White Halftracks

By David Doyle,
“The Proving Ground”

This April 9, 1941, photograph shows the pilot M2 during testing
at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Notice the Firestone tread pattern
tires on the front axle. Photographic evidence suggests that only
the initial production vehicles had this tread pattern, which was
soon supplanted by the chevron tread pattern tires, which in turn
were replaced by non-directional tread pattern tires. 

During the course of WWII a wide range of half-track vehicles
were produced by White, Diamond T, Autocar and International
Harvester. Vehicles built by International were of a slightly
different design than the others, and were primarily used for
export purposes. This is a White-built M3 Personnel Carrier.
Antique Truck Historical Society

The sister vehicle to the M3 personnel carrier was the M2, which
was intended as a prime mover. White began delivering these
vehicles in May 1941. Both the M2 and the M3 featured face-
hardened armor 1/4-inch thick, except on the 1/2-inch thick
plate over the windshield.

White worked diligently to deliver the M2 halftrack, as well as
Scout Cars. This scene at White’s Cleveland plant shows the
vehicles ready for acceptance.


Left: The tread pattern commonly referred to as the “Firestone”
tread is plainly visible in this photograph of a M3. This is a
directional tread tire. (
Antique Truck Historical Society – ATHS)
Right: This M2, photographed in June 1941, has chevron tread
pattern tires with bullet-resisting self-sealing inner tubes.

Mechanically, the M2 as well as the other halftracks in the SNL
G-102 group were merely trucks, with the track bands being driven
by the rear “wheels” – actually midships-mounted drive sprockets.

Left: The driver’s area of an early M2. To the left of the steering
column is a tachometer, and to the right, an electric brake
controller – befitting its prime mover design.
ATHS  Right: The
D36961 Pintle Socket and Carriage Assembly, shown here, was
used on all M2 halftrack vehicles until the advent of the M2A1.
The handwheel visible was used to return the pintle to a vertical
plane even if the carriage was in a canted position.

Left: The roller worked to prevent the front bumper from digging in
when at too severe of an angle of approach. Its contact would lift
the front wheels, as seen in this illustration.
ATHS  Right: The
power plant for the M2 and M2A1, regardless of manufacturer,
was the White-built 160AX six-cylinder gasoline engine. This
particular engine was assembled after September 1942, as denoted
by the five-bladed fan and metal fuel filter bowl.

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More Images:

This factory-fresh M2A1 exhibits several interesting features. The spring-loaded idler, whose large coil spring is prominent in this photo, was introduced in September 1942 to minimize track throwing. The ring mount, which has an improved mounting compared to the M2E6, also has been surrounded with armor plate to protect the gunner. TACOM LCMC
Photographed in August of 1942 was the M2E6
By comparing this overhead view of a M2A1 to the overhead view of a M2, we can see how the entire interior layout was revised. The SCR-528 radio set has been installed in the stowage compartment behind the driver. The stowage compartment on the other side has been relocated to accommodate the ring mount, and fixed sockets for machine gun pintles have been installed. TACOM LCMC
This overhead view of an early M2 illustrates the gussets used to brace the rear corners of the skate rail on these early vehicles. Also visible is the post that supported the radio antenna near the center of the passenger compartment, as well as the fuel fillers. ATHS
The prototype for the M2 was the T14, built by the White Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio. Powered by a White Model 20A engine, the vehicle was driven from Cleveland to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland for testing in May 1940. This vehicle had the drive sprocket at the rear and all-steel bogie wheels, features that were changed, along with a more powerful engine and wider track before the vehicle was standardized as the M2. ATHS

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