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Projects 1950 Chevy United States Air Force "FOLLOW ME" truck build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Hardly Davidson, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. I tried placing the whole build on this site but it was too large (over 170 photos). I'm attaching a link to the complete collage of photos as well as historical data.

    Air Force Truck 100_3586.JPG

    1950 Chevrolet 3100 series pickup initially used as a United States Air Force “Command Air Readiness” vehicle. Later on it was placed into service as a “FOLLOW ME” rig. After that it became a yard dog. A true Cold War survivor with documented historical provenance, this truck saw extensive duty on the flight line at Wichita Air Force base in Wichita, Kansas from 1950 thru the early 1960’s. The base was renamed McConnell A.F.B. in 1954. Vehicle would have been up close and personal with such nuclear-laden bombers as the propeller driven B-29 and B-36, jet propelled B-47, ending its hallowed career with the introduction of the mighty B-52.

    The pickup at one time had a large “FOLLOW ME” sign bolted to bed. Embossed military issue aluminum data-plates still reside on dash and inside glove box. All Air Force signage on doors, hood, front fenders, and rear sheet metal are original to vehicle. Stenciled lettering was located and then replicated after lightly sanding away years of primer and rust. The 15 MPH / 35 MPH lettering on dash which includes tower call sign CAR 1 (Command Air Readiness 1) retains original paint. Vintage Federal Model 66 long-roll siren was located after extensive search. Red light is authentic 1950’s Federal BR-2 6-volt unit.

    VIN number shows truck was completed July - 1950 in the Kansas City, Kansas factory. Ironically, the old Chevy was constructed in a huge building originally designed to build B-25 bombers during WWII. Eventually becoming surplus property in 1963 the truck was sold at public auction. Pickup became daily transportation for William Wharry of Hays, Kansas. The truck was appropriately named “Ol Blue” by the Wharry’s. Documents show it was assigned parking permits at Fort Hays College for several years. Records indicate the truck was last registered in 1975. After this time it was bought by Kenneth Kemp of Alta Vista, Kansas and put to pasture at his ranch.

    Current owners Michael & Joleen Hankins purchased the vehicle in 2012. They left the relic in as found condition except for a few minor modifications. Rustoration is the word best describing this project. The Hankins’ incorporated slight mechanical upgrades for drivability and performance purposes. Original 216 6-cylinder was replaced by a MDH Racing Engines 311 cubic inch small-block Chevrolet. B&M Turbo 400 transmission & Dana 60 rear-end compliment the added horsepower. Wheels, tires, and brakes have been updated as well. Ed Quay aluminum spoiler was added for stability at speed. Spoiler is also being used as a retro “FOLLOW ME” sign.

    · Note: Should complete original restoration be considered, all removed OEM equipment (engine, transmission, rear end, springs, and wheels) have been retained and properly stored. Nothing was modified that can’t be returned to original.

    “Thank you for your service to our country!”
  2. COOLEST thing I've seen here for a long time!
    RESTORE IT, not ruin it.
    it's a piece of history, to mod it much is like painting a goatee on the Mona lisa.
    Now you need a B-50 or F-84 !!!!!!!!!!!!

    PLEASE keep us posted.
  3. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,695


    Why can't I ever find something like this? I sure hope you live in a HOA tract, and the truck drives them nuts! Pretty cool old truck. I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
  4. It's still plenty restorable. Plan on keeping it that way :)

  5. Thanks Butch! Finding it was a complete fluke. Thankfully the neighbors around here are okay with the noise. Lake Havasu City is a Hot Rod kind of town so the police generally don't hassle us about noise. The day I was taking photos close to the lake one went by giving me a thumbs up. It was idling quite loudly at the time :)
    olscrounger likes this.
  6. Here's Jimmy Stewart riding out for his checkout in the B-36 in a 50's something Chevy pickup, I'm pretty sure there are some Follow me trucks in this FANTASTIC movie! THE movie for 1950's USAF aircraft!
    exterminator and Bandit Billy like this.
  7. That's a cool picture! I'll have to check out the movie. Thanks Gary!
  8. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,695


    My Father was USAAC/USAF for 30+ years. He knew McConnell personally. So, I grew up on USAF Bases throughout the States and Europe. Never saw that old of a truck, but plenty of others; if I had only known about government auctions, and had the money back then! My Father retired out of Paine Field, Everett, Wa in 1966. I thought there was a new drag strip in the works in the Lake Havasu area; any idea what happened there?
    I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
  9. Anybody have any Pictures of a 1956 Ford F-500 COE with aluminum Van Body with Down double Wide rear Doors. 2-3 foot storage tunnel square door on each side of van body. A 5 foot Ladder to climb on top of Van Body. Was purchase New in 1956 for Air Force dispatch, drive Pilots & air crew on Tarmac to B-52's, F-100's, F-101's, etc... Has a Painted stencile on dash. 'Not to Exceed 15 MPH on Base'. Original Paint color was blue Air Force color. Any former Air Force servicemen remember this COE. Thanks BigDTexasKid

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  10. Thanks Butch! My dad was Air Force as well. We were stationed in California, Alabama, Texas, and ultimately Anchorage, Alaska.

