Unlike Ford and General Motors, the Chrysler Corporation did not have a Canadian owned division prior to the Second World War. This left the firm out of pre-war discussions with the Canadian government that would lead to the creation of Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) trucks. This did not mean Chrysler in Canada was in any way shut out of wartime contracts, and instead played a large role in the war effort with the manufacture of Modified Commercial Pattern (MCP) trucks for Canadian and commonwealth countries. Additionally, it aided in the design work for an array of military truck bodies produced in Canada during the war.
In addition to building the the Dodge MCP trucks in Windsor, Ontario, Chrysler also looked to the U.S. military models of Dodge trucks for applicable designs and ideas that might be useful to Canadian and commonwealth forces. The first design selected for production in Canada, was the ½ Ton 4×4 Dodge “WC” series with a closed cab and personnel body. This design was modified to create the T212, known in military service as the “D8A” or “8 cwt 4×4 Scout”. In total, 3001 of these trucks were produced between 1940-41 in Windsor, with all of them shipped overseas to serve with British and commonwealth forces, mostly in the middle east.
By 1942, demand for the new CMP designs led to Chrysler experimenting with a 15 cwt 4×2 General Service truck that utilized the CMP No.13 cab. This truck was based on the Dodge T222 platform but to ease manufacture, it incorporated a number of Ford and Chevrolet components. Little is known of this experiment, but the 1943 report relating to the acceptance test of the vehicle still survives.
In July 1944, the British Ministry of Supply issued an urgent requirement for 15 cwt 4×4 General Service trucks. At this time Ford and General Motors were in full production of the CMP trucks then in service with Canada and the commonwealth on all fronts and were not able to increase production to accept the order. Chrysler Canada had stopped mass production of 4×4 trucks after the T-212 of 1941. An investigation into the possibility of modifying the U.S. military WC52 ¾ ton trucks to suit Canadian manufacturing differences was completed quickly, resulting in an April 15, 1945 British order of 10,000 T-236 ¾ Ton General Service Trucks under contract S/M 6243. These trucks were designated “D ¾ APT” and were classified as “Airportable” as they could be loaded into transport aircraft with minimal disassembly, a significant design benefit over the CMP vehicles then in use, especially considering the planned invasion of Japan.
Dodge T-236 Chassis Serial Numbers
|Model||Start Serial Number||End Serial Number||Total|
|D ¾ APT||91151283||91156282||5000|
|D ¾ APT/WP||91166034||91172783||6750|
Initially, the main difference between the Canadian and American manufactured trucks was the use of the larger Canadian manufactured 236 cubic inch flathead 6-cylinder engine, necessitating slightly longer front sheet-metal, and a standardised 12 volt electrical system. Shortly after production began, they found that if the rear body was narrowed by 6 inches it would allow the body to be re-fitted to the truck after loading into a C-47/Dakota aircraft. This saved considerable space in the aircraft over the previous method where the bodies were stored on their sides separate from the chassis. The initial body model fitted to the Canadian manufactured trucks was the “2M1A” which measured 83 ¼” in width while the redesigned body, designated “2M2A”, was 77 ¼” in width. The “A” in both model numbers indicates ‘airportable’. In all, 3200 trucks were assembled with the original width “2M1A” rear body before the change to the narrow body occurred.
The last major change to the Dodge APT was the introduction of ‘wade proofing’. This change saw components of the engine and electrical system changed to ‘wadeproofed’ versions that allowed for the safe immersion in water without significant preparation. This change came as a result of the lessons learned after the D-Day invasion of 1944, where vehicles had to go through a lengthy packing and sealing process in order to prepare for water immersion, and then after wading, had to have the protections removed for regular use. The most obvious change to APT vehicles that are wade-proofed, is the hood with air intake snorkel cutout on the right side and the revised data-plate that shows the new nomenclature ‘D ¾ WP/APT’. This change was introduced at vehicle number 5001 (serial 91166034) in late spring of 1945, but interestingly the wade-proofed distributor and ignition coil were not introduced until vehicle 6001 (serial 91167034).
Production of the APT continued at Windsor, Ontario until at least October 1945, but it is not believed much later due to the surrender of Japan and the massive surplus of new production vehicles then held in military stores. Total production of the APT in Canada is not yet known, but it is reasonable to believe from available date and recorded serial numbers, that 8000 to as many as the full 10 000 vehicles ordered under S/M 6243 were completed.
British Military Use
Considering the Dodge APT was manufactured to a British military requirement, there is somewhat surprisingly little information or evidence extant of its use by that country’s military.
