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World War II AIRBORNE Tractor

| November/December 1999

  • Tractor
    The tractor during restoration phase.
  • Clark Airborne tractor
    Bill Betts on his Clark Airborne tractor.

  • Tractor
  • Clark Airborne tractor

18230 SE 315th Street, Auburn, Washington 98092

My Clarkair Crawler Model CA-1 tractor was developed by the Clark Equipment Company for the Army during World War II. Its small size permitted airlift by glider or other large cargo aircraft to locations where it could be used to construct landing strips or other facilities. After Clark developed the prototype and manufactured 13 productions, the Cleveland Tractor Company built about 145 more. It is powered by a four-cylinder Waukesha gasoline engine and has a hydraulic bulldozer attachment for moving earth on the front and two big rippers on the back. They are very small with the tracks only three feet apart. My tractor's serial number is CA 143172, and it was made January 2, 1943.

An example of the use of these tractors was following the airborne landing of Allied Forces behind Japanese lines in Northern Burma. On the night of March 5, 1944, more than 30 gliders carrying men, pack animals, lighting equipment and tractors of this type landed at a jungle clearing designated as 'Broadway.' In 24 hours, airborne engineers had prepared a landing strip ready for use by more gliders and troop Carrier Command C-47's landing more men, animals and supplies.

After I found this tractor, I totally disassembled it and rebuilt the engine. I had new tool boxes made on the sides and made a new seat frame. I rebuilt the blade and blade yoke.

I have taken it to the Antique Farm Engine & Tractor Association's Show at Roy, Washington in July and it seemed to be well-received. One man attending the show said he drove one of these tractors during the War.


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