1942 Studebaker M-29C Water Weasel

Here is something you don't see every day, but may see it being driven around Estrella Warbirds Museum! In the early part of WW II, Studebaker made a tracked personnel carrier, which was the predecessor to the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). As a tracked vehicle, it was originally designed to be driven in the snow (M-29). When float tanks and a front splash guard were added, it was designated M-29C to allow for additional transport across water surfaces and use as a landing craft.

  • Weasel A
  • Weasel C
  • Weasel D
  • Weasel E_1
  • Weasel B
  • Weasel E
  • Weasel F

Specifications

BNO/Serial:
Height: 51 inches
Length: 10 ft 6 inches
Width: 5 feet
Weight: 3,800 lbs
Crew: 4
Engine Model 6-170 Champion 6-cylinder, 70 HP.
Operational Range: 165 mi
Maximum Speed: 36 mph
Status Working Display
Owner: Estrella Warbirds Museum

M-29 Weasel in Action

History

The Weasel idea was introduced in 1942, when the First Special Services Force needed transportation into Norway to knock out strategic power plants. The vehicle needed to move quickly and easily through the winter snows of Norway. It needed to be air transportable and be able to withstand the effects of being dropped by parachute and would also be able to carry arms, explosives and minimal resupply stocks.

The Norwegian mission was cancelled and therefore the Weasel was never used for its original intention. However, as it was amphibious and could cross terrain too soft for most other vehicles, it was used widely in both Italy and on the Western Front. It went ashore on Normandy, it was with the U.S. Army during the breakthrough at St. Lo., the Battle of the Bulge and in the mud of the Roer and the Rhine. M29 was a Cargo Carrier but was also used as a command center, radio, ambulance and signal line layer. US soldiers soon realized the Weasel could be used as an ambulance, as it could get to places not even Jeeps could. Another use was for crossing minefields, as its ground pressure was often too low to set off anti-tank mines.

The reliability of the vehicle when used in the European summer and during long road trips was the subject of consternation among Allied troops to whom they were assigned. The commander of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion left the note below during their advances towards La Ferte-Mace on D+69:

All companies are having a great deal of trouble with the M-29 Cargo Carriers on long movements such as the ones Companies C and D have made in the past several days. The Cargo Carriers have been overheating and, in several cases, the water has completely boiled out of the radiators. These vehicles were made to operate in arctic temperatures. The motor becomes so hot that the oil in the transmission literally boils and boils out. Plates are coming off the tracks and the cables that hold the tracks together break on these long movements. All in all, the efficiency and mobility of this battalion is greatly reduced by our being required to operate with such a vehicle, not only because it is inefficient but because it was never intended to operate in this climate or on hard and paved roads.

— 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion Unit History (14th August, 1944)