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WWII U.S. Army Truck Driver School


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Directing Staff
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For any of our MSE Ops out there,

"Elementary driving instructions and inspections" on a GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6x6 "Jimmy" truck.

The original "Deuce and a Half".
It formed the backbone of the famed Red Ball Express that kept Allied armies supplied as they pushed eastward after the Normandy invasion.

I got to say some of the old WWII films are excellent in their production, information, explanation and presentation. Despite all the modern tools, I think we have lost the art of telling a technical story.
I like how the Sergeant demonstrates the "bayonet gauge" on a deuce-and-a-half.  :)

The first film shows drivers how to inspect their trucks at a base or armoury

The second film shows a driver taking care of his in the field.

Although these trucks are CCKW, as MSE Ops, we followed the same principles of inspection and preventative maintenance on our M135s.

Colin P said:
I got to say some of the old WWII films are excellent in their production, information, explanation and presentation. Despite all the modern tools, I think we have lost the art of telling a technical story.

I re-watched it. Considering it was made 76 years ago, I agree with you,

Before operation inspection:
A Sergeant and three men put on their side caps and leave a classroom setting. They go over to a CCKW. They look under the truck for leaks. The Sergeant opens the hood and takes off the cap to check the coolant. He sticks his finger in it. He checks the radiator air passages are open and the fan belt has proper tension. He pulls out the bayonet gauge to check the oil level and checks the engine for loose connections. He unscrews the gas tank cap to check the level. A soldier gets in the driver’s seat. He sets the parking brake and verifies the gear shift levers and power takeoffs are in neutral. He sets the hand throttle, pulls out the choke, turns on the ignition, and disengages the clutch before stepping on the starter. The amps and oil dashboard gauges are shown, followed by the water and fuel gauges, followed by the entire gauge dashboard. The windshield wipers, mounted to the top of the frame, are turned on and off. The “Driver’s Report- Accident” card is shown up-close and a US Army Motor Vehicle Operator’s Permit before putting them back in the glovebox. He blows the horn twice and turns the headlights on. He pops the hood and checks the fan and steering linkage and springs. He checks the tires and spare with an air pressure gauge. The poppet latch on the winch is checked that the plunger is down and the front axle examined. The gas cans must be full and secure, the tools secured on the Pioneer equipment bracket, and the pintle hitch locked. He inspects the tools in the toolbox and the wheel nuts.

Driving instructions:
The truck is moved slightly forward to check operation. They practice starting a truck on blocks, going through the previous instructions. Proper driving posture is explained and the rear and side-view mirrors are adjusted. A soldier drives the truck, and learns shifting and how to double-clutch. The instrument panel is shown and explained. The transfer assembling shifting lever is shown and explained for climbing hills. Proper braking is shown and explained. He kicks the tires to inspect them at the halt. How to parallel park is shown and explained, as is parking on a hill, and backing into a restricted space. A truck backs and parks into a tight space with a towed gun behind it. The final inspection is given after operating the truck.

The film only runs for 24 minutes, but does a good job of covering the basics of driving.

In this next film, Sgt. Pendleton shows his men how to navigate difficult driving conditions in a 2-1/2-ton 6 X 6 truck.

It was filmed at Fort Ord in California. So, it does not prepare his men for the winter driving conditions they would later experience during the Battle of the Bulge in Europe.

The film opens with driving through a muddy field. The passengers must get out to help push the vehicle free of the mud.

Next, a truck gets bogged down in mud. A soldier gets out and use the pioneer equipment to clear the wheels. Another soldier guides the leading vehicle of a vehicle column and removes rocks from the path. The guide notifies the lead truck driver of a small ditch, and the film shows how the driver can successfully cross the ditch. Another truck crosses a larger ditch after a soldier shovels out some of the bank. A driver drives a similar truck through a mud hole and up a steep grade. A truck is stuck in a mud hole. A truck drives on a dirt road, straddling deep ruts. Another truck drives across boggy ground, avoiding existing tracks.

Next a truck skids in slow motion as it turns onto a paved road. Trucks drive up a steep slope, as men with blocks walk beside it ready to block the wheels if there is a stall. Footage shows inside the cabin where the driver applies the foot and hand brake during a stop on a steep hill. The truck drives down a hill, then a driver making a tight, hairpin turn. The same maneuver is shown with the truck towing a small trailer, then an example of the truck pulling a two-axle trailer is shown.

Two trucks drive along a road. Men hook a tow bar to the front axle of one of the trucks. They lock the other end on the hitch of another truck. Several soldiers examine a bank and stream to find a suitable crossing site for a truck with a caterpillar track belt on the back wheels. They cut down brush, loosen the engine’s fan belt ( this prevents the fan blades from getting bent from thrashing the water. The loose belt allowed the fan to come to a complete stop if need be. Bent blades could come in contact with the radiator and destroy it ). Then the driver slowly approaches the crossing and enters the water. The truck climbs out on the opposite bank of the stream. The men tighten the fan belt after crossing the stream.