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|Type||1/4 ton[nb 1] 4×4 utility truck|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Designer||Karl Probst, Delmar G. Roos|
|Specifications (MB and GPW same )|
2,453 lb (1,113 kg) combat load1,975 lb (896 kg) empty
|Length||132 1⁄4 in (3.36 m)|
|Width||62 in (1.57 m)|
|Height||69 3⁄4 in (1.77 m) [nb 2]|
|Engine||134 cu in (2.2 l) Inline 4 Willys L134 "Go Devil"
60 hp (45 kW; 61 PS)
|Transmission||3 spd. x 2 range trf. case|
|Suspension||Live axles on leaf springs|
|Fuel capacity||15 US gal (12.5 imp gal; 56.8 L)|
|300 mi (482.8 km)|
|Speed||65 mph (105 km/h)|
The Willys MB and the Ford GPW, both formally called the U.S. Army Truck, 1/4 ton, 4x4, Command Reconnaissance, commonly known as Jeep or jeep, and sometimes referred to as G503 [nb 3] are four-wheel drive military utility vehicles that were manufactured during World War II (from 1941 to 1945) to help mobilize the Allied forces.
The World War II jeep became the primary light wheeled vehicle of the United States Military and its WW II Allies, as well as the postwar period; becoming the world's first mass-produced 4-wheel drive car, manufactured in six-figure numbers. The jeep proved both exceptionally capable and versatile, and General George C. Marshall called the squared-off little vehicle “America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare.” After the war, it evolved into the civilian Jeep CJ models, and inspired both an entire category of recreational 4WDs and several generations of military light utility vehicles.
The design of the World War II jeep was the result of a long process, involving the contributions of both U.S. military officers and civilian engineers, the latter mostly tied to three companies: Bantam, Willys and Ford, and has repeatedly been called a design by committee. In fall 1941, Lt. E.P. Hogan of the U.S. Quartermaster Corps wrote: "Credit for the original design of the Army's truck 1⁄4-ton, 4x4, may not be claimed by any single individual or manufacturer. This vehicle is the result of much research and many tests." Hogan credited both military and civilian engineers, especially those working at the Holabird Quartermaster Depot.
Advances in early 20th-century technology resulted in widespread mechanisation of the military during World War I. The United States Army deployed four-wheel drive trucks in that war, like the Jeffery / Nash Quad, and trucks from the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company (FWD). Immediately after World War I, its use of motor vehicles was considered only a prelude of much greater application in future armed conflicts — as early as 1919, the US Quartermaster Corps recommended the acquisition of a new kind of military vehicle, "..of light weight and compact size, with a low silhouette and high ground clearance, and possess the ability to carry weapons and men over all sorts of rough terrain."  For years the U.S. Army started looking for a small vehicle suited for reconnaissance and messaging; while at the same time searching a light cross-country weapons carrier.
At the same time, a great need for standardization was felt. By the end of World War I, the U.S. forces overseas had a total of 216 makes and models of motor vehicles, both foreign and domestic, to operate and no good supply system to keep them running.
Various light motor vehicles were tried. At first motorcycles with and without sidecars, and some modified Ford Model Ts. In the early 1930s, the U.S. Army experimented with a bantam weight "midget truck" for scouts and raiders — a 1050 lbs, low-built car with a compact pick-up body was shown in a 1933 article in Popular Mechanics Magazine. After 1935, when U.S. Congress declared World War I vehicles obsolete, procurement for "remotorization of the Army" gained more traction. In 1937 Marmon-Herrington presented five 4×4 Fords, and American Bantam delivered three Austin roadsters in 1938.
By 1939 the army began standardizing its general-purpose trucks' chassis types by payload rating, initially in five classes from ½-ton to 7½-ton. But in 1940 the categories were revised. For the first time, a quarter-ton truck chassis class was introduced, at the bottom of the range, and the ½-ton category was supplanted by a ¾-ton chassis.
