Unit Identification

From VC-1 to WC64-KD.
BrianT
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Location: Perth, Western Australia

Unit Identification

Post by BrianT »

Hi, Gents, its been ages since I posted on this site - health issues.
I have a friend who has sourced a WC51 in pieces here in Australia and is looking for help in identifying the US unit it served with
The Front Bumper has the following stencils
LHS *(small star) - P O -
RHS RTU 65
My understanding that is likely a USAAF unit - with the star as the first indicator. Don't know what the PO is. RTU, I assume, is a Replacement Training Unit and 65 could be either the unit number or a combination of that and the Order of March vehicle number. The 5th Army Air Force was based in Australia for the duration, so it is likely one of their units or a stateside unit vehicle which has been subsequently shipped to Aus. Have exhausted my research options.
Any help would be appreciated.

Cheers
Brian


1945 Dodge WC51 Lohner Radio Van
Lang
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Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Unit Identification

Post by Lang »

Brian

I just went through Army Regulations No 850-5 Marking of Clothing, Equipment, Vehicles and Property

They list a couple of hundred vehicle examples but the only thing to get out of it for you is the small initial star indicates Army Air Force as you say., and the last number is the vehicle number in the unit.

The only standardisation is:

First Group = Formation eg 1 is I Division or 1A is First Army or GHQ is General Headquarters or in your case a star for Air Force.
Second Group = Sub-unit such as Regiment, Brigade, Battalion. If it belongs to the main HQ it will have an X. 62E is 62nd Engineer Battalion.
Third Group = Company sized designation such as HW for Heavy Weapons, HQ for Headquarters or just A for company A.
Fourth Group = Vehicle number in order of march such as 7 for the 7th vehicle.

There is a huge range of variations such as rear units having the unit designation in the group where this is specifically banned for operational units.

So if we have:

*-X-S-10

Star ( for Army Air Force), X for Headquarters, S for Signals Company, 10 for the 10th vehicle


As for the rest, after reading this - good luck! Once in an operational area the whole show is off and the paint brushes are out.

f) Restrictions

(1) The system of tactical markings prescribed will in no way represent the numerical designation or distinctive insignia of any unit.

(2) In a combat zone, the system of tactical markings will be changed whenever conditions require.

(3) In a theater of operations, no written record will be made or published of the system of tactical markings.

Lang
Lang
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Re: Unit Identification

Post by Lang »

Brian

Have been looking further. I can find many references and histories of Replacement Training Units which were the same as Operational Training Units ie the last stage aircrew went through with a course on operating the particular aircraft they were to fly before joining their squadrons.

I can find no reference to any RTU in Australia. The 5th Air Force would have cross-trained aircrew onto a different or new types (normally done with a senior pilot or instructor in operational squadrons) but they received fully trained pilots and crew from the RTU's in USA.

Who knows where your markings came from. One possibility that crossed my mind was somebody got a bumper from say Vintage Power Wagons with the thought of restoration in the past?

Lang
BrianT
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Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:34 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Unit Identification

Post by BrianT »

Thanks Lang, that's exactly what I came up with. As you said I couldn't find any reference to an RTU out of the States. May forever remain a mystery!!
The closest I could get to an Unit/RTU possible combination was Pope Field in N Carolina (PO?) which housed an RTU.Thanks again for your investigation.
Cheers,
Brian


1945 Dodge WC51 Lohner Radio Van
BrianT
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Sergeant
Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:34 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Unit Identification

Post by BrianT »

Just confirmed that the USAAF Base Code for Pope Field, Sth ( not Nth) Carolina was PO - so maybe that is the answer. How that bumper/ vehicle got to Aus - who knows!
Cheers,
Brian


1945 Dodge WC51 Lohner Radio Van
Lang
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Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:26 am
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Unit Identification

Post by Lang »

Good detective work.

Lang