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M274 Mechanical Mule

Motorized platform

M274

The M274 motorized platform was used by airborne and infantry units

 
 
Entered service 1956
Configuration 4x4
Cab seating 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight (empty) 395 kg
Payload capacity 455 kg
Length 3 m
Width 1.18 m
Height 0.7 m
Mobility
Engine Willys petrol
Engine power ~ 13 hp
Maximum road speed 40 km/h
Range 145 - 240 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 65%
Side slope 45%
Vertical step ~ 0.3 m
Trench ~ 0.3 m
Fording 0.46 m

 

   The M274 was developed in the 1950s by Willys. Originally it was designed as a battlefield medical evacuation vehicle. It was intended to operate in the areas, that were not accessible to the jeeps. Later it evolved into a multi-role carrier, intended for airborne and infantry battalions. The Willys design entered service with the US armed forces in 1956 as the M274 and supplemented the 1/4 ton (250 kg capacity) jeep and 3/4 ton (750 kg capacity) trucks. At that time militaries of other countries also developed small battlefield support vehicles, that could deliver troops and cargo to the frontline. In the late 1950s Haflinger was developed in Austria and LuAZ-967 in the Soviet Union.

   The M274 was also known as the "Truck, Platform, Utility, 1/2 ton, 4x4" and "Carrier, Light, Weapons, Infantry, 1/2 ton, 4x4". This vehicles was nicknamed as the Mule, Military Mule and Mechanical Mule. Initially these vehicles were produced by Willys. Later variants were consequently produced by Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Baifield Industries and Brunswick Corporation. Production ceased in 1970. A total of 11 240 Mechanical Mules were produced. The M274 was widely used during Vietnam War.

   By the 1980s Mechanical Mules were phased out of service. These were replaced by HMMWVs. However the HMMWV is a much larger vehicle. The need for a small and versatile vehicle was not fully met. In the 2000s the John Deere M-Gator was adopted as a modern version of the Mechanical Mule.

   The M274 Mechanical Mule has a payload capacity of 455 kg off-road. It was used for many tasks including transport of troops and cargo. It was used to evacuate injured soldiers from the battlefield. It was also used as a weapon carrier. The Mechanical Mule was fitted with recoilless rifle and TOW anti-tank missile carrier. It was often used to carry 7.62-mm and 12.7-mm machine guns.

   The M274 and its versions all have the same size platform, made of magnesium alloy. The driver's seat and foot basket can be detached and stored under the vehicle. The steering column could be set in multiple positions, so the driver can operate the vehicle from any position, including crouching.

   Initial production model was powered by a Willys air-cooled petrol engine. Engine is mounted at the rear. Vehicle has a transmission with 3 forward and 1 reverse gears. Vehicle has a full-time all-wheel drive. The Mule has no suspension aside from the low-pressure tyres and seat cushions. Maximum road speed is 40 km/h. The M274 could keep up with the foot soldiers off-road. It can go up steep slopes, climb over logs and cross shallow water. The vehicle will move even if at least one wheel has traction with the ground. This vehicle has steering on all four wheels.

   The M274 could be airlifted by helicopters, both internally and externally or airdropped from aircraft with a parachute.

 

Variants

 

   M274 initial production model, produced by Willys;

   M274A1 produced by Willys;

   M274A2 it is powered by a Continental-Hercules air cooled petrol engine, developing 13 hp;

   M274A3 powered by a Continental-Hercules engine;

   M274A4 powered by a Continental-Hercules engine;

   M274A5. It had steering on 2 wheels instead of four. Also the cargo platform was made of aluminum rather than magnesium alloy.

 

Video of the M274 Mechanical Mule motorized platform

 
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M274

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