M29 and M29C Weasel

Designed originally for use over snow and ice, the Cargo Carriers M28, M29 and the amphibious version the M29C, have proved useful wherever small, speedy vehicles with very low ground pressures have been required. The power was supplied by a liquid-cooled, six-cylinder engine. The flywheel end of the engine was connected by means of a single-plate clutch, a conventional transmission, a propeller shaft, and two needle-bearing type universal joints to a controlled differential and the driving axle. The axle was of the planetary, two-speed type.

These vehicles were fully suppressed for radio installation. Except for various covers which were removable to facilitate mainte nance and inspection operations, the hulls were of welded sheet steel. Plugs and a plate were provided for draining purposes.

The Cargo Carrier M29 was standardized in September 1943, it wss basically similar to Cargo Carrier M28, but has a rear drive. The change in design moved the center of gravity forward and also resulted in a more desirable arrangement of engine, crew, and cargo. The revised suspension, which had transverse springs and twice the number of bogie wheels, provided improved riding characteristics. The engine, engine accessories, fuel tank, driver’s seat, vehicle controls, etc., were in the front of the vehicle. The rear houses the radio equipment and had seating capacity for the assistant driver and two extra passengers, or space for approximately 1,000 pounds of miscellaneous equipment. A track guard and step plates were on each side of the vehicle. An A-frame towing hitch permitted use of the vehicles in tandem.

These quick little tractors were quite good on snow, given their extremely light ground pressure, of little as 1,9psi, due to the very wide track and lack of armour, but also performed superbly in mud and other treacherous conditions. The missions the Weasel was first designed for never took place, yet over 10,000 gave good service, mainly in supportive roles, for Engineers and Medics, by Signal Corps and in transport roles during some of the harshest battles from Belgium to Okinawa. Missions in the Pacific were primarily the job for the later version the M29C, which was basically the same vehicle as the M29 but with large flotation pontoon sections added front and back, in order to provide better buoyancy and control in water. The standard M29 was able traverse deep bodies of water, but at very slow speed and with very poor control. The 'C' version was a true amphibian.

A great number of these vehicles were used in WW2, and in many variations, like Radio and Cable-Laying Weasels, Machine Gun and Recoilless Rifle Weasels, and others with fittings for special tasks. There was also a fire spitting weasel, the M29C Wasp wich was fitted with the same Canadian flamethrower as used on Universal Carrier. This seemed to have been used bij the Canadian or Britisch Army in the Battle for Walcheren. In this battle these armies made extensible use of the Weasels and its variants. There were 15,124 vehicles of both types built.

A wire team of the 56th Signal Batallion using a Weasel to lay a cable on a muddy road in Germany february 1945. A blurry but interesting picture of a Weasel fitted for laying cables, racing through Hessen Germany in 1945 below


An M29C Weasel with a recoilless rifle above.

A nice comparison between the M29 on the left and the M29C on the right.

The M29C was a simple conversion of the M29. Changes were made to the flexible rubber tracks to enable them to provide propulsion in '.vater. flotation chambers were provided at front and rear, and twin rudders were added for steering in water. The land M29 had already demonstrated its abilities to cross just about any type of terrain, including snow and rough stony ground, and the M29C retained all these qualities. In water it was somewhat slow and it could not operate in other than inland waterway conditions, so its use in surf or rough water was very limited. But when used correctly the M29C soon proved to be a valuable vehicle. Its uses were legion, especially during the many island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific theatre. Once ashore they were used to cross terrain that no other vehicle could attempt, and they carried men, supplies and even towed artillery using their rear-mounted towing pintle. Rice fields were no obstacle and the M29C was equally at home crossing sand dunes.

The M29C and the land-based M29 Weasels were used as ambulances on many occasions, Another use was for crossing minefields as the Weasel’s ground pressure was very low, often too low to set off anti-tank mines. A technique was even evolved whereby the Weasels could be controlled remotely using hand-operated cords, but this technique had its limitations.

The Weasels were also very reliable, they rarely broke down and their track life was later found to be far in excess of anticipations. The M29C was also used by signal units, for its ability to cross water and land impassable to other vehicles made it a very valuable wirelaying vehicle. But it was as a supply or personnel carrier that it was most useful. Although unarmoured, M29Cs were often used to carry armed troops across water obstacles and land them in front of an enemy position, other M29Cs then following up with ammunition and supplies, By the time the war ended about 8,000 M29C Weasels had been produced.

A fully loaded M29 on a Pontoon bridge in France, crossing the Seine river 1944. Seemed that this vehicle was a bit too small for the runway. A challenge for the driver to keep his own feet and of the passengers dry.

Above an M29C in action during the Battle for Walcheren. Behind it another iconic amphibious vehicle, the GMC DUKW.

The Studebaker manufactured M29 on the left and the M29C on the right as they were presented in TM 9-2800.

Below I placed a few pictures from the Technical Manual TM 9-772. I know of 2 issued manuals in 1944 and 1945. There also was a Parts List ORD 7-8-9-SNL G-154 and G-179 issued in 1944.

That the British and Canadian forces used thes vehicles was more or less obvious as can be seen below. Here the mounting of the British radio Set No 19 is shown. Images from the standard Technical Manual TM 9-772.

Below are some pictures showing a M29 Weasel fitted for transporting wounded soldiers in the field. These three pictures show the same vehicle from different points of view. The place Germany Hessen 1945.

The picture below shows an M29 used as a personnel carrier, around the same area as the ones above.

Below a wartime advertisement showing the Weasel.

As far as I know at the moment I wrote this little article, only two models are available in 1-35th scale from LZ Models. An M29 Weasel and an M29C Weasel. An older model of the M29C from Monogram is no longer on the market but can be found through ebay.