WW II M25 Tank Transporter "Dragon Wagon" with LVT 4

The Models and Materials needed
This is one of my all-time greatest favorites. I'm fascinated by this "beast" of a vehicle. I don't know why but somehow I got impressed by this vehicle from the first time I saw it. So it comes as no surprise I'm going to build it. Also, I got hold of some instruction videos that show how to operate the winches, etc. So a great subject for a diorama. I'm working on some ideas. So let's see where it brings us. First, of course, is the fabulous model of the M25 from Tamiya. As a load, I'm planning to use the Buffalo Amphibious Tank as it was seen in action in the Netherlands. I used the one from Italeri. AFV-Club has a nice version of this vehicle too. For us, as model builders, technical manuals are the best sources if it comes to detailing and building correct models. No better reference can be found on the vehicles themselves. Another part is of course the in-action used vehicle. How was it used, where was it used? Where can I find the right markings? These can be found in contemporary pictures. So it's good to seek out the right pictures, or maybe it's on a piece of video. Search and research is the credo here. Part of the fun of building scale models is research and finding the information you need. This gives much more satisfaction when the project is ready. For myself this is true. Besides the kits themselves, I used detailing sets from Plusmodel for the LVT-4 and a detailing set from Eduard for the Dragon Wagon.


The vehicle was officially known as the 40-Ton Tank Transporter Truck-Trailer M25. As the manual TM 9-767 states: The 40-ton, Tank Transporter Truck-trailer M25 is designed for use in recovering a piece of damaged material and transporting it to a place where necessary repairs can be accomplished. The M25 unit consists of the tractor truck (M26) and semitrailer (Ml5), the semitrailer being coupled to the tractor utilizing the fifth wheel on the tractor, which automatically locks the trailer to the tractor. Air brakes on the trailer wheels and lighting equipment on the trailer are connected to the tractor air and lighting systems through an air hose and a jumper cable (carried on the trailer). The trailer air brakes and lights are controlled by the driver of the tractor. The trailer air brakes are automatically set in case the trailer is accidentally, or purposely, disconnected from the tractor. The tractor truck M26 is a self-propelled motor vehicle, powered by a 6-cylinder internal combustion gasoline engine. There are two front and eight rear dual wheels equipped with desert, or combat type, pneumatic tires. The rear wheels are driven by roller-type chains operating on sprockets fastened to the wheel hubs. The power to drive the rear wheels is obtained from the engine, through the clutch, main and auxiliary transmissions, rear differential, and jackshafts to the drive sprockets which are bolted to the jackshaft hubs. Roller chains on the jackshaft hub sprockets and the wheel hub sprockets, drive the wheels. The tractor can be used as a recovery vehicle without the semitrailer since it is equipped with a front mounting winch, a rear tandem winch, and a vertical lifting device. The cab is armor-plated and has hinged armor plate covers for the windshield, radiator, doors, and cab windows. All of these armor plate covers are operated from inside the cab and have peep ports. A pintle hook is bolted to the rear end of the frame. Towing shackles are fastened to the front and rear of the frame. A drawbar and whiffletree are carried on the tractor, for recovery operations. Oxygen and acetylene tanks with equipment for welding or cuttings; vise, Pioneer, and maintenance tools are also carried on the tractor.

The M25 Tank Transporter Truck-trailer

Below rear view. Note that cables are not yet on the winches.

The M26 Truck-Tractor

Where to find information
The best information is that of the Technical Manual of this vehicle, the TM 9-767 from 1944. It gives us a wealth of information on the vehicle itself. A lot of photographs show all parts of the vehicle needed to build and detail it. You can find it in the TM section of this site. Download it if you need it, I can only recommend using it. Other sources are books, there are a few books that describe the M25 in detail and are also very good starting points. Also, a nice video of an M25 in action can be seen on youtube.


