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Unknown military bus 1949-52 Okinawa


okidonn
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I put these photos in the military vehicle section because technically they were “military vehicles” in that they were used by the US Army Ryukyu Command (that is their patch on the door) for transportation of military personal. Problem is that they appear to be buses that were made in Japan, based on the location of the door. That would be the correct side for a bus used in Japan. On Okinawa the door would be on the wrong side. The photos were taken sometime between 1949 and 1954. I am trying to figure out who made the bus and what was the model? I believe the military ordered and imported the buses from Japan during the Korean War due to transportation needs for added military personnel during the war, and could not get buses from the states due to the requirements for shipping war supplies to Korea. I have a lot of photos from Okinawa during that time period and have never seen a bus like that, in fact all of the civilian buses on Okinawa at that time had the door on the other side and were never that small or had the dual wheels on the rear. Any help would be appreciated.

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That is un usual...looks like a DUCKW chassis. Very intresting photo. I'll bet none exsit today.

this could be the original short bus! LOL

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They look like the bodies were put on a military chassis. Based on the square notches in the wheels and height of the tires they look to me like they go with a WC-63.

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Agreed they are indeed WC-63 1 1/2 ton dodge trucks with locally made bodies (probably made in Japan) that is a great photo

Tom Bowers

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I think I'll agree to that. They are left hand drive so probably not locally made chassis anyway. I just wonder how they converted them to Cab Over Engine?

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I think I'll agree to that. They are left hand drive so probably not locally made chassis anyway. I just wonder how they converted them to Cab Over Engine?

 

It does look like a WC-63 base, but I also had a question on the Cab Over Engine, here is a closeup of the drivers area, looks like the seat, steering wheel and rearview mirror and it would all be over/next to the engine, with left hand drive, so I would guess it would require a lot of modification. The left hand drive and the left side door is a little confusing, The left drive side would be wrong for Japan but the left door is wrong for Okinawa.

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The original Dodge design had the driver pretty far forward. There was probably a modification to the steering and controls similar to a full size van. Just a guess. Since the markings on the busses are in English and the ryukyu command insignia is on them, they were probably driven by GIs for GIs on Okinawa so the left hand drive would be familiar to them.

Tom Bowers

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Okidonn,

 

I found this picture while looking through some of our collection at the NCO Museum. This was in a photo album that belonged to a WAC who served on Okinawa in 52-53..

 

Same type of bus as the one you showed. This has the front of the bus with US Army bumper info. Perhaps this can help you continue your research.

 

Leigh

 

 

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Okidonn,

 

I found this picture while looking through some of our collection at the NCO Museum. This was in a photo album that belonged to a WAC who served on Okinawa in 52-53..

 

Same type of bus as the one you showed. This has the front of the bus with US Army bumper info. Perhaps this can help you continue your research.

 

Leigh

 

 

 

Thanks for the help, but I do not think it is the same bus. Wheel wells are different, the bumper is different, the bus in your photo seems like it may be taller than my bus. Also the left side door on my photo has 3 small windows in it and it would be the second window on the opposite side of your bus photo which shows a regular window not the 3 small windows. Also the metal molding below the windows on your photo are different that the molding on my bus photo, also my bus has 2 sets of molding, one above the wheel well. Appreciate the effort but I don't think they are the same bus.

 

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My father served on Okinawa for two years, 1951-52 and was familiar with these buses. They were built on both Dodge WC-63 and GMC CCKW chassis. I have photos he took of the GMC based buses. They utilized bodies custom built in Japan and were operated by Ryukyus Cmd to get GI's around the Island. Although my dad served in a AAA Bn, he had an interest in mass transit vehicles and later went on to a career in that field after getting his engineering degree, so he paid attention to things like oddball Army buses.

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  • 2 years later...

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