One of the lesser-known facts about the attack on Pearl Harbor is that the Japanese planned a prior strike before the main blow. These early attacks targeted the fire trucks in the area so that there would be no hope of extinguishing the flames. Since all the fire trucks were painted red, they were easy to spot, and their plan worked exactly as expected. The wreckage caused from the attack thrusted the United States into World War II.
Following the attack, the U.S. quickly changed the color of the trucks to green to avoid the same events in the future. One of those fire trucks, a classic 1943 Ford-American LaFrance, was adopted by the National WWII Museum’s Curatorial Services team with the intent of a full restoration. It was the main focus of the 2018 Drafts for Crafts, an annual fundraiser to support the ongoing restoration projects at the museum.
The truck features a 239 cubic-inch Ford flathead V8 engine, one of the first V8 engines produced to a mass market, and the plan was to repaint it to a wartime Army green color. Tom Czekanski is leading the restoration efforts, and he’s noted that he’s already acquired a good portion of parts for the rebuild. Czekanski stated, “To some extent, the 1943 Ford Fire Truck is easier because the basic vehicle is a civilian model truck that was in production from 1942 to 1947, so original and replacement parts are well represented.”
The project may have been put on the backburner for now, but when it’s all said and done, this fire truck is going to be a classic piece of history displayed in the museum’s main campus. There’s not many trucks out there that can claim that they were inspired by the Pearl Harbor attacks, so this is definitely going to be one unique restoration.