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Oshkosh Corporation is a fire apparatus and specialty truck builder located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The company has produced aircraft crash rescue trucks since the 1950s and has been the parent company of Pierce Manufacturing since 1996.


William Besserdich and Otto Zachow were awarded a patent for a powered steering axle in 1908. In 1910 they helped to establish the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company (FWD). The two men traded control of the patent to the company in exchange for stock in the new company. Within a few years both men had left FWD.

William Besserdich continued to work on four wheel drive designs. Unable to interest any established auto manufacturers in his designs he partnered with Bernhard Mosling in 1916 and they began raising money to start their own company. In May of 1917 they established the Wisconsin Duplex Auto Company in Clintonville, Wisconsin.

More than 50% of the stock in the new company came from business interests in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, so in 1918 the company relocated to Oshkosh and was renamed the Oshkosh Motor Truck Manufacturing Company. The first product was a two ton all-wheel drive truck. A 3 1/2 ton followed in 1920, and a 5 ton truck was introduced in 1924. There was a major surge in road construction after World War 1, road construction and snow removal would account for the bulk of the company's truck sale during the 1920s. By the 1930's Oshkosh was offering specialized trucks for the construction industry and trucks with capacities up to 22 tons.

During World War 2 the U.S. Military would purchase nearly all the trucks Oshkosh could produce. Unlike many other manufacturers who built to military specifications, the Oshkosh trucks were largely the same as their civilian counterparts. Snow plows, rotary snow blowers and wreckers would make up the bulk of these sales.

After the war Oshkosh began to offer larger 6x4, 6x6, 8x8 and 10x6 trucks and expanded further into the construction, mining, agricultural and oil extraction industries.

Oshkosh would offer a variety of engines in its trucks, including Le-Roi, Buda, and Hall-Scott, but 6 cylinder Hercules engines would be the most common choice into the 1950s when diesel engines became more popular. Oshkosh began to offer Cummins diesel engines in 1935.

Fire Apparatus[]

As early as the 1920s Oshkosh provided some of their commercial chassis to fire apparatus builders.

In 1953 Oshkosh built a crash truck for the U.S Coast Guard. However it was 1967 when Oshkosh was awarded a US Navy contract to build crash trucks that the company really entered the fire apparatus market. The new MB-5 and MB-1 were the forerunners of a large segment of business for the company.

In 1973 the company introduced the M-series, a new cab forward chassis specifically for use with crash rescue vehicles. This chassis was available in a 4x4 or 6x6 configuration. The 6x6 version of this chassis was used to build the P-4 crash truck for the U.S. Air Force.

In 1977 Oshkosh introduced the P-15, a 65 ton 8x8 crash truck ordered by the U.S. Air Force.

In 1984 the U.S. Air Force placed a large order for P-19 crash trucks.

In addition to these military contracts they began to receive orders from airports and military forces around the world.

Starting in 1969, Oshkosh provided Pierce Manufacturing with their first custom chassis (the Pierce Fire Marshall), hundreds of which were delivered until the 1980s.

Oshkosh introduced its own A-1834 fire chassis in 1974 and the low profile "skateboard" L-1838 in 1975.


In the fire apparatus field, Oshkosh is best known as manufacturer of airport crash trucks. Its CFR rigs can be found at airports and military air bases worldwide.

Oshkosh acquired Pierce Manufacturing in 1996 and remains its parent company. In addition to its ARFF business, Oshkosh builds specialized truck bodies including cement mixer and refuse collection bodies. Separate divisions Oshkosh Defense and Access Equipment build heavy trucks for military use and aerial work platforms respectively.


  • Oshkosh A-1834 (1974-19??)
  • Oshkosh L-1838 (1975-19??)
  • Oshkosh MB-1 (1971-19??)
  • Oshkosh M-1000 (1973-19??)
  • Oshkosh M-1500 (1973-19??)
  • Oshkosh MB-5 (1968-19??)
  • Oshkosh P-15 (1977-19??)
  • Oshkosh T1500/T3000 (197?-????)
  • Oshkosh P-19 (1984-)
  • Oshkosh Striker/Global Striker (2001-)
  • Oshkosh P-19R (2016-)

See also[]

Departments operating Oshkosh apparatus


  • McCall, Walter M.P. Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Fire Engine Manufacturers. Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2009.
  • Wright, David K. / Jungwirth, Clarence Oshkosh Trucks 75 years of specialty truck production. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1992.
  • Georgano, G.N. Editor The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1979.

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