By the eve of World War II the United States Department of War had determined it needed a 1⁄4-ton, cross-country reconnaissance vehicle. Anxious to have one in time for America's entry into World War II, the U.S. Army solicited proposals from domestic automobile manufacturers. Recognizing the need to create standard specifications, the Army formalized its requirements on July 11, 1940, and submitted them to 135 U.S. automotive manufacturers.
By now the war was under way in Europe, so the Army's need was urgent and demanding: Bids were to be received by July 22, a span of just eleven days. Manufacturers were given 49 days to submit their first prototype and 75 days for completion of 70 test vehicles. The Army's Ordnance Technical Committee specifications were equally demanding: the vehicle would be four-wheel drive, have a crew of three on a wheelbase of no more than 75 in (191 cm) – that was later upped to 80 in (203 cm) – and track no more than 47 in (119 cm), feature a fold-down windshield, 660 lb (299 kg) payload and be powered by an engine capable of 85 lb⋅ft (115 N⋅m) of torque. The most daunting demand, however, was an empty weight of no more than 1,300 lb (590 kg).
Initially, only American Bantam and Willys-Overland entered the competition – Ford joined later. Although Willys was the low bidder, Willys was penalized for requesting more time, and Bantam received the contract, as the only company committing to deliver a pilot model in 49 days and production examples in 75. Bantam solicited freelance Detroit designer Karl Probst, who turned down Bantam initially, but responded to an Army request and began work on July 17, 1940.
Probst laid out full design drawings for the Bantam prototype, known as the Bantam Reconnaissance Car or BRC, in just two days, and worked up a cost estimate the next day. Bantam's bid was submitted, complete with blueprints, on July 22. While much of the vehicle could be assembled from off-the-shelf automotive parts, custom four-wheel drivetrain components were contributed by Spicer. The hand-built prototype was completed in Butler, Pennsylvania, and driven to the Army vehicle test center at Camp Holabird, Maryland, and delivered on September 23, 1940. The vehicle met all the Army's criteria except engine torque. The Bantam pilot (later also dubbed the "Blitz Buggy" or "Old Number One") presented Army officials with the first of what eventually evolved into the World War II U.S. Army Jeeps: the Willys MB and Ford GPW.
Since Bantam did not have the production capacity or fiscal stability to deliver on the scale needed by the War Department, the other two bidders, Ford and Willys, were encouraged to complete their own pilot models for testing. The contract for the new reconnaissance car was to be determined by trials. As testing of the Bantam prototype took place from September 27 to October 16, Ford and Willys technical representatives present at Holabird were given ample opportunity to study the vehicle's performance. Moreover, in order to expedite production, the War Department forwarded the Bantam blueprints to Ford and Willys, claiming the government owned the design. Bantam did not dispute this move due to its precarious financial situation. By November 1940, Ford and Willys each submitted prototypes to compete with the Bantam in the Army's trials. The pilot models, the Willys Quad and the Ford Pygmy, turned out very similar to each other and were joined in testing by Bantam's entry, now evolved into a Mark II called the BRC 60.[nb 5][nb 6] By then the U.S. and its armed forces were already under such pressure that all three cars were declared acceptable and orders for 1,500 units per company were given for field testing. At this time it was acknowledged the original weight limit (which Bantam had ignored) was unrealistic, and it was raised to 2,160 lb (980 kg).
For these respective pre-production runs, each vehicle received revisions and a new name. Bantam's became the BRC 40. Production began on March 31, 1941, with a total of 2,605 built up to December 6. As the company could not meet the Army's demand for 75 Jeeps a day, production contracts were also awarded to Willys and to Ford.
After reducing the vehicle's weight by 240 pounds, Willys changed the designation to "MA" for "Military" model "A". The Fords went into production as "GP", with "G" for a "Government" type contract and "P" commonly used by Ford to designate any passenger car with a wheelbase of 80 in (203 cm).[nb 7]
By July 1941, the War Department desired to standardize and decided to select a single manufacturer to supply them with the next order for 16,000 vehicles. Willys won the contract mostly due to its more powerful engine (the "Go Devil"), which soldiers raved about, and its lower cost and silhouette. The design features in the Bantam and Ford entries which represented an improvement over Willys's design were then incorporated into the Willys car, moving it from an "A" designation to "B", thus the "MB" nomenclature. Most notable was a flat wide hood, adapted from Ford GP.
