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out with the old, M52/in with the new, International

Posted 12-22-2010 at 09:03 by Bill Powell
Updated 01-11-2011 at 19:35 by Bill Powell

When I was transferred to Germany in 1964 I was assigned to the 66th transportation company, of the 53rd trans btn, of the 37th transcom. The 66th was located in the Kapaun Barracks, Kaiserslautern. Being in the 37th transcom was as close as you could get to being in a civilian trucking company and still be in the military. You were assigned just the tractor, and no trailer. It was not uncommon for a company sized unit to run a 100,000 miles a month.

Now we come to what we were driving to make all this mileage. We were driving the M52 truck/tractor, a truck totally unsuited to what we were doing. It was a basic tractor, powered by a 1650 cu in engine with a five speed transmission. It had a 2750 rpm governed speed, and you had to drop all the way down to 1500 rpm before you could downshift. The M52 was part of a basic chassis system that used as the tractor, cargo trucks, dump trucks, wreckers, all the way up to the engineering bridge trucks. It was a strong, slow truck, and we were killing them before their time using them as highway tractors.

The solution was the International DCO 205 tractor. It had a 220 Cummins Eaton five speed trans and two speed axle, giving it twice the useable highway power as the old M52. This truck lived its life at 2150 rpm, with a down shift at 1850 rpm. It kept us out of field exercises because it could not be taken off a paved road, and it was not designed to be driven with out a trailer. At least 75 per cent of the weight of the truck was on the front axle.

We were sent by bus north of Frankfurt ot pick up our 1200 new trucks and ferry them home, without trailers. I fought my best fight to let us tow trailers, and lost. I was informed that they were smarter than me because they outranked me.

Well, we picked our trucks, and twenty were wrecked before we got out the front gate and onto the Autobahn. Out of twelve hundred trucks, just over nine hundred made it home without some kind of damage, some very serious. Oh, they were great trucks if you knew how to drive them. Problem was most of the guys tried to drive them like the M52, a truck that would bull its way through almost anything.

Amazingly, the picture I found of the International was the very truck I drove while I was there.
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