Army chief of staff Marshall interrupted a meeting in 1942 to hear a two-minute presentation in the hallway by a senior aide, Walter Bedell Smith. Smith said, "This new vehicle is simple, mobile, and hardy and I think we ought to go ahead and contract for it." Marshall looked at him and said simply, "Go ahead and do it." Six hundred and forty thousand of these new vehicles were manufactured during the war. It was the Jeep. No study. No committee. No memoranda. Just do it.
The jeep, first used by the US military in WWII, was an all-purpose vehicle for reconnaissance and cross-country travel. The JEEP is symbolic throughout the military for two things. First, the JEEP is considered one of the lowest forms of transportation in the military, ranking just above the combat boot. Second, for years, the JEEP has symbolized newly assigned or newly promoted personnel.
The Department of Transportation has ruled that jeeps are built for off-road use and could become unsafe at high speeds. Inadvertent high-speed entry into a sand ripple field from an adjacent smooth area can end in roll-overs of jeep-type vehicles. For public safety, the military renders them inoperable prior to sale (i.e., crush the unitized body and suspension system).
Development began in the 1920s. In 1939 the U.S. Army Quarter Master General invited proposals for a new military vehicle to replace its aging fleet of motorcycles and Ford Model T trucks. This was intended to replace motorcycles as liaison vehicles. Three companies eventually responded with prototypes of the 1/4-ton four-wheel drive truck: Ford Motor Company, Willys-Overland, and American Bantam Car Company.
The Ford entrant in the design competition was called the "GP," which in Ford parlance stood for "Government 80 inch wheelbase Reconnaissance Car." Willys called their design the "MB." After testing models the production contract was awarded to Willys in July 1941. Ford agreed to build from Willys' plans and Bantam built trailers for the Willys vehicle.
Lieutenant General Henry Spiese Aurand made many significant contributions to the Ordnance Corps. Aurand was instrumental in ensuring the Army bought and distributed the ¼ General Purpose vehicle (Jeep). Without his interventions the developer of the Jeep would not have been offered an Army contract.
The origin of the jeep's name is obscure. When slurred, "GP" led to the name "jeep," which stuck to the small four-wheel-drive vehicle even though the Willys design actually won the competition and Ford ended up building the Willys design.
The Willys Jeep was powered by a four-cylinder engine that could run at 4,000 RPM for 100 hours straight. The transmission was a three-speed manual, with a four-wheel-drive transfer case with high and low gears. The vehicle featured a fold-up cloth roof. The Jeep could run 60 miles per hour, climb a forty degree slope, turn around in a 30 foot circle, and tilt up to 50 degrees to either side without tipping over. It could even run under water, with special attachments for air intake and exhaust.
Over 350,000 Jeeps were built to fight in World War II [other accounts states that more than 639,000 jeeps were built by Willys and Ford during WWII]. The Willys assembly line turned out one every 90 seconds.
A general purpose personnel or cargo carrier designed for close-in support in forward areas, the "jeep" was generally available and can be easily converted to a casualty carrier. The vehicle can be open or have a cab-type cover. If the jeep has cover, it must be removed to place litters on the vehicle. The jeep has the capacity to hold two litter patients. If altered with a field ambulance kit, it has the capacity to hold three or four litter patients.
Motorcycles disappeared from the armored division tables of organization and equipment after Mar 1942 and did not reappear until publication of TO&E 17 N in Oct 1948, which authorized only six motorcycles in the div, specifically its MP company. This absence of motorcycles from armored unit TOE's is reflected in the absence of motorcyclle references in wartime eds of the 17-series field manuals. It appears that the jeep (Utility Truck, 1/4-ton, 4x4) replaced the motorcycle.
About two-thirds of the over 100,000 motorcycles acquired were "lend leased" to chiefly the British and Russians. Additionally, of the nearly 650,000 jeeps procured, only about one-third were sent to Allied armies via lend lease. It thus calculates that 463,000 jeeps and 35,000 motorcycles remained for US use, a 13:1 ratio that reflects the preeminence of the jeep.
President Eisenhower once said the two pieces of equipment that were most influential in winning the war were the jeep and the C-47. By another account, Eisenhower said after World War II the four most important weapons in that war were the C-47 Skytrain, the bazooka, the jeep, and the atom bomb
As peace followed war in 1945, a commercial version of the Jeep appeared for sale to retail consumers. Willys-Overland registered "Jeep" as a trademark, and designer Barney Roos developed the Jeep CJ-2A ("CJ" for "civilian Jeep") for the civilian market. The first Jeep CJ-2A rolled out in August 1945 and sold for $1,090.00. The front of the CJ-2A bore a grille consisting of seven long narrow slots that appear to have been stamped through a solid sheet of metal; two large, round headlamps were located just outside the top half of the grille, with two signal lights located immediately below the headlamps. The overall shape was akin to a laterally elongated oval atop a rectangle of the same height. Public demand was so high that Willys continued producing the Jeep in tremendous numbers.