    The drag strip never materialized. Couldn't get sponsors or money. Lucas Oil at one time was prepared to help out but something happened. This place is Hot Rod city. So many Southern Californians come here to retire bringing along their rides.
  11. akoutlaw
    Joined: May 13, 2010
    Posts: 864


    Mike nice to see that you are still kicking. Heard that you are coming up for a visit this summer. You better stop by the shop! Bill
  12. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,695


    I was born on Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska in 1951, as was my older sister (1949). Alaska, France, California, North Carolina, Texas, Washington (four Bases there alone). Come MY turn up at bat, to avoid the draft in 1971, was Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas, and Eielson AFB, Fairbanks, Alaska, medic, AKA pecker checker, bedpan commando, Frankie Nightengale; one extreme to the other extreme. My wife and I live less than mile, as the crow flies, from The Snohomish County Airport, formerly Paine Field AFB. We live in the takeoff/landing flight patterns for the "small" aircraft.
    I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
    Joined: May 5, 2015
    Posts: 942


    That is the same truck, and a LtCol with a COL hat, with a B-47 in the background and where is that driver looking back for is the truck backing up.
  14. exterminator
    Joined: Apr 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,591


    Love the truck,i was only around and drove late 60s dodge trucks in the early 70s when I was in the Air Force (good times).
  15. Hey Bill :) I plan on coming back up. Definitely stop by. I herniated 3 discs in my back working on this truck. Though I could move the cab onto a cart via my own power. Something happens to strength as we age :)
  16. Bill Rinaldi
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,842

    Bill Rinaldi

    I sure agree with the drivability up grades-------That doesn't take to much away from the coolness of WHO the truck was originally. But the Wing? Not so much. The mag wheels don't go along with the theme either. You could go with Wheel Smith/Wheel Vintique original style wheels in the size and width you want, with original style caps (and rings?). Neat Assed truck, with REAL history. Bill
  17. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 26,608

    Jalopy Joker

    will be good to see it flying down the road
    COCONUTS likes this.
  18. Thanks JJ :)
  19. Thanks Bill! The spoiler is functional helping keep the rearend down at speed. With the engine/trans/rearend combination it'll hit 139 in the quarter mile. With no weight back there the rear wants to lift without a smidgen of downforce. I needed a platform for the "FOLLOW ME" lettering and that spoiler seemed to work best. It's subtle enough to be out on the street. Originally the truck would've had a piece of lettered plywood standing 'up-right' in the bed. I looked for wheels matching the star in the Air Force roundel (emblem). Weld wheels seemed to fit that theme best. You're right though. So many ways to go. I've been criticized for not taking it down to bare metal, adding new sheet metal where needed, reusing the old drive train, and restoring it to the way it originally looked. I'll leave that decision for the next owner. For those pulling up to me thinking it's just another old Chevy with a wing watch out :)
  20. EW_
    Joined: Apr 10, 2008
    Posts: 82

    from DFW

    I lived on McConnell from '72-'76. Air Force brats unite!
  21. thunderplex
    Joined: Nov 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,183


  22. Thank you for your service! Bet you have some stories of your own to tell :)
    exterminator likes this.
  23. That's cool! I'm headed there this summer with truck in tow.
  24. exterminator
    Joined: Apr 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,591


    Oh yeah-especially when I was in Asia.
  25. This photo taken at the 2017 Chapman, Kansas 'Labor Day' car show put on by Rob Riffel. This was the trucks first trip back to Kansas in 4 1/2 years. Built in Kansas City, Kansas the Chevy is a pure bred Sunflower State native. 100_4133.JPG
    exterminator likes this.
  26. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,640

    Bandit Billy

    Make sure you have an afternoon to waste, that is 2 and half hours you are not getting back. I like Jimmy Stewart flicks but that is one sloooooow movie. Lots of great aerial footage but basically a USAF recruitment film, and I'm too old and fat to join up.

    One of my employees is retired USAF and he tells me of big block El Caminos that the USAF used to race down the runway to do visuals on landing gear and occasionally assist pulling down a stuck gear. Not sure about standing in the back end of an El Camino at speed tackling a B-52 bare handed though, but I'd like to have one of those rigs.

    Very cool truck OP!
  27. Truck going to McConnell Air Force Base in September for their air show. I converted it back (in the looks department) to as original as I could make things.
    exterminator likes this.
  28. Made it to "Frontiers in Flight Air Show". McConnell Air Force Base - Wichita, Kansas. September 7th thru 9th - 2018. First time truck has been 'home' in 46 years. oldtruck.jpg

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