Lic # HV399P
This 1941 US Army Dodge WC-3 truck, shown with 1/2 Ton trailer, have been restored by the Estrella Warbirds Restoration Crew to pristine condition. It makes frequent appearances at local community events and has drawn various awards for its condition.
During World War II, the Dodge Company produced tens of thousands of light weight, versatile trucks including the WC "weapons carriers". While most cargo was carried in "deuce and a half" or larger vehicles, the Dodge WCs worked long and hard, an essential part of Army mobility that led to victory in 1945. Thousands more were shipped to allies, including the Soviet Union, where they were also revered.
Following World War II, the same Dodge WC trucks continued to serve, then returned to duty in the Korean War. They were finally replaced in the 1950s by the Dodge M-37, another legendary tough truck.
There was a time when the people who drove four-wheel-drive vehicles were mainly men on missions, be it for the military, the Forest Service or utility companies. The vehicle of choice for those manly men who got the job done was the Dodge Power Wagon.
In military use the M-37s were configured various ways, including as ambulances and fire trucks, with WC series trucks acting as weapons carriers (1/2 tons WCs were produced from 1940 up until 1942 and then the 3/4 ton series were produced from 1942 up until 1945). Civilian Power Wagons also came in several types, and many did see service as fire trucks, especially in forestry work, but the most common Power Wagon was fitted with a pickup box that measured eight feet long by four and a half feet wide with sides the sides of the pickup box about two feet above the bed.
A glance under the hood suggests the name of the vehicle was a misnomer. Some say the truck was named "Power Wagon" after a contemporary trucking magazine with that title. Whatever the reason for the name, the tried-and-true Dodge flathead six that resided under the front bonnet had a hard time living up to its billing. It produced just 94 horsepower from its 230 cubic inches of displacement, and some said that if dew formed around the sparkplugs it wouldn't run at all. But the Power Wagon quickly built a go-anywhere reputation based on its stout four-wheel-drive system and the beauties of torque multiplication. Clearly, with a compression ratio of about 6.7:1, the Power Wagon's engine wasn't going to produce a lot of, well, power, but the vehicle's designers helped compensate for this with extremely low (high numerically) final-drive ratios, ratios that might have seemed more suited to farm tractors. Buyers had their choice of the highway-friendly 4.89 rear end or the super-stump-pulling 5.83. If the buyer picked the former, he might be able to cruise the Forties fast-lane at 50 miles per hour. The latter limited top end to not much higher than 45 mph.
While these numbers are far from exhilarating even for the Forties, one must remember that this vehicle was designed for work and dirty, difficult off-road work at that. It was this type of work in which the Power Wagon showed its greatness. It lacked the power for high-speed, but it had the torque and power multiplication to slog through just about anything. And if the engine couldn't pull its drivers out of the muck, the Power Wagon's optional 10,000-pound winch could be hooked up to a sturdy rock or tree to help extricate it from the predicament.
Other manufacturers, including Mack, had built four-wheel-drive commercial trucks dating back to the pre-Word War I era, but Dodge factories in Michigan and California started turning out Power Wagons considerably before Willys introduced its post-World War II 4T. Despite this, Dodge's heritage as a four-wheel-drive vehicle manufacturer is largely unsung, though the division has been showing a concept vehicle it calls the Dodge Power Wagon at recent auto shows.
MAIN DISTINGUISHING FEATURES:
-Rounded front military vertical bar grille
-Forward sloping hood with vertical hood side louvers
-Rectangular stamped metal Dodge name plates on each side of the hood
-Butterfly style hood must be opened to fill radiator
-Single speed transfer case
-4.89 rear axle ratio
-218 and 230 cubic inch flathead 6-cylinder engine.
The WC tends to be one of the more difficult ones to positively identify model numbers. With essentially only one full year of production, over 30 different models were produced! Many body styles were available, including: closed cab and chassis, closed cab pickup, command car, radio command car, carryall, ambulance, panel truck, telephone maintenance, open cab pickup, and some winch models. Production was broken into 3 series, denoted by a 4-digit engineering code as the first part of the engine serial number, stamped on the left side of the engine block just below the head.
T-207 includes Model WC-1 through WC-11 mfg. 1041.
Additional distinguishing features: Civilian square gauges, front blackout marker lights mount on the headlights, 11 rear brake drums.
The Estrella Warbirds truck is a WC-3 Model which indicates it is a first series open cab pickup with a winch and all the above features.
T-211 includes Models WC-12 through WC-20 mfg. 1941-42.
Additional distinguishing features: Civilian square gauges, front blackout marker lightd mount on fenders, 2-piece chassis wiring harness uses round bakelite junction block mounted on driver s side of the firewall. 14 rear brake drums.
T-215 includes models WC-21 through WC-43 mfg. 1942.
Additional distinguishing features: Round standard military gauges, 14 rear brake drums. Some 2 wheel drive models with civilian style grille and fenders were included in the above series.
These trucks are quite collectible and hundreds are currently under restoration or in use all over the world. The 4 x 4 saw mainly stateside service during WWII and therefore are scarce outside the Unites States.