M29 Weasel

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M29 Weasel
M29 Weasel 3.jpg
Type Tracked vehicle
Place of origin United States
Specifications
Weight 3,800 lb (1,700 kg) dry
Length 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Width 5 ft (1.5 m)
later 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Height 4 ft 3 in (1.30 m)
5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) to top of windscreen
Crew 4

Engine Studebaker Model 6-170 Champion 6-cylinder
70 hp (52 kW)
Suspension Tracked
Operational
range
165 mi (266 km)
Speed 36 mph (58 km/h)

The M29 Weasel was a World War II tracked vehicle, built by Studebaker, designed for operation in snow.[1]

Design and development[edit]

The idea for the Weasel came from the work of British inventor Geoffrey Pyke in support of his proposals to attack Axis forces and industrial installations in Norway. Pyke's plan to hamper the German atomic weapons development became Project Plough for which he proposed a fast light mechanised device that would transport small groups of commando troops of the 1st Special Service Force across snow. In active service in Europe, Weasels were used to supply frontline troops over difficult ground when wheeled vehicles were immobilised.

The first 2,103 vehicles had 15 in (380 mm) tracks, a later version had 20 in (510 mm) tracks. The M29 was amphibious, but with a very low freeboard; the M29C Water Weasel was the amphibious version, with buoyancy cells in the bow and stern as well as twin rudders. M29C could not operate in other than inland waterway conditions, so its use in surf or rough water was very limited but was used in the Pacific theatre.

Evidence exists[2] for M29s being brought to the Meiringen railway station in November 1946, to support the U.S. Army's attempt to rescue the twelve individuals from the scene of the 1946 C-53 Skytrooper crash on the Gauli Glacier. The Weasels were planned to be used for a ground rescue, climbing up the Gauli Glacier. A pair of Swiss Flugwaffe-flown Fieseler Storch STOL aircraft were able to effect the rescue solely by air, before the Weasels were needed.

Gallery[edit]

Operational Use[edit]

U.S. Army[edit]

The Weasel idea was introduced in 1942, when the First Special Services Force needed transportation into Norway to knock out strategic power plants. The vehicle needed to move quickly and easily through the winter snows of Norway. It needed to be air transportable and be able to withstand the effects of being dropped by parachute and would also be able to carry arms, explosives and minimal resupply stocks.[3]

The Norwegian mission was cancelled and therefore the Weasel was never used for its original intention. However, as it was amphibious and could cross terrain too soft for most other vehicles it was used widely in both Italy on the Western Front. It went ashore on Normandy, it was with the U.S. Army during the breakthrough at St. Lo., the Battle of the Bulge and in the mud of the Roer and the Rhine. M29 was a Cargo Carrier but was also used as a command center, radio, ambulance and signal line laying.[4] US soldiers soon realized the Weasel could be used as an ambulance, as it could get to places not even Jeeps could. Another use was for crossing minefields as its ground pressure was often too low to set off anti-tank mines.

After the war many surplus M29s were sold to allied countries (Norway, Sweden, France, etc). Some M29C and M29 survived to serve in Korea, supplementing 1/4 ton 4x4 cargo vehicles in rough conditions. They served in Arctic and cold weather operations until retired in 1958. Large numbers of retired Weasels were sold off in the 1950s to civilians and municipal organizations. For example 25 Weasels were loaned for VIII Olympic Winter Games in 1960.

US Marine Corps[edit]

in November 1944, USMC distributed M29s to the 3d, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions. They proved invaluable with its first appearance in combat on Iwo Jima. It also saw use on Okinawa.[5]

The USMC used only the non-amphibious version, but it was capable of hauling a half-ton load through sand and mud. Besides this they pulled trailers and artillery pieces over the terrain that wheeled vehicles could not negotiate.

French Army[edit]

During 1st Vietnam war 1er Régiment Etrangers de Cavalerie) was in charge of fighting Viet Minh guerrillas in the Mekong Delta area. Its units, 1st and 2nd Escadrons received M-29C Weasels in 1947 and were armed by the French with Chaterrault M1924/29 or Browning M1919 machine guns and 57mm recoilless guns. Initially they were unsuccessful as they were crewed by inexperienced men, used wrong tactics and were deployed without infantry support. Their losses were heavy.

