The Proving Ground : White Half-Tracks

During WWII the White Half-Tracks provided traction as well as maneuverability for the troops.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This M2, photographed in June 1941, has chevron tread pattern tires with bullet-resisting self-sealing inner tubes.

This M2, photographed in June 1941, has chevron tread pattern tires with bullet-resisting self-sealing inner tubes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The interior of the M3 was very different from that of the M2 and was arranged to perform its role as a personnel carrier. Behind the troop seats, just behind the driver’s compartment, can be seen the twin fuel tanks. The area beneath the seat bottoms formed stowage bins.

The interior of the M3 was very different from that of the M2 and was arranged to perform its role as a personnel carrier. Behind the troop seats, just behind the driver’s compartment, can be seen the twin fuel tanks. The area beneath the seat bottoms formed stowage bins.

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.

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.

This M2, photographed in June 1941, has bullet-resisting self-sealing inner tubes. The mast for the radio antenna can be seen protruding from the center of the fighting compartment.

This M2, photographed in June 1941, has bullet-resisting self-sealing inner tubes. The mast for the radio antenna can be seen protruding from the center of the fighting compartment.

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.

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.

Photographed in August of 1942 was the M2E6 – the vehicle that pioneered the use of a ring mount rather than a skate rail on the M2 vehicle family. Note the mounting very different from the M2A1 – and unprotected.

Photographed in August of 1942 was the M2E6 – the vehicle that pioneered the use of a ring mount rather than a skate rail on the M2 vehicle family. Note the mounting very different from the M2A1 – and unprotected.

As with the M2, the ring mount and pulpit was also fitted to the M3, yielding the M3A1. A total of 2862 M3A1s were factory built. However, the number of M3A1s was bolstered by the conversion of 1360 75mm Gun Motor Carriages M3 into M3A1 personnel carriers in addition to a number of M3 personnel carriers being converted to M3A1 standards.

As with the M2, the ring mount and pulpit was also fitted to the M3, yielding the M3A1. A total of 2862 M3A1s were factory built. However, the number of M3A1s was bolstered by the conversion of 1360 75mm Gun Motor Carriages M3 into M3A1 personnel carriers in addition to a number of M3 personnel carriers being converted to M3A1 standards.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By comparing this overhead view of a M2A1 to the earlier 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.

By comparing this overhead view of a M2A1 to the earlier 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.

The side-mounted mine racks visible on this M2 are a result of an August 21 1942 directive from the Office, Chief of Ordnance. A February 1943 MWO (G102-W21) required that these mine racks be retrofitted to vehicles already in the field. The pioneer tool rack seen on the side was a non-standard modification.

The side-mounted mine racks visible on this M2 are a result of an August 21 1942 directive from the Office, Chief of Ordnance. A February 1943 MWO (G102-W21) required that these mine racks be retrofitted to vehicles already in the field. The pioneer tool rack seen on the side was a non-standard modification.