By October 1941, it became apparent Willys-Overland could not keep up with the production demand and Ford was contracted to produce them as well – exactly according to Willys blueprints, drawings, specifications and patents. The Ford car was then designated GPW, with the "W" referring to the "Willys" licensed design. During World War II, Willys produced 363,000 Jeeps and Ford some 280,000. Approximately 51,000 were exported to the U.S.S.R. under the Lend-Lease program. Ford and Willys faithfully produced jeeps with fully interchangeable parts and components, in part facilitated by using components from common sources – frames from Midland Steel, wheels from Kelsey-Hayes, axles and transfer-cases from Spicer, for instance.
On 7 April 1942, U.S. patent no. 2278450 for the WW II jeep, titled "Military vehicle body" was awarded to the U.S. Army, which had applied for it, listing Colonel Byron Q. Jones as the inventor on the patent, though he performed no work on the design of the vehicle. Filed on 8 October 1941, stating in the application that "The invention described herein, if patented, may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalty thereon", the patent relates to a “small car vehicle body having convertible features whereby it is rendered particularly desirable for military purposes” and describes the purpose of the vehicle is to essentially create an automobile equivalent of a Swiss Army knife:
"One of the principal objects of the invention is to provide a convertible small car body so arranged that a single vehicle may be interchangeably used as a cargo truck, personnel carrier, emergency ambulance, field beds, radio car, trench mortar unit, mobile anti-aircraft machine gun unit, or for other purposes." 
A further roughly 13,000 amphibian jeeps were built by Ford under the name GPA (nicknamed "Seep" for Sea Jeep). Inspired by the larger DUKW, the vehicle was produced too quickly and proved to be too heavy, too unwieldy, and of insufficient freeboard. In spite of participating successfully in the Sicily landings in July 1943, most GPAs were routed to the U.S.S.R. under the Lend-Lease program. The Soviets were sufficiently pleased with its ability to cross rivers to develop their own version of it after the war, the GAZ-64.
There is no consensus among historians, on how exactly the U.S. army's World War II ¼-ton reconnaissance car became generally known as the "jeep" — let alone how the word originated in the first place. Many explanations have proven difficult to verify. With certainty, the term "jeep" was already in use before the war, designating various things; while early jeeps were indicated by many designations and nicknames.
As early as spring 1936 a character called Eugene the Jeep was created in E. C. Segar's Popeye cartoons. Eugene the Jeep was Popeye's "jungle pet" and was small, able to walk through walls and move between dimensions, and could go anywhere and solve seemingly impossible problems. According to some sources, the word "jeep" was used as early as World War I — both as U.S. Army slang for new, uninitiated recruits, and by mechanics to refer to any new prototypes and untested vehicles to be proven at military bases.
Eugene the Jeep's go-anywhere ability resulted in various industrial and four-wheel drive vehicles getting nicknamed "Jeep" in the late thirties. Around 1940, converted 4WD Minneapolis-Moline tractors, supplied to the U.S. Army as prime movers, were called jeeps,[nb 8] and Halliburton used the name for an electric logging device, or for a custombuilt FWD exploration/survey vehicle. A small, anti-submarine, escort aircraft carrier was called a "jeep carrier" in the U.S. Navy in WW II, and also several aircraft – prototypes for both Kellett autogyros, and for the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, as well as the 1941 Curtiss-Wright AT-9 were called jeeps.
By 1940-1942, soldiers generally used "jeep" for 1/2-ton or 3/4-ton Dodge Command Reconnaissance cars, with the 3/4-ton Command Cars sometimes called "Beeps" (for "big Jeeps"), while the 1/4-ton cars were called "Peeps", "son of jeep", "baby jeep", or still quads or bantams. Originally, "Peep" seemed a fitting name, because the ¼-ton was considered primarily a reconnaissance (peeping) car.
