Army M274 Mechanical Mule
~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
This Page Last Updated   20 March 2008
18th Bde.
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If you have any official information, photographs or personal stories of 720th MP Battalion MPs that used the Mule, regardless of MOS, please use the Email Link above.
"Single seat, stick shift, all terrain vehicle... and yes it did do wheelies." CPL Tom Watson, B Company.

        The Mule was not a standard issue (TO&E) vehicle for the 720th MP Battalion. The unique infantry mission required almost daily resupply to the two B Company Outpost's staffed by the 10 MP's and over 30 Popular Forces soldiers.

        I can recall when the first, and I believe the only one the 720th MP Battalion possessed, was assigned to duty at Outpost #2 in Long Hung, Vietnam in the early summer of 1968.

Yes It Did Do Wheelies   Collectively we had never seen one before and instantly fell in love with it. After all what better to give a bunch of men in their late teens and early 20's stuck in an outpost than a single seat, stick shift, all terrain vehicle, and yes it did do wheelies.

        There was a critical need for the jeeps for convoy and patrol duties, and the jeep was not constructed for hauling bulk supplies unless you removed the rear seat or attached a trailer. The 3/4 ton utility truck was maintained on post and was used primarily for transport and other duties. To use the 3/4 ton truck you had to schedule it and a driver ahead of time. Add to that the drivers fear of operating the supply truck in the villages without an escort on a predictable regular run and your begging to get ambushed.

        The Mule was just what we needed at the outpost, there was no need for scheduling it for supply runs. We made runs to Long Binh Post and transported our water and fuel supplies in 5 gallon cans, hauled food, ammunition, supplies and mail between Outpost #1 at An Xuan and #2 Long Hung with ease.

        The lack of a hood and floorboard as in the jeep, allowed you to easily scan the roadway in front to look for evidence of possible land mines when running supplies between the outpost's.

        Its only shortcoming was running supplies during the rainy season. Because of its low speed, no cab, floorboard, or windshield, staying away from other vehicular traffic on the roads, especially the dirt roadways, was a must.

        I last recalled seeing it in use late in the summer of 1968. If you have any additional photographs or information on it's use by the Battalion after the summer of 1968 please let me know via the Email Link at the top of this page. CPL Thomas T. Watson, B Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, March 1968 to March 1969.

M274 Mechanical Mule is essentially a platform mounted on two axles and four wheels, with a 17 hp air-cooled flat opposed type gasoline engine under the platform at the rear. The light weight vehicle is designed to carry cargo over rough terrain at slow speeds with an extremely low silhouette and keep pace with riflemen at foot speeds in combat. The unit has four wheel drive, with three speeds forward and one reverse in the transmission, and a two speed transfer case.

        Some early models had four wheel steering. There is no suspension system, shock being absorbed by the low pressure tires. The steering gear is so constructed that the driver can dismount, disconnect the brace and hold the steering column in a horizontal position, and walk along side the vehicle.


seating: 1

length: 118.25in

configuration: 4X4

width: 46.60in

towing capacity: None

height: 27.50in

weight: 900 lbs.

wheelbase: 57in

        It was built originally by Willys, weighs 900 lbs., and has a top speed of 13 mph. An unusual feature is that it can carry more than it weighs.

        The Mule weighs only 860 pounds so a strong person can set it on its side, and that's how the army stores them. It can carry half a ton. A spare wheel is not standard - the manual says to put a flat on the front right corner, move all the weight off that corner and run on the three good tire's.

        Prototypes were produced between 1953 and 1956. Production started at Willys, later moving to Bayfield (1965), and Brunswick Corporation (1970).

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