M6 Tractor

The M6 High-Speed Tractor was an artillery tractor manufactured by Allis-Chalmers and used by the US Army during World War II to tow heavy artillery pieces, such as the 8-inch Gun M1 and 240 mm howitzer M1. Its G-number was (G-184).

M6 Tractor
Class Vehicle
Type Utility
Manufacturer Allis-Chalmers
Production Period 1944 - 1945
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1944
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Allis-Chalmers 1944 1945 View

Although in the late 1930s the US Army lacked a clear mechanization policy, the success of the Blitzkrieg in 1939-40 highlighted the need of motorized vehicles for both tactical and strategic maneuver, which meant that towed artillery would need to move at a speed comparable to that of the armored fighting vehicles.

To achieve this, a series of “high speed tractors” was planned, which would tow the different artillery pieces existing (or planned) in the US Army inventory. The “high” speed was considered in comparison with horse-drawn artillery rather than that obtainable with wheeled prime movers or ballast tractors. The models considered in the series included: 7 ton, 18 ton, 13 ton, and 38 ton.

European front

The tractor M6 was used in the European theater only in the last months of World War II.

In the meanwhile, the movement of large caliber artillery was done by vehicles based on existing hulls, among them:

  • T16 Heavy tractor, based on the M3A5 tank. It did not pass prototype stage, as the rear engine location prevented even a minimum load of ammunition.
  • M33 Heavy tractor, based on the M31 recovery vehicle, which in turn was based on the medium tank M3.
  • M34 Heavy tractor, based on the M32B1 recovery vehicle, which in turn was based on the medium tank M4.
  • M35 Heavy tractor, based on the M10 tank destroyer

Pacific front

  • Use of this tractor in the Pacific theater seems to have been limited to training at Oahu, (Hawaii).

Post-war

  • In the Korean War no heavy artillery was used that required being towed by these tractors.
  • Some vehicles were sold to Israel after being replaced by self-propelled artillery.

Type Artillery tractor
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by US Army
Wars World War II
Production history
Manufacturer Allis-Chalmers
Produced February 1944 – 45
Specifications
Weight 76,000 lbs / 34.5 t
Length 21 ft 6 in / 6.55 m
Width 10 ft / 3.07 m
Height 8 ft 8 in / 2.64 m
Crew 11
Main
armament
.50 cal M2 machine gun
Engine 2 × Waukesha 145GZ 6-cylindergasoline engine
2 × 190 hp at 2100 rpm (141.68 kW)
Suspension HVSS (Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension)
Operational
range
110 mi / 177 km
Speed 21 mph / 34 km/h

End notes