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Old 07-07-2009, 04:46 PM
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Default FWD Model B 3-ton Lorry

To make up for their drastic shortage of motor transport the British Government purchased huge numbers of motor vehicles from the United States, a total of nearly 18,000 being thus acquired during the war years. First contracts were placed at the end of 1914 and first deliveries of vehicles were made early in 1915 via an American export agency which set up a reception base in Liverpool and a repair depot in Islington to check and service incoming vehicles before handing them over to the British Ministry of Munitions. Only the cab/chassis came from America, the British fitting W.D.-type bodies of their own as required.
One of the most important types purchased was the F.W.D. Model B, built by the Four Wheel Drive Co. of Clintonville, Wisconsin, from whence the F.W.D. initials were derived. As its name implies, this was a four-wheel drive vehicle and very similar to its contemporary the Jeffrey-Quad (Plate So). Rated as a 3-tonner, the F. W.D. had a Wisconsin four-cylinder petrol engine with a three-speed gearbox and a two¬speed transfer gearbox. There was a shaft drive to each axle. On roads the F.W.D. was driven as a normal rearwheel drive vehicle, but for off road driving an additional gear lever was provided on the chassis side which controlled the low gears and connected up the drive to the front axle.


The Four Wheel Drive Auto Company had been formed in 1912, and production of the Model B began, though very slowly at first, only 18 trucks being delivered in 1913. However the US Army had tested one of the very first F.W.D.s, and in 1916 they ordered 38 Model Bs for General Pershing's Mexican campaign against Pancho Villa. Meanwhile, with the outbreak of war in Europe, Model Bs were ordered by the British (for whom Peerless built 500) and Russian governments. In 1917 America entered the war, and US Army orders were so great that production had to be farmed out to three other companies.
The U.S. Ordnance Department had the benefit of nearly three years observation of the war in France and an early decision was taken to avoid the use ofhorse-drawn artillery equipment in the American Expedition­ary Force as much as possible. Thus the Americans went to war from the start with the emphasis on mechanical rather than horse-drawn transport. No less than 30,000 four-wheel drive vehicles were ordered of which 12,498 had been delivered by the time of the Armistice. Of these 9,420 went to France before hostilities ceased. A complete range of complementary bodies was produced (25,000 in total) for fitting to the F.W.D. chassis.
They were almost entirely steel in contrast with the British range of F.W.D. bodies which were wood. The artillery supply truck carried ammunition and gun spares and 5,474 were ordered. The artillery repair truck carried lathes, welding plant, riveting equipment, and so on for gun repairs in the field and over 1,300 Of these were ordered. The ordnance repair truck was for general repair work em­bracing such items as motor vehicles, wagons, and even horse harness.
Most British trucks were ordinary load carriers, but special applications included ordonance repair, balloon winch and searchlight trucks. In the British Army the F.W.D. was mainly used as a gun tractor but it also saw service as a supply carrier for heavy or awkward loads. A typical role saw it fitted with a tank for carrying petrol or water.
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