Bag­nold re­pur­posed civil­ian trucks for his Long Range Desert Group

Popular Science - - SAND - —Eleanor Cum­mins

In early 1942, brand-new Chevro­let 1.5-ton trucks rolled out of an Oshawa, Canada, au­to­mo­bile plant and into the war zones of North Africa. Work­ers had mod­i­fied the pick­ups to meet the spec­i­fi­ca­tions de­vel­oped by Ralph Al­ger Bag­nold. His Long Range Desert Group re­quired ve­hi­cles that could op­er­ate in the harsh Sa­hara, en­abling them to raid en­emy out­posts. Chevy re­moved the tops of the cabs, and mil­i­tary me­chan­ics nixed the wind­shields to re­duce ve­hi­cle weight (1). They at­tached can­vas mats and per­fo­rated steel pan­els along the sides (2) to lay down for trac­tion in deep sand. Each truck filled one of three roles in the desert pa­trols: car­ry­ing sup­plies, in­clud­ing spare tires and parts, fuel, food, and wa­ter; hous­ing ra­dio and nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment, like a sun com­pass mounted on the dash; and tot­ing weapons, like a 180-de­greeswivel­ing Breda anti-air­craft gun (3) pok­ing out the back.

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