The only known War Department (W.D.) census number block for the D 3/4 APT in British service is Z6229349 – Z6230348 which records a group of 1000 trucks.
Images of Dodge APT’s in British service are scarce but one common trend is that they appear in the far east, at or after the end of the Second World Wars. As images of WC-52’s in commonwealth service are slightly more common in these regions, one of the challenges in identifying the Canadian built APT is that early production vehicles are virtually identical to their American WC-52 counterparts. Compounding this is the use of a unique format of census numbers used on British vehicles supplied to the South East Asia Command (SEAC). This numbering system does not appear to be documented like those numbers assigned by the War Department (W.D.) and often prevents a positive identification of the vehicle.
Finding evidence to the APT in the far-east, is in line with the envisioned use of the vehicles in the invasion of Japan and the liberation of the Japanese-occupied areas in the region. Beyond the Airportable and Wadeproofed features that would be useful there, the Drivers Handbook and Maintenance Manual for the APT both contain supplements on “Tropical Maintenance” including a section on what to do in case of Termite infestation!
The first APT’s would have arrived in the Far East in mid-1945, likely June or July, just weeks or possibly months before the end of the conflict. Any examples that saw wartime service would have been in use in India, Java and Malaya.
After the surrender of Japan, the fighting in parts of the far east did not completely cease. British and Indian units were dispatched from India and Malaya to Java in an attempt to quell an uprising by Indonesian Nationalists. Later, in 1948, the Malay Emergency erupted, sending a significant British force to the area. In Malaya, the APT appears to have been used for patrols as a troop and cargo carrier and some examples were provided with additional anti-ambush armour protection for the driver and co-driver.
It is reasonable to believe that the vast majority of British Dodge APT’s were disposed of in the far east when the former British colonies such as India were granted independence or as replacement vehicles such as Land Rovers and Bedfords became available in the mid 1950’s.
Canadian Military Use
Although there is no evidence that Canada formally procured any Dodge APT’s, it is apparent that many of the later vehicles remained in Canada and were never delivered to the British. These vehicles appear to have been transferred to the Canadian government as new and were never shipped overseas before the end of the Second World War. The Canadian Army’s post-war use of the Dodge APT, saw examples serve with both regular and reserve army units. The Royal Canadian Air Force also used a number of APT’s, usually painted in distinctive flight-line yellow overall. APT’s were in Canadian service from shortly after the Second World War until they were replaced by the Dodge M37 CDN SMP designs of the early 1950’s. While in Canadian service, they were mainly used as General Service trucks for transporting goods and troops, but some were also converted to specialist roles such as signals line layers. Others were retained by trades schools for use in driver and maintainer training while The RCAF used some as ramp vehicles and for Loadmaster training.
When the Canadian Army Special Force (CASF) was created to provide an infantry brigade to fight in Korea, the Dodge APT saw its only Canadian active service, albeit in a training role. In 1950, it was decided that the newly formed 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group (25 CIBG) would perform its initial training in the United States at Fort Lewis, Washington. While the intent was to equip the brigade with vehicles sourced from the United States, shortages meant that initially the Canadian forces in Washington relied on a number of Canadian sourced vehicles, including ¾ Ton APT’s. It is not presently known how many APT’s were shipped to the US in late 1950 for training 25 CIBG but it was recorded that 26 were returned to 17 ROD in Vancouver, British Columbia on 11 May 1951, after being replaced by US sourced examples that were eventually shipped overseas with the brigade.
By 1953, Canada made the decision to dispose of its reserve stock fleet of APT’s and offered 1138 vehicles described as “reconditioned and in Class 1 condition” as part of the 1953-54 Canadian Mutual Aid program made available to NATO partner countries. The remaining vehicles then in service throughout Canada, were phased out of service as M37 CDN SMP’s became available, with many being sold as surplus to civilian buyers. The Canadian Army finally disposed of the entire remaining Canadian APT spare parts inventory in 1956, ending the Canadian military use of the Dodge 3/4 ton APT.
When Canada replaced the Dodge APT with the M37 CDN trucks in the early 1950’s a decision was made to offer the now surplus inventory of serviceable APT’s to European NATO Partner countries that were in need of wheeled transport vehicles to rebuild their militaries after years of war and often German occupation.
