International Harvester Farmall Tractors
When the 1940s began, International Harverster’s Farmall was the most popular tractor brand in the U.S. But during the decade their market share was challenged.
The innovative Farmall tractor was first introduced in 1923 and was the first “row crop” tractor. That is, it was maneuverable and had enough ground clearance to cultivate row crops. The Farmall was tall and narrow, so the farmer could see around the engine and prevent the cultivator hoes from plowing plants rather than weeds. But it was still expensive, so most average size farmers couldn’t afford it.
Just before the war, IH had to respond to the introduction of the inexpensive Allis-Chalmers Model “B.” IH had already been experimenting with small tractor designs. So as the decade began, they quickly introduced the second generation of Farmalls – the famous “Letter Series” tractors.
- The Farmall “A” and “AV” were small, “one-plow” tractors that delivered 16.3 horsepower on the drawbar and 18.3 on the belt. They were offered with either a gasoline or distillate four-cylinder engine. The “A” had 21 inches of clearance and the “AV” had almost 28 inches. On both models the engine and drive train were offset from the operator so that the farmer could see where he or she was cultivating.
- The Model “B” was similar to the “A,” but it had just one wheel in front to steer the tractor. Later that steering wheel became two wheels spaced closely together.
- The Model “H” was a “two-plow” machine that delivered around 25 horsepower. The engine was larger but still had four cylinders. It first came out with closely spaced front wheels but was later offered with wide front wheels, as well.
- The Model “M” was the largest of the line in 1940 and was advertised as a three-plow machine. It boasted around 35 horsepower with the largest engine in the series. The “MD” version had a diesel engine.
By this time, IH had merged with McCormick-Deering, so there were similar models with a “W” numbering system available under that brand name.
Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. A partial bibliography of sources is here.