M37 ¾ Ton Standard Military Pattern

During WW2 Canada had developed and produced a range of soft-skin vehicles generally following British requirements although with their own distinct cabs. By the early 1950s it was considered more practical to use American-pattern vehicles to replace the older fleet, both for general economy and for the very practical reason that many US manufacturers of these vehicles had large subsidiaries in Canada. This led to the adoption of the M Series based on the then-new M38 ¼ ton, M37 ¾ ton and M135 2½ ton trucks. In Canadian parlance, the M-Series trucks were referred to simply as Standard Military Pattern (SMP).During WW2 Canada had developed and produced a range of soft-skin vehicles generally following British requirements although with their own distinct cabs. By the early 1950s it was considered more practical to use American-pattern vehicles to replace the older fleet, both for general economy and for the very practical reason that many US manufacturers of these vehicles had large subsidiaries in Canada. This led to the adoption of the M Series based on the then-new M38 ¼ ton, M37 ¾ ton and M135 2½ ton trucks. In Canadian parlance, the M-Series trucks were referred to simply as Standard Military Pattern (SMP).

Vehicles for Canadian use were built in Canada and differed from their American equivalents in a number of ways. These included a larger and more powerful engine (251 cu in block) which was already in widespread commercial use, a hard top on the cab with an insulated roof, and cold weather engine priming kits.

M37 CDN

The M37 CDN was based on the American Army M37 ¾ ton truck designed and built in the US by Dodge. Canadian SMP trucks entered production with Chrysler Corporation of Canada in 1951. They were initially referred to as M37C until May 1951, when the suffix “CDN” was formally added (i.e. M37 CDN) to all Canadian-manufactured SMP vehicles. The first M37 CDN was completed by Chrysler of Canada in October 1951. By December 1955, 3,071 M37 CDN had been delivered to the Canadian Army and RCAF, with different variants in service at home as well as in Germany and on UN deployments. Three additional models based on the M37 chassis and drive train were:

  • M43 CDN ambulance (409 built) – its role was solely to evacuate casualties from the battle area or airfield
  • M152 CDN panel trucks (1,038 built) – this model was unique to Canada and contained different radio, command and communications packages
  • M56 CDN (6 built) -this was a long wheelbase (LWB) M37 less the cargo box.

It was intended for special purpose vehicle projects, such as water tankers or welding trucks.
Special Equipment Vehicle (SEV) kits for specialty roles were developed including several types of radio installations, SS11B and ENTAC anti-tank missile launchers, cable laying kits and repair and wrecker sets.

All M37 CDN vehicles, and the various models, were phased out and replaced from the mid-1970s.

M43 CDN Ambulance

The M43 CDN Ambulance had a panel body with no windows. It was fitted with double rear doors which opened to the litter racks, and had a rear step for ease of the litter bearers. A siren, a revolving red light, and a search lamp were fitted to the roof. The spare tire was normally mounted to the driver’s door and the pioneer tool rack (shovel, picks, and axes) was mounted on the floor of the tool compartment beneath the body panel, just forward of the rear wheels. An exhaust pipe extension reduced the risk of engine exhaust entering the litter compartment and eliminated unsightly smoke residue on the panel body and on the white background of the red cross. It was equipped with a 251 cu in, 6-cylinder engine.

A practice Nuclear-Biological-Chemical decontamination of an M43 CDN Ambulance. (1976)

A Canadian Army M43 CDN Ambulances. Note the exhaust pipe extension which reduced the risk of engine exhaust entering the litter compartment and eliminated unsightly smoke residue on the panel body and on the white background of the red cross.

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Primary funding for the care and preservation of our artifacts comes from donations and grants to the Comox Valley Air Force Museum Association.

Comox Air Force Museum

1952 Dodge M43 CDN Ambulance

The Museum Ambulance was manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation of Canada and was delivered to the Canadian Military on 5 June 1952. It was acquired from the Transportation Museum of BC, Cloverdale, BC on 18 April 1990. Restoration work began in September 1995 as a teaching project for the students at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay, BC, and was completed in March 1997.

Acquired in not too rough a shape.

The beautiful restoration work was done by the students at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School. Note the siren, a revolving red light, and a search lamp fitted to the roof. (photo by Len Phillips, 17 Aug 2011)

The cab.

The right-hand driver position is shown and note that the engine protrudes into the cab area. In operation, the engine is covered by a ‘doghouse’.

A typical pose: an ambulance transporting survivors to the hospital from the rescue helicopter.

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