- Written by webmin
Regular HCC Lost and Found readers will recall the photo above, sent in by Vince Montague of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, following the story on the Minneapolis-Moline NTX that I wrote for HCC #69, June 2010. Through some digging in Crismon, we determined that the four-wheel-drive vehicle in Vince’s photo was not an NTX, but a Ford T8 Gun Motor Carriage, one of 15 that Ford built in 1941. Unlike the quarter-ton GPW, Ford built the T8 on a 3/4-ton chassis and powered it with Ford’s new-for-1941 90hp, 226-cu.in. inline-six, mounted just inside the right rear wheel.
As the name implied, the main purpose for the T8 was to tote around the M3 37mm anti-tank gun in a forward-facing position. With a four-speed transmission and 9.00-20 directional tires, it could hit 60 MPH with three crew members (driver, gunner, and one more). As early as May 1941, the Army began testing the T8 at Aberdeen, and evaluation continued through August or September. Thanks to its short, 86-inch wheelbase, it was considered easily maneuverable, both on- and off-road.
At the same time, Ford also created a “Swamp Buggy” version of the T8 – essentially a T8 sans gun, but repurposed as a personnel carrier/reconnaissance vehicle to take advantage of the chassis’s off-road ability. Neither version of the T8 netted Ford a production contract, however: The contract went instead to Dodge for the WC-based M6, and according to Overvalwagen, of the 15 T8s, four went to Canada, two went to England, and at least some of the remaining nine (including, possibly, the Swamp Buggy) went to the Dutch forces in Suriname, where they got the nickname “tankjagers.” (Note: George Dammann, in his Illustrated History of Ford, 1903-1970, claimed that Ford built 20 Swamp Buggy versions.)
A company the size of Ford wouldn’t let that hinder their efforts, especially with entry into World War II (and the accompanying shutdown of civilian production) looming. Starting in about August 1941, Ford reconfigured the T8 chassis, moving the inline-six up front, for its three 3/4-ton entries into the Low Silhouette program, all of which placed the driver and engine in various locations. The GCA, on a 103-inch wheelbase, used a conventional layout, with the driver behind the center-mounted engine; the GAJ shifted the engine to the left of center and placed the driver behind the engine, but outboard of the frame rail; the GLJ, on a 92-inch wheelbase, shifted the engine to the right of center and moved the driver up alongside the engine, with his feet just behind the grille/brushguard.
None of the three made it to production, but the GLJ appeared to serve as the basis for a couple of other developments. The first, called the “Observation Post Tender” and designated the T2, placed an armored scout/reconnaissance car body on the GLJ chassis and, in November 1941, went to Aberdeen for testing. Despite its up to 3/8-inch armor cladding, it could still reach a top speed of 55 MPH. It didn’t enter production, and we only see evidence of two being built.
Along with the GCA, GAJ and GLJ, Ford also entered the 1-1/2-ton GTB into the Low Silhouette program. Essentially a larger version of the GLJ, with the 226-cu.in. inline-six shifted to the right and the driver positioned alongside it, the GTB rode on a 158-inch wheelbase. Of all the vehicle designs submitted to the Low Silhouette program, the GTB was the only one approved for production. Nicknamed the “Burma Jeep,” it was primarily used by the Navy and Marine Corps in a few different configurations. Production figures for the Burma Jeep differ: Dammann claims 6,000 GTB cargo trucks and 2,300 GTB bomb service trucks, while olive-drab.com and the Estrella War Birds Museum claim total production of more than 15,000. For comparison, Ford built more than 290,000 GPWs and GPAs.