The Iconic WWII / Korean War Ambulance
The Dodge WC-54, a type of 4x4 vehicle, was the primary casualty transportation vehicle in WWII from 1942 to 1945. It was specifically designed to be used as an ambulance, with hanging straps from the middle of the cabin and two folding bench seats along the walls. It had a two-man crew and could carry four patients on litters or six sitting injured soldiers or medics. The WC-54 weighs half a ton and could drive up to 55 MPH. The US Army Medical Corps continued to use the WC-54 as late as the Korean War.
The vehicle that was displayed serviced troops in WWII and was also used in the 1970s as the backup ambulance for 11 years during the filming of the tv show, M*A*S*H.
- Type: 3/4 Ton 4x4 Ambulance
- Date Introduced: 1942
- Manufacturer: Dodge
- Number Produced: Approximately 23,000+
WIKIPEDIAThe Dodge WC-54, Ambulance, 3⁄4-ton, 4 x 4
SNL Supply Catalog Designation G-502
It was the main military ambulance variant of the prolific Dodge WC series of light 4×4 trucks, developed during World War II. Built from 1942 until 1945, they served as the U.S. Army's main dedicated ambulance (besides the many multi-purpose jeeps serving as such), with many also serving in the Korean War, in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, some used as late as 1953; and others serving as late as the 1960s in the armies of some European countries.
The 3⁄4‑ton WC-54 was designed as successor to the previous 1/2-ton, 4×4, G-505 models WC-9, WC-18, and WC-27 Dodge Ambulance trucks. Although based on the 3/4-ton Dodge "Beep" chassis, which front and rear axles featured wider tracks of 64 + 3/4 in, the 3/4-ton ambulance versions retained a longer wheelbase, very close to that of the previous half-toners, as well as somewhat rounded, upward sloping nose sheetmetal, instead of the fully horizontal, flat and wider engine-cover of the main 3/4‑ton redesigned WC-models. The WC-54s also had adjusted suspension to make their ride softer.
The closed sheet-metal body was made by Wayne Body works. It had room for a driver and four to seven patients plus a medic. If the fold-away bunk stretchers were used, four patients could be transported lying down. Because of its intended role, the WC-54 featured a large matrix cab heater fitted on the inner firewall, providing comfort for patients and crew. It was fitted with a foldaway step to its rear to allow easier access for stretcher bearers and injured personnel. Early models featured a stuck out fuel filler cap which was changed to a recessed one in the later model, a modification that was retrofitted to some early model trucks.
From 1942 to 1945, total production of the 3/4-ton Dodge WC-series was some 255,000. Of these, 29,502 were ambulances - 26,002 WC‑54 and 3,500 WC-64 KD models.
Virtually unchanged for three years, apart from minor technical tweaks, in 1945 it was replaced by a new knock-down body design, the WC‑64 (KD). Based on essentially the same chassis as the WC‑54, the rear ambulance boxes were now split in two major sections: lower and upper, designed primarily to increase the number of vehicles that could be shipped at the same time. The lower part of the ambulance body was attached to the chassis at the factory, while the upper box consisted of flat panels, shipped in crates for installation in the field. Only produced in 1945, just 3,500 of these were made before the war ended. Other model changes made the WC‑64 more similar to the WC‑51: the factory-fitted lower ambulance-box outwardly resembles that of the WC‑51's rear bed boxes, though the WC‑64 is of course longer; and the flat instead of sloped hood, and spare wheel placement are now also like on a WC‑51.
The "knocked-down" condition was so much more space-efficient that two ambulances could now be stacked, and shipped in the same space that would previously hold only one conventional WC‑54 ambulance. Additionally, the reduced size also allowed air transportation of the vehicle.