M29 Weasel, Tracked Cargo Carrier & Variants. Images of War series

M29 Weasel, Tracked Cargo Carrier & Variants. Images of War series

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5 Mushroom Heads
M29 Weasel, Tracked Cargo Carrier &Variants. Images of War series.
Written and compiled by David Doyle. ISBN: 978 1 52674 356 5.
Published by Pen & Sword Books.

David Doyle has published many works and is a specialist author, writing mainly vehicle histories on WW2 Military and Aircraft books. Among his published works are:
Standard catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles.
U. S. Dodge: The Development and Deployment of Dodge Military Trucks 1940-1975.
U. S. Half-Tracks: Part 1: The Development and Deployment of the U.S. Army's Half-Track Vehicles.
U. S. Half-Tracks: Part 2: The Development and Deployment of the U.S. Army's Half-Track Vehicles.
Standard catalog of German Military Vehicles.
The GMC CCKW Truck in U.S. Service - Historical Reference.
M40 Gun Motor Carriage and M43 Howitzer Motor Carriage in WWII and Korea.
Sherman Tank Vol. 1: America’s M4A1 Medium Tank in World War II.
Panzerkampfwagen IV: The Backbone of Germany’s WWII Tank Forces.
Sturmgeschütz: Germany’s WWII Assault Gun (StuG), Vol.1: The Early War Versions.
Sturmgeschütz: Germany’s WWII Assault Gun (StuG), Vol.2: The Late War Versions.

He has written extensively for Squadron/Signal Publications and also Pen and Sword Books.

This latest offering in the Images of War series is more than up to his usual high standards and contains a staggering amount of technical information, black and white photos and good quality colour photos. There are also a couple of decent of diagrams, which, with a little help from the specifications table included, could be used to draw up a decent scale drawing to convert into a model.

Doyle starts the book with an introduction to the history of the Weasel, detailing early vehicles to be prototypes for that required by the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. The Weasel was originally intended for an operation into Scandinavia to disrupt Germany's development of heavy water, intended for possible Atomic Bombs. The Weasel was hastily developed to achieve the operations deadlines, but in the end, the operation (Operation Plough) was cancelled, while Studebaker went on to develop one of the best all-terrain vehicles of the Second World War and the Korean War.

The three main chapters of the book record the various marks or variants of the Weasel. Chapter One details the T15 which became the M24. This was the more aerodynamic looking version, but unfortunately, was only built as a two-man vehicle. Doyle's photos show the development of this vehicle quite clearly. The T15 saw active service in only one significant operation - the recapture of Kiska in the Aleutian Island. In the snow, the Weasel out-performed every other vehicle, but attempts to use the vehicle on Rocky ground resulted in destroyed tracks. The T15 was used as a training vehicle for the 10th Mountain Division.

Chapter two covers the main vehicle of the book, the T24/M29. The biggest problem with the T15 was it's suspension system which was, effectively, three leaf springs stacked on a bogey! To address this problem, and increase the versatility of the Weasel, a radical rethink of the suspension was needed. Studebaker turn the tracks around and placed the engine at the front. They also increased the track width to 20 inches. With 16 bogey wheels per side and a lower centre of gravity, the T24 showed marked improvement in it's fuel consumption and lower rolling resistance (friction). By moving the engine to the front, the greater space allowed two extra crew spaces. This new vehicle, the M29, entered production at the end of August 1943.

Chapter three deals with the upgrade for the M29 to being fully amphibious. To achieve this, Studebaker added discharge ports in the forward end of the track skirt. This more than doubled the speed of the vehicle in water. Flotation tanks were added to increase the low freeboard and rudder which could be stored on-board when on land were produced. This upgraded version became the M29C and entered production in May 1944. Both the M29 and M29C remained classified as category A until July 1958. There are still some Weasels operating in service in Indonesia.

The final three pages of the book take the form of an appendix, detailing the specifications of the three vehicles, plus a list of serial numbers and registration numbers. All very useful for for the techno-nut and/or modeller.

I was very impressed with this book. Having no knowledge of the vehicle whatsoever, I was intrigued by the design ideas that brought this vehicle off the drawing board. Doyle gives the reader a full guided tour of the Weasel through his many photographs. I would say this is definitely a book for the modeller, on a subject that really hasn't had too much said about it until now. All we need now is someone to produce a 1/35 scale Weasel!

Recommended for the modeller and vehicle historian.

Rating: Top marks for an excellent publication.

Smeggers.

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