The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

Diamond T980/981 - M19 / M20 - 6x4 tank transporter - case report

      This is the M19/M20 Diamond T 980/981 tank transporter, one of the great engineering vehicles used by allies throughout WWII.

M19 Diamond tank transporter
carrying a Churchill Mk IV tank
Rhine, Germany - 1945.
      The M19 Tank Transporter (US supply catalog designation G159) was a heavy tank transporter system used in World War II and into the 1950s. It consisted of a 12ton 6x4 M20 Diamond T Model 980 truck and companion 12 wheel M9 trailer.
M20 6x4 Diamond T980 heavy truck
M9 12 wheel trailer

      Over 5.000 were produced, and employed by Allied armies throughout all theaters of war. It was superseded in the U.S. military by the M25 Tank Transporter during the war, but usefully redeployed in other tasks.
    It was superseded by the Thornycroft Antar in British service by the early 1950, though a few remained operational in units through 1971.
      Designed as a heavy prime mover for tank transporting, the hard-cab Diamond T 980 was the product of the Diamond T Company in Chicago. In 1940 the British Purchasing Commission, looking to equip the British Army with a vehicle capable of transporting larger and heavier tanks, approached a number of American truck manufacturers to assess their models. The Diamond T Company had a long history of building rugged, military vehicles for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps and had recently produced a prototype heavy vehicle for the US Army which, with a few slight modifications met British requirements and an initial order for 200 was very quickly filled.
British Diamond T980 6x4  tank transporter
carrying a Churchill Mk II infantry tank
     The result was the Diamond T 980, a 12-ton hard-cab 6x4 truck. Powered by a Hercules DFXE diesel engine developing 201 hp and geared very low, it could pull a trailer of up to 52.000 kg and proved capable of the task of moving the heaviest tanks then in service. The late version with the winch being able to go through the front bumper so as to be able to recover itself and trailer. This version is easily recognizable by the rectangular opening in the left portion of the front bumper.
British Diamond T980 6x4  tank transporter
carrying a Bishop 25pdr. SPG
Italy, 1943.
Specifications (M20 truck)
      The M20 used a Hercules DFXE, a 14.700 cc displacement naturally aspirated inline 6-cylinder diesel engine developing 185 hp at 1,600 rpm and 902 Nm of torque at 1200 rpm. Designed for a British requirement, this was one of the few diesel engines used in US tactical trucks.

      A two plate dry disk diaphragm spring clutch drove Fuller four-speed main and three-speed auxiliary transmissions. The main transmission had a “low” first gear and three road gears, 4th being direct. The auxiliary had low, direct, and overdrive gears. The low gear allowed several very low gears for extreme off-road use. The direct and overdrive allowed the three road gears to be split, making 6 road gears.

      Spicer driveshafts drove two Timken double-reduction rear axles with an 11.66:1 final drive ratio.
      The M20 truck had a riveted ladder frame with three beam axles, the front on leaf springs, the rear tandem on leaf springs with locating arms. The wheelbase was 455cm, measured from the centerline of the front axle to the centerline of rear bogie.
      A pintle hitch of 52.000 kg capacity was mounted on the rear frame crossmember; another pintle hitch was mounted on the front crossmember for positioning the trailer.
    All models had Budd split rim disc wheels with 12.20×20-20” tires. Dual rear mud and snow tires were used.
      Air powered drum brakes were used on all axles; the trailer brakes could be operated independently of the service brakes. A single disk transmission brake parking brake was also provided. This used four brake pads with a cable clasp mechanism onto a 41 cm, mounted behind the auxiliary transmission.
      A Gar Wood winch of 18.000kg capacity, with 91 m of cable, was mounted behind the cab.
     In the Model 980 it was intended mainly for hauling damaged tanks aboard the trailers. The Model 981, introduced in 1942, had a winch with 150m of cable, which could be used from both the front and rear. This allowed tank recovery, in addition to loading.
      Early trucks used a standard Diamond T commercial cab, also used by the 4-ton G509 trucks.
      In August 1943 it was replaced with an open military cab. A long butterfly hood had vertical louvres along both sides.
      A short ballast body was mounted behind the winch. There were closed tool compartments along both sides, two open containers in the front, and a bottom-hinged tailgate. The spare tire was mounted in the front. The box could hold 8.200kg of ballast to increase traction on the rear tandem axles.
Specifications (M9 trailer)
      The M9 had tandem rear axles and a single front axle on a rotating dolly. Ramps hinged down at the rear end of the trailer. Cable rollers and sheaves let the winch from the M20 truck pull tanks onto the trailer, chocks and chains were used to secure the load.

