The Fighting Iron Group: Military vehicle restoration services, reenactments, shows, & events



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Below is a highlight on Fighting Iron’s brethren, history, pictures, specs, and more

In developing strategy for the battlefield, commanders first must overcome the moving personnel and equipment successfully across varying terrain. To this end, the Half-Track was designed to improve cross-country performance over wheeled scout cars and supplement other essential operational considerations. The Half-Track was used as a personnel carrier, prime mover and carriage for various howitzer configurations. A central use of the Half-Track was a platform from which armored columns could develop 'eyes and ears' while also conducting a reconnaissance in force in advance of the main column.

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In the Half-Track story, there are numerous types and characteristics.  While these differ in individual application, they all share a standard power train and chassis design.  This is particularly seen in the chassis and axle drive line. Both axles were manufactured by Timken with a split housing in the front drive component and a banjo configuration in the rear. One interesting note is owing to a difference in drive wheel/sprocket size for the front and rear axle assembly, the differential ratios were not the same as seen in most four wheel drive military vehicles.

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Quad 50 Half-Track for Air Defense and Chewing up the Landscape!

The rear compartment of each model was enclosed with face-hardened quarter inch armor plate. While this posed a menacing appearance, it afforded little protection above the level of infantry rifle fire.  The armor was made up of individual plates assembled with armor screws which were countersunk into the plate.   Another notable feature is the distinctive 'Roller' assembly on the front of non-winch equipped Half-Tracks. The purpose of the roller was to prevent the vehicle from 'digging in' when traversing ditches or other similar obstacles.

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A Handy Rig To Have Around

43,000 Half-Tracks were produced by three primary manufacturers:

Of these by far the largest manufacturer was White Motor Company with a total of 15,414 accepted by War Department. The other manufactures, Auto Car made 12,168 and Diamond T with 12,421. Over half of the Half-Tracks produced were the basic M2 &M3 series.

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M2 w/ M49 ring mounted 50 cal

Departing from the standardization of production by White Autocar and Diamond T, were two models from the sole vendor of International Harvester.  Essentially they represent a substantially different item altogether.  The armor was thicker and of a one piece design.  Another significant difference was the power plant.  In the International Harvester model the engine was of the overhead valve design while the standardized American models utilized the 'flathead' engine.  The front and rear differential were both of the Banjo type and manufactured by International Harvester.   The vast majority of these vehicles were given to allied forces with a few remaining in the United States as training units.  In all, IHC produced 2026 model M-9, and 1407 model M9A1.

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Half-track Personnel Carrier M3

It should be noted that in the vehicle rebuild program, W.W.II produced items were often converted into specialized carriers.  The Half-Track served the Allied cause honorably and well.  Many foreign countries continue to utilize Half-Tracks for transportation of personnel and equipment, most notable of the countries is Isreal.    Within the US force structure, the Half-Track gave way to full-tracked APC's with increased armored personnel protection and increased cross country speeds.

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Half-track Personnel Carrier M3A1

This is an armored vehicle with seating accommodations for 13 men. The 3 seats in the driver's compartment are like those in M2 Track, The other 10 are arranged in 2 rows of 5 each, backed up against the fuel tanks and body compartment.

The M3 is slightly longer than the M2 Track. It is further distinguished from it in that it has a pedestal gun mount, instead of a skate rail, and that it has a rear door for troop access and egress.

Armament consists of a machine gun. This, with its tripod, may be used independently or from the pedestal mount which is secured to the floor of the personnel compartment.

The vehicle picture above is powered by a White 160AX 6-cylinder gasoline engine.  The original "pilot" vehicle was manufactured by the White Motor Co.   The Half-track versions built by International were powered with a Red Diamond 450-B inline 6 gas engine.

M3 Specifications

Physical Characteristics



Weight (gross)

17,500 lb.


19 ft., 9 ins.


6 ft., 5 ins.


6 ft., 9 ins.

Center of gravity above ground

28 ins.

Wt. on front axle

5,410 lb.

Wt. on rear axle

12,090 lb.

Ground clearance

17 1/8 ins.


135 ins.

Tread, front

64 ins.

Tread, rear

63 13/16 ins.

Ground contact

575.5 sq. ins.

Ground pressure per sq. in.

29.4 lb.



Sustained speed on level

45 M.P.H.

Sustained speed on 4% grade

25 M.P.H.

Max. grade


Vertical obstacle

12 ins.

Fording depth

32 ins.

Fuel capacity

60 gals.

Cruising range

220 miles

Max. draw-bar pull, 1st gear

13,000 lb.

Pay load (inc. in gross)

3,500 lb.

Turning radius

30 ft.

Track resistance

65 lb. per ton


Engine Comparison

IHC / White


450B  / 160AX


OHV / L-Head


450 / 450

Bore & Stroke

4-3/8 x 5 / 4 x 5-1/8


6.3:1 / 6.3:1


130 @ 2600RPM / 128 @ 2800RPM


US Army Half-Track Variants

M2 & M2A1

Scout & Personnel Carrier

M3 & M3A1

Personnel Carrier

M3 & M3A

75 mm Gun Motor Carriage

M4 & M4A1

81 mm Mortar Carrier


Multiple Gun Carriage

M15 & M15A1

Multiple Gun Carriage


Multiple Gun Carriage (Quad 50)


81 mm Mortar Carrier


105 mm Howitzer Mortar Carriage


75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage


ani_red.gif (995 bytes)    Proceeding info courtesy of the following sources   ani_red.gif (995 bytes)

Roberts Armory, A Traveling WWII Historical Museum:

National United States Armed Forces Museum, Houston, TX:

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Copyright 2000 by Christian Philbrook and/or FightingIron.  All Rights Reserved