D-Day Anniversary: Vehicles Deployed In Normandy
June 6, 1944. Thousands of allied forces storm the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy under heavy gunfire.
They relied on a variety of armored trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles to maneuver around mines embedded in the shores and obstacles like wooden stakes wrapped in barbed wire.
Here are some of the vehicles used during the D-Day invasion.
Willys MB: Nicknamed the “Willys Go Devil engine” this four-cylinder engine, four-wheel drive Jeep could be mounted with a Browning machine gun. The vehicle was roughly 11 feet long and had a top speed of 65 mph.
G 7100: This four-wheel drive truck weighed one-and-a-half tons and was powered by a six-cylinder engine. The Chevrolet’s maximum speed was 50 mph and the G 7100 was used to haul personnel, weaponry, ammunition and fire fighting equipment. The G 7100 featured a metallic cabin and its windshield could be opened.
M3 Scout Car: Known as the “White Scout Car”, the 18-foot long truck had 13 milimeters of armoring in the front and six milimeters of armoring in back. It could be equipped with a pair of Browning machine guns and could carry seven soldiers and a driver. It was powered by an inline six-cylinder engine that produced 110 horsepower. Nearly 21,000 were built and put into service and the M3 Scout Car was still in service until the 1990s in the Dominican Republic.
WC 51-52: This four-wheel drive truck was especially useful in muddy and rugged terrain. After Jeeps, the Dodge WC 51-52 was the most famous vehicle on World War II battlefields. Dodge built more than 63,000 WC 51-52s in 1944 alone.
M4 Tractor: Built atop the chassis of the M2 tank, this 15-foot armored transport vehicle rolled atop treads and had a top speed of 32 mph. Its six-cylinder engine churned out 190 horsepower and the vehicle featured a mounted Browning machine gun. Built by the Allis-Chalmers company, the M4 Tractor could carry 11 artillerymen.
WLA: This Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a top speed of roughly 60 mph and an operating range of more than 200 miles. It was largely used by liaison officers and military police.
M8 Greyhound Light Tank: As the name implies, this reconnaissance vehicle moved swiftly, with a top speed of roughly 60 mph. A 37 millimeter gun was mounted to the top, and the M8 rolled on six tires and carried a crew of four. It was powered by a Hercules JXD six-cylinder engine that produced 110 horsepower.
DUKW 353: Built by General Motors, this amphibious vehicle could operate both in the water and on land. It was nearly 30 feet long and could carry 25 equipped soldiers. Its six-cylinder engine produced 104 horsepower. The DUKW 353 is commonly seen in historical photographs of Allied troops landing on beachheads on D-Day.
CCKW 353: Capable of carrying 10 soldiers, the CCKW 353 was the main transport vehicle for the American armed forces. It had an operational range of about 240 miles and a top speed of 44 mph. Nearly 800,000 units were built between 1941 and 1945. It was still in service in parts of Europe as late as the 1990s.
Below are some D-Day anniversary celebrations taking place across the United States:
Museum of Aviation Foundation, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia: This free event honors the largest military operation by sea in history with documentaries and giveaways. A B-17G Flying Fortress will be on display, and the event includes a virtual reality simulator for $7.
USS LST 393 Veterans Museum, Muskegon, Ohio: The Landing Ship Tank 393, one of only three ships at Omaha Beach still afloat, will be on display. Events include an honor ride, World War II reenactors, unique World War II vehicles and activities geared towards kids. The "Air Raid Muskegon", which features historic aircraft "battling" reenactors on the ship, will also take place.
The Final Salute: D-Day Plus 75 Years, Bedford, Virginia: Watch World War II-era aircraft take to the skies as actors portray units who landed on D-Day. The "Profiles of Honor" mobile museum dedicated to Virginia's WWI and WWII veterans will be on display, and the Enduring Freedom band and USO show will provide live music and entertainment. The Veterans Reunion Tent provides a space for WWII and D-Day veterans to congregate.
75th Anniversary Cruise, National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana: From May 30 to June 8, participants will board the Regent Seven Seas Navigator and follow the path of Germany’s assault on western Europe and the Allied forces’ efforts to defeat the Nazis. The tour culminates with the successful landings at Normandy on June 6.
D-Day 75th Anniversary Remembrance, WWII Memorial, Washington D.C.: Get an overview of the D-Day invasion, tour the World War II Memorial, and offer a moment of silence in honor of the more than 400,000 Americans that died during World War II during this event that’s open to the public.