FWD Model B
3-ton Utility Truck
The FWD Model B truck was taken on by the United States, Britain and Russia during the First World War and lived to see service in World War 2 thereafter.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
In 1912, the United States Army began evaluation of an all-new, four-wheel-driven truck for military service. The truck was based on a 1908 design (known as the "Battleship") which born in Clintonville, Wisconsin and promoted a more practical four-wheel drive arrangement. than offerings seen previously. The Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company (FWD Corporation in 1958) focused on manufacturing trucks on this new driving principle and one of its emerging products became the "Model B" 3-ton which eventually proved itself a sound vehicle for the rigors of military use through two World Wars.
Design of the Model B was wholly utilitarian by appearance, though keeping with the period as far as automobiles and trucks went. It consisted of an engine and passenger section along the forward section of the chassis which, itself, was given four, rubber-tired road wheels. The passengers sat on bench seating with the primary control apparatus being a traditional steering wheel. The occupants sat notably high in the design with rather commanding views due to the placement of the engine. A cover overhead for the crew was optional and a grille at the front of the cab gave the Model B a unique, identifiable appearance. The rear section of the frame could be fitted with a cargo box and to this could be added a canvas cover to protect supplies from the elements. With the canvas affixed, the vehicle appeared as something akin to a mechanized stagecoach from the American Wild West.
By the time of World War 1 (1914-1918), motorized vehicles were already valued for their hauling capabilities and all manner of types were utilized by all sides - some even pressed as armored cars featuring weaponry. Production of the FWD Model B assured it a place in the inventories of American, British and Russian army forces where they served in the ammunition transport role. Production of the trucks totaled 17,555 of which 14,473 were delivered for American service, 3,000 to the United Kingdom (about 60 taken back into U.S. stocks after American entry into the war) and some 82 to Imperial Russian forces. Amazingly, the vehicle managed to survive the interwar years to see service during World War 2 (1939-1945).