This week we’re in Tallahassee with a very special guest who is restoring a Vietnam Icon, The Huey.
Did you know, the Bell UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed “Huey”) is a utility military helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine, with two-blade main and tail rotors. The first member of the prolific Huey family, it was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet a United States Army’s 1952 requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter, and first flew in 1956. The UH-1 was the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter production in 1960 for the United States military, and more than 16,000 have been built since.
M151 Truck, Utility, 1/4-Ton, 4×4 vehicle, better known as “the Mutt,” was a light tactical vehicle that helped Uncle Sam big time. It was the next generation of the Jeep and was put to tasks unique to that generation. Like other vehicles in the U.S. military from the 60s to the 80s, the M151 MUTT was deployed for use in Vietnam and Grenada.
The M151 Truck resembles a hybrid between an M38 Jeep, the kind used in World War II, and the modern Humvee. That’s because this vehicle is the missing link that was manufactured in the years between the uses of the Jeep and development of the Humvee.
The M151 Truck, Utility, 1/4-Ton, 4×4 is exceptionally long for an upgrade from the M38 Jeep. It boasts a length of just over 11 feet, a width of 5 feet 4 inches, and an 85-inch wheel base. The vehicle is just under 6 feet tall and weighs in at 2,400 pounds. The M151 is powered by an Ordnance Continental 4 cylinder engine with 71 horsepower.
Earlier variants of the Jeep originally began as two separate structures, with a steel tub having to be welded to a steel frame. The M151 was upgraded at the drawing board to have an integrated sheet-steel frame and thus a sturdier build that could take more punishment. The sturdy build and the horsepower enabled the vehicle to haul up to a quarter ton of cargo, making the MUTT Uncle Sam’s go-to ride.
History of the M151 MUTT
The M151 is the product of research and development that began at the end of World War II. The M38 Jeep was the next model after the World War II variant and it saw some service in the Korean War. However, the Jeep still had trouble hauling both men and cargo over Korea’s mountainous terrain and bad roads that were often made worse by extreme weather. The Korean War had not been over by Christmas as MacArthur promised, so the Army decided to just make an all-new vehicle that didn’t have the same problems as the Jeep.
In 1951, Ford was awarded the contract for building a new line of 4×4 off-roading vehicles. When research and testing proved the vehicle to be fit for service, the vehicle hit the Ford assembly line. The first 10,000 that were used by the U.S. military were manufactured in 1960 and it became the most used Jeep in the armed forces during the Vietnam era.
The M151 ¼ Ton 4×4 in service
Like other military vehicles, the M151 MUTT was easily convertible with a removable canopy top (which included optional doors), but unique in its removable windshield. The MUTT was built with a driver’s seat in the center left of the vehicle and a passenger seat in the center-right. The biggest improvements it boasted from the earlier Jeep model were the ¼ Ton loadbearing ability and independent suspension.
The M151 was a step up from the Jeep in that it could haul more cargo than the M38, and it could do so while off-roading. The magic was in the MUTT’s independent suspension paired with the wheels being at the extreme four corners of the vehicle, making it able to hug and climb more terrain. The independent suspension provided much more dexterity than the axle suspension on the M38, also allowing the vehicle to take more punishment while sustaining less damaging wear and tear.
The major downside to the wheel placement is that the rear wheels slid easily. The result was that the M151 earned a reputation for being prone to vehicle rollovers, especially when soldiers were trying to get somewhere in a hurry. Rollovers became a recurring problem in testing the civilian model, so Ford scrapped it and the M151 Truck, Utility, 1/4-Ton, 4×4 vehicle remained exclusively a military vehicle. The suspension was revised for the M151A1, which debuted in 1964, and once again for safer high-speed turns with 1970’s M151A2.
Military Collector Ranking
Restored Value: $25,000 – $35,000+
Weight 2,400 lb (1,100 kg)
Inline 4-cyl., 141.5 cu in (2.319 L) 71 hp (53 kW) at 4,000 rpm / 128 ft·lbf (174 N·m) at 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed + reverse manual transmission, single-speed, part-time transfer case
Number built > 100,000
Battle Tested: The M151 MUTT in Vietnam
The M151 entered mass production in 1960 and was designated as Uncle Sam’s new Jeep, so the MUTT was bound to end up in Vietnam. The size, sturdiness, and off-roading build made this arguable the most used vehicle of the Vietnam War, with over 100,000 M151 MUTT ¼ Ton 4×4 vehicles manufactured for the U.S. military by the 1970s. The M151 Military Utility Transport Truck was adapted into several highly effective variations that changed ground warfare. With greater off-roading capabilities, the M151 could take more men and more cargo to more places where they were badly needed. These variants include:
The M151A1C – The A1C model was mounted with high power 106 mm recoilless rifles and a cruising range of 275 miles before refueling. The M151A1C was effective for taking out big targets at long distances.
The M718 – The M718 and M718A1 were frontline ambulances. Most of the time they had no canopy mounted, allowing room to quickly load multiple litters with wounded men into the vehicle from any angle. Thousands of wounded troops were evacuated to aid stations and M.A.S.H units on the M718, and the MUTT helped save thousands of American lives.
