M274 Mechanical Mule.
Two Mule M274-A2's
The first production four wheel drive Mechanical Mule, the M274-A1, had a magnesium (!) bed and axle housings with a four cylinder engine, four wheel drive and four wheel steering.
The later M274-A2 had a magnesium bed and axle housings,
four wheel drive, four wheel steering and a two cylinder engine.
The M274-A3 model was a limited run, similar to the M274-A2
but with cheaper parts.
The M274-A4, is equivalent to a M274-A1 with a two cylinder engine.
The current model, the M274-A5, with some still in government inventory,
has an aluminium bed and axle housings,
with four wheel drive and two wheel steering.
Later variants had optional extras such as electric starters, fording kits,
wide wheels and fender
Al is an independent location finder in California and the photograph at the top of the page was taken near Edward's Air Force base where he often takes pictures of Space Shuttle landings. The base is to the left, Death Valley to the right rear, and area 51 to the extreme right.
The Mule weighs only 860 pounds so a strong person can set it on its side, and that's how the army stores them. It can carry half a ton. A spare wheel is not standard - the manual says to put a flat on the front right corner, move all the weight off that corner and run on the three good tyres.
- Uncle Al Filipeli-->
This M274 (right) was photographed at the Packenham Military Vehicles Museum and shows the portal axles and lack of suspension, other than the low pressure balloon tyres. The steering column and steering wheel fold flat, both for transport purposes, and so that the Mule can be controlled by a soldier walking or crouching behind it if necessary.
Prototypes were produced between 1953 and 1956. Production started at Willys, later moving to Bayfield (1965), and Brunswick Corporation (1970).
- L. A11ison
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