SANTOS M4 High Speed Tractor

The Museum’s latest arrival are 2 M4 High Speed Tractors.  These have been kindly donated by Santos and for many years have been on display at the Moomba airport.  The vehicles were used to tow water trailers from Coopers Creek to the newly developed oil well in the Simpson Desert.   The search for oil was unsuccessful but they did find large quantities of natural gas and the Moomba operation is one of the world’s larger gas fields.  The tractors were abandoned in the desert until one of the Moomba fire officers saw them and had them brought into Moomba along with the first drill rig used on the field, which had also been abandoned in the desert.

Jeff Pinney (the museum’s Public Relations Officer), through the efforts of Tony his brother-in-law had arranged the donation and transport of these tractors to our site.  After being abandoned in the desert for a long time and they have suffered at the hands of scavengers and the elements. The Santos M4 High Speed tractor is a full tracked vehicle designed as a prime mover for towing heavy artillery.   They were only in production during WW2.   One of the five guns towed was the 155gun carriage, one of which is on display at the entrance to the Port Wakefield Proof range.

The vehicle uses the same tracks idlers road wheels and front and rear sprockets as the M3 and M4 tanks of WW2.  The suspension was unique to the M4.  They were developed in response to a desire by the artillery to move guns by tracked vehicles which could traverse difficult terrain when emplacing artillery.   The tractor was powered by a six cylinder Waukesha petrol engine of 817 cubic inches.  Power was transmitted via dry clutch to a torque convertor to 3 speed transmission and final drive.   This is a very rare vehicle in Australia and parts are going to be very difficult to obtain.   For those interested there are some great Utube images of operating M4’sand one under construction.

The M4 18-ton High Speed Tractor was designed as a prime mover for towing large field artillery guns such as the 90mm Anti-Aircraft gun, the 155mm Long Tom, the 8in. Howitzer, or other heavy weapons (See the Towed Artillery Chart). In addition to moving the gun, the M-4 High Speed Tractor carried ammunition in cargo space racks. Ten men plus the driver could be carried. The M-4 HST was manufactured by Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co. of Milwaukee, WI starting in 1942 and was in U.S. military service until approximately 1960.

The M-4 High Speed Tractor was equipped with air and electric brakes that would match any types of brakes on the towed load.

An anti-aircraft .50 cal. machine gun on a ring mount was accessed through a hatch above the crew compartment.

Specifications of the M-4 High Speed Tractor

Crew Driver
Weight 31,500 lbs.
Height 7 ft, 10 in.
Width 8 ft, 1 in.
Length 17 ft, 2 in.
Engine Waukesha 145GZ 6 cyl. gasoline
Horsepower 210hp
Road Speed 35 mph
Range 180 mi.

Australia day awards 2020 Salisbury Council

Mayor Gillian Aldridge presenting Australia Day award to Bill and Eileen Prior Museum members

Australia day awards – Salisbury 2020

On Australia Day at Salisbury 2020 two members of the museum were presented with Australia day Medallion.

Bill and Eileen Prior who give countless hours of their time to the museum by providing catering for various events such as: ANZAC day BBQ’s, Christmas Pageants, Veteran organisations support work and both Bill and Eileen provide catering at the museum open days, club meetings and major event catering.

Bill and Eileen are also very active outside the museum by providing volunteer work at school canteens.

The museum was invited to display some of their members vehicles on the day at the new Salisbury Hub.

The museum hosts open days, tours by appointment, the museum hosts weddings and birthday parties, AGM’s and car shows.

For further details please contact the museum’s Public Relations Officer, Jeff Pinney Ph 0401 454 515 or send an email:

BAE Systems Australia Donation to the museum – February 2020

David Barrill (Ex BAE) handing over Betsy to Ray Hall (museum workshop manager)

BAE Systems Australia, donation to the National Military Vehicle Museum. Vehicle handed over from David Berrill (ex BAE) to Ray Hall (Museum workshop Manager)

Details of the vehicle is as follows:

The Shorland S600 internal security vehicle (Betsy) was developed in the late 1990s by British Aerospace Australia based at Wingfield in South Australia. This particular vehicle was the initial production vehicle for the fleet of S600 vehicles designed and manufactured for the Kuwait National Guard and was competed in early September 1997.

This vehicle was used for driver and maintainer training and numerous marketing and demonstration activities in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and Australia. She is affectionately known as “Betsy” and was donated to the National Military Vehicle Museum by BAE Systems Australia on 18 December 2019.

For further information on tours, wedding and birthday functions please phone Public Relations Officer Jeff Pinney 0401 454 515