The M1051 – The M1051 was a small firefighting vehicle used exclusively by the Marines
The M151A2 FAV – The M151A2 Fat Assault Vehicle was built with a heavy weapons mount and could be mounted with M2 Browning .50 caliber heavy machine guns, M60 light machine guns, a Mark 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher, and a TOW anti-tank system. Best of all, it could be dropped right onto the battlefield by a Chinook.
The M151 Retires
The M151 entered mass production in 1960 and was designated as Uncle Sam’s new Jeep, so the MUTT was bound to end up in Vietnam. The size, sturdiness, and off-roading build made this arguable the most used vehicle of the Vietnam War, with over 100,000 M151 MUTT ¼ Ton 4×4 vehicles manufactured for the U.S. military by the 1970s. The M151 Military Utility Transport Truck was adapted into several highly effective variations that changed ground warfare. With greater off-roading capabilities, the M151 could take more men and more cargo to more places where they were badly needed.
The Dodge M37 – Three-Quarter Ton Four Wheel Drive Truck
The Dodge M37 three-quarter ton truck is a rugged military vehicle that did its part and made a big difference for Uncle Sam. It was put into service during the Korean War and became indispensable thanks to its multipurpose usability. Despite its slower speeds, every branch of the military adopted this tactical utility vehicle.
This vehicle should look highly familiar, since people have seen it in military movies and television shows. The truck has the large head, large 9 x 16 black rubber tires, and is painted olive drab with the mandatory white star centered on both door panels. It’s a large pick-up truck with the open-air bed often covered by a tarp canopy.
The Dodge M37 made its debut on the assembly line in 1951. There were over 115,000 units of the M37 made over the next eighteen years. The M37 three-quarter ton truck was part of a line of tactical vehicles based on the G502 WC series of Dodge vehicles used in World War II. The old WC line was easily adapted to produce the M37 three-quarter ton truck. Because the same assembly line and many of the same parts were used, the manufacturing cost for the M37 was lower.
Better yet, the vehicle reflected lessons learned the hard way in World War II. Many of the kinks and drawbacks from the old Dodge WC line were corrected when the M37 was being designed. Major improvements include a waterproof ignition system, better weather protection, and the ¾ ton truck was built to be able to ford high waters for crossing streams and rivers. The M37 was in every way a sign of improvement in manufacturing made possible by American wartime industrial ingenuity.
The basic frame of the truck was taken from Dodge’s Model T245. The truck has an L-head with a 6-cylinder engine with 58.2 kilowatts of power at a maximum rate of 3,200 rpm. The oil capacity is 6 quarts, with a 25 quarts capacity for the radiator. The fuel system accommodates 24 gallons and the transmission is a 4-peed synchro-shift.
The M37 truck weighs nearly 5,700 pounds without the optional winch. With the winch, it’s nearly an even 6,000 pounds. Its cruising speed is 45 mph with a maximum speed of 55. The 24 gallon fuel tank burns at a fuel efficiency averaging 6 miles to the gallon, with a maximum range of 150 miles before refueling is required.
The Dodge M37 ¾ ton truck quickly replaced other military vehicles based on the Kaiser M715 and Dodge M880 series, which were originally civilian commercial vehicles. The M37 came along as the alternative that had four-wheel drive, was much sturdier and tougher, and could withstand the extensive wear and tear demanded of vehicles by combat zones like Korea. Its strong yet narrow frame made it the ideal vehicle for scaling rocky slopes, passing over streams and rivers, and squeezing through narrow passageways. Keep in mind that the Korean peninsula is a very mountainous place with many cliffs, valleys, and waterways.
Military Collector Ranking
Est Value: $25,000 – $50,000
Weight: 5,917 lb (2,684 kg)
Engine: Dodge T-245 78 hp (58 kW)
Speed: 55 mph (89 km/h)
Number built: 115,838
Battle Tested: M37 Variations
The M43 ambulance – The M43B1 was an ambulance specially fitted to be able to carry four patient litters, or six to eight passengers sitting upright. The four litter bunks could be folded up and latched to the wall to accommodate upright passengers on bench-style seating. Thousands of these were used to transport wounded soldiers to field hospitals and aid stations between 1951 and the ceasefire in 1953.
The M201 telephone maintenance vehicle – Also known as the V41 Telephone Installation Light Maintenance and Cable Splicing Truck, this vehicle was mounted with a winch and spotlight for repairing cables, telephone poles, and other communications infrastructure.
The XM132 bomb service truck – This variation of the Dodge M37 was outfitted with an open air back and an arch-shaped metal cage for transporting bombs and other live ordnance.
The M42 command truck – The back was outfitted to make this vehicle a mobile office, including curtains, windows, interior lights, and a folding desk table.
The M56 tool truck – The M56 Chassis was mounted with an industrial winch and heavier suspension. This was a heavy duty maintenance vehicle and was used to build crash trucks for Navy and Air Force research.
The R2 airfield fire engine – This fire truck was often mounted with a winch, water tank, and fire hose. Not surprisingly, it was painted bright red.
The V126 radar truck – The large satellite dish on the back makes this variation hard to ignore or mistake
The MB2 fire and rescue truck – The MB2 was similar to the R2, though this vehicle was used for “forcible entry” rescues requiring the vehicle to crash through walls.
The M152 utility truck – The M152 was extensively used by the Canadian military to haul tools and special equipment.