1941 Military 1/2-ton Dodge 4×4 pickup truck
All of a sudden in the lifted truck world, size began to matter. A few years ago, 4 to 6″ of lift and 35″ tall tires was a big truck. Now 8 to 10″ of lift and 38 to 40″ tall tires is becoming more common and people wanted to know how to do this safely and legally (which don’t always go together!) The purpose of the Sgt. Rock project was not only to show the planning and design work involved in building a big rig, but also to show what is legal, practical, and affordable for the guy wanting to do a project like this. Of course the first step to any project is finding the right vehicle, and I knew exactly what that vehicle needed to be – a World War II, half-ton, WC Weapons Carrier. Or in more understandable terms, a military 1/2 ton Dodge 4×4 pickup truck. No other 4×4 truck ever made has a more rugged, in-your- face, testosterone inspired look and history than these old army trucks. And the fender openings are big enough for the huge tires that I planned on putting on. The problem was, these trucks were only made one year, 1941. Since this was the forerunner to the Power Wagon, any restorable trucks had already been swooped up by WWII buffs, and everything else had either been robbed of parts or shot full of holes in some field somewhere. So, over the years I kept an eye out for one of these trucks in decent condition...
Dodge 1/2 ton 4×4 pickup truck
My search ended abruptly one day when I located a ’41 Dodge hidden in some trees about a mile from my parent’s house in Belleview, Idaho. The old truck had been sitting abandoned for decades. The original bed was long gone, and a hacked together, hand-built bed sat in its place. The Dodge cab had been swapped for an almost identical International cab and spliced at the cowl, and an old snowplow was welded to the undercarriage in front. However, the good news was the cab, fenders, hood, grille, etc. were not only rust free, but they were extremely straight, and that was far more than I expected to find! So, a deal was struck and I dragged it home to the shop.
WWII Veteran Tribute
With a name like Sgt. Rock, there is an obvious military tie-in but it is more than what you think. I was able to connect the buildup of the truck to the restoration of the legendary Memphis Belle B-17 Bomber of WWII to not only pay tribute to the WWII vets, but to everyone who has ever donned an American uniform to fight for freedom. There will be more on that as the truck nears completion, but the direction of the buildup is basically to cross a 40’s style Hot Rod with a big, lifted military truck.
Original Manufacturer Specifications
Original Base MSRP
1 reverse manual transmission
In-line, L-Head engine
History of the Dodge 1/2 ton VC series military trucks
Dodge produced its first prototypes of the 1/2 ton 4x4 VC series military trucks, based on the civilian TC-series, in late 1939. Production of the VC series started in 1940. The ’40 VC-series Dodge 1/2-ton 4x4s were well liked but considered a stopgap because they were essentially a modified civilian truck. At the outset of World War II a more military layout was designed. Dodge replaced the 1940 VC-1 to VC-6 with the equally 1⁄2-ton WC series of military light trucks, produced in 38 model variants, in varying numbers — thousands of some models were produced, while only a few of some others were made. While the VC-series used much civilian sheet-metal, distinguished by a brush-guard in front of the grille, the WC-series had a redesigned nose with an integrated, round grated grille / brush-guard. Both the Dodge half-ton VC and WC trucks were part of the Army G-505 series. 79,771 of the 1⁄2-ton trucks were produced during late 1940–1942 under War Department contracts. 1⁄2-ton rated WC models were numbered in the 1 to 50 range. Common features of the 1/2 ton trucks were:
- Drive: 4×4 Wheelbase: 116 in (123 in for ambulances)
- Track width: 59.375 in
- Tires: 7.50x16
- Brakes: Hydraulic
- Engine: 6 cyl, in-line, L-head
- Transmission: 4 forward/1 reverse, manual
- Transfer case: Single speed
Sgt. Rock Guitar
We worked with Tennessee Electric Guitar to develop a custom guitar befitting the Sgt. Rock project. I features the same paint, nose art, aluminum and rivets that the truck does... and it also has a special neck, fingerboard, body shape and pickup configuration, so it sounds and plays as well as it looks.