      The front axle suspension system was trailing beam assemblies on coil springs, with a dual tire wheel on each side of the beam. With an assembly on each side there were 4 wheels on the axle line.
      The rear tandem beam assembly was a center pivot type, with axles on both ends of the beam. A dual tire wheel was on both ends of both axles, with a beam on each side there were also 4 wheels per axle line. Twenty-four 8.25x15” tires on demountable rims were used, two on each wheel.
Operational use:
      Production began in 1941. The first batch was received in Britain in 1942 and very quickly demonstrated their rugged reliability in the British campaign in North Africa.
A british Diamond T980 carrying an Aussie
Valentine - North Africa, 1942.
      Battle-damaged tanks needed to be quickly recovered, often under hostile fire, and returned to workshops for repair. The Diamond T, with its powerful engine and winch, could accomplish this, even in the harshest desert conditions.
Diamond T980 tank transporter in action
Grant under transport - North Africa, 1942.
       Almost 5.871 were eventually built by 1945 and were used by virtually every Allied army in every theatre of World War II.
Diamond T980 tank transporter with
Buffaloes - Rhine Crossing, Germany - 1945.
Diamond T980 tank transporter with
Churchill Mk IV - France - 1944.

American M19 open cab  towing a King Tiger in his trailer
Who cares with overloading ??
     The British Army took delivery of around 1.000 during the war years and many continued in service afterwards, being replaced in the early 1950s with the Thornycroft Antar ("Mighty Antar"), although a few remained in tank transporter units up to 1971.
      Many of those sold off by the Army after the war were snapped up by heavy haulage and recovery specialists, notably Pickfords and Wynns.
A brave Diamond T 980 in civil use (Pickfords)
England, 2009.
      And many still were a familiar sight on Britain's roads, pulling heavy lowloaders and fairground trailers or parked on garage forecourts, in readiness for a heavy rescue operation equipped as wreckers (breakdown recovery trucks).
Diamond T980 wrecker in civil use
      Today, many of the 70-year-old Diamond Ts can still be found in private ownership in Britain and frequently appear at historic vehicle shows.
Diamond T981 soft cabin

Diamond T981 M19 hard cabin tank transporter carrying an APC.
The old and the modern togheter...

M19 soft cabin tank transporter carrying a M4A1E8 Sherman
     The combination unit  referred as M19 tank transporter, consisting of the M20 tractor and M9 24-wheel trailer. In the nomenclature system used by the U.S Army Ordnance Corps Supply Catalog this vehicle is referred as the G159. It was superseded by the M26. After the introduction of the M26, the U.S. relegated M20s to ammunition hauling, for which they proved "tremendous".
Diamond T981 M19 tank transporter rescuing
a broken M4A1 Sherman.
Notice the modified canvas in the ballast body
 and the Kraut helmet in the radiator's grill.
Germany, 1945.
      British designation for the tractor unit was Diamond T Tractor 6x4 for 40 ton Trailer with "Model 980" or "Model 981" added to distinguish the two.
Two Diamonds T tractors 6x4 pulling a Tortoise...
three big, very big girls...
    The British-built trailers were known as "40 ton Trailer British Mk. I (Crane)" "40 ton Trailer British Mk.II (Dyson)" being manufactured by Cranes of Dereham and R. A. Dyson and Company of Liverpool.


M19 Tank Transporter
Type45 ton 6x4 Tank recovery truck-trailer
Place of origin   United States
Produced                                  1940 - 1945

Production history
DesignerKnuckey Truck Company
Diamond T (M20 truck)
Fruehauf, Winter-Weis, Rodgers (M9 trailer)
Number built                                       6,554 (M20 truck)
Specifications (M20 truck)
12,090 kg empty
20,000 kg loaded
Length7.11 m
Width2.59 m
Height2.57 m

Hercules DFXE Diesel 14.700cc - 185 hp (138 kW)
Transmission4 speed × 3 speed auxiliary
SuspensionBeam axles on leaf springs
482.8 km
Speed37 km/h
Specifications (M9 trailer)
9,990 kg (empty)
50,810 kg (loaded)
Length   9.04 m (incl. drawbar)
2.90 m
1.45 m
Trailing beams (front)
center pivot beams (rear)

The kit:
      I'll build the Merit (#63501) U.S. M19 tank transporter with hard top cabin. See the kit in my workbench...Kojak is very pleased!!!

