The Willys MB
US Army Jeep
(formally the Truck, 1/4 ton, 4x4
) and the Ford GPW
, was manufactured from 1941 to 1945. The small four-wheel drive utility vehicles are considered the iconic World War II Jeep
, and inspired many similar light utility vehicles
. Over the years, the World War II Jeep later evolved into the "CJ
" civilian Jeep. Its counterpart in the German army was the Volkswagen Kübelwagen
, also based on a small automobile, but which used an air-cooled engine and lacked 4 wheel drive.
During World War I
there were limited attempts to mechanize military forces. The US Army had already used 4x4
trucks supplied by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co.
. By the time of World War II
, the United States Department of War
was still seeking a light, cross-country reconnaissance vehicle.
As tensions were heightening around the world in the late 1930s, the U.S. Army
asked American automobile manufacturers to tender suggestions to replace its existing, aging light motor vehicles, mostly motorcycles
but also some Ford Model T's
. This resulted in several prototypes being presented to army officials, such as five Marmon-Herrington
4x4 Fords in 1937, and three Austin
roadsters by American Bantam
in 1938 (Fowler, 1993). However, the US Army's requirements were not formalized until July 11, 1940, when 135 U.S. automotive manufacturers were approached to submit a design conforming to the army's specifications for a... Read More