Model A & AA

Ford Garage

US Army 17th Field Artillery

Ford Motorized Battery

The series of pictures below are of the US Army's first serious venture with a motorized field artillery gun battery. The unit is the 17th Field Artillery Ford Motorized Battery based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The Model A and AA vehicles were all built and procured by government purchase order directly to Ford Motor Company. The trucks were all special built for the battery to military specifications and were delivered on April 29, 1932.

Field Artillery Journal, May/June 1932

Approving this study, the Chief of Field Artillery, on September 1, 1931, requested that the sum of $12,000.00 be allotted for the procurement of eleven 1-1⁄2-ton commercial type trucks and five station wagons including the necessary vehicular accessories, equipment, and modifications.

The various sections of the General Staff were enthusiastic in the acceptance of this project which received the War Department's approval on November 9, 1931. Bids were opened at Holabird on February 10, 1932, and the award of the contract was made to the Ford Company.

The vehicles were delivered to representatives of the Quartermaster Corps at Detroit on March 30, 1932, and with the exception of the four "gun trucks" which were driven to Rock Island Arsenal to pick up the guns, the convoy arrived at Holabird on April 1, 1932, to receive special body modifications and the installation of pintles.

The pictures below were taken in 1932 during evaluation and demonstration trials. Prior to that time horses and mules were still the motive power for the Field Artillery.

The pic above shows the battery lined up at Camp Holabird, Maryland on April 29, 1932.

The battery spent their time training on the new Fords including complete repair and overhaul procedures for the trucks, taught by Ford instructors.

From the left is the tandem axle Model AA "trouble truck", 11 Model AA gun trucks towing M1897 "French 75" howitzers, and 5 Model A station wagons equipped as map, communication, and command cars.

Here's a pic of the Ford battery in front of the Washington Monument on May 5, 1932. The battery made a run from Camp Holabird, through Baltimore and on to Washington in a little over two hours.

Here is the battery lined up in front of the US Army War College (then located) at Fort McNair, Virginia.

Pictured above are four Model AA gun trucks towing the French 75's. The Ford body type of the gun truck was the 242-A Heavy Duty Express.

The 131-1/2 inch wheelbase gun trucks were the prime movers and towed the howitzers and carried crew, supplies, and munitions.

Pictured above is a front view of the gun truck.

Some interesting features to note include the front mounted radiator and headlamp brush guard, the dual sidemount AA spare tires, and the styled rear wheel bobbed fenders.

The pic above shows the gun truck with the tarpaulin top removed.

Also seen is a better view of the unique rear fenders.

Gun truck tailgate.

Seen above is one of the five special equipped station wagons.

Note the added canvas tent flies on the sides and rear.

Also seen is the special rear drop-down tailgate and map table.

Pictured above is the station wagon with the flies extended and set up for command.

Last but certainly not least is the fabulous "trouble truck." This 157 inch wheelbase Model AA truck was specially equipped with Warford Sextette dual rear wheel tandem driving axles and compound transmission.

Note the special double bobbed rear fenders, and dual fender mounted spare tires.

This truck was the recovery truck for supporting the gun trucks and artillery pieces.

The Ford Battery spent 1932 and 1933 training on the Fords and on maneuvers, and making evaluations and giving demonstrations at other facilities across the US including Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, as shown in this January 1933 photo.

Battery D, 17th Field Artillery en Route to Fort Ethan Allen, Vt.
Field Artillery Journal, January 1933

Battery D, 17th Field Artillery from Fort Bragg, N. C., which has recently been equipped with light trucks, is on its way to Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont. The battery has favorably completed those portions of its test which could be carried out at its home station. It has therefore been ordered to Fort Ethan Allen to conduct operations over a terrain covered with ice and snow.

The battery left Fort Bragg on January 3 and arrived at Fort Myer, Virginia, on January 4 having in the meantime staged a demonstration for the Marines at Quantico, Virginia. The battery was scheduled to arrive at Fort Ethan Allen on January 10 by way of Frankford Arsenal, West Point and Watervliet Arsenal, New York. However owing to an outbreak of influenza in the personnel of the battery it will not be able to carry out the above schedule. The column consists of:

One of the Ford standard trucks has been transformed into a rolling kitchen in the sense that it carries a No. 5 Army Range which is bolted to the truck but insulated therefrom. The fuel is coal. Cooking is performed while moving on the road and fifteen minutes after the battery is halted food is served. A strap iron rack has been devised which holds the boilers from slipping on the stove when the truck is traveling. Lieutenant Colonel Maxwell Murray and Major Louis Hibbs are accompanying the battery.


More related web pages on Ford Garage:

  1. Model AA Warford Sextette Sub Transmission
  2. Model AA US Army 1931 Model AA 157 WB Trouble Truck

April 2006