The ¼-ton utility vehicle - the Jeep - was very useful in Korea. Early in the war, there were many old Jeeps from World War II, including the M38. On 23 December 1950 Eighth US Army in Korea (EUSAK) Commanding General Walton H. Walker, USA, killed in jeep accident. Gen Matthew B. Ridgway, USA, was named to succeed him.
The Air Force initially had only rudimentary tactical air control capabilities. It sent two tactical air control parties (TACP) to Korea immediately to support the ROK troops, but these were inadequately equipped and not well trained. The old, worn-out, jeep-mounted radios of World War II vintage-unable to take the beating of the rough terrain-were constantly breaking down and were difficult to repair. The TACPs were often unable to get to the front lines with working equipment, and, if they did, their unarmored jeeps and radios were extremely vulnerable to enemy fire. The result was an inability to get far enough forward to direct effective air strikes.
The M38 Jeep was based on the civilian model CJ-3A, but upgraded for military use. It featured flat fenders, a one-piece windshield, bottom-mounted wipers and an air vent at the bottom center of the windshield frame. Military upgrades included a stronger frame and suspension, a 24-volt electrical system, and full-floating rear axle. Manufactured by Willys, the Jeep had an L-head, 4 cycle, 4-cylinder engine with synchromesh transmission and three forward gears. It had a crew of two and passenger capacity of two.
In 1952, the M38A1 Jeep was introduced into the Conflict. This was a slightly more advanced Jeep, with the advanced F-Head, 4-cylinder engine with 72 horsepower. The M38A1 was the military improvement upon the M38 Jeep. It featured rounded front fenders, a contoured hood, two-piece windshield, top-mounted windshield wipers, and a new "Hurricane" F-Head engine. This is the model that inspired the CJ-5 civilian model. It differed from the CJ-5 in that it had a stronger frame and suspension, reversed front spring shackles, standardized GI instruments, and 24-volt electrical system. The M38A1 was manufactured by Willys, and had an F-head, 4-cycle, 4-cylinder engine. It had a crew of one and could carry three passengers. It was in production until 1958 and was certainly one of the better vehicles in its class. Many were still in service into the 1980s in the Reserve and National Guard.
DaimlerChrysler produced the Jeep CJ-2A until 1949. The CJ-3A was added to the Jeep line in 1948, and was produced until 1953. The longer-lived Jeep CJ- 3B joined the line in 1952 and was produced until 1968. The Jeep CJ-5 appeared in 1954 and was produced until 1983. The Jeep CJ-6 was part of the Jeep line from 1955 to 1981. The Jeep CJ-5A (and the Jeep CJ-6A) was produced from 1964 to 1967. The Jeepster Commando was produced from 1966 to 1971, with the Hurst model produced in 1970. A truck (in the traditional cab-and-trailer sense, rather than the SUV sense) called the Jeep FC-150 and the Jeep FC-170 was produced from 1957 to 1964. A panel truck, the Jeep FleetVan FJ-3A, was produced from 1961 to 1964. The Jeep CJ-7 was produced from 1976 to 1986, with the Jeep CJ-8 (a pickup truck) produced from 1981 to 1986. The Jeep Wrangler replaced the CJ line in 1985 and continues to be produced to 2002, with a significant model change having been made in 1997.
Jeep models for consumers came and went, with periodic change in the brand's ownership. Henry J. Kaiser purchased Willys-Overland in 1953, and the company became Willys Motors, Inc. which continued to manufacture Jeeps (and considerable lines of military and postal vehicles) until 1963, when the company's name was changed to Kaiser Jeep Company. In 1964, in the wake of the demise of the Studebaker Corporation as a motor vehicle manufacturer, Kaiser Jeep acquired a Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana, and assumed a Studebaker contract for the production of military trucks and produced postal trucks of varying sizes.
In 1967, Kaiser Jeep formed a Defense and Government Products Division to deal exclusively with government vehicles. Kaiser Jeep manufactured the Jeep line from 1962 until 1970, when American Motors Corporation purchased Kaiser Jeep from Kaiser Industries. In 1971, American Motors Corporation established two wholly owned subsidiaries: Jeep Corporation, and AM General Corporation, which previously had been the Defense and Government Products Division. Jeep Corporation continued to produce a product line of Jeep vehicles as an American Motors subsidiary until 1987. Its sister corporation, AM General, continued to develop products for use as military and postal vehicles, and to build them pursuant to contracts awarded by the government.
In 1979, AM General started