WATCH: M29 Weasel Designed Specifically for World War II Special Operations

October 26, 2020Matt Fratus
M-29 Weasel coffee or die

Soldiers in Jeep and M29 at Aberdeen 1944. Photo courtesy of arsof-history.org

In the snowy mountains of Montana, a new crack-shot special operations unit was training extensively in anticipation for conducting commando raids in Norway. The joint force of 1,800 Canadian and American soldiers belonged to the First Special Service Force (FSSF) commonly known as The Devil’s Brigade. 

On May 1, 1942, a new snow vehicle was conceptualized to be developed for the FSSF in support of their operations in Norway during World War II.

“Machines already developed were investigated to ascertain the extent to which they met the specification,” the narrator of an OSS briefing film says. “The aerosled had good speed on the level, but lacked power to climb well. The Louisiana swamp buggy was too big for the glider and handled badly on ice or crust. The jeep on 17-by-20 tires was limited in climbing. A half-track with front-ski steering performed well on level snowlands, but could not traverse hard ground, rock, and other obstacles. The Archimedean screw climbed well, but dug into deep snow when towing; it had difficulty crossing rocky ground and lacked stability.”

In short, there was no current vehicle on the market that met the specifications until Studebaker was tasked with manufacturing the M29 Weasel

There were very few limitations for the highly versatile 3,800-pound tracked vehicle. The M29 Weasel could accelerate to reach 25 mph on flat ground. It could move through fluffy snow and drive over uneven surfaces, including small bushes, railroad tracks, and ice. In rugged terrain, the cruising range was 225 miles, and it was so quiet it wasn’t detectable until 500 yards. It carried a crew of two commandos but could tow a 1,200-pound payload or a team of soldiers wearing skis behind it.

The M29 Weasel was also amphibious and could float and swim through water. It was essentially the Batmobile on tracks. Since the FSSF did not ultimately deploy to Norway, and instead went to Italy, the M29 Weasel saw usage across Europe and later in the Arctic until 1958. 

Matt Fratus
Matt Fratus

Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
navy seal training
Navy SEALS Training Plagued by Massive Problems, According To Investigation

Medical oversight and care were “poorly organized, poorly integrated and poorly led and put candidat...

memorial day arlington
Memorial Day Is a Day of Remembrance, Not Celebration

Memorial Day was created as a remembrance to honor the fallen by decorating graves — a holiday meant...

air force joint chiefs
Air Force Fighter Pilot Tapped As Next Joint Chiefs Chairman Has History of Firsts

The Air Force fighter pilot about to be nominated as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ...

sowf special operations warrior foundation
BRCC Donates $500K to Special Operations Warrior Foundation

In an effort to continue Black Rifle Coffee Company’s mission of supporting the veteran community, B...

Coca Cola 600
BRCC to Honor Fallen Marine During NASCAR’s Legendary Coca-Cola 600

Black Rifle Coffee Company will honor Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa during NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 this Memorial Day. Menusa was killed in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq.

uss gerald r. ford oslo
US Aircraft Carrier Arrives In NATO Member Norway, To Take Part In Drills

The nuclear-powered ship USS Gerald R. Ford entered the Oslo fjord escorted by a rapid dinghy-type boat with armed personnel on board.

adam driver indy 500
Marine Vet, Actor Adam Driver Named Honorary Starter for Indianapolis 500

Two-time Academy Award nominee Adam Driver, who will soon be starring as Enzo Ferrari in a biopic of...

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved