Mack first partners with the military by delivering its first model AC prototype to the Federal Government for testing at an army camp in Plattsburg, New York on August of 1915. The model AC was officially announced in 1916.
Early in 1916, Mack turned out several armored cars for use by the New York State National Guard at their Plattsburg, New York encampment. Two standard 2-ton AB chassis were used, which were rebuilt with the control mechanism relocated in a lower position so that the guns inside the vehicle could be fired over the drivers head. Armor plating was fitted on other prototypes, with all the work being experimental in nature.
In the spring of 1917 the British government ordered 150 of the 5-1/2-ton AC chassis for a quick delivery to their military forces. An article regarding this purchase from a period trade magazine, gives the following information a bout a very famous nickname: “In appearance these Macks, with their pugnacious front and resolute lines, suggest the tenacious quality of the British Bull Dog. In fact, these trucks have been dubbed “Bull Dog Macks” by the British engineers in charge.” (7) The Mack “Bull Dog” was soon to prove that its performance did not belie its looks, and thousands more were ordered for military service in the Allied cause in World War 1.
It is believed that over 4,000 Mack AC model trucks were ordered for the American armed forces, during 1917 and 1918, with the most of these being the 3-1/2-ton models used for general cargo service. However, there was also a large group of 5-1/2 and 7-1/2-ton AC “Bull Dog” models which were used by the Army Corps of Engineers serving with the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) in France. The big Bull Dogs carried forward all kinds of heavy equipment for Engineers, such as bridge timbers, pontoons, portable power plants, and construction machinery. The AC’s earned a solid reputation for their hauling and pulling capabilities, among the doughboys in the A.E.F., which helped to immortalize the name “Mack Bull Dog”. In fact, the army declared the Mack AC to be their only standard truck in capacities of 5 tons or over; a unique acknowledgement of their superiority.
A number of other unique products were developed by Mack during the late World War 1 period, most of which were for military service. A special Bull Dog model with an electric generator, mounted at the front of the truck, just ahead of the engine, and equipped with a double radiator, was developed for aircraft searchlight service. There was also a patented gun carriage for anti-aircraft use.
In late 1939, the U.S. Army ordered 535 Mack military trucks for troop transport and towing heavy equipment. These vehicles were developed from civilian truck models with various modifications for military service, including sound locators for the Army’s anti-aircraft defenses. Prime movers and dump trucks were also included in this order.
After the involvement of Great Britain and France with Germany in active warfare starting in the fall of 1939, the production of military equipment went into high gear. The Mack EXBX, a modified version of the civilian BX six wheeler, was developed for a French contract in 1939, but the bulk of these tank transporters went to the British campaign against Rommel’s Afrika Korps in North Africa. From this model was developed the NR-4 tank transporter, which was also supplied to the British army, starting in 1940.
Toward the end of 1940 the U.S. Army ordered 700 NJU tractors, which were based on the civilian CH and CJ models.
Many NR-4 tank transporters and LMSW heavy breakdown (wrecker) trucks were supplied to the British and their Commonwealth forces, under Lend-Lease, during 1941 and 1942. Also, the British received hundreds of commercial type trucks and trailers, for general supply and troop transport service.
Huge model NO Mack prime movers were used extensively in Italy to pull the 155-mm Long Tom field guns from position to position. The 7-1/2-ton, NO model had six wheel drive, and Mack was the major builder of this type of vehicle for the U.S. Army and for Allied forces. Many Mack NR series general cargo trucks built during 1944 were used as part of the Red Ball Express to supply the fast moving front line after the invasion at Normandy, often carrying prisoners and wounded soldiers on the return trips from the front line.
Mack-built transmissions were used in many of the medium tanks built after 1941, and supplied to United Nations forces. Great numbers of medium tanks took part in the North African campaign and Normandy invasion, which actions helped to turn the tide of the war and bring it to a victorious conclusion. A total of 4,600 powertrains were produced by Mack during the war for the M-3 and M-4 medium tanks.
