December 14, 1940

Original Source Documents:   March 1941 - Pennsylvania Guardsman Monthly - Cavalry Tests Substitute for Motorcycles

Contributor:    Robert A. Notman

Source:  U.S. Army Military History Institute


The War Department recently announced that tests in the field are now being conducted under direction of the Chief of Cavalry to ascertain the practicability and efficiency, under service conditions, of the newly developed small automobile, known officially as the "Truck, 1/4-Ton (4 x 4)."

This new type of vehicle is a small, low-silhouette, narrow-tread, 4-wheeldrive car without armor protection, which is designed to carry three men and their individual weapons. It can also be used as a weapon or ammunition carrier. It is not contemplated that the vehicle itself will be armed.

If this vehicle proves satisfactory under the exhaustive tests now in progress, its place in the Cavalry Team will be to furnish road and cross-country transportation for small rifle units whose normal function would include reconnaissance, security, and dismounted combat. Frequently these rifle units will be employed with mechanized cavalry elements, such as scout car platoons, to extend the reconnaissance and to supplement the fire power of larger units.

There are a number of motorcycle elements within the cavalry structure: One motorcycle platoon in a horse cavalry regiment and one motorcycle troop in each of the nine corps reconnaissance regiments (horse-mechanized) and in each cavalry division reconnaissance squadron. The reconnaissance troop organically assigned to triangular divisions, of which there are nine within the four field armies, contain three motorcycle squads.

The motorcycle squad, the basic unit of all cavalry motorcycle organizations, consists of a corporal and five men armed with six pistols, four rifles and two sub-machine guns, caliber .45. Existing tables of organization provide that this combat group be mounted on two motortricycles, three men and their equipment to each vehicle. So far, the cavalry has no motortricycles, the motorcycle with side car is being used as substitute equipment.

Motorcycles with side cars are low in silhouette, they can be man-handled by their crew, they have ample road speed, but they are not designed for carrying three men, they are noisy, and for tactical use in cavalry operations they lack ruggedness and adequate cross-country ability. The newly developed quarter-ton truck seems to have the answer to some of these deficiencies: It is relatively quiet. Its light weight permits man-handling. It can be employed to carry either three men, or a cargo of weapons, or ammunition; Its low silhouette permits concealment.

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