The Jeeps of World War II


The Jeep, that wonderful little vehicle that does just about everything.
It seems like it has been with us for ever but it didn't start it's life until 1940.
In that year because of World War II the US Army issued a set of specifications
For a general purpose utility vehicle.
The specifications were as follows:

The public tender
The need for a go anywhere reconnaissance vehicle was being felt by the Army since World War I and this promoted the appearance of several proposals over the years. After several tentative versions the specifications laid down by the Quartermaster Corps, on July 7, 1940, called for: 
1. A driving front axle with 2-speed transfer case including provisions for disengaging the front axle drive. 
2. A body of rectangular design with a folding windshield and 3 bucket seats. 
3. Increased engine power (presumably in respect to the Belly-flopper prototype). 
4. Means for towing. 
5. 30-caliber machine gun mount. 
6. Blackout lighting. 
7. Oil-bath air cleaner. 
8. Hydraulic brakes. 
9. Full floating axles. 
10. Wheelbase of 80". 
11. Maximum height of 40". 
12. Maximum weight of 1275 lbs. 
13. Approach and departure angles of 45 and 40 degrees, respectively. 
14. Must reach 50 mph on hard surface. 
15. Special bracing for a pintle hook setup. 
16. No aluminum to be used for cylinder head. 
17. At least 4 cylinders. 
18. 8 of the 70 vehicles to made had to be four-wheel-steering. 

Ford, American Bantam and Willys-Overland answered the call.
Banton built the first Jeep in 1940. It was the Bantam Pilot (BRC-60).
Seventy of these units were produced.
Ford produced two units called the PYGMY.
In 1941 they produced 3700 units called the Ford GP
Willys produced 1553 Model MA's
From there the rest is history.

The name Jeep also has an interesting story to it.
The first coinage of the word "JEEP", as applied to a motor vehicle, occurred during WWI. According to Major E.P. Hogan, who wrote a history of the development of the Jeep for the Army's Quartermaster review in 1941. The word "Jeep", he wrote. "is an old Army grease monkey term that dates back to WWI and was used by shop mechanics in referring to any new motor vehicle received for a test." Jeep was still used in Army motor pools well into the 1930's as general purpose or "GP" for short. Though in a 1941 Army manual it refers "GP" as Government 80" wheel base car (Jeep). 
Before then in 1936, the term 'Jeep' was it introduced to the world by a Popeye comic strip character, "Eugene the Jeep". The only words Eugene could say were "Jeep, Jeep", and "GP" then became "Jeep". Then the "Willys Quarter-Ton Jeep was 1st used by the U.S. military in WWII. When the WWII Jeep was issued during wartime, the term "Jeep" was here to stay.

A further note to the history of the Jeep was provided by Rodney Hawk of  Butler, Pa.
" The American Bantam Car Works of Butler, Pa answered the call of the army and designed and successfully tested and demonstrated the jeep for the Army.  Willy's Overland and Fords entrys did not meet the Army's specs.   American Bantam had a very limited production capacity so the army took Bantams entry and gave it to Willy's and Ford to produce.  Unfortunately there was no recognition or compensation for American Bantam and the company shortly went bankrupt.'
To read more about the American Bantam Car Works click on the link below.
Rodney also provided me with two web sites that tell the real story about the Jeeps beginnings

American Bantam
Car Works
The story of the
and how the standard WW2 jeep 
really came into being
Another in the series of "A Katie story by Katie's Grandpa"
A Jeep Story
During the winter of 1946-47, I was stationed on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, a very cold place to be.  Fur-lined parkas and insulated boots were the uniform of the day. 
Being an island, Hokkaido gets a lot of rain in the summertime and a LOT of snow in the winter.  In spite of the traffic, all of the main roads were covered with at least two feet of hard glare ice.  The drifts beside the roads were higher than your head.

Four of us were riding out to relieve the guard post at an airport some miles out of town, when our jeep slid off the road into the ditch.  Jeeps are famous for being able to claw their way out of almost anything, but not this time. 
With lots of four-wheel spinning, and three husky men tugging, the jeep was in for the duration.

Along came a farmer with a horse and a sleigh.  The horse was a magnificent animal, very broad across the hind-quarters.  By means of sign language, we were able to get the farmer to hitch his horse to the jeep.

Now comes the interesting part.  The horse was standing on smooth, hard, glare ice.
To gain traction, the arctic horse stood up on its very tippy-toes, the front points of its hooves, and promptly walked off with the jeep as if it were nothing.

The moral of this story is...

"Hey mister, Get a horse."

This page was last updated on Jan 4, 2017

And now the WW II Jeeps

1940 Bantam
1940 Bantam
1940 Bantam Pilot Model
1940 Budd Ford
1940 Ford Pygmy
1940 Willy Quad
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
1941 Willys Jeep MB
1941 Willys Jeep MB
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
This Willis MB is owned by Tim Bresnehan, Tasmania
the island state of Australia.
It was assembled on the 17th November 1941 and has the
number 100046. We believe and talking with others that it
was made on the first day of production.
The Jeep was purchased in 1978 from a logging contractor 
who was using the jeep at the time in the forest. 
I restored it then and again in 2006. 
After the second world war it was either left in Australia
by the American troops or was brought here under lend lease. 
1941 Willys Jeep MB nameplate
1941 Bantam
1941 Bantam
1941 Bantam
1941 Ford GP
1941 Ford GP
1941 Ford GPW 4 wheel steer
1941 Willys MA
1941 Willys MA
1941 Willys MA
1941 Ford GP 
1942 Ford GPW
1942 Ford GPA Amphibious
1942 Ford GPW
1942 Ford GPW
1942 Ford GPW
1942 Ford GPW
1942 Jeep T14 Command and reconcar
1942 Willys MB
1942 Willys MB
1942 Willys MB Slat Grille
1942 Willys MB Slat Grille
1942 Willys MB Slat Grille
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
1942 Ford GPW
This is owned by Doron Segal from Israeli. 
It was renovated from "Samson's Foxes", an Israeli 
military unit that Israeli had during War of Independence, 
1948. It is similar to the British “sas” 
1943 Willys MB
1943 Willys MB
1944 Ford GPW
1944 Willys MB
1944 Willys MB
1944 Willys MB
1944 Willys MB
1944 Willys MB
1945 Willys MB
1945 Willys MB
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
1945 Willys MB
This picture was submitted by Kelly Davis who's grandfather owned a company that made tops for Willy Jeeps just after the war from 1945/46.
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
 1945 Willys MB
This Jeep is owned by Dan McWilliams
He  I bought it from a farmer who bought it as 
surplus in 1952. He used it to spray his pasture. 
I strpped
and repainted it, replaced the dry rotted tires, and 
replaced the missing speedometer. Interestingly, it 
had 4 coats of paint. The original paint was OD Green,
next was Marine green, then naval air station yellow, 
and last was fire engine red that the farmer did.
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window
Click on this image for a larger view in a new window 
WW II Ford GPW from India
WW II Ford GPW from India
This Jeep is owned by Ashly from India

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