Table of contents

       
 Chevrolet C60X in Australian Service      
This article was written as a result of research into this little known subject, and the content is copyright to him. No part of this article may be reproduced without Mike Cecil's prior written consent.

The C60X in Australian Service

 

By

 

Mike Cecil

Ag Head

Military Heraldry and Technology

Australian War Memorial

 

 

The ‘big brother’ of the Canadian Military Pattern family of vehicles was the Chevrolet C60X on the model 8660 chassis.  This was the only production 6x6 CMP (the Ford equivalent was a 6x4, that is, a 4x4 truck with a lazy, non-driven rear axle), and it was powered by the larger GMC model 270 overhead valve 6-cylinder in-line engine. 

 

The Australian Army first placed an order for 120 of these chassis in CKD form during 1942 under Contract Demand (CD) E5298, as well as a single pilot model chassis.  These were for use as the basis for the Australian heavy armoured car. The pilot model chassis was despatched from Canada in June 1942 to enable work on the hull for the armoured car to proceed while awaiting the despatch of the 120 chassis much later in the year. The correspondence and the original order refer to these 121 chassis as being for ‘armoured cars’, as do the weekly reports from GMH to the Army until the mid-September 1942 report, when they are referred to as being for ‘breakdown trucks’. This was due to the abandonment of the 6x6 chassis as the basis of the heavy armoured car, which then reverted to a design utilising the rear engined 4x4 model 8446 chassis.

 

The model 8660 chassis came standard from Canada with seven 10.50x20 tyres on single wheels. Included with each chassis were a range of items such as a set of tools, 2-gallon cans, tow chains and pioneer tools.  The Australian purchase specification excluded several items from the standard manufacturer’s supply list, including square drive sockets, instrument, tail and inspection lamp bulbs, the first aid kit and bag, wire cutters, the machete and sheath, 1 gallon engine oil can, the Canadian log book, and the canvas winter front for the radiator.  Unique to the Australian orders was a blackout kit consisting of a container for the blackout shields, a left hand and right hand blackout headlamp assembly, and an instruction sheet.

 

The Truck, Breakdown (Aust) No.4

 

The Army reallocated the 120 chassis purchased for heavy armoured cars for use as breakdown vehicles, utilising the body already in production and used to equip the Ford modified conventional truck fitted with a Marmon-Herrington 6x6 all wheel drive ‘kit’.  This was the ‘Lorry, 3 ton, Breakdown (Aust) No.3’ on a Ford 156-inch wheelbase chassis and shod with 10.50x18 inch tyres. The C60X chassis was slightly longer at 160 ½ inches, and utilised slightly larger radius tyres, so the breakdown body and its mounting was modified to suit these differences.  As the MGO Equipment Memorandum of April 1943 states: ‘ Truck 3 ton Breakdown (Aust) No.4 is mounted upon a GMC 6x6 chassis of 160 ½ inch wheelbase, carried on 10.50x20 tyres. Other than the slight differences necessitated by fitting to a different chassis, this vehicle corresponds with Lorry, Breakdown (Aust) No.3 in other respects’.  The GMH designation for the complete vehicle was WO85.

 

The vehicles were equipped with a Servex type 15,000 pound drum winch with 200 foot of cable. An ‘I’ beam was mounted within the rear body and equipped with a 2-ton Dawn type winch with 50-feet of cable working over a travelling hoist trolley to a double-purchase block with a hook.  The whole apparatus was capable of a maximum lift of 3 tons.

 

The Pilot Model Breakdown vehicle based on the C60X was built on chassis number 28660-10766.  This chassis number is a single number that does not correspond with any of the other chassis number sequences of C60X chassis in Australia, and is therefore likely to be the pilot model cab-chassis truck sent to Australia in June 1942 for the armoured car project. The completed vehicle served until the end of the war, when it was sold to the State Electricity Commission of Victoria

 

The Army order for 120 chassis was still in progress, with the first 48 chassis said to be en route from Canada in January 1943. These were landed in Australia during February 1943. While the bulk of these were allocated to the Army order for breakdown trucks, the first allocation was actually to the RAAF, who received chassis numbers 8660M00001 to 8660M00011. The first breakdown trucks for the Army commenced at chassis number 8660M000013, and continued through to chassis number 8660M000120.  The remainder of the Army’s order for 120 vehicles was made up of chassis in the 8660M68000 series, plus the pilot model breakdown on chassis number 28660-10766. In total, the Army received 120 ‘Trucks 3 ton, Breakdown (Aust) No.4’, apparently delivered in small batches of 12 vehicles, except for two batches of 23 and 24 vehicles respectively, and a single vehicle which was the pilot model. They were mostly delivered during 1943, and remained in service with Army workshop units during the post-war period. The last examples were disposed of in the mid-1960s. 

 

The breakdown vehicle was the only body configuration operated by the Army on the C60X chassis during the Second World War. Examples of the maintenance manual M660-C1 for the C60X have been noted with an addition glued to the front page that states ‘M660-C1. This maintenance manual covers: Trucks Breakdown 3-ton (Aust) No.4. Note: Engine specifications are identical with GMC ‘CCKW’’.

 

There is a strong possibility that the Army also had a pilot model heavy artillery tractor built on a C60X, but unfortunately no details about the project have been located as yet. Interestingly, one chassis number, 28660M000012, is ‘missing’ from an otherwise unbroken sequence.  If that chassis was used as the basis for the experimental heavy artillery tractor, then Army would have received a total of 121 chassis, which is consistent with the order for 120, plus the pilot model chassis.

