Kaiser-Jeep M715 (Five Quarter)
1.25-ton Utility Truck
Kaiser Jeep of Toledo, Ohio, produced some 33,000 of its M715 and derivative utility vehicles over a two-year span.
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Up to 1965, the United States military relied on the Dodge G741 truck (as the M37) as its go anywhere, do anything truck. 115,838 of this vehicle were ultimately procured from 1951 to 1968 and many variants of the base design emerged over the course of its service tenure. However, this product's long term cost was growing prohibitive and forced authorities to consider a less expensive alternative going forward. The decision was made to pursue a civilian design already in circulation that could meet the military requirement and this set the focus on the Kaiser-Jeep "Gladiator" - a 4x4 wheeled 1.25-ton general purpose pickup truck. The move spawned the M715 family of military trucks which included three other major variants.
The vehicle was trialled by the Armor and Engineer Board of Fort Knox, Kentucky during late 1966 (as the XM715). The M715 was to retain much of its civilian origins, making it a lower cost affair than previous U.S. military truck offerings in that common, off-the-shelf components could be used for repairs and overhauls. A key change to the XM715 from its Gladiator days was an open-top cab which required modification to the doors and (naturally) the cab roof itself. The forward windscreen was hinged to fold down over the engine hood, reminiscent of the classic U.S. Army JEEPs. The canvas top set over the cab was removable. The forward fenders were resized to accept military-grade road wheels. The vehicle took on a conventional arrangement with driver at front-left, the engine compartment at front, and the cargo bed over the rear. The cab seated only two across as the large battery box ran between the two seats. The cargo area was spartan with only the wheel wells taking up any permanent space.
The initial production contract for Kaiser-Jeep called for 20,680 vehicles in March 1966. Production began in 1967 and that same year also saw first deliveries. Manufacture lasted until 1969 out of the Kaiser-Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio with 30,500 units delivered in all.
There proved four major variants of the M715 line beginning with the M715 standard cargo/troop carrier. A winch was optional with this model. The M724 "contact maintenance truck" was simply the M715 with only the cab and chassis while lacking the cargo bed and fitting a combination welder/generator and winch. The M725 was an ambulance with an enclosed rear structure for four patient litters and medical staff. Double doors provided rear access and the cab and rear section were joined by a sliding door. A floodlight was fitted over the forward windscreen. The M726 "telephone maintenance truck" was built on the same chassis as the M724 and resembled a civilian telephone service personnel's truck. Its cargo area consisted of storage compartments fitted over the wheel wells with an open space between them. Some of this model were also seen with spotlights and winch systems.
M715 trucks saw service in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and was also deployed along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and across Europe.