Military vehicles go on the auction block

AUBURN, Ind. — Battle-hardened historic military vehicles and war memorabilia went on the auction block here Dec. 8 as the National Military History Center continued the fight to pay off the National Military History Museum mortgage.

Some 80 half- and full-track vehicles, command cars, landing craft, tractors and motorcycles, all camouflaged, soiled and wearing their national insignia, were available to bidders from around the globe.

According to RM Auctions America, total sales were $2,976,605 (hammer prices) for the one-day event. There were 182 lots, ranging from full-size heavy vehicles to caps, water bottles, a backpack and numerous skirmish-seasoned wool trench coats.

A World War II Daimler-Benz DB10 12-ton Prime Mover, described as one of the “scarcest” of all German military vehicles, sold for $200,000. A 1940-41 Hanomag armored 3/4-track brought $160,000 and a 1940 Horch 4X4 Cross-Country Personnel Car sold for $150,000.

RM Auctions spokeswoman Amy Christie said a standing-room-only crowd was on hand for the Dec. 8 sale. Phone and internet bidding helped drive up prices.

“The sale attracted strong global interest with hundreds of collectors and enthusiasts descending on the National Military History Center in Auburn from across the US. . .with strong interest from Germany, France and Russia in particular,” Christie said.

Robert Thomas, a veteran who works for the Dean V. Kruse Foundation and who served as a guide and host for the event, said the non-profit National Military History Center plans to expand the scope of the museum to include conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.

“We want to rebuild and include dioramas,” Thomas said. “First we must get rid of our debt.”

Thomas explained that many of the vehicles on display in December will remain on-site and were not for sale.

Among those vehicles was a staff car — a 1942 Packard Clipper Model 2001 with 282-inch, 125-horsepower eight engine.  The massive five-ton Studebaker US6 4X6 Cargo and a 1944 Studebaker T24 “weasel” with delicate wooden skis on top for use in northern Europe were others continuing in the museum collection.

Information on the 1942 Mercedes-Benz L3000s Box-Van Truck indicated German troops preferred the Opel Blitz three-ton series because they were more reliable. The “box-van” body was used for everything from laundry, workshop and radio van to command caravan and ambulance. The van body combined wood and pressed cardboard “as an economy measure.”

Detailed histories of most vehicles gave rundowns on manufacturers, engines and transmissions, weights and measurements and intended purposes. How the 12-ton Daimler-Benz Prime Mover gets out to its intended destination is not clear.