Fruehauf CPT – 30 SPEC. ; 45-ton Semi trailer M15AI – lot 0102

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Auction Expired

  • No Reserve
  • Margin
  • Buyer’s premium 16.5 % of the hammer price
  • Location: Heythuysen, The Netherlands
  • Estimated Price: €45,000 – €60,000
  • Brochure: Lot 0102 T&T Trailer M15A1 Rev 2.0

M15A1 Fruehauf 45-TON SEMI TRAILER

The most impressive tank transporter from WW-II used also in the post-war period until the Vietnam War!

However relatively many M26 Pacific Trucks survived (as well in armored and non-armored version) this is absolutely not the case for the M15 trailer.
Only a small quantity is still there. Therefore, as well the M15 and M15A1 / A2 Semi trailer is almost never offered in the market.

This example was discovered in Greece by Ivo Jr. and Sr. of BAIV BV in The Netherlands in May 2021. It was an ex-Greece Army unit released in the late sixties. It therefore remained in a very nice and complete condition, still almost 100% original, and untouched, and never abused during civil applications. The Greek climate has also ensured that there was hardly any rust!

However, all the rubber and wooden parts were far gone and need to be replaced.
It turned out not to be easy to find the correct specific tires for this combination. However, after some time the BAIV team discovered these tires successfully (Michelin 14.00 x R 24 XVC; off road wheel crane load which are capable of use for heavy transport).

During the restoration process the unit was professionally fully shot blasted (Corund) and painted in a 3-layer Carboline 2-K paint system by a professional, approved, and certified conservation company which also works for the defense industry in the color WW-II.
The application of the painting system is therefore fully in compliance with the modern Military standards (on the next page some pictures of the trailer after shot blasting SA 2 ½). After painting the unit was finished in BAIV’s workshop including the installation of a nice replica 1,5-ton hoist column crane as re-manufactured according to the original design by Nick Vannitzen. This hoisting unit can be installed on several positions on as well the trailer as thetruck tractor to handle and lift the wheels which are relatively heavy!!! (900 lbs.; 410 kg. each).

Also, replacement of all timber and lights was done and finally the fabrication and replacement of new data plates.

Some small work still needs to be completed. This is mostly related to the completion of the lighting and wiring, brake system and some accessories.

This Fruehauf CPT – 30 SPEC. ; 45-ton Semi trailer M15AI is general in good condition. It is very complete and was never abused or used in a civil application.
Moreover, it is very original and will be a wonderful addition for the serious WW-II collector, or for instance with a Mack M 123 or 125 or any other period correct Tractor Truck for the post-war collector to become an impressive recovery unit.

The semi-trailer will be delivered in as is condition as indicated in the description. Restoration is not fully finished. Some minor work is required to complete the unit (wiring, brake system and identification). Unit will be delivered with Dutch road registration documents. Only a very few examples survived worldwide which makes this a very collectable unit and therefore, by our opinion, a particularly sound investment.

Note: 2 extra wheels as indicated on the pictures are not included in this lot.


In 1941, intelligence reports from the battles in North Africa revealed the need for a tank recovery/transporter unit to recover light and medium tanks and other combat vehicles from the battlefield and to transport them to Ordnance shops for repair. In October 1941, the U.S. Army issued the request for a wheeled tractor truck with semitrailer, capable of loading both damaged and running tanks, of full load operation at 35 mph over improved roads and of negotiating a 60 % slope in low gear. The tractor truck should be provided with an armored cab for crew protection and the necessary equipment to recover disabled tanks.

The Fruehauf Trailer Co. proposed a 6×6 tractor truck coupled to a semitrailer with the desired load capacity, and in January 1942, the development of such a combination, designated Heavy Wrecker T3 and consisting of the Tractor Truck T 13 and the Trailer T28, was recommended and the procurement of two pilot vehicles from Fruehauf was approved. Manufacture of the tractor trucks was subcontracted by Fruehauf to the Dart Motor Co. of Kansas City (See picture below).

Inspection of the first T 13 pilot revealed a seriously overloaded front axle, and the second pilot was fitted with an unarmored open cab and a canvas top. Evaluation of the second T13 pilot with its T28 Trailer (now redesignated Tank Recovery Unit T3) took place in April 1942. The performance of the Dart T 13 was unsatisfactorily, main deficiencies being poor mobility, a weak engine, and an overstressed power train!

At the same time the Knuckey Truck Co. of San Francisco, California proposed a new concept with a different power train layout, featuring a center jack shaft and a chain-driven rear bogie. Procurement of a pilot vehicle, designated Tractor Truck T25, was approved in June 1942, and the T25 pilot was delivered in September 1942. The production capacity at the Knuckey Truck Co. was judged inadequate by the Army and the contract was transferred to the Pacific Car & Foundry Co. of Renton, Washington in December 1942.
Both the T25 Tractor Truck pilot and the T28 Trailer pilot (the combination being designated as 40-ton Tank Recovery Truck-Trailer T21) were tested at Renton in April 1943.

The vehicles were approved as Tractor Truck M26 and Semitrailer M15, components of the 40-ton Tank Transporter Truck-Trailer M25, in June 1943, with production already underway since May. The M26, which was christened TR-I by Pacific Car & Foundry, was powered by a huge Hall-Scott 440 6-cylinder gasoline engine. Hall-Scott of Berkeley, California was a famous manufacturer of marine engines and had been purchased by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1925.

