The CAF Ground Forces Detachment is working to restore their International Harvester M9A1 Half-Track to its working World War II condition so the public may better experience what life was like for those who fought during World War II. The newly formed group strives to create immersive Living History Experiences in support of aviation events.
Still in its original World War II state but suffering from long term exposure to the elements, the Ground Forces Detachment’s IHC M9A1 Half-Track is an excellent restoration candidate. The half-track needs a complete overhaul to include replacement of missing parts, replacement of the fuel tanks and fuels system, two new tracks, restoration of unique equipment, replacement of the electrical system, new brake system, new seats and fabric, and a complete repaint of the vehicle’s interior and exterior.
Once restored, the half-track will participate in CAF events and bring together the air and ground fields of battle for a full immersion learning experience to communities across the country.
The Ground Forces Detachment’s model M9A1 half-track is quite rare. It’s one of only a few of the type that were used by U.S. forces. Nearly all of the 3500 M9A1 half-tracks were manufactured for lend-lease and other Allied nations, not the U.S. military. The U.S. forces typically used the more common M2A1 and M3A1 half-track models made by White, Autocar, and Diamond T. When additional demand came from Allied nations that exceeded White, Autocar, and Diamond T capacity, International Harvester Company (IHC) was contracted to build the M9 and M9A1 half-tracks. Unique production requirements resulted in many different features over their M2A1 and M3A1 counterparts. Interestingly, no M9’s were delivered since the A1 modification (adding a .50 Cal Machine Gun ring) was incorporated before the first M9 was delivered.
Unlike the M2A1 and M3A1 half-tracks, the M9A1s lacked side ammunition compartments, featured a rear door, had flat cross-section fenders, and stronger running gear. The M9A1 also never had the large fender-mounted headlights typical of White and Autocar models. IHC used rolled homogeneous steel armor on their vehicles, which allowed plates to be welded together, giving IHC’s half-tracks a smoother appearance than the bolted half-tracks of other companies. The rolled homogeneous armor could also be formed, and IHC’s half-tracks featured rounded rear corners, which contrast to the right-angled corners on the machines with face-hardened armor.
The M9A1’s homogeneous armor lessened the chance of injury due to bullet splash and flying cap screws, which could be dislodged when hit, but it was not as strong as face-hardened plate. This meant that the armor on IHC’s half-tracks needed to be thicker than the face-hardened armor of the M2A1 in order to offer the same protection. The M9A1 was therefore fitted with heavier axles and hull strengthening components, but its performance still equaled that of the lighter M2A1.
While nearly every IHC manufactured M9A1 half-track was delivered to lend-lease and other Allied nations, there was one exception that diverted 4 of them to a specific U.S. military unit. In 1942, the War Department went to International Harvester Company (IHC) for volunteers to create a new unit made up of skilled mechanics for a maintenance battalion. IHC was the first company contacted for this type of unit, a model repeated with other companies throughout the war, resulting in the 134th Armored Ordnance Battalion was known as the “Harvester Battalion,” made up of IHC volunteers. The Harvester Battalion was assigned to the 12th Armored Division and served in with them across the European Theater and after the Battle of Herrlisheim in January 1945, the 134th was assigned the 4 M9A1 half-tracks to replace the original M5 models they had when they entered the war.
Please help us preserve and protect this priceless artifact from World War II by donating today.
KEEP 'EM ROLLING