French soldiers learned fast after several months of fighting, but the real deployment of full forces was possible only when they received LVT-4s and LVT(A)-4s in 1950. Now they could move stronger infantry units around. In September 1951 1er Groupement Autonome was established, consisting of two escadrons of Weasels (33 each), three escadrons of LVT-4 (11 each) and one fire support platoon of 6 LVT(A)-4. French Weasels were heavily armed with machine guns, 57mm M18A1 recoilless guns and even 60mm mortars.

French groups participated in Mekong and Red River delta operations and in landing operations on Vietnam shores.

French mountain troops and French Gendarmerie used M29s until 1970.

British Army[edit]

Amphibious M29 weasels of 79th Armoured Division were used by British commando troops in the Walcheren operation, supplementing LVT Buffalos. 79th Armoured Division used also non-amphibious variant of the Weasel, modified for clearing anti-personnel devices.

Non-amphibious Weasels were also used by British Infantry Divisions fighting in the Saar-Moselle Triangle as they were often the only means of getting supplies forward.

After the war they were kept in service for a few years.

Canadian Army[edit]

M29 Weasel was used extensively by Canadian forces from the fall of 1944 during battles to clear the marshy Scheldt estuary, the flooded approaches to Antwerp. Later M29s supported Canadian advance through flooded areas in Netherlands and Germany.

After the war they were kept in service for use in the Arctic.

Variants[edit]

  • T-15 prototype
  • M28 (G154)
  • M29 (T24) without float tanks (G179)
  • M29C with float tanks
  • M29C Type A: with center-mounted 75 mm M20 recoilless rifle[6]
  • M29C Type B: with (T106) rear-mounted 75 mm recoilless rifle
  • M29C Type C: with center-mounted 37 mm Gun M3

Specification[edit]

M29 Weasel in parking lot of Holiday Inn in Omaha
M29 Weasel
M29C Water Weasel
SCR-508 Radio mounted in weasel
General
  • Weight (fighting): 4,451 lb (2,019 kg)
  • Shipping dimensions:
    • Uncrated; 340 cu ft (9.6 m3); 57.7 sq ft (5.36 m2)
  • Ground clearance: 11 in (280 mm)
  • Ground pressure: 1.9 psi (13 kPa)
  • Pintle height (loaded): 27.125 in (0.6890 m)
  • Electrical system: (volts) 12
  • Brakes: Mechanical – external contracting in differential
  • Transmission: Speeds: 3
  • Transfer case: Speeds: 2

The engine was a Studebaker Model 6-170 Champion, a 6-cylinder 169.6 cu in (2,779 cc) cubic inch 4-stroke engine running on 72 octane gasoline delivering 70 bhp at 3,600 rpm. Fuel capacity was 35 US gal (130 L). Under average conditions typically 5 miles per gallon it could range 165 mi (266 km).

Performance
Maximum gradability: 100%
Turning radius: 12 ft (3.7 m)
Fording depth: Will Float (M29C)
Maximum width of ditch vehicle will cross: 36 in (91 cm)
Maximum vertical obstacle vehicle will climb: 24 in (61 cm)
Maximum allowable speed: 36 mph (58 km/h)
Maximum allowable towed load: 3,800 lb (1,700 kg)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "OSS Briefing Film – The Weasel". Real Military Flix. Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  2. ^ TheGluetothetube (ed.). simvid 1 (YouTube) (in German). Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Event occurs at 6:03 to 6:06. Archived from the original (YouTube) on January 8, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 1946 C-53 Skytrooper crash on the Gauli Glacier. 
  3. ^ http://www.transportation.army.mil/museum/transportation%20museum/weasel.htm
  4. ^ http://www.wrightwoodcalif.com/forum/index.php?topic=11387.0
  5. ^ http://www.theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=250328
  6. ^ "United States' M Number Designations – World War II Vehicles – World War II Vehicles, Tanks, and Airplanes". Wwiivehicles.com. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]