New Things to See at the Bong Center

Thanks to the generosity of Northland military vehicle collector and restorer extraordinaire Kevin Kronlund of Trego, Wisconsin, we are able to bring to our visitors the following five unique pieces of wheeled history: 1942 ‘Snow Weasel’; 1944 ‘Snow Tractor; 1944 Airborne Scooter; 1944 Ford Jeep and; 1968 ‘Mechanical Mule’.

All artifacts courtesy of the Military Preservation Group, Spooner, Wisconsin


M28 Snow Weasel
1942, Studebaker Corporation
South Bend, Indiana

Studebaker’s ‘Weasel’ was developed in response to a need for a light-weight vehicle capable of traversing snowy terrain.   Initial plans for deployment included a possible operation in Norway against German forces. The basic design of the Weasel was adapted for all-terrain work through several different models and an amphibious version was also created.

Weight    3400 pounds
Payload    1260 pounds
Max. Speed 35mph
Range (M28) 155 miles
Number built (M28) 766

M7 Snow Tractor
1944, Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company,
 West Allis, Wisconsin
Designed to an Army Air Force specification for use in rescuing downed aircrew in winter conditions, the M7 Snow tractor was capable of pulling a one-ton trailer and was constructed using many standard Allis-Chalmers tractor parts and Jeep power train components to ease spare parts requirements.  The design allowed for use of either front wheels or the installation of skis; the skis functioned as front fenders when in the stowed position.

Weight    2620 pounds
Range    160 miles
Number built 291


M53 Air Drop Scooter
1944, Cushman Motor Works, Lincoln, Nebraska
The Cushman Motors Works produced three different scooter models for the US military during World War II.  The most notable of these was the M53 Air Drop Scooter, also known as the ‘Cushman Airborne.’  Designed to be delivered via parachute the scooter provided instant mobility for airborne troops and could haul ammunition and supplies on the accompanying trailer.  A total of 4,734 M53 scooters were produced.  Note the straps on the ammunition trailer for use in pulling the cart by hand.

Weight    255 pounds
Max. Speed    40mph
Range    100 miles
Number built 4734

Ford GPW

1944, Ford Motor Company, Detroit, Michigan
Originally designed by the American Bantam Company of Butler, Pennsylvania to meet a specification for a ¼ ton payload vehicle with four-wheel drive, the ‘Jeep’ is probably the most recognizable military vehicle ever produced.  Used in numerous roles including reconnaissance, cargo transport, ambulance, and communications the Jeep could also tow several types of trailers as well as the 37mm anti-tank gun.  
During World War II over 600,000 Jeeps were produced by Ford Motor Company and Willys-Overland Motors of Toledo, Ohio, both of which modified the original Bantam design for their production.  Bantam, who did not have access to a suitable engine or the production capacity needed by the US military, manufactured only 2675 Jeeps before switching over to the production of T-3 Jeep Trailers.

Weight            2450 pounds
Payload            1000 pounds
Max. Speed         65 mph
Range            285 miles
Number built 630-640,000+ (sources differ)

M274A4 Truck, Platform, Utility
‘Mechanical Mule’
1968, Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Inc.
York, Pennsylvania
In production from 1956 to 1970, the ‘Mechanical Mule’ one-half ton utility platform was widely used by infantry, Marine and airborne units to carry weapons, ammunition, personnel and general cargo.  It was air transportable (the seat and footrest could be stowed underneath), had no suspension (shocks were absorbed by large low-pressure tires) and could be turned on its side or top for maintenance and repair.  It was manufactured by Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Willys, Baifield Industries, and Brunswick Corporation.  The Mule saw extensive service in Vietnam.

Weight            925 pounds
Payload         1000 pounds
Max. Speed      25mph
Number built 11,240 (all manufacturers)