In the 1953-54 Canadian Mutual Aid program, offering of excess military equipment 1138 “¾ Ton General Service Trucks, Dodge Type”, were identified as being available to interested nations for delivery by July 1, 1953. Initially, the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Production and Logistics recommended that these trucks be evenly distributed between Greece and Turkey, as they both had large deficiencies in this type of equipment and were non-producing countries who had similar vehicles (presumably US sourced WC52’s) already in service. Canada did not pursue this suggestion and offered the vehicles to Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom. By August 1953 letters of request had been received and accepted from all countries except Belgium and the United Kingdom. In total all 1138 reserve stock APT’s were requested by seven NATO countries.
Mutual Aid Distribution of Post-War Canadian Dodge APT Holdings.
In December 1955, the Canadian government again brought up the matter of Dodge APT’s to NATO in their Canadian Mutual Aid Program 1955-56 offerings for vehicle spare parts for “Trucks ¾ Ton GS”. Under this offer, it was suggested by Canada to distribute the remaining inventory of APT spares to each country that accepted trucks in 1953, with all spares being divided based on how many trucks were initially transferred to each country. All parts were identified as immediately available for shipment and would be shipped after 1st February 1956, if letters of request were received prior to that date.
It would appear that the APT’s, although initially appealing for their similarity to the far more common US built WC-52’s, did present some supply challenges to these nations due to their unique features. Many countries were quick to replace them once their military’s were rebuilt, and few lasted in service much past the 1960’s, with most seeing little use. It appears that the last NATO user of the APT was Norway, who finally sold off their remaining inventory in 1984.
Today the Dodge APT can be found in North America, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean but more may survive in parts of Asia where they have gone unnoticed. According to the production numbers almost the entire first production batch of 5000 vehicles that was supplied to the British remains unaccounted for. It is reasonable to consider that the vast majority of these trucks were shipped directly to the far-east in 1945, where many were likely stored until distributed to friendly counties in that region or eventually scrapped. Hopefully, as awareness of this Canadian military vehicle increases, positive identification of more APT’s around the world will be possible.
Table of Known Dodge 3/4 Ton APT Data
|Serial No.||Manufacture Date||DND/WD No.||Body No.||Engine No.||Model||Notes|
|91151283||APT||First Production Serial number for APT|
|91151596||2M1A||T236-1389-C||APT||NATO Mutual Aid Norway|
|91154483||2M2A||First Production Serial Number fitted with 2M2A Narrow Rear Body|
|91166034||WP/APT||First Production Serial Number for WP/APT|
|91166362||Retained in Canada|
|91166755||31/2M2A/2530||Retained in Canada|
|91166955||26/07/1945||WP/APT-GS-1||Retained in Canada|
RCCS markings from service
|91167002||27/07/1945||Retained in Canada|
|91167034||WP/APT||First Production Serial Number fitted with Wadeproof distributor and Coil|
|91167370||04/08/1945||T236-8842-C||WP/APT||NATO Mutual Aid Norway|
|91167643||Retained In Canada|
|91167807||20/08/1945||2M2A||T236-9222-C||WP/APT||Retained in Canada|
|91167834||20/08/1945||31/2M2A/3621||T236-9371-C||WP/APT||NATO Mutual Aid Norway|
Sold as Surplus 1984
|91167958||T236-8725-C||NATO Mutual Aid Netherlands|
|91168137||T236-9550-C||NATO Mutual Aid Norway|
|91168500||05/09/1945||T236-10088-C||WP/APT||Retained In Canada|
|91168822||11/09/1945||86-794||10238-C||WP/APT-GS-1||NATO Mutual Aid Italy|
|91168940||WP/APT||NATO Mutual Aid Norway|
Images of D 3/4 APT in Canadian Use
Images of D 3/4 APT in British Army Use
Images of Mutual Aid D 3/4 APT’s in Dutch Use
Images of Mutual Aid D 3/4 APT’s in Italian Use
Images of Mutual Aid D 3/4 APT’s in Portuguese Use
Images of Mutual Aid D 3/4 APT’s in Danish Use
Dodge D 3/4 APT Data Plates
Dodge D 3/4 APT Manuals
Canadian Dodge 3/4 APT-WP Facebook Group.
Canadian Vehicles in Korea, Don Dingwall, 2015
Drive to Victory Vol. 1, Clive Law, 2016
Blueprint For Victory, William Greg, 1979
CMP-INFOEX, Edition 65, Feb. 1993, Peter Ford
NATO Archives Records on 1953 Canadian Mutual Aid Program.
This article would not have been possible without the existence of the Canadian Dodge 3/4 APT-WP Facebook group and its members.