Dodge G505 1/2-ton
As important as tanks, airplanes and ships were to the Allied war effort of World War 2, perhaps nothing was as important as the field ambulance.
Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited:
From World War 1 the US Army had a relationship with Dodge and ordered from them light military half-ton trucks during World War 2. The "WC" series of Dodge military trucks were highly varied, coming in forms of troop carriers to weapons carriers and all were based on the Dodge 1/2-ton truck chassis. The 38 different models developed were all 4x4's and all were in the "G505" family of 1/2-ton Dodge military vehicles. Early in World War 2, the 1941 Dodge Army truck was one of the first lightweight military four-wheel drive vehicles deployed leading the Dodge division to produce 79,771 half-ton trucks of all model types in 1941 and 1942 - one of which became the standard military ambulance.
The typical 1941 Dodge Army 4x4 truck had a 116-inch wheelbase, however, the ambulance model - due to the passenger load - sat on a 123-inch wheelbase and used 7.50 tires with 16-inch wheels. The engine was a 230.2 cubic inch 6-cylinder gasoline engine of 78 horsepower and 222 foot pounds of torque. These engines were mated to a four-speed manual transmission system with all-wheel drive and the brakes being hydraulic. This helped the ambulance to go off-road in the different theaters of war where roads were few and cratered from combat. The base crew consisted of a driver and an ambulance orderly - the latter also doubling as the second driver - charged with rendering aid to the wounded. The vehicle had a two-door closed cab and double doors in the rear of the ambulance with a fold-up step.
The vehicle's rear cargo space was constructed of steel panels and held a Carlisle Ambulance insert section that was also ventilated for the wounded therein. The lining of the interior walls was hardboard masorite and, along the sides, there were folding bench seats that ran the length of the interior body. The ambulatory section had room for seven sitting cases, four stretcher cases or two stretcher cases and four sitting wounded. When in use, two of the stretchers hung from the roof and two would be placed on the floor. As can be imagined, the ride was generally bumpy for the wounded especially when traversing over open ground and trying to reduce the time from the frontline to the aid stations at the rear. This undoubtedly took a toll on both the tires and springs while the large front bumper was used to push over and through bushes and saplings allowing the ambulance to cut through off road to complete its life-saving mission.
The headlights were protected over with brush guards and the spare tire was mounted in a cut out section of the body behind the driver's side. This could allow for quick access of the spare if needed (as opposed to a traditional underneath mounting which would have been subject to hits from off road obstructions. A rear mounting of the spare was not possible simply due to a lack of space. The roof was deliberately made high and curved to allow the medic and wounded to move around to some degree and some stowage space was available for medical supplies as well. A "jerry" gas can and a canvas water bag was mounted on the passenger side fender. When the vehicle ran into environmental troubles on the road or cross-country, Dodge affixed a tool rack along the rear passenger side that contained your typical "pioneer tools" needed in war - a shovel, pick and ax to help dislodge the vehicle.
US Army ambulances were painted over in the standard Army flat olive drab color scheme and were further marked with the usual registration numbers and globally-recognized Geneva Red Cross insignias painted on the sides of the body and on the rear doors as well as the roof. Those countries who signed the Geneva accords were expected to not molest any vehicle showing the Red Cross if they were unarmed - though in wartime, this was not always an honored expectation.
Dodge saw a need for a new line of military vehicles based on feedback from the frontlines. The decision was to redesign the 1/2-ton truck as the new series Model 1942 G502 WC T214 Dodge 3/4-ton 4x4 truck. Dodge got the contract by designing the majority of the parts for the 3/4-ton to be interchangeable with the deployed 1/4-ton trucks. The new design was fitted with a wide flat hood, larger tires and a strengthened undercarriage. Another bonus was that the new 3/4-ton used the same 6-cylinder engine as in the 1/2-ton so parts were interchangeable. The interior Carlisle insert was eliminated and the seats and supports were bolted directly to the steel side panels. The rear ventilation system was doubled in size and a new interior heating system was added on trucks headed to the European Theater where the winters became another enemy of Allied soldiers. The 3/4-ton was wider with a lower profile and, with its larger tires fitted on combat rims, maintained much improved off road traction. The overall improvements to the 3/4-ton increased its payload capacity by 50% over that of the 1/2-ton model.
Some 22,857 of the 3/4-ton ambulances were built and deployed.