About the CUCV
The Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle (CUCV, pronounced cuck-vee) program was instituted to provide the United States military with a family of less expensive vehicles to augment the purpose-built, but high cost, trucks such as the M-561 Gama Goat, M-37, and later the HMMWV. The first attempt to use an off-the-shelf commercial vehicle (with a small number of military upgrades or changes) to augment military tactical trucks was the Kaiser Jeep M-715. The M715 was followed by Dodge M880/M890-series and finally Chevrolet M1008/M1009/M10xx trucks, all rated at 1 1/4 ton capacity (five-quarter). While these were rugged trucks by civilian standards, and successful in some military roles, they were ultimately judged to be ineffective.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 members (Seabees) in an M-1008 Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle (CUCV), Operation Desert Storm, Feb 1991.
Guide to the CUCV Family of Light Trucks
The CUCV trucks are commercial vehicles suitable for use on all types of roads and for limited off-road operations. They are not military-specific designs but rather are commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) trucks with minor military modifications.
Initial hopes for the CUCV were that it would be able to fully substitute for military tactical trucks in many roles. Tactical vehicles, designed for full military requirements, did not have to be used for garrison-duty tasks where a lighter, less expensive commercial truck would do. This made sense, but it proved difficult to segregate roles and maintain the right mix of vehicles in each military organization. In actual field use, the CUCV was assigned to missions and asked to perform where tactical trucks should have been used. But units did not have enough tactical trucks since CUCVs had been procured as a substitute. Results were poor. Particularly in the Gulf War, where harsh desert conditions and primitive infrastructure put all military equipment to a severe test, the CUCV was highly disappointing. As a result, the CUCV trucks were phased out sooner than expected, unable to survive the hardships that the purpose-built military vehicles could endure. The Chevrolet CUCV lingered into the late 2000s but was eventually replaced by variants of the HMMWV in most military units.
The M715 was not called a CUCV, and originally neither was the Dodge M880/M890 series. The name Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle (CUCV) originated with the Chevrolet M10xx series vehicles and was retroactivly applied as well to the similar Dodge trucks.
Details of the Dodge and Chevrolet CUCV Trucks
There are two sub-families of CUCV:
Specifications and photos for each of these CUCV series of trucks are presented in detail on the linked pages. The Kaiser Jeep M-715, procured starting in 1967, is described on its own linked page.
Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the Chevrolet and Dodge CUCV trucks at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup.
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