Military Collectors is at the MVPA National Convention in Cleveland Ohio this week!
Established in 1976, the non-profit MVPA is dedicated to providing an international organization for military vehicle enthusiasts, historians, preservationists and collectors interested in the acquisition, restoration, preservation, safe operation and public education of historic military transport.
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.
Join Bob this week as he travels to Cairo, Georgia and meets up with a life long collector and military vehicle restoration expert, Russell Deese. Russell has a very unique story to tell during his past 40 plus years of collecting and restoring military vehicles.
Russell has built and provided and built vehicles for movies like Fast & Furious, The Hunger Games and X-Men First Class. Russell will also show us the things to look for when buying a military collector vehicle. Don’t miss this episode!
I have been in love with the Jeep since I was just a little boy, but not just any jeep. I wanted a real Army Jeep since I could remember. My dad had a salvage yard since the early 40’s. There were always Jeeps around the junk yard. I was born in 1962 so most of the Jeeps that my dad had at the time were starting to look pretty rough by the time I began to get interested in the little trucks. I think I really began the love affair when I was around 6 years old (1968). My dad would buy me a little toy of the little Jeep. He told me before he passed away in 1997 that he would watch me carry the toy Jeep everywhere I went, church, dinner table, to bed, well you get the picture. It became my security blanket. I still have my little Jeep. It is very old and it has all the wheels gone and pretty weathered as well. I believe it was made by DINKY. It is a cast metal Jeep of a Willys MA or FORD GP but not sure. Anyway to make this a shorter story and I think I could go on for quite some time, I will shorten it. I use to help my dad fixing cars up and pulling engines. I was 12 when I pulled my first engine. It was a Chevy 350 out of a 1969 Chevy pickup. My dad turned me loose to take it out. The only thing I think he did wrong was to give me the key to the 4400 Ford forklift tractor as help to get it out. Well I got it out, but not a pretty sight. I think I only took off the 2 motor mount bolts and transmission mount bolts. Everything else I figured would just disconnect itself, ha-ha. It did and what a mess I made. I was so proud of myself, and when I hauled the engine up to show my dad, transmission still attached with all the wires and fuel lines etc., hanging off, well you can imagined what the look on his face looked like. The neat thing is he wasn’t upset with me at all. He just looked at me and said “now if you can get the good motor I have over in the shop and put it back in the truck and make it run again I am going to give you any vehicle in the junk yard you want, yes anyone of them”. Well that settled it. I had always wanted the 1942 Ford GPW in the back under the big Oak tree. I use to go and pretend I was in the Army fighting our battles for the US Army from Live Oak, Fl. right there from the seat of that little GPW Army Jeep. Anyway that was the vehicle I chose for my dad to give me. And I knew the only way I was going to be able to get it was to fix that old Chevy truck again. After about 4 days of reading manuals and trying to make things fit with crying, mashed fingers, and plenty of electrical tape, ha ha, I did it! It ran and and actually pulled off on its own power! Well I got my first Jeep but not just any Jeep. It was my USA 1942 Ford GPW serial number 66292 original Army JEEP. WOW! It was all mine. It sat for years after that as my interest changed a little, but in 1978 I got my drivers license, and it was time to DRIVE and I knew which truck I wanted to drive. My Jeep. So I began to fix my little GPW, and many many hours later, and after many reading hours I had brought the little thing back to life again. Can you imagine the feeling of driving this Jeep for the first time for real? Not pretending anymore, but really driving and feeling all the bumps and the wind in my face? Wow I did it. I could go on and on, but to make a long story short, I now own “Russell’s Military Vehicles” and I restore Jeeps for a living, and business is good. I have restored vehicles for the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, and for the Mayor of Orlando, Fl., as well as Camp Blanding, Fl. military base museum. I have also done one for Fantasy of Flight in Florida too. Love affair? No, it’s more than that. It’s my life now. My website is www.generationjeep.net
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.