Love that catchy title! Truck nomenclature is definitely a bit odd.


But of course, trucks themselves are hugely important in any modern military.

The better known name here might be “Deuce and a Half”, a nickname derived from the official hauling capacity in tons, but that familiar name is actually from after World War II.


Going back to 1939 the US Army ordered a truck to carry 2 1/2 tons (5000 lbs) of cargo with off-road capability.  Designs were submitted by GM’s Yellow Coach division, Studebaker, International Harvester and REO.  GM won the competition and received the most orders, but the Studebaker and IHC designs were also ordered in lesser numbers.  REO wasn’t left out either by winning a bid for large numbers of the Studebaker design.


For the US Army the GM design was the big winner.  The basic design was a 6 x 6 that could carry the specified load off road, or 5 tons on pavement.  Over 560,000 (810,000 for all three “Deuce and a Half” trucks) were built with 20 different “official” configurations including basic cargo, dump truck, and tanker. They also built a cheaper 4 x 6 version for road use only, and the famous DUKW was built from the same platform.  Several changes occurred during production, starting with Yellow changing its name to “GMC” in 1943.  This led to the type’s first nickname of “Jimmy”.  Actual hardware changes involved switching from an enclosed cab to a soft-top design and using more wood on the cargo bed (both cost saving measures).


The Studebaker truck was mostly for lend lease to the Soviet Union, and knock offs of it remained in production in China until 1996.


The IHC truck may have had the best off-road performance of the group and was the preferred vehicle of the US Navy and Marines.


Apart from one being a tanker (!), a big difference between these two CCKWs is the one at right has the earlier hard topped cab.

This particular truck was used by the Red Ball Express, late 1944.  This was an emergency supply system designed to run supplies from the Normandy Beaches to the combat forces at the front.  It ran from August through November until captured ports and railroads began taking more of the load.  Almost 6000 trucks were in use delivering over 12000 tons of supplies daily.
French Highways were narrow, so many were designated one-way only and military police units in Jeeps were used to keep the network flowing with loaded trucks forward and empty trucks back.  The plan originally called for five truck convoys led by Jeep, but in practice trucks often went individually as soon as they were loaded.  Every truck was allocated two drivers, so it could run 24/7.  75% of these drivers were African Americans.


A couple weeks ago I asked the question, how is the Opel Blitz rated at 3 tons while the Deuce and a Half is rated at 2 1/2?  Well I believe I now have the answer.  The American truck’s rating is for off road.  It could carry twice that on the road.  While the Blitz’ load is on the road, down hill, with a tailwind.  I may have just made up the last two items.

This is the Tamiya kit.  The build was easy and fun as expected from this brand, but sadly no “miscellaneous cargo junk” was included in this kit! Making scruffy and dirty boxes and barrels is a favorite part for me…


I can honestly say I’ve had a lot of fun doing these medium duty trucks.  And there’s a few more in the stash!


About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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9 Responses to GMC CCKW

  1. Jeff Groves says:

    I’ve always liked the softskins. Good catch on the cargo capacity rating being for off-road, makes sense.

  2. jfwknifton says:

    Your first picture looks incredibly real. I git me thinking you perhaps might have a half inch high army, the driver is so human looking.

  3. A lovely model of a real workhorse!

  4. Ernie Davis says:

    Well these weren’t invented in my hometown, but our local reserve unit had a bunch and when there was a Boy Scout Jamboree at a local state park I got to ride in one as they ferried people around. Spoiler, they aren’t particularly comfortable.

  5. Pingback: GMC CCKW – faujibratsden

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