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In 1941, the Allies, planning raids on German heavy water facilities in Norway, needed a fast, maneuverable all-purpose vehicle that could scamper quickly over snow. Soon the Studebaker Company in Indiana was producing the M29 Weasel—but not before the Norway plan was scrapped. 

Luckily, the tracked Weasel could navigate not only snow, but also swamps, mud, and sand, catching the eye of U.S. military brass, who quickly pressed the M29 into action as a frontline cargo carrier, ambulance, mobile command center, and cable layer for Signal Corps units. Along with its drivability on winter battlefields, the Weasel’s semi-amphibious abilities served it well crossing Europe’s rivers and marshes, as well as in the landings at Sicily and Normandy—though the spry vehicle, designed for arctic conditions, often overheated in more temperate battle zones. All the same, the M29’s adeptness at negotiating sandy beaches made it a critical U.S. asset in the Pacific invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  

After the war, most M29s were sold off as surplus, often to winter sports resorts.

(Jim Laurier)

this article first appeared in world war II magazine

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