Monday, June 05, 2006

U.S. Army Mobile Kitchen Trailer

Hank Fackovec of Londonderry, New Hampshire, sent this email the other day:
Hi: First of all, GREAT site! I am a military vehicle collector who loves to cook, my wife is a quazi professional chef, and we both have had great fun with this site.

I have a MKT-75 that is restored, I have gathered up most of the equipment (ranges, burners, utensils, mermite cans, etc ...) but I am looking for the grill asbys- (the 2 sheet metal racks that M2A burners slide into and heat the large griddle and hold the pot warmer racks on the serving side of the MKT) I have the Griddle itself, and can fabricate the pot warmer racks, but I am looking for leads for the asbys and the associated splatter shields, and grease trap. If you have any leads, I would appreciate it. I will send some pix of the MKT when I have it deployed at a rally this summer. we typically feed about 300 people 9 meals over 3 days. Thanks and keep up the great work. By the way, My father was a Merchant Marine cook on
liberty ships during WWII and he enjoyed the site as well.

Oh, I also forgot, I am looking for one ladder as well.
The MKT, or Mobile Kitchen Trailer, that Hank speaks of is the 1970s version of the Army chuckwagon. At one point, the mess section of each mobile Army company had a MTK. The kitchen was designed to feed troops constantly on the move on the modern battlefield.

Like the chuckwagon of the old western range, the MKT was never used designed to prepare food on the move. The cooks towed it to the next meal site and opened the trailer to cook the next meal. The trailer was designed to be moved to the next location quickly.

Although I never worked in an MKT (the Seabees were scheduled to receive surplus trailers in the late 1990s sometime after I retired), they appear to have been a stop-gap piece of equipment. The mess section in each Army company built a mobile kitchen on the back of a 2-1/2-ton truck before the MKT became available. I never saw much advantage over the old mess trucks.

The Army cooks that I talked to said they were cumbersome to set up. Close quarters made them difficult to work in and the MKT only contained two M59 field ranges, not the three that fit in the mess truck (although the cook top compensated for the lost range). It had the ice chest like the field mess truck, but had not electrical components (other than the trailer's running lights).

We weren't crazy about the MKT in the Seabees because we operated battalion-sized messes in the field. The only time we ran company-sized messes was when detachments were sent out from the main body. To feed a battalion of 800 Seabees you needed four or five MKTs co-located. It's a pain because you have to divide the menu between multiple trailers.

The Seabees generally operated out of the 80- x 100-foot big top tent with 10 to 12 M59 field ranges. We were looking at the T-ration (the Army's heat-and-serve tray-pack ration) and the Marine's Tray Ration Heating System (and here) to feed forward elements when I was retiring.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    May name is Ron I am retired military and currently reside in SC. My dream is to
    Someday open my own restaurant. I am planning on starting small, with a on the go
    Time menu that hopefully will lead to catering, and ultimately a restaurant in 5-10 years.

    I was hoping to by at DRMO a used MKT. Has any one done this before? Woul like to know what the drawbacks and positives my be