 

During the post-war period, the Army received a refuelling taker from the RAAF fleet for use in Korea as a bulk fuel truck.

 

The RAAF Connection

 

The RAAF received the majority of the C60X vehicles imported into Australia. During early 1943, the RAAF commenced work on two body designs to suit the C60X truck.  These were a heavy motor transport recovery crane, and an aircraft refueller. 

 

The RAAF Refueller Truck

 

Chassis number 8660M00001 was used as the basis for the development of the refueller truck, with the tank and pumping bodywork manufactured by Engineering Products of Burnley, Victoria, more commonly known by their trademark ‘EPEX’. The development and manufacture took some considerable time, however, as the first of these were not accepted for RAAF service until December 1944. In all, three ‘batches’ totalling 337 refueller trucks were taken on charge by the RAAF.  Except for the pilot model on chassis 8660M00001, all the others were on chassis in the range 8660M68000 to 8660M70143. The first batch of 83 vehicles was delivered in December 1944, the second batch of 235 vehicles between December 1944 and the middle of 1945, while the third batch of just 19 vehicles was delivered between August and December 1945.

 

The official RAAF wartime nomenclature for the vehicle was most likely ‘Trucks, Refuelling, 900 gallons, CWO 8660 (6X6)’, but there were a number of ways in which the RAAF referred to the truck in official publications and correspondence. Such variations as ‘Tanker, Refuelling’ and ‘Tanker, Refuel 850 gallons’ have been noted. The GMH design nomenclature for the complete vehicle was R107.

 

The vehicle was used extensively in the post-war period, with the last examples being disposed of in the late 1960s. During this time, the RAAF’s aircraft types were upgraded and modernised, and this is in part reflected in the changes to the names applied to the C60X refueller fleet.  Many were modified for other aircraft fuel types, so names such as ‘Truck, Tanker, AVGAS, 900 gallons’, ‘Truck, Refuel, Kerosene’, and ‘Tanker, AVTUR’ appear. At least three refueller trucks were reconfigured as insecticide sprayers.

 

Many of the refueller fleet remained in RAAF service up until the mid to late 1960s.  While the majority were disposed of by write off and public auction, some were transferred to other government agencies such as the Department of Supply and Development, the Royal Australian Navy and the Post Master General’s Department.

 

One vehicle was transferred to the Army in September 1947 for use in Korea.  It was designated as a ‘Truck 3 ton Bulk Fuel’, and was finally written off in Korea in April 1954.

 

The RAAF Heavy Recovery Crane

 

While chassis 8660M00001 was allocated for the development of the refueller, the RAAF also received chassis numbers 8660M00002 to 8660M00011 for use as crane trucks. This was a twin-boom crane truck designed by GH Olding and Sons Pty Ltd to an RAAF specification. The nomenclature is variously listed in RAAF documents as ‘Trucks M/T Salvage’, ‘Truck, Heavy, Crane’, ‘Crane, Mobile 10 ton’, and ‘Crane, Truck Mounted, 20000 pounds’ and a few other similar variations (in fact, almost as many name variations as there were trucks!).

 

To the rear of the standard truck cabin was a tool box and spare tyre carrier, and immediately behind that was the crane, consisting of a vertical structure incorporating a large 5 ton capacity Dawn winch. From the base of each side of this structure extended a 14-foot long boom crane.  Luffing was controlled by Dawn hand winches, while lifting was by a power operated winch. The 14-foot long booms allowed lifting directly over the rear of the chassis, or could be pivoted for lifting to the side of the vehicle.  Between the crane structure and the rear of the chassis was a full width, 106-inch long flat hardwood deck for general cargo. The vehicle was equipped with standard 10.50x20 tyres on single wheels.

 

The designs were finalised in late April 1944, and the 10 vehicles taken on RAAF charge during August and September of that year. They remained in RAAF service until as late as the mid-1960s.

 

Publications

 

There were various publications specific to the C60X as supplied to Australia.  Each vehicle came with a Maintenance Manual, a Spare Parts list and a Driver’s Handbook. A Tool and Equipment List was also included. The Maintenance Manual was the M660-C1.  The example quoted above with the additional reference sheet pasted to the front page was printed in Canada in September 1942.  The Spare Parts List was any of the C60X-01, -02, -03, depending upon when the chassis was exported. The C60X-03 version was published in Canada in January 1944. The Tool and Equipment List was specific to the C60X and detailed the items included with each chassis.  It was illustrated for easy identification. This publication was part number 5827190, and the example quoted was issued in May 1944. .

 

Summary of Configurations

 

A summary of the configurations of the C60X chassis used by Australian Forces is provided in Table 1.

 

Table 1: Configurations of C60X Trucks in Australian Service

 

Nomenclature

Total Number

Service Arm

Truck, 3 ton Breakdown (Aust) No.4

120

Army

Truck, 3 ton, Bulk Refuel

(1)

Army (ex-RAAF vehicle on transfer)

Tractor, Heavy Artillery ????

1???

Army experimental only, and NOT confirmed.

Truck Refueller, 900 gallons

(various aircraft fuels)

337

RAAF

Truck, Crane, 20000 pounds

10

RAAF

Truck, Insecticide Sprayer

(3)

RAAF. Converted Refueller vehicles.

TOTAL of vehicles in Service:

468

Total does not include inter-service transfers or conversions, but does include the experimental heavy tractor.

Note: as far as is known, the RAN did not receive any C60X based vehicles directly which would add to the above mentioned total of 468.  The RAN received at least two refueller trucks on transfer from the RAAF during the post-war period.