The LeTourneau Overland Train (TC-497) was one of the longest, largest vehicles ever made. For years I’ve been obsessed with this strange machine, now sitting abandoned in the middle of the American desert and so, in the midst of my honeymoon, I set out to track it down.
Their intention was to be able to handle logistics needs without being dependent on local road or rail systems, allowing them to operate in back-country areas. The US Army had three experimental units built, the largest reaching almost 600 feet (183 m) long, which holds the record for the longest off-road vehicle.
Generally similar to the LCC-1 in concept, the Mark II included a number of features to allow the train to grow to any length.One change was the removal of the Cummins engines and their replacement with gas turbine engines of higher power and lower weight. Whereas the LCC-1 had a single 600-hp engine, the Overland Train had four 1,170-hp Saturn 10MC engines from Solar Turbines, one in the “control car” and three others spread through the train.
The Mark II had a much larger six-wheeled cab that was over 30 feet (9.1 m) tall and was no longer articulated due to the ability for all the wheels to be steered. The turbine engine was much smaller than the diesel it replaced, allowing the interior to support a crew of six with sleeping quarters, toilets and a galley. It was even equipped with a radar. An additional two power cars and ten cargo cars were built for testing. In total the train now stretched over 570 feet (170 m). On flat ground it could carry 150 tons of cargo at about 20 mph.