The early 1940s terminology situation is perfectly summed up in the definition given in "Words of the Fighting Forces" by Clinton A. Sanders, a dictionary of military slang, published in 1942, in the Pentagon library: Jeep: A four-wheel drive car of one-half to one-and-one-half-ton capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty. A term applied to the bantam-cars, and occasionally to other motor vehicles (U.S.A.) in the Air Corps, the Link Trainer; in the armored forces, the 1/2 ton command car. Also referred to as "any small plane, helicopter, or gadget."  — "jeep" could still mean various things, including other light wheeled utility vehicles than the jeep...
One of the most frequently given explanations, is that the designation GP (either from the initial Ford GP, or from the military G.P. for General Purpose car) was slurred into the word Jeep in the same way that the contemporary HMMWV (for High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle) has become known as the Humvee. Although prior existence of the term "jeep" dismisses this as an etymology in the proper sense, it may well have contributed to the marriage of the term with the WW II 1⁄4-ton truck. The first version (based on the ford GP model code) was already given in an article in the San Francisco Call-Bulletin in late 1941, and is to an extent plausible, because the Ford GP was the first of the pre-standardized jeeps to reach GIs by the hundreds, starting early in 1941. So it is possible “GP” could have evolved into “Geep” and finally “jeep". The latter explanation (from the term "general purpose"), though this does appear in the TM9-803 manual (page 10), and the car is designated a "GP" in the TM9-2800 manual, — these were published in late 1943, and early 1944, and their influence on the jeep's name is debatable. Moreover: the jeep wasn't the only of the Quartermaster Corps' "general purpose" vehicles – so if this was the source, people would have nicknamed the others "geeps" or "jeeps" as well ..
Joe Frazer, Willys-Overland President from 1939 to 1944, claimed to have coined the word jeep by slurring the initials G.P., possibly related to Willys-Overland's 1946 copyright claim to the 'Jeep' name. However, the company handling Willys' P.R. in 1944 wrote that the jeep name probably came from the fact that the vehicle made quite an impression on soldiers at the time, so much so that they informally named it after the go-anywhere Eugene the Jeep.
In early 1941, when the test-cars went by names like BRC / "Blitz-Buggy", Ford Pygmy and such, Willys-Overland staged a press event in Washington, D.C., a publicity stunt and Senate photo-opportunity demonstrating the car's off-road capability by driving it up the Capitol steps. Irving "Red" Hausmann, a test driver on the Willys development team who had accompanied the car for its testing at Camp Holabird, had heard soldiers there referring to it as a jeep. He was enlisted to go to the event and give a demonstration ride to a group of dignitaries, including Katherine Hillyer, a reporter for the Washington Daily News. When asked what it was, Hausmann said "it's a Jeep". Hausmann preferred "Jeep", to distinguish the Willys rig from the other funny-named ¼-tons at Camp Holabird. Hillyer's syndicated article appeared in the newspaper on February 20, 1941, with a photo showing a jeep going up the Capitol steps and a caption including the term "jeep". This is believed to be the most likely origin of the term being fixed in public awareness. Even though Hausmann did not create or invent the word "Jeep", he likely contributed to its mainstream media usage indicating the ¼-ton vehicle.
It is plausible that the origin was mixed and converged on "jeep" from multiple directions. Ford Motor Company pushed its Ford GP hard, to get the military contract, putting the term "GP" into use. Military officers and G.I.s involved in the procurement and testing of the car may have called it jeep from the WW I slang. Civilian contractors, engineers, and testers may have related it to Popeye's 'Eugene the Jeep character'. People may have heard the same name from different directions, and as one person heard it from another, put their own understanding and explanation on it.
From 1941 onwards, a "constant flow of press and film publicity", as well as Willys advertising as of 1942, proclaiming it had created and perfected the jeep, cemented the name "Jeep" in the civilian public's mind, even when "peep" was still used at many army camps.