Publications found
on the M25

"Dragon Wagon"

Technical Manual TM 9-1767A - Engine and Engine Accessories for
Tractor Truck M26, Component of 40-Ton Tank Transporter Trailer Truck M25

Tankograd No 6017 - U.S.
WW II M25 Tank Transporter Dragon Wagon

Ampersand Publishing - Dragon Wagon

Tankograd in Detail - Dragon Wagon Tank Transporter M25

Squadron Signal Publications No 67025 - M26 Dragon Wagon Walk Around

A very good source of information yet again for the LVT (4) is the Technical Manual TM 9-776 from 1944. The TM 9-776 states: "The Landing Vehicle Tracked, Mk. IV (unarmored) (LVT) (4) is a full-track-laying vehicle of all-steel construction, designed to operate on water as well as on land. The main compartment of the vehicle is an open cargo space. A rear ramp permits the rapid unloading and loading of cargo and personnel. The vehicle is powered by a 7-cylinder, air-cooled, radial engine. A pontoon extending the full length of the track is mounted within the tracks on each side of the vehicle. A closed cab at the front of the vehicle houses the driver and assistant driver. Armament on the vehicle consists of caliber .30 or caliber .50 machine guns, swivel-mounted around the cargo compartment." This Manual also has a lot of good pictures of this vehicle. Some examples below.

The LVT-4was by far the most numerous version of the LVT, with 8,348 units delivered; the US Army received 6,083, and the British Army 500. In 1945 this version was the most common in Germany. Used for crossing the rivers. The picture that inspired me to do this project is the one below on the right where an LVT-2 is loaded off an M25.

This picture was taken during preparations for a river crossing somewhere in Roermond in the Netherlands along the Roer River. It shows an LVT-2.

Here is another one apperantly also in the same city. As is evident in these pictures, the M25 was not only used as a recovery vehicle but also for transporting tasks.

As is evident in the two pictures above, is the fact while loading or unloading the LVT's, the tires of the trailer got a big beating because the tracks of the LVT chewed up the rubber. There were however two solutions to this problem as they were described in the Army Motors issue April 1945.
"LOADING OF LVT'S - Nobody paid much attention to LVT’s when the transporter was first designed. Since that time, however, the 3rd Army has found it necessary to piggyback these boats on the M25—and the width of the LVT raises the problem of getting the outer wheels of the trailer out of the way. The new ramps which are part of the coming modification of the M15 semi-trailer will allow LVT’s and other wide vehicles to ride on a bridge right over the wheels. But what to do now? What to do now is what the 66th does. They simply run the inside tires of the trailer up on a plank; this throws the outer wheels down and away from the trailer. A timber placed over the space thus created allows the LVT to go up on the trailer smoothly and safely. The wheels ist be at their extreme outer position and the loading ramps must be removed and fixed to give •their maximum width. A faster way of doing the same job, and even better in muddy terrain, requires three timbers, 13' x l2" x 6". Place these across the trailer before, between, and behind the rear tires. The LVT is then winched or driven over the tires and does not chew the rubber. Pad the timbers with old tire casings to protect them.

Here are two pictures of US LVT-4's crossing the Rhine. The armored covers for the guns are clearly visible.


Two views of the cargo compartment of the LVT-4

Below a sequence of pictures from a war bulletin newsreel showing the M25 with the LVT-4

Unfortunately this was before the Army Motors Issue about the tire protectors, as can be seen in the last picture where the LVT is unloaded.

Publications found
on the LVT (4)
and Amtracs

Squadron Signal Publications SS52049 - LVT(4) Amtrac in action

Ampersand Publishing - LVT-4 Amtrac

Letterman Publications - Project: LVT's Vol 1

Letterman Publications - Project: LVT's Vol 2

Osprey New Vanguard 30 - Amtracs

Squadron Signal Publications 2031 - Amtracs in Action

Concord - 7032 - US Amtracs And Amphibians At War 1941-1945

Picture page with pictures from Manual TM 9-776
Click picture to view gallery


Building the Models


The Final Result