The delays in fielding the M25 forced the U.S. Army in 1942 to accept (temporary) the M19 Tank Transporter, consisting of the Diamond T M20 Tractor and the Rogers 45-ton Trailer M9, originally built for the British and Canadian Armies, as an interim solution.
Though the M19 was employed by the U.S. Army in far larger numbers, it was not designed for off-road recovery work and therefore mainly used for hauling tanks and general supplies over improved roads.

The design of the M25 proved to be very good. The only major production change to the tractor truck was the introduction of an unarmored cab with canvas top in 1944. The armored cab of the M26 was a mixed blessing, providing armor protection to the crew only while traveling but not during recovery operations, due to limiting visibility and overstressing the front axle!
The unarmored version was standardized as Tractor Truck M26A1 in October 1944, and the M26 was reclassified as Limited Standard. Therefore, the US forces donated most Armored versions to other countries in the post war period and keep the unarmored version for themselves.
At the same time, the practice of assigning a nomenclature to the combination of tractor truck and semitrailer was discontinued. Though the designation as M25 Tank Transporter is generally applied to all conceivable combinations of the M26 and M26A1 Tractor Trucks with the M15 and M15Al Semitrailers, the U.S. Army officially relates the use of the M25 designation only to the M26/M15 combination.

The nickname “Dragon Wagon” for the M25 is generally believed to be of U.S. Army origin, which seems plausible, though it was not generally used in Army publications or official photo captions. Some traces can be found as in an advertisement for Goodrich tires of March 1944 where it reads: “Meet the dragon wagon” and “DRAGON WAGON is what the soldiers call this tank recovery unit”.

The M15A1 and post war M15A2

The development of the T26 Heavy Tank series (Pershing) lead to a modification of the M15 Semitrailer in late 1944. The chassis and load bed were reinforced, and hinged ramps were permanently installed to protect the wheels (See picture on the right).
The M15El pilot was extensively tested in Winter 1944/45 and was standardized after some alterations as 45-ton Semitrailer M15A1 in early 1945.
Postwar development was limited to an increased load capacity of the semitrailer in the mid-1950s.
The modifications comprised of further heavy reinforcements of frame and load bed to accommodate the M48 series tanks, and most likely also of a conversion to 24-volt.

The modified semitrailers were standardized as 50-ton Semitrailer M15A2 and were kept in service in combination with the Mack M123 and M125 Tractor Trucks into the 1970s.


Model Fruehauf CPT – 30 SPEC. ; 45-ton Semi-trailer M15AI
Manufacturer Fruehauf Trailer Company, Detroit Michigan USA
Makers ID W15690
Production figures

M15 and M15A1:           1943: 376

                                          1944: 649

                                          1945: 379

                                Total No.: 1.404

Basic Weight (unloaded) 42,675 lbs. 19.374 kg.
Payload 90,000 lbs. 40.860 kg.
Length (overall)

Ramps stowed:          461 1/16 in.         1. 171   cm.

Ramps lowered:         530 in.             1. 346 cm.

Length of low bed                                     329 in.                836 cm.

Over bed (M15A1):       126 in.                 320 cm.

Over wheels normal:  150 in.                 381  cm.

Reduced:  124 in.                 315  cm.

Height                                     105 in.                 267 cm.
Date of Delivery 28/10/45
Ordnance Serial No. 1037
Brakes Air operated Bendix Westinghouse
Tires 14.00 x 24 20 ply (replaced)
Road registration Yes; LKJ-76-T (The Netherlands)



Rex Cadman

Former organizer of the War and Peace Show, Curator of the War and Peace Collection a.o..

Universally known as the “Dragon Wagon”, the complete combination is without doubt an impressive and desirable vehicle, turning heads at events and commemorations.

Comprising of a tractor unit with trailer, the Dragon Wagon is a very large vehicle and as such is for the serious collector. The trailer is much more rare than the tractor unit as sadly a great many of these trailers were cut up for scrap throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. As such the value is reflective of its rarity, especially in this condition.

This Fruehauf CPT – 30 SPEC. ; 45-ton Semi-trailer M15AI is very nicely restored and an excellent example of this rare trailer.


Experts estimated value:             between Euro 45.000 and 60.000,- (May 2022)

Location: & Collection

Current location of this object is Heythuysen, The Netherlands.
Local collection is available for this lot. Depending on the destination the Buyer shall obtain an International Import Certificate / End User Certificate. Some of the items listed in the auction may require special licenses or permits.
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.

No item will be allowed to be collected without 100% of all legal requirements being fulfilled.


Margin / VAT

This object is offered by Tracks & Trade pursuant to consignment sale on behalf of a private individual. Therefore, the margin scheme will be applicable, so no sales tax (VAT) over the hammer price will be applicable. For more info see General Conditions of Sale Article 9. 


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Parts, accessories, and militaria

The batches of spare parts and various accessories are sold as is, stored in the best conditions and without any guarantee of functioning.



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Parts, accessories, and militaria

The collection of the lots, subject to payment, starting Monday July 11th 2022 by appointment only.



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General Conditions of Sale Version 2.0 dated 29-04-2022 are applicable

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