One other particularly influential article may have been the January 1942 full review of the military's new wonder buggy in Scientific American, reprinted as "Meet the Jeep" in Reader's Digest, the best-selling consumer magazine of the day. Author Jo Chamberlin was duly impressed by the "midget combat car" and wrote:
"Our Army's youngest, smallest toughest baby has a dozen pet names such as jeep, peep, blitz-buggy, leaping Lena, panzer-killer. The names are all affectionate, for the jeep has made good. Only a year old, it stole the show in Louisiana. Now the Army plans to have 75,000 of them." In a prescient footnote, Chamberlin wrote: "Some army men call the bantam a "peep,' reserving "jeep' for the larger command car in which the brass hats ride. However, the term "jeep' (born of GP, an auto manufacturing classification) is used by newspapers and most soldiers, and apparently will stick."
Willys made its first 25,000 MB Jeeps with a welded flat iron "slat" radiator grille. It was Ford who first designed and implemented the now familiar and distinctive stamped, vertical-slot steel grille into its Jeep vehicles, which was lighter, used fewer resources, and was less costly to produce. Along with many other design features innovated by Ford, this was adopted by Willys and implemented into the standard World War II Jeep by April 1942.
In order to be able to get their grille design trademarked, Willys gave their post-war jeeps seven slots instead of the original Ford nine-slot design. Through a series of corporate takeovers and mergers, AM General Corporation ended up with the rights to use the seven-slot grille as well, which they in turn extended to Chrysler when it acquired American Motors Corporation, then manufacturer of Jeep, in 1987.
Seven slot grille on the CJ-2A, Willys' first civilian Jeep
Due to Willys' trademark, Ford had to use a different design on their M151 U.S. jeep
Through corporate history, the Humvee manufacturer also had rights to fit the seven-slot grille.
The jeep inspired other manufacturers to copy the design — pictured a 1st generation Suzuki Jimny.
Willys-Overland filed to trademark the "Jeep" name in 1943.
From 1945 onwards, Willys took its four-wheel drive vehicle to the public with its CJ (Civilian Jeep) versions, making these the first mass-produced 4x4 civilian vehicles. In 1948, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission agreed with American Bantam that the idea of creating the Jeep was originated and developed by the American Bantam in collaboration with the U.S. Army as well as Ford and Spicer. The commission forbade Willys from claiming, directly or by implication, that it had created or designed the Jeep, and allowed it only to claim that it contributed to the development of the vehicle. The trademark lawsuit initiated and won by Bantam was a hollow victory, American Bantam went bankrupt by 1950 and Willys was granted the "Jeep" trademark in 1950.
The first CJs were essentially the same as the MB, except for such alterations as vacuum-powered windshield wipers, a tailgate (and therefore a side-mounted spare tire), and civilian lighting. Also, the civilian jeeps had amenities like naugahyde seats, chrome trim, and were available in a variety of colors. Mechanically, a heftier T-90 transmission replaced the Willys MB's T84 in order to appeal to the originally considered rural buyer demographic.
In 1950, the first post-war military jeep, the M38 (or MC), was launched, based on the 1949 CJ-3A. In 1953, it was quickly followed by the M38A1 (or MD), featuring an all-new "round-fendered" body in order to clear the also new, taller, Willys Hurricane engine. This jeep was later developed into the CJ-5 launched in 1955. Similarly, its ambulance version, the M170 (or MDA), featuring a 20-inch wheelbase stretch, was later turned into the civilian CJ-6.
Before the CJ-5, Willys offered the public a cheaper alternative with the taller F-head engine in the form of the CJ-3B, a CJ-3A body with a taller hood. This was quickly turned into the M606 jeep (mostly used for export, through 1968) by equipping it with the available heavy-duty options such as larger tires and springs, and by adding black-out lighting, olive drab paint, and a trailer hitch. After 1968, M606A2 and -A3 versions of the CJ-5 were created in a similar way for friendly foreign governments.
Licenses to produce CJ-3Bs were issued to manufacturers in many different countries, and some, such as the Mahindra corporation in India, continue to produce them in some form or another to this day. The French army, for instance, produced its Willys MB by buying the Willys license to enable the manufacture of their Hotchkiss M201.
