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One truck missing from the Moscow Victory Day jamboree on May 9 was the American manufactured Studebaker US6 2.5-ton Utility Truck 1941 and other vehicles that poured from the maker’s production lines.



“The victory over Nazi Germany was achieved through the economic power of the United States who, for reasons that defy logic, made the ultimate sacrifice to keep in power a regime as brutal as their Nazi enemy.”  ~ Russia’s Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the USSR in World War II. Albert L. Weeks. Lexington Books, New York, 2004. 

In July 1943, the Red Army planned a major offensive against the Germans grouped at Kursk.  The major problem for Soviet General Georgy Zhukov in the upcoming operation would be supply lines. There would be difficulty in quickly moving infantry and field guns to advantageous positions along a changing front.

The answer to Zhukov’s problems was thousands of U.S. Studebakers to resupply Red Army troops and armament, move artillery and crews, and haul infantry.  It became clear that the role of the Studebaker US6 played a critical role for the advancing Red Armies. In appreciation, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin himself sent Studebaker an official letter of gratitude from the Russian people.

Marshal Georgy K. Zhukov, in memoirs published on Monday, says U.S. aid to the Soviet Union during World War II was crucial to the victory over Nazi Germany. Zhukov’s assessment was important since he was chief of the Soviet general staff and knew all the major details of Moscow’s military effort. 

Many military commanders agree that the 2.5-ton truck was the one important logistical innovation that really won World War II, more than any other single weapon of the conflict.


Essential to the rescue of Bolshevism and continuity of the Gulag slave labour camps was Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Plan. Inked on March 1941 the date was a full three months before the besieged Reich responded to the Red Army which in spring 1941 had amassed 4.6 million troops preparing to invade Europe through Germany.

‘We would have been in a difficult position without American gunpowder, we could not have produced the quantities of ammunition we needed,’ he said. ‘Without U.S Studebakers (trucks) we would have had nothing with which to pull our artillery. They largely provided our transport at the front…   producing steels, necessary for the most diverse needs of war, also involved certain US supplies.’ ~ Josef Stalin, Published in the Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1987.

Basically, the American President’s Lend-Lease Plan was a blank cheque handed to Stalin to defend, consolidate and to further expand the Soviet Union. International banks, based largely in Wall Street, and American corporations too, had invested heavily in the USSR. These investments included Stalin’s Five Year Plan and the slave labour camps. Massive infrastructure, canals, road, dams and suchlike were built; Stalin provided only the slave labour. Leon Trotsky described the slave labourers as ‘White Negroes’. In the event of a Reich victory, 25-years of investment would be liquidated.

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It would have been impossible for the Red Army to move the masses of troops and supplies on Russia’s primitive roads to the front lines without hundreds of thousands of American-made Studebaker trucks, which also served as the launching pads for the Soviet rocket artillery. The Red Army’s Studebaker US6 2.5-ton Utility Truck 1941 was a 2.5-ton military truck originating in the United States during World War II with production managed by Studebaker.

One month after the signing of Lend Lease, the U.S. government entered into a contract with the Studebaker automobile company to begin producing 2.5-ton class military trucks out of its factory in South Bend, Indiana. Studebaker was tasked with manufacturing 197,678 trucks virtually all of which were destined for the Soviet Red Army. The Studebaker US6 was manufactured from 1941 to 1945.


All 2.5-ton trucks produced in America had interchangeable parts which eased overall production and helped with repairs abroad. The requirement for moving men, weapons, and cargo by traditional means was so great that, in 1942, the Studebaker design was copied and built in Soviet factories to help beef up demand.

Hundreds of thousands of Studebaker trucks were moved by rail to American ports to be loaded onto transport ships destined for the warm-weather ports of Iran. 2,803 ships were required to transport the trucks. The trucks then travelled hundreds of miles over mountain passes and into valleys while crossing deserts before reaching the Soviet Union.

The trucks weighed 10,450 lbs (4,850 kg) though many were overloaded under the stresses of war and could weigh as much as 16,100 lbs (7300 kg). The vehicles could reach top road speeds of 45 miles per hour (70 kph) in the base 6 x 4 wheel configuration and the range was 240 miles with the single 40-U.S. gallon capacity fuel tank.

The US6 line eventually numbered some thirteen types and arrived in 6 x 4/ 6 x 6-wheeled forms, with short or long wheelbases and with or without a winch system. Most Studebaker trucks were built with a closed cab as the harsh weather in the USSR required it. The Red Army liked the Studebaker stocks as the Hercules engine could run on just about any type of gasoline.


Various improvised configurations were implemented. Welded on top of this folding frame were 15-foot steel rails to hold fourteen or more M-13 Katyusha high-explosive battlefield rockets. The M-13 rocket was 5 feet, 11 inches long and 5.2 inches in diameter weighing some 93 lbs. each.

This variant of the Studebaker US6 was the first mobile rocket projector used by the Soviet Army. The Germans, falling under the lethal reach of such a weapon, nicknamed these rocket launchers Stalin’s Organs for their distinctive howling sound when firing. Battlefield rockets proved a tremendous area-saturation weapon and psychological tool for the Soviets during World War II. The US6 was used in many roles from troop and munitions carriers to artillery mover and battlefield support weapon.



After the defeat of the Workers Reich American-made trucks and rail stock, plus rolling stock and vehicles plundered from defeated Germany, was perfect for supplying the Soviet Gulag with slaves. Deportation from all over the USSR was necessary because as many as 40% of Gulag prisoners died soon after being put to work. The average life span of a prisoner was said to be  just 4-months.


Jay 1 A

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  • Nikita Khrushchev also remarked to the effect that without the US supplied vehicles the Red Army would not have made it from Stalingrad (now Volgograd) to Berlin. We, in the West, helped to defeat the wrong enemy. Actually, National Socialist Germany could have been a friend to the Western democracies if these really were sincere about respecting the right of peoples to self-determination.

    Liked by 3 people

  • Another interesting and informative article Mike. As interesting is that this ‘minor detail’ has been glossed over by the court historians because I’ve never read it before. Perhaps their knighthoods would be at risk if they revealed the true facts of WW2. Sadly, the Western Democracies (a misnomer if ever there was one) were as sincere then as they are today ‘about respecting the right of peoples to self-determination.’

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