The Weasel began development in 1942, to meet a requirement by the First Special Services Force for transportation into Norway where the target was power plants supplying Germany with electricity. The vehicle specifications included:
Ability to move quickly and easily through the winter snows of Norway
Air transportable and able to be dropped by parachute
Cargo capacity to carry arms, explosives, and other supplies
An entirely new and innovative vehicle was needed, under wartime pressures to get it done yesterday. Studebaker Company accepted the challenge of a 180-day schedule to produce the vehicle. In less than 60 days, they had a prototype designated T15, which, after testing and improvements, was standardized as the M28 Cargo Carrier. While the mission to Norway was cancelled, the Weasel was a versatile vehicle that could be used for command, radio, ambulance, signal line laying, and light cargo. It operated effectively on difficult terrain such as snow, swamps, sand, deep mud, and lakes. It was used in Europe, the Pacific and Alaska during World War II, and by VJ Day, over 15,000 had been built. During the decades following WW II, the M29C was used in Arctic and Antarctic Operations, supporting explorers and scientists.
M-28 / M-29 Weasel Models
The Carrier, Cargo, M28 Weasel began as the T15 in prototype. It has two seats with its engine centered in the rear. Its tracks are lightly supported by only four pairs of road wheels. The top run of the track slants upward from the rear sprocket to the higher front drive sprocket. The electrical system is 6 volt.
The Carrier, Cargo, M29 Weasel began in development as the T24 prototype, to incorporate many valuable changes recommended from the field experience of the M28. The resulting design was standardized in November 1943. It had four seats and moved the engine to the front right. It has tracks with a mild slant downward to the front, robustly supported by eight sets of road wheels on an improved suspension. The electrical system is upgraded to 12-volts. During production, the track width was increased from 15 to 20 inches.
The final version of the Weasel was the Carrier, Cargo, M29C, (Amphibian) , a fully amphibious version that added watertight cells for buoyancy and twin rudders at the stern. Over 10,600 of the M29C were produced, although some were stripped of their floatation tanks and rudders once in the field.
M-28 or M-29 Weasel Amphibious Vehicle Photo Gallery
M-28 Cargo Carrier (Weasel) at winter training, Camp McCoy, WI, 1943. Cross-country skis mounted outside the top enclosure. The photo was taken by Capt. Edward Y. Pettit, who won a Silver Star in Normandy, while Company Commander of Company C, 2nd Combat Engineers Battalion, 2nd (Indianhead) Infantry Division, 14 June 1944. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit, son of Capt. Pettit.