What Am I for Thursday 3/16/2017

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By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 4 Years Ago
Here is a real workhorse. Photo from Jerry Park.

By Brocky - 4 Years Ago
Coleman airport tug.. 
By Davwingman - 4 Years Ago
By Jack Amaral - 4 Years Ago
By Skip - 4 Years Ago
Looks like a "push me-pull you".
By Old Man MacKenzie - 4 Years Ago
Federal Model F-55-AF
By Daryl Gushee - 4 Years Ago
By clyde318 - 4 Years Ago
With Mr. MacKenzie. Federal that don't know if it's coming or going.
By Michael Yarnall - 4 Years Ago
I'll guess Coleman again but I will probably be wrong again.
By aw12345 - 4 Years Ago
Federal F-55-AF tug  was a license built version of the Coleman CF-55-AF.
By chtrout - 4 Years Ago
"Federal" F-55-AF from the 22 Aug 1952 contract....

By wc62 - 4 Years Ago
This aircraft tow tractor was built by : Coleman as CF-55 and Federal as F-55.
One on this Federal tow tractor is surviving in the Tucson (Az) Pima musuem.
By eymurphey - 4 Years Ago
I'm going with the Coleman folks on this one --- subtle difference between the Federal -- could be wrong.

By eymurphey - 4 Years Ago
I'm going with the Coleman folks on this one --- subtle difference between the Federal -- could be wrong.

By Jeff Lakaszcyck - 4 Years Ago
Everyone said Coleman or Federal, but if you said Coleman I'm afraid you were wrong. This is a circa 1952 Federal F-55-AF, Federal's version of the Colman CF-55-AF. The were virtually identical except the Federal did not use the Coleman axles and most noticeably, the hubs. Don MacKenzie had the correct answer first. Thanks to Jerry Park for our WAI photo, and Souday for the two middle photos. The short article is from Fred Crismon's U.S. Military Wheeled Vehicles.



By John Frances - 4 Years Ago
By chtrout - 4 Years Ago
Federal F-55-AF in US Army Service – One "Very Rare Bird" Indeed!

The very first thing that stuck me about this truly great photo of a 1952 "Federal F-55AF" was that it is in airfield service for the US Army! I had always understood that all (5) contracts (1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1954) went exclusively to the US Air Force.

•    All were American Coleman CF-55-AF contracts, except the 1952 contract which "Federal" was able to snag as the "F-55-AF," and all were delivered in "ground-support" yellow, with the exception of the 1954 Coleman CF-55-AF contract which was delivered in olive drab.

As a young child frequently visiting the Coleman plant to see Dad at work, I do not recall ever seeing one lettered for anything other than "USAF." The only other vehicles I ever saw lettered for any of the other military services were several olive-drab SnowBlast rotary snow plows lettered for the US Army, and several yellow G-55s or EH-62s lettered for the US Navy. The USAF may have also received some SnowBlast units, but I do not personally remember them. On a side-note, International Harvester did some assembly-line installations of Coleman Front Drive Axles on their "Loadstar" series, and they were delivered to both the US Navy and USAF in dark blue. 

•    Does anyone have any more information on any CF-55-AF or F-55-AF units being delivered "directly" to the US Army or US allies? Perhaps the pictured unit was a USAF "tug" that had been "re-programmed" to the US Army? It is almost counter-intuitive that the US Army would even need any "heavy-pull" aircraft towing tractors, since the Army did not even have any truly large fixed wing aircraft, let alone heavy bombers like the B-36 "Peacemaker," for which the CF-55-AF had been specifically designed. Perhaps the Army just snagged it because it became "available."

On a related matter, the whole history of the "Federal F-55-AF" is steeped in legends, mythology, and misinformation, and I have never been able to quite figure out where all that even came from.

•    One often-repeated version is that Coleman was shut down by a strike and Federal stepped in and finished the existing contract on a "license" basis.

•    Based on my extensive original research, this "legend" simply is not true. Contemporary newspaper accounts of the time (most notably the Littleton Independent) often commented on a weekly bases regarding the various Coleman contracts, since Coleman was by far the largest employer in town at that time. They very specifically commented on Coleman finishing its 18 Aug 1951 contact (495 units) in mid-August 1952, and then the related contract for "parts" continued on though December of 1952. Yes there was a strike, but it occurred on 27 Feb 1953, long after Federal Motor Trucks had won their August 1952 contract for the F-55-AFs. Or that is to say, Coleman was already "tooled up," and fully "staffed up" to work the 1952 contract, had they successfully won the bid.

•    As for why Federal was able to snag the 22 Aug 1952 contract, I have my own alternate theory. Harleigh Holmes, Jr. (son of the founder and primary inventor) left Coleman in early 1952 and went to work for Federal Motor Trucks as a consulting engineer.   He would have taken with him a wealth of "insider information" on how to compete for and win the August 1952 contract with a very competitive bid.

•    As for why the CF-55-AF and F-55-AF units visually looked almost "identical" (with the exception of the hubs), the USAF already being highly satisfied with the past three Coleman contracts, I would think that the USAF issued "specs" accordingly when they called for bids for the August 1952 contract, and Federal could easily match just about everything but the axles, just substituting Marmon-Herrington axles for similar performance, and then just simply came in with a lower bid.

•    As for any "license" arrangement, after several years of very detailed research, I have never found an "original source" that makes any mention of this. Regardless, it is not even "likely or necessary," since the only proprietary assemblies on a Coleman CF-55-AF were the axles/hubs and transfer cases -- everything else was from "open market" sources, and from a wide variety of vendors. Unlike many of their other specialized products, Coleman had never "patented" the CF-55-AF, and so there was actually nothing to "license," especially since Federal was substituting MH axles and hubs.

>>> Does anyone know of any "original sources" that report on this supposed "licensing" arrangement?  

•    By "original," I mean contemporary reports or articles actually from 1952, not "re-tellings of the legend" in later books and such, without supporting footnotes. 

•    The one truly "odd" thing I did find was that contemporary editions of Automotive Industries and Aviation Week both did report that Federal Motor Trucks had won the August 1952 contract for "834 ea. Coleman Tow Tractors."  Intriguing...   Why would the word "Coleman" even be included? Perhaps because the truly iconic double-cab Coleman CF-55-AF was already so well known to their readers?

>>> I am extremely interested in any more details on the 1952 Federal F-55-AF contract that anyone might be willing to share.

Keep Calm and Coleman On!
By chtrout - 4 Years Ago
Photo caption correction...

I know I am getting "picky" here, it's "just how researchers roll," but the fourth photo (black & white" that Jeff posted has several errors in the printed caption. That is actually the "third" (not "second") version of the Coleman CF-55-AF from the 18 Apr 1951 contract, not "1952" as stated. The late Fred W. Chrismon always did an truly amazing job of covering a very wide range of vehicles, but oftentimes his captions (on Coleman vehicles at least) were just slightly "off" in specific details. The noted photo was from US Military Wheeled Vehicles (Victory WW2 Publishing, Minneapolis, 1983, 1984, 2001), pg. 293.