Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cletrac's M 2 High Speed Tractor

Folks, this is the way to do it! More than just another interesting exhibit, Scott and Lisa Mattison’s  Cletrac M2 Military Tractor provided a history lesson for any visitor at the 2016 Richland Creek Antique Fall Festival who took the time to check it out. If you look behind the tractor’s  radiator guard in this photo you can see the easel supporting one of the best information displays I’ve seen at any show.

During World War Two the Cleveland Tractor Company and John Deere manufactured 8510 units for military service. Although it was tested for use as a tow vehicle for artillery, it was primarily used by the Army Air Corps as an aircraft tug and maintenance vehicle. Weighing around 14,000 pounds and supported by 14” wide rubber tracks it proved ideal for operating at forward air bases because it didn’t dig up the primitive runways found at those locations. It transported a maintenance crew of three men and was equipped with a 5 KW 110 VDC  generator that powered spotlights and was used for starting aircraft engines, a PTO driven air compressor capable of supplying 9cfm @ 2000 psi and a PTO driven 10,000 pound capacity winch enhanced its versatility.  A drawbar pull of 7000 pounds enabled it to tow ordinance and utility trailers anywhere the crawler could go.

Cletrac powered the M 2 with a Hercules WXLC 3 in line six cylinder engine displacing 404 cubic inches that produced 150 brake horsepower. Top speed was 22 mph burning fuel at a rate of 3 miles to the gallon from the 33 gal. tank, the maximum range was around 100 miles.

Steering was accomplished by means of a controlled differential with planetary gear sets that downshifted one track while power was still being applied to both tracks. This proved to be an advantage over locking one track to pivot around it since less damage was done to runway surfaces. The innovative rubber tracks also contributed in this regard.

The M 2 served in both the European and Pacific Theaters and soldered on in Korea and afterward. Most were eventually sold as surplus to buyers in the oil and logging industry.

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