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M871 Semitrailer, Tactical, Dual Purpose Breakbulk / Container Transporter, 22-1/2 Ton

M871 Semitrailer, Tactical, Dual Purpose  Breakbulk / Container Transporter, 22-1/2 Ton manufactured by Southwest Truck Body. Photo courtesy Government Liquication LLC
M871 Semitrailer, Tactical, Dual Purpose Breakbulk / Container Transporter, 22-1/2 Ton manufactured by Southwest Truck Body. Photo courtesy Government Liquication LLC.

The M871, 22 1/2-ton breakbulk/container transporter semitrailer is designed to carry either conventional or ANSI/ISO containerized cargo, on highways or off road. It is towed by the M915-series line haul tractor or tractor trucks from tactical truck series.

The M871 semitrailer is designed to be towed over smooth, hard-surfaced roads with loads up to 22 1/2-tons (20,250 kg) at speeds as high as 55 mph (88 km/h). It can also be towed over unimproved roads, trails and open rolling terrain with the same loads but at a lower sustained speed of up to 10 mph (16 km/h). The M871 semitrailer is equipped with air brakes. The M-871 uses a two-axle, 8-wheel suspension and carries a spare wheel with tire horizontally in a rack under the cargo bed.

The M-871 has a 30ft cargo bed set up to lock on to 20 foot standard ANSI/ISO containers. The lockdown points will attach NATO-standard compliant containers, pallets, and shelter bodies. Three TRICON containers can be carried in the space of one 20ft ISO container.

Two retractable supports at the front of the trailer are used when it is not attached to a tractor. Two storage lockers are available beneath the cargo bed, used primarily for the storage of minor tools and the materials necessary to lash down cargo. The trailers may be fitted with side and rear boards for the transport of loose cargo (a headboard is standard on these trailers and non-removable.) The side panels added may be fixed or hinged, and the rear panel may be fixed or used as a tailgate.

The M871-series trailers entered service starting in 1979.

Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the M871 Semitrailer, Dual Purpose at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup.

Prime Movers for the M871-series Semitrailers

The prime movers used to tow the M871 Semitrailers include the M818 Truck, Tractor, 5 Ton 6x6, M915 Truck, Tractor, Line Haul 50,000 GVWR 6X4, M-931/M932 Truck, Tractor, 5-ton, 6x6, and M1088/M1088A1 FMTV 5 ton Tractor.

The operator manuals for the M871 Semitrailer include this CAUTION:

Do not tow the semitrailer with the M52, M52A1, or M52A2 truck tractor. The M52 five ton truck tractor’s inherent design capabilities are not compatible with the semitrailer, and if used would result in a serious compromise to the safety of personnel and equipment.

When towing the semitrailer with M818, M931 series, or M932 series the fifth wheel wedges must be in the locked-in (pushed in) mode for highway and secondary road use, and in the locked-out (pulled out) mode for cross country operation.

When transporting the 8-1/2 foot commercial container, the towing vehicle fifth wheel height must not exceed 50.4 inches (1.28 meters) to comply with the 157.48 inches (4meters) overall height limit for USAREUR. The M915 fifth wheel height meets this requirement.

M871 Semitrailer Variant Models

M871A3 Semitrailer, Tactical, Dual Purpose Breakbulk / Container Transporter, 22 1/2-ton. The A3 variant has the drop deck configuration to reduce load height
M871A3 Semitrailer, Tactical, Dual Purpose Breakbulk / Container Transporter, 22 1/2-ton. The A3 variant has the drop deck configuration to reduce load height.

Models of the M871 Semitrailer include:

Variant NSN Technical Manual
M871 2330-00-122-6779 TM 9-2330-358-14&P December 1987
M871A1 2330-01-226-0701 TM 9-2330-358-14&P December 1987
M871A2 2330-01-294-3367 TM 9-2330-386-14&P 28 September 1990
M871A3 2330-01-458-6865 TM 9-2330-326-14&P 20 May 2003
M871A4 ??? ???

There are no major differences between the M871 and the M871A1 semitrailers. Based on Interchangeability Studies, the only parts that are not interchangeable are the landing legs. The M871A3 Semitrailer is visually distinct since it has a drop deck configuration with two levels to reduce load height. The US inventory of these trailers was upgraded with US Army units directed to divest the A0 and A1 model M871s to meet the Army's requirements by FY13.

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