Among the huge number of different trucks used by the American army throughout the modern era (since World War II), only some can rightfully be called legendary, as it is difficult to distinguish the part they played in terms of the widespread use of the vehicles in everyday military life. One such truck was the M37 developed by the Dodge company in 1950, which incorporated all the best features of its WWII predecessors.
The M37, along with the previous models in the WC series, had a 6-cylinder engine of 230 cubic inches (3.8 liters), and a four-speed non synchronized gearbox. However, its chassis was lengthened, and the driver's cabin was separated from the body. The truck also received a new two-speed transmission. The design was successful and in 1951 around 11,000 units of this type were built, and in the next three years more than 50,000 units.
The emergence of the new machine was timely – in the middle of 1950 the Korean War began, in which the U.S. was directly involved before three years were out.
The need for emergency medical vehicles has always been quite significant, but at the beginning of the 1950s, the US Army still used the very outdated WC54 ambulances, which dated back to the Second World War. With the advent of the M37 and the apparent success of its design, the emergence of a new ambulance on this well-established chassis was just a matter of time. In 1951, a pre-production sample was manufactured and immediately after testing series production was initiated, which lasted until the middle of 1954.
The vehicle had a similar front part to the M37, however, a new design was created in the form of a medical support compartment of relatively high dimensions, directly behind the driver's cabin. Inside there were four litter racks for the transport of wounded soldiers, and primary care systems for life support. The rear doors opened fully to the side, and a folding step was provided to improve the movement of casualties. An additional headlight was installed on the roof of the structure to enhance the lighting of the surrounding area.
The new model, known as the M43, was widely used both during the Korean War and during the Vietnam conflict. Thanks to the M43, many soldiers were routinely transported from airfields, where they were brought by helicopters, directly to military field hospitals, far from the front line.
After the end of the Vietnam War, the M43, as well as the M37, were largely withdrawn from front line service and sold on to private owners, and these days they feature in numerous vintage motor shows in the United States and other countries.