In December of 1942, the Mack bus plant in Allentown, Pennsylvania was requisitioned by the Navy for use building torpedo bombers. It was estimated that over six months in starting production of the bombers could be saved by using the Mack plant. Other services to the Navy included the development of a 400HP, 12-cylinder, supercharged diesel, and the delivery of numerous Mariner Diesel engines for use in the Navy’s smaller landing craft.
The War Department, on November 21, 1942, presented the Army-Navy “E” Award for excellence to Mack Trucks, Inc. This award was a recognition of high achievement in the production of war materials, with Mack delivering as much as 50% of contracts ahead of schedule. Mack also received the National Security Award, which was given out by the Office of Civilian Defense to only those plants which had achieved outstanding success in programs for the protection of employees, plants, and production or service operations against fire, explosion, air raid, accident, and other emergencies. Before World War II was over, Mack had produced over 4,500 four wheel trucks, and almost 26,000 six wheel trucks for the military forces of the United States and Allied Nations.
A large government order for 5-ton military trucks in 1951-52 and again in 1955 of a 6 x 6 cargo carrier design, brought Mack back into the military business once again. Over 1,600 units were assembled in 1955 alone. In collaboration with the Army a new 6 x 6, 10 ton prime mover was also developed, the M125, which provided decades of service to the armed forces. Production continued up until 1969.
Sales by Mack to the United Stated Government became significant again in 1962 with the sale of 2,564 M-54 diesel engines, to be used in the initial phase of an army program to standardize five ton military trucks with diesel instead of gasoline power.
The Mack Model RM6866RS heavy truck was produced for the Australian Army in several variants including cargo, dump truck, tanker, tractor and wrecker. Prototypes of this military truck were built in 1978. An order was placed in 1981 for a total of 906 vehicles. Deliveries to the Australian Army commenced in 1982 and all of these were delivered by 1986. In 1988, a further 19 trucks were delivered, bringing the total to 925. In the mid-1990s the whole fleet was upgraded for continued use, a testament to the longevity and durability of Mack products.
In 2006, Mack transforms its Granite model into an armored military line haul tractor prototype, offering maximum protection for the increasingly dangerous environment that logistical vehicles encounter. With a 520 horsepower military optimized engine and full cab armor, the Granite M915 is truly the next generation in military line-haul. While the M915 recompete program never comes to fruition, it launches Mack’s reentry into the defense market.
Mack partners with Force Protection on the Buffalo, a thickly armored mine disposal truck that finds and disarms deadly IEDs used in the Iraqi and Afghanistan campaigns. While Mack did not supply the body or armor, it is definitely a Mack at heart- with the engine, drive axles, AWD transfer case, ECUs and dash/instrument components of Mack design and supply. Mack continues to support the Buffalo A1 through spare parts and training today.
A variety of vehicles were supplied to the Iraq Security Forces starting in 2008 to help aid in the rebuilding of the country. Hundreds of Vision Elite model tractors with matching trailers as well as Granite Elite model wreckers, tractors, troop carriers, and water/fuel tankers have been supplied around the world since that time.
In 2012, Mack Defense, LLC is created, aligning the North American defense division of the company with other Volvo Group defense organizations globally. Together Mack Defense, Renault Trucks Defense, Acmat Defense, and Volvo Defense form the Volvo Group Governmental Sales entity. With this global cooperation, the product lines and operations amongst divisions can be shared in efforts to continually improve customer satisfaction and support.
Since World War I, our nation’s soldiers have relied on Mack trucks to provide the transportation and construction infrastructure that is critical to meeting the demands necessary to preserve our freedom.
Mack is proud of its history and support of the military. From the green fields of Europe to the sands of the Middle East, Mack has played a vital role in our military’s successful history. Mack’s famous “Bulldog” nickname was started during WWI by the British Tommys who, when facing daunting terrain, would yell, “Send in the Mack Bulldogs.” Mack continues to answer the call today with reliable trucks that deliver superb performance in even the most severe environments and over the toughest terrain.
Highlighted below are examples of how Mack Military trucks have aided U.S. troops throughout history: