Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 144 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Motor Transport

The Marmon-Herrington 6x6 Crash Tender

The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Marmon-Herrington 6x6 Crash Tender
In addition to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum’s collection of 20+ aircraft and thousands of small artifacts and archival materials, the museum has a collection of 28 motor transport vehicles. With one exception, they are correct to the period of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and a good portion of them had careers with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the war. Included in the mix are three automobiles (Dodge, Chevrolet and Chrysler),  one jeep, a Ford three ton fuel tender truck, two SnoGo snowblowers, an International K8 Fire Truck, International K Series two ton truck, International K Series Panel Truck, International K Series panel truck, Dodge two ton truck, Dodge one ton fire truck, Chevrolet two ton stake truck, International and Ford tractors and a D2 caterpillar.

A most impressive member of the CATPM motor fleet is a 1944 Ford 6X6 (all-
wheel-drive) Marmon Herrington Crash Truck. The story of the Marmon Herrington Company is fascinating as well.

The Marmon-Herrington Company of Indianapolis, Indiana got its start as the Nordyke and Marmon Machine Company, founded in 1851 to produce flour milling equipment. It morphed into the Marmon Car Company in the early 1900s to produce high-end automobiles for 30 years. It was the Marmon Wasp which won the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911 in almost seven hours and with an average speed of 74 miles per hour.

When the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s caused massive closures and bankrupting of businesses throughout the world and severe unemployment and economic hardships for most people, demand for the prestigious Marmon cars disappeared. To evade a fate similar to thousands of other companies, the Marmon Company merged with  an ex-military engineer named Arthur Herrington, in 1931, to produce rugged and dependable four-wheel-drive vehicles for the military and limited civilian use. The first vehicles off the production line were designed for towing military weaponry. In most cases, the Ford Motor Company provided basic, heavy trucks which were fitted with Marmon-Herrington mutli-axle drivetrains. 
The Maramon Wasp
The 1931 Maramon 16 Automobile  
Many years before the American Willys company developed the well known four-wheel drive Jeep for military use, the Ford Motor Company and Marmon-Herrington company were collaborating to make four-wheel and six-wheel-drive trucks. The collaboration came about when Ford realized the folly in re-inventing drive train technology already available from Marmon-Herrington. Ford had been unsuccessful in the production of these drivetrains.  These trucks were a big hit with military customers all over the world.

The first Ford/Marmon-Herrington vehicle produced for the Canadian military during World War II, was a 4x4 truck customized to meet the needs of the army. The air force also acquired fuel tenders for use at  its many aerodromes across the country. This truck and the three-ton, six-wheel-drive crash tender were not customized to Canada’s needs, but were already in production for a number of armed forces across the world.

The RCAF acquired the 6x6 in great numbers to serve at its aerodromes across Canada. They were very capable of responding to fires and crashes on RCAF property as well in fields and other off-road locations adjacent to, or near the airfields where conventional vehicles could not travel.  These trucks were equipped with fire-fighting equipment supplied by the Walter Kiddie or American La France companies. A typical configuration included a water tank and pump, foam developing equipment (mechanical and chemical) and carbon dioxide cylinders.

The CATPM Marmon-Herrington crash tender was built in 1944 and was stationed with the RCAF during the war. It is currently roadworthy and has most of its fire-fighting equipment mounted on the truck although it is non-operable.

After the war, other Marmon-Herrington ventures included the development of military tank drive units, airport fire trucks and trolley busses from 1946 to 1959. The company continues to produce transfer cases and axles for trucks and specialty vehicles. It is now one of the many successful corporations owned by the Berkshire-Hathaway company.