Victory Day but Missing the American Made Studebaker Trucks
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When on May 9 Russia celebrated Victory Day the question asked was “Why is the Great Patriotic War remembered and revered with undiminished passion? Not everything is remembered and the real stories of World War II have been yellow pencilled as ‘inconvenient history’.
One truck missing from the Moscow Victory Day jamboree was the American manufactured Studebaker US6 2.5-ton Utility Truck 1941 and other vehicles that poured from the maker’s production lines.
In July 1943, the Red Army planned a major offensive against the Germans at Kursk. The major problem for Soviet General Georgy Zhukov in the upcoming operation would be supply lines. Additionally, there would be difficulty in quickly moving infantry and field guns to advantageous positions along a changing front.
The answer to Zhukov’s problems was thousands of U.S. Studebakers to resupply troops and armament, move artillery and crews, and haul infantry. It became clear that the role of the Studebaker US6 played a critical role for the advancing Red Armies. In appreciation, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin himself sent Studebaker an official letter of gratitude from the Russian people.
Many military commanders agree that the 2.5-ton truck was the one important logistical innovation that really won World War II, more than any other single weapon of the conflict.
Essential to the rescue of Bolshevism and the continuity of the slave labour camps known as the Gulag was Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Plan. Inked on March 1941 the date was a full three months before the besieged Reich’s response to the Red Army in spring 1941 preparing to invade Europe through Germany. Basically, the American President’s Lend-Lease Plan, in collaboration with Britain’s warlord Winston Churchill, was a blank cheque handed to Stalin to further expand the Soviet Union.
Throughout the War on the Eastern Front, it would have been impossible for the Red Army to move the masses of troops and supplies on Russia’s primitive roads to the front lines without American Studebaker trucks, which also served as the launching pads for the Soviet rocket artillery. The Red Army’s Studebaker US6 2.5-ton Utility Truck 1941was a 2.5-ton military truck originating in the United States during World War II with production managed by Studebaker.
In April 1941, one month after the signing of Lend Lease, the U.S. government entered into a contract with the Studebaker automobile company to begin producing 2.5-ton class military trucks out of its factory in South Bend, Indiana. Studebaker was tasked with manufacturing 197,678 trucks virtually all of which were destined for the Bolshevik Red Army. The Studebaker US6 was manufactured from 1941 to 1945.
All 2.5-ton trucks produced in America had interchangeable parts which eased overall production and helped with repairs abroad. The requirement for moving men, weapons, and cargo by traditional means was so great that, in 1942, the Studebaker design was copied and built in Soviet factories to help beef up demand.
Hundreds of thousands of Studebaker trucks were moved by rail to American ports to be loaded onto transport ships destined for the warm-weather ports of Iran. 2,803 ships were required to transport the trucks. The trucks then travelled hundreds of miles over mountain passes and into valleys while crossing deserts before reaching the Soviet Union.
The trucks weighed 10,450lbs (4,850kg) though many were overloaded under the stresses of war and could weigh as much as 16,100lbs (7300kg). The vehicles could reach top road speeds of 45 miles per hour (70kmh) in the base 6×4 wheel configuration and the range was out to 240 miles with the single 40-U.S. gallon capacity fuel tank.
The US6 line eventually numbered some thirteen types and arrived in 6×4/6×6-wheeled forms, with short or long wheelbases and with or without a winch system. Most Studebaker trucks were built with a closed cab as the harsh weather in the USSR required it. The Red Army liked the Studebaker stocks as the Hercules engine could run on just about any type of gasoline.
Various improvised configurations were implemented. Welded on top of this folding frame were 15-foot steel rails to hold fourteen or more M-13 Katyusha high-explosive battlefield rockets. The M-13 rocket was 5 feet, 11 inches long and 5.2 inches in diameter weighing some 93 lbs. each.
This variant of the Studebaker US6 was the first mobile rocket projector used by the Soviet Army. The Germans, falling under the lethal reach of such a weapon, nicknamed these rocket launchers Stalin’s Organs for their distinctive howling sound when firing. Battlefield rockets proved a tremendous area-saturation weapon and psychological tool for the Soviets during World War II. The US6 was used in many roles from troop and munitions carriers to artillery mover and battlefield support weapon.
After the defeat of the Reich American made trucks, rail stock and rolling stock plundered from defeated Germany was perfect for supplying the Soviet Gulag with slaves. A constant strategy of deportation from all over the USSR was necessary because as many as 40% of Gulag prisoners were dying, many soon after being put to work.
MICHAEL WALSH is a British born Irish journalist, author, and broadcaster. His 52 books include best-selling WITNESS TO HISTORY, TESTIGO DE LA HISTORIA: HISTORIA SIN CENSURA (SPANISH EDITION), REICH AND WRONG, THE RED BRIGANDS, RANSACKING THE REICH , TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROES, and THE ALLIED INVASION.
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