|There is a large informational gap in the history of Weasels. Although not complete by any stretch of the imagination, quite a bit is known about the development of the Weasel and its use in WWII. After WWII the Weasel's story becomes quite vague. It is known that several US Allies used Weasels, including Norway, Sweden, and France. Some were shipped to friendly nations as surplus in small quantities, like the units sent to Australia for Antarctic exploration. Within the US large numbers of Weasels were sold off in the 1950s to civilians and municipal organizations, most of which were used as work vehicles for tasks like fire & rescue, swamp surveying, ski trail grooming, etc.. And that is about all that is known.
What we are missing is the story of how these vehicles were used, and more importantly repaired, after their transfer into non-Army hands. Obviously NOS parts were available for many repairs, but after Studebaker went out of business and some parts became hard to find, then what?
A partial answer to this question has been provided by John Wilson of Australia. When he purchased his Weasel the former owner passed on a news letter from "Consolidated Industries", a firm located in Maryland. The company was run by Tom and John Murray, who still are in the MV parts business and have provided many of us with NOS Weasel parts. I am trying to get in contact with John Murray to ask him a few questions about this brochure, which is dated "Winter 1960-1961".
On Page 3 there are details about track repairs and new sprocket wheels. The "Heavy Duty" track (top part below) is quite interesting and if anybody has a physical sample on hand it would be great to see some pictures of it. The "Extra Heavy Duty" track (bottom part below) uses conventional conveyor style belting.
|It is interesting to note that this sprocket wheel, seen below, has a reinforced rim. The original does not have this rim, at least as far as can be seen in the manuals and wartime pictures. However, several Weasels that I own have these types of drive wheels. Are they original or are they post-war manufactured?|
|The main focus of this brochure centers around the "Sno T'rrain" vehicle made by Consolidated. Basically, this is a double enclosed Weasel. A picture of this vehicle is on the front page of the brochure, but is also pictured below.|
|One of the drawbacks to the Weasel's design was its limited cargo/troop carrying ability. Since the basic design of the Weasel was so hard to improve upon, one concept was to simply have a "double Weasel" design with a single powerplant powering both front and rear sections. So in the 1950s work began to find a replacement for the Weasel.
Various vehicle platforms were tested and a "double Weasel" design was one of them. The "Arctic Personnel Carrier", made by Wilson, Nuttall, Raimond Engineers (WNRE). This vehicle was based on their earlier late 1950s model known as the "Polecat". The basic design of the vehicle was based on the Weasel, including the location of the engine and driver. The tracks and suspension system were in fact Weasel parts.
The Arctic Personnel Carrier was never adopted, but limited numbers of Polecats were used by the Army to haul research equipment. The picture below is the Arctic Personnel Carrier model, as seen in Fred Crismon's excellent "US Military Tracked Vehicles" book.
|It is interesting to note the similarities between the "Sno T'rrain" and the "Polecat". Both were based on the Weasel and had fairly similar outward designs. They were also both powered by the same International 264ci engines. But most interesting, the two companies which manufactured them were located in the same small US State of Maryland. It is not known if there were any relationships between the two companies or development teams, but it seems likely.
The US military apparently never did adopt a "double Weasel" styled vehicle of its own. However, in 1983 the US Army purchased 302 of the new Swedish vehicle, BV206, made by Hägglunds. The official designation was the SUSV M973 and is still in limited use with the US Army today.
Special thanks to John Wilson for taking the time to scan and submit this fine piece of history for all of us to view. OK, now without further delay... here are the links to the four pages of the brochure. Enjoy!