My WC-52

 

After moving to Darwin in 1999, I started to look around for another project. I had a rough idea of what I wanted and a friend had restored a Dodge WC-52, so that inspired me to look for a Dodge WC vehicle. But where to find one!

 

It was following a led on a jeep trailer that I came across a dismantled Dodge WC-52 at a deceased estate. After talking with the caretaker, the purchase was negotiated, in the deal also came a Dodge Power Wagon from a Sth American Army, many loose parts and two late model trays. Unfortunately, no correct or complete engine, just lots of worn loose parts.

Soon after getting the vehicle home I had to go overseas for 3 months due to work, so that put a hold on activities. Upon returning home, I found the vehicle to be an early model truck, mid production. I also found, and bought another collection of Dodge trucks and parts to assist with my restoration, this also came with a mid production tray. This tray still retained the original markings of a US Army unit (139th AACS).

 

wc-52
The Frame returns home
Reconditioning the engine

 

 

Restoration commenced, luckily the truck was already stripped down, now to repair it and put it back together again. I started with checking the running gear and chassis, as this had been completed by the previous owner. My Dad assisted with rebuilding the Gear box and transfer case. I sandblasted all the cabin and tray sections and slowly re-assembled it, during this I found an original paint sample and had it matched to a modern paint colour (Y61, Black Olive). All brake components were sent off to Brisbane for refurbishment.

Late 2000, I purchased an engine from a VMVC member in Warburton and had that freighted back to my Dad for a rebuild. Mid 2001, the engine arrived in Darwin and was installed into the truck, by this stage the entire chassis, cabin and front end sheet metal was installed painted green and the vehicle was on safety stands. After rolling the truck out from the car port the engine was installed with the use of a tri-pod. Then the work concentrated on the smaller items, such as wiring, wheels and to get it ready to move south as my work was shifting me. So, in late 2002 the Dodge and my 43 Ford Jeep were transported to Puckapunyal.

 

wc-52 wc52 engine
The Frame returns home
Body work

 

 

During the move I sourced tyres from Adelaide and had them freighted to Melbourne to be collected. I then completed the tray and the timber floor, installed the tyres, finished the exhaust system, bought a windscreen frame from another Dodge restorer and generally got the truck to running condition. I managed short test drives around the Puckapunyal area, and eventually got the truck ready for its first run, to Corowa in 2004.

 

wc-52 wc52 engine
the body progresses
a good looking hood

 

 

During this time I had also conducted research on the unit markings that I found on the rear tray, after contacting the Australian War Memorial, Veterans groups in the USA and active units in the USA, I discovered that the unit markings stood for the 139th Army Airfield Communications Services, these units looked after the ground and air communications for the US forces in the north of Australia and had been stationed in the Northern Territory while Darwin was under attack. Later in the war, as the Japanese were pushed back, these units redeployed to small Pacific Islands and then moved on to Japan and became part of the occupation forces in Japan. These units still exist today; however, they are now controlled by the USA Air Force and operate the surveillance and communication aircraft over the battle fields.

 

wc-52 wc52 engine
Big Day Out
On a Day run in Melbourne

 

 

During 2006 I purchased all the canvas from the USA and continued to run the truck in at different events and displays. My family has taken the vehicle camping and on many trips around rural Victoria. I continue to get the truck out when I can and enjoy it with my family

 

 

 

Darrin W.