      Well, started this girl in this Sunday...by the booklet: Engine first!  Man, the engine is a true kit inside the truck kit: very well detailed and injected. My first thought was to build the engine bonnet without the sides, as a way to better cool the engine and expose the detailing of the kit. But when searching for the Diamond T980 bonnet, I noted that the vertical sides were not collapsible or foldable. 
Notice the "wings" of the engine bonnet...
Articulate this will give a big work ...
Diamond T 980 tractor.
      I hate thinking about detailing the engine and leaving it "hidden" inside the hood. And, at the same time, I hate thinking about keeping parts fit ... I already lost a piece (and a kit ....) because of that ... Well. I'll have to think about articulating the two  bonnet's "wings". But this is for the future ... Let's see the building of the engine:
The left side of the engine...
Notice the little holes for the wiring...

Coope r wire in position...

Piping on left side ...

These pieces will be painted in different colors ...

Engine detailed: left side

Engine detailed: right side
      The radiator is simply awesome!!! 
Wonderful parts in position...
Congrats, Merit!!!

Engine and chassis in sub-assembles...

And a size comparison between two Diamonds:
Diamond T Model 968A in background and
Diamond T 980 in foreground...
      Well, it's time to paint the Diesel engine... a true jewel!!!
Hercules DFXE Diesel 14.700cc - 185 hp
right side

Hercules DFXE Diesel 14.700cc - 185 hp
left side
      The chassis in green with engine in place... 

Indeed, the Diamond T980 is bigger than T968

Photo etched, organic of the kit; very good!!

Fuel tanks and other details...
      Let's build the winch, now ...
I did not use the thread provided in the kit ...

I love my waxed thread...(bought in bijoux stores)
      The kit features a strange thing: an excellent dashboard and decals for the instruments. But thanks to the height of the instrument's border, it is impossible to apply the decal, because even with the softer, it would be impossible for the decal to conform to the existing heights in the dashboard... The solution is to paint...
The dashboard painted..
Notice the height of the instrument's borders ...
Decal no way!!
       Painting the interior of the cabin...
As the interior of the cabin ...
      Preparing the chassis and engine for non-tarnish when painting details on the chassis. Masking with aluminium foil and paper-tape. 

Metal masking...
       Building the ballast/cargo area

      And putting everything together ...

The engine...perfect!!
Two gems togheter!!!

The M9 trailer and wheels...

Front trailer's troley

Whells bogies

Dry-run of the Big Girl...

Big Girl, indeed!!
      Well, it's time to paint the truck and choose the markings... I opted to make my M19 with the British colors and markings when in use in the African desert. There is a decal sheet that I found on eBay, from Star Decals. It's ideal for what I want ...
      While the decal sheet does not arrive in my house (and it's been 45 days since I bought it, damn Brazilian Mail !!), let's research about the markings ... I loved the detail of diferent color of this truck...
Notice the darker door of this M19...
Maybe a new door canibalized from another
green truck...
      That was enough to unleash my desires ... Time to make a profile about the future markings of the project: Diamond T981 M19 tank transporter - GHQ Middle East Forces - 8th Army; Royal Army Service Corps (RASC); 372nd Tank Transporter Company, Africa, 1942.

      Painting: white primer ( I hate the little fashion of the black primer ...I've never seen a black paint screen ...):
      Light stone or light desert yellow:
Color base

Lights and shadows...

The M9 trailer
My painting recipe for the M19...
I use various brands and colors ...
       And my interpretation of the green door:

      After an exercise of patience, the decal sheet landed from Canada!!! Just in the next day after I bought the same decal sheet with a coleague, here in Brazil... Well... let's finish this gem:
The excelent decal from Star decals...Ufff...
        Diamond T981 M19 tank transporter - GHQ Middle East Forces - 8th Army; Royal Army Service Corps (RASC); 372nd Tank Transporter Company, Africa, 1942.

The detail of the different door...
Maybe battle damage....

The M9 trailer

Starting the weathering...

The desert cammo very worn...

Sub-assembles under chipping and weathering...

The trailer bed...

And the M19 in tests...

The diamond T981 with tires...

The M9 trailer and one of his potential "customers" ...

