TO HELL FIRE CORNER

Dan Sankey of the Four Corners Modelling Club discusses the process of creating his World War One-themed diorama, using an ICM 1/35 scale Model T Ambulance

When the United States entered World War One, the Ford Motor Company collaborated with the US Surgeon General’s Office and with drivers who had served on the front lines in France to design a Model T-based ambulance suitable for battlefield conditions. It had been manufactured to be lightweight in design, which made it able to traverse the boggy mud and shell-torn roads in combat areas. Ford built approximately 5745 of these ambulances for the Allied armies during the war and another 107 for the Red Cross. The vehicles were transported to France by sea for the American Ambulance Field Service and were the most common ambulance used by the Allies.

The Model T design was simple: the front and rear axles were solid and set on a single transverse leaf spring. The engine was a 2.9 litre, four-cylinder sidevalve with 20 to 22 brake horsepower. As there was no starter motor, the engine had to be cranked by hand. Its success also came from its ease of use, which meant it was suitable for many roles such as staff car, light truck, patrol car, liaison vehicle and even rail tractor. The ambulance could carry three casualties in the rear, with an additional space for another in the front cab. Canvas pockets covered the stretcher handles, which stuck out of the rear beyond the tailgate. Many American Field Service and Red Cross volunteer drivers drove the Model T ambulances, including writer Ernest Hemingway and the future animator Walt Disney.

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