Restoring the past

Apr 9, 2010

Kettering alum and Air Force veteran Keith Nattrass '83 has restored a rare U.S. WWII scout vehicle.

Keith Nattrass ’83, who is a former United States Air Force member and works in the GM Vehicle Policy/Office of Export Compliance, restored a true American classic—a U.S. WWII scout vehicle! He writes that this rare 1942 White Scout Car was used during the war to support various activities.

White Motor Company, based in Cleveland, Ohio, designed the vehicle in 1937. The first versions featured full-time four-wheel drive, four-speed manual constant-mesh transmission with one reverse gear and manual steering. The first order of 64 supplied the 7th Cavalry Brigade but eventually the Army adopted an improved version. This new version offered a longer and wider hull and could carry up to seven infantry. It also offered the support of three machine guns: a .50 caliber and two .30 caliber weapons. The vehicle was also powered by an inline 6-cylinder, 110 horse power engine, which produced a maximum speed of 55 mph. Production for this new version began in 1940 and continues until 1944, with more than 20,000 units produced during that period.

The White Scout Car first saw action in the Philippines from 1941-1942. Cavalry units of the U.S. Army in the North African Campaign used the vehicle extensively for scouting and screening. However, by 1943 the issues with the vehicle design began to make soldiers nervous—since the vehicle featured an open top and poor off-road performance, as well as a lack of proper armament, it was eventually replaced with other better armored vehicles.