Testing...testing.. one..two..three...

      You have seen above that this truck (or rather, tractor) does not have a body of cargo but a body of ballast. I went hunting for what the British could use as ballast: gravel, barrels, fuel drums, etc. and I had an idea: How about using pig iron (Ferro gusa, in Portuguese)  in drums ??? 
Pig iron in mounts ...
       It is an extremely heavy material and can be reproduced in scale with carbon for aquarium filters. BINGO !!! First of all, provide some empty old drums ...To save coal, we will fill the drums with toilet paper:
Old empty drums being filled with toilette paper...

      Applying pigmented glue in black to disguise ... mixture of PVA glue and black pigment...

The paper "painted" with PVA black glue...

On top of the glue layer, apply the charcoal fragments ...


The carbon after dry-brush in silver: pig iron in drums...
Notice the ropes in the drums side...
Wooden boxes and a large toolbox complete the details ...

And the drums in the ballast body...
The idea is the drums being placed in position by winches ...
      I noticed in some photos that the Diamonds' crew had tied a drum (oil or water?) on the side of the chassis winch... See below:
Drum tied in the side of winch (green arrow)
Notice the wooden planks beneath the drum (red arrows)
      Below, another example... It seems that the crew did not bother to apply wood between the drum and the tractor tank. That should make a hell of a noise ...
Drum and tractor...
      As Kojak is an excellent soldier, of course he will put wooden planks between the drum and the tractor. This prevents wear among metals is excessive ...
Wooden planks made with balsa wood... Good!!

Testing the "wooden bed"
       My option was water drum ... In the desert, the most precious stuff... I choose a liquid pump (Tamiya #35186) as water pump:
The water pump...

Preparing the mooring of the drum ...
...and in position: Notice the water pump...
Fresh water in the desert...
       And the ballast area with more stuff ...

The water drum. Notice the water pump
and two water canteen (red arrows)

Testing the M9 trailer with a possible "customer"...
AEC Mk I armoured car

      Well, time to take care of the windshield... I wanted to do something different from the dust marks of the windshield wiper ... 
Hmmm..Another option, please...

     There are the painted versions ...
Windshield painted...hmmmm

      But my option was "canvas mask", like super-hero Diamond!! As seen on the decals sheet of Star Decals (#35-963):
Canvas mask in the Diamond's windshield.
     I'll use paper tape for this:
Paper tape after surgery...

Khaki painting...

Using PVA glue to glue the mask in position...

Done... notice the brass 1mm rivets (RB Models) in position...
       Ufff... After that, let's improve the M9 trailer;
Starting the weathering
       Based in this drawing:

      I scratch some details using materials of my amazing spare parts box...
Trailer dolly in close with details added...

The dolly...

Rear view: the chains are bijoux stuff after being burned in a lamp.
The overheating burns the brilliant finishes of the bijouxs,
giving it this real look.

AEC AC in position...

Oil stains...

Ballast body in full capacity...

The water drum in close...

A little detail, just like "FURY" stuff...

The engine hood closed...
right side


The engine hood closed...
left side


Almost ready...

The steel cable from chassi wrinch: the cable path...

...and the final handle of the steel cable next to the winch.
      Finally, the Diamond T980 tank transporter was ready!  Diamond T980 tank transporter - GHQ Middle East Forces - 8th Army; Royal Army Service Corps (RASC); 372nd Tank Transporter Company. Western Desert - Africa, 1942.
Diamond T981 tractor (M20) - GHQ Middle East Forces
8th Army; Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)
372nd Tank Transporter Company.
Western Desert - Africa, 1942. 

Diamond T981 tractor with Kojak
and Rover, the dog.

Diamond T968A cargo truck and Diamond T981 tractor
in size comparison

Diamond T968A cargo truck and Diamond T981 tractor
in size comparison

M9 trailer tank transporter

M9 trailer tank transporter dolly

Diamond T981 tank transporter (M19)
with AEC Mk I armoured car
 GHQ Middle East Forces
8th Army; Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)
372nd Tank Transporter Company.
Western Desert - Africa, 1942. 

Diamond T981 with Scammell Pioneer SV2S
in size comparison

Diamond T981 tank transporter (M19)
with AEC Mk I armoured car
 GHQ Middle East Forces 
8th Army; Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)
372nd Tank Transporter Company.
Western Desert - Africa, 1942. 

See you soon, Boys and Girls!