|Manufacturer||Dodge Division of Chrysler Corporation|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseDuring WWII, the US Army employed three standard field ambulances, all from the Dodge WC series of medium trucks. The WC series produced military trucks for a wide assortment of duties and they are the direct ancestors of the enormously successful Dodge "Power Wagon."
ww2dbaseAt the war's outbreak, the Dodge Model WC27 half-ton box van was the standard field ambulance (virtually indistinguishable from the WC9 or the WC18, also still in-service). Production of the upgraded 3/4-ton WC54 began in 1942 with many more made than the earlier versions. By 1945, the shipping problems created by the fixed box of the WC54 led to the third standard filed ambulance of the war, the WC64. The WC64 was based on the same truck as the WC54 but the cab and rear body were shipped in a knocked down configuration to be assembled after arrival in-theater. This led to the WC64 being known as the "WC64 Knock-Down" or the "WC64KD." More WC54's were built than earlier and later versions combined, however. Between 1942 and 1945, over 19,000 WC54's were made, serving in all theaters and with all allied nations.
ww2dbaseAll members of the WC line were rugged, dependable, go-anywhere, all-wheel drive trucks; and the ambulances were no exception. But being ambulances, they had two features not shared by others in the line: a smoother riding suspension system and an interior heater. The WC54 was also the only 3/4-ton truck in the WC series that did not carry the spare tire over the driver's door.
ww2dbaseUnlike today, very little medical care was administered inside these ambulances. Care was given before patients were loaded and after they were removed, but usually not while aboard. The function of the ambulance was almost exclusively to transport the wounded from here to there. Ambulance crews consisted of a driver and an attendant. While the attendant was expected to render urgent care when needed, his purpose was really to hold the other end of the litter. WC54's could carry four patients on litters or seven "walking wounded" on benches.
ww2dbaseNearly all WC54's in the US Army entered service as ambulances, but some were modified for other uses, usually with the Signal Corps. The ambulances were conspicuously marked for their purpose with large white squares containing large red crosses. The design of the red cross markings were spelled out in the Geneva Convention and were often called "Geneva Crosses." Even so, ambulances did not always escape drawing fire. As front line vehicles in Europe and North Africa, they were often strafed or otherwise fired upon. In the Pacific Theater, concealment was more desirable than conspicuity so the stark white markings were toned down or eliminated altogether.
ww2dbaseAs the most plentiful American ambulance produced, the WC54 spread to all allied nations through Lend-Lease. Greatly valued by all users, WC54's remained in active service with many nations well into the 1960's.
ww2dbaseSources: Wikipedia, Dodgewc54.com, Olive Drab, WW2 US Medical Research Centre
|Machinery||One Dodge T214 6-cyl engine rated at 92bhp at 3,200rpm|
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943