The compact military jeep continued to be used in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In Korea, it was mostly deployed in the form of the MB, as well as the M38 and M38A1 (introduced in 1952 and 1953), its direct descendants. In Vietnam, the most used jeep was the then newly designed Ford M151, which featured such state-of-the-art technologies as a unibody construction and all around independent suspension with coil-springs. Apart from the mainstream of—by today's standards—relatively small jeeps, an even smaller vehicle was developed for the US Marines, suitable for airlifting and manhandling, the M422 "Mighty Mite".
Eventually, the U.S. military decided on a fundamentally different concept, choosing a much larger vehicle that not only took over the role of the jeep, but also replaced all other light military wheeled vehicles: the HMMWV ("Humvee"). The Canadian Army took delivery of 195 militarized versions of the CJ-7 in the early 1980s. These were put into service as a stop gap measure between the retirement of the M38A1 and the introduction of the Iltis. They were codified by the Canadian Forces with the Equipment Configuration Code (ECC) Number 121526.
In 1991, the Willys-Overland Jeep MB was designated an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to local Filipinos. The Filipinos stripped down the jeeps to accommodate several passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.
The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to reestablish inexpensive public transportation, which had been virtually destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to place restrictions on their use. Drivers now must have specialized licenses, regular routes, and reasonably fixed fares.
Starting in 1950, a Jeep-engined utility vehicle was produced by Autoar in Argentina. Starting from 1951, a new sedan was introduced using the same 2199 cc Jeep engine and manual transmission. It was fitted with overdrive to compensate for the Jeep’s low axle ratio. In 1952, a new overhead valve 3-litre six-cylinder was announced, but was probably never built. At that time, Piero Dusio returned to Italy. In the 1950s, production was sporadic, and models built included a station wagon with a Jeep-type 1901 cc engine.
|Bantam Mk II / BRC-60 [nb 6]||1940||70|
|Bantam BRC-40 [nb 9]||1941||2,605|
|Willys MB||1941–1945||361,339 (335,531 + 25,808 "slats")|
|World War II Total||1940–1945||647,925|
|Ford GPA "Seep"||1942–1943||12,778|
|Willys M38 (MC)||1950–1952||61,423|
|Willys M38A1 (MD)||1952–1957||101,488|
|Willys M606 (CJ-3B)||1953–1968||? (part of 155,494 CJ-3Bs produced)|
The British SAS used heavily armed jeeps in North Africa missions
SAS outfitted jeep – 2007 Santa Fé Event in Roermond, the Netherlands
US Army Willys MB at Virginia War Museum
Rail Jeep conversion to a switch engine in Australia, 1943
.. from an article by Marsh Maslin in the San Francisco Call-Bulletin of November 22, 1941: "Do you know why those swift little army cars are called 'jeeps'? It's Model G-P produced by that automobile manufacturer—and G-P easily becomes 'jeep'.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bantam BRC 40.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ford GP.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Willys MA.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Willys MB / Ford GPW.|
|Compact SUV||Jeepster (VJ)||Jeepster Commando||Commando|
|SUV||Willys Jeep Station Wagon||Cherokee (SJ)|
|Compact pickup||Jeepster Commando||Commando|
|Full-size pickup||Willys Jeep Truck|
|CJ-7||Wrangler (YJ)||Wrangler (TJ)||Wrangler (JK)||Wrangler (JL)|
|Wrangler Unlimited (LJ)||Wrangler Unlimited (JKU)||Wrangler Unlimited (JLU)|
|Subcompact crossover||Renegade (BU)|
|Compact crossover||Compass (MK49)||Compass (MP)|
|Mid-size crossover||Cherokee (KL)|
|Compact SUV||Cherokee/Wagoneer (XJ)||Liberty/Cherokee (KJ)||Liberty/Cherokee (KK)|
|Mid-size SUV||Grand Cherokee/Grand Wagoneer (ZJ)||Grand Cherokee (WJ)||Grand Cherokee (WK)||Grand Cherokee (WK2)|
|Full-size SUV||Cherokee (SJ)|
|Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer (SJ)|
|Compact pickup||CJ-8 (Scrambler)||Comanche (MJ)|
|Midsize pickup||CJ-10||Scrambler (JT)|