Skip to main content

Automakers and the U.S. military have had a long relationship with one another. While this relationship can be traced back a long time, the biggest example of the military’s working relationship with Detroit automakers can be seen in how they collaborated during World War Two. Here’s how this GMC truck, nicknamed “Jimmy”, helped America win the Second World War. 

The GMC CCKW 353

The Jimmy, which actually had the designation of GMC CCKW 353, wasn’t like many other trucks. The Jimmy was a 6×6 truck, and it notably could carry about two and a half-tons of cargo. The CCKW in its real name simply means that it’s a truck with a standard cab and both front and rear-wheel drive, according to Military Factory. 

Sometimes, troops, as well as generals, would call it the “Deuce and a half”, which was a reference to how much stuff it could carry. In fact, according to US Auto Industry World War Two, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who’d later become the president, said that the Jimmy was one of the four pieces of equipment that allowed America and its allies to win the war. 

The Jimmy was equipped with a 4.4-liter six-cylinder engine that delivered about 104-hp to the truck. It had a top speed of 45 MPH and it could travel about 240 miles before refueling, according to Military Factory. The Jimmy also had a lot of variants, and these variants all served different tasks. They allowed the Jimmy to carry up to 750 gallons of fuel or water, act as a surgery van, or act as a fire truck among others.

How GMC helped win World War Two

Military Factory says that over 550,000 GMC Jimmies were produced during World War Two, and America wasn’t the only country using them. America’s allies, such as the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union, all used the Jimmy to haul goods and transport men and women to and from the front lines. 

The Jimmy was a simple and reliable work truck, and that’s why GMC was able to produce so many of them for the war effort. Back then, automakers, as well as almost everyone else in America, had to contribute to the war effort. The government needed a truck that was simple, easy to produce, and capable, and GMC won the contract for that truck, according to Military Factory. Not long after, GMC started producing the Jimmy.

The Jimmy, as well as similar vehicles, were important to the war effort because, as US Auto Industry World War Two explained, World War Two was America’s first mobile war. Before World War Two, most troops had to walk everywhere. But with the help of GMC and other automakers, trucks and tanks allowed America and other countries to use a car or truck to move their troops instead. 

One of the most important pieces of equipment 

The Jimmy’s ability to persevere in off-road conditions were particularly helpful as America and its allies advanced and attacked enemy territory. American and allied troops landed in Africa in 1943 and Europe in 1944. Both continents posed different environmental challenges to America and its allies, and the Jimmy was able to hold up fine. 

When America and its allies landed on Normandy beach in 1944, they accomplished the hard part of breaking through the Nazi defenses. However, the next thing that needed to be done would also be hard. The troops and the tanks invading Nazi Germany needed ammunition, fuel, and parts for repairs. 

That’s where the “Red Ball Express” came in. As Military Factory said, its job was to simply send those needed supplies to the front line. The truck of choice for the Red Ball Express was none other than the Jimmy, which helped keep every other part of the military running smoothly.