahu, (Hawaii).[citation needed]

Post-war[edit]

In the Korean War no heavy artillery was used that required being towed by these tractors.[citation needed]

Some vehicles were sold to Israel after being replaced by self-propelled artillery.[citation needed]

Users[edit]

Surviving vehicles[edit]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Comparable vehicles

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Crismon, Fred W. (1992). US military tracked vehicles. Osceola: Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-87938-672-X. 
  • Doyle, David; Pat Stansell (2006). High speed tractor. Delray Beach: Ampersand Publishing. ISBN 0-9773781-0-1. 

Further reading[edit]

Technical manuals
Books and publications
  • Trewhitt, Phillip (1999). Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Expert Guide. Bristol: Dempsey Parr. ISBN 1-84084-328-4. 

External links[edit]

Media related to M6 High-Speed Tractor at Wikimedia Commons