Allison Defense History

Allison Transmission is proud of its long heritage in support of the military. That legacy began with James Allison manufacturing aircraft engines in the early days of our company and continues today with our transmission products for military wheeled and tracked vehicles.


1917-1946: Military Aircraft


Allison Transmission’s military history dates back to 1917 when Jim Allison directed his Indianapolis Speedway Team Company to commit all resources to the U.S. war effort. Production work began on equipment and parts for the Liberty aircraft engines, including engineering upgrades and inspection equipment. The Liberty work helped sustain the company in the early years and would continue into the late 1920s.


As the role of aircraft in the military evolved, Allison continued its support of the military with the design of the V1710 engine starting in 1929. The 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled aircraft engine was produced from 1934 to 1949 and was used in many aircraft, including the North American P-51 Mustang, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the Curtis P-40 Warhawk and the Bell P-39 Airacobra.


1949-Current: Tracked Military Vehicles


During World War II, Allison applied its engineering knowledge and technology to ground transportation with the development of automatic cross drive transmissions. Production of the company’s first generation military tank cross drive, the CD 850, began in 1949 and continued for 38 years. The CD 850 powered the M47, M48 and M60 tanks for the U.S. Army and many Allied nations, and is still in use around the world.


The CD 850 was followed by the XT1400/1410 cross drives for the M51 tank and M88 recovery vehicles; and the XTG 411 cross drive for the M109 and M110 howitzers and related vehicles. Production of the XT1400/1410 began in 1954 and continued for 34 years. Production of the XT411 began in 1962 and continued for 39 years.


The venerable tracked M113 family of Armored Personnel Carriers has always been Allison equipped. The original version utilized the TX100 transmission while later versions used the X200 cross drive. The TX100 was produced for 33 years from 1964 through 1997; the X200 started production in 1986 and is still in production today, more than 27 years later.


Allison started production of the X1100 cross drive in 1979 for use in the U.S. Army’s M1 main battle tank. After more than 34 years, production of the X1100 continues today.


In 1981, as the popularity of the Allison military cross drives grew, Allison expanded its business with licensed global production programs. As a result, Allison military cross drives can be found in tracked vehicles produced in Allied nations around the world.


1978-Current: Military Wheeled Vehicles


The U.S. Army monitored the growing popularity of automatic transmissions and conducted testing in several military truck applications. In 1973, the Army held a comparison test of military trucks equipped with several types and brands of transmissions. The fuel economy and reliability advantages of the Allison Automatic were so convincing, the Army made the automatic transmission the standard for military trucks, as it had been for military tracked vehicles since 1948.


In 1978, as a direct result of that decision, Allison began delivering automatic transmissions from our commercial product line to OEMs for use in military wheeled vehicles. Since that time, nearly all medium- and heavy-tactical, combat and combat-support wheeled trucks for the U.S. military have been equipped with an Allison Automatic. Around the world, usage of automatic transmissions in military wheeled vehicles continues to grow with Allison products in numerous military wheeled vehicles of Allied nations.