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World War II AIRBORNE Tractor

Author Photo
By Staff

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The tractor during restoration phase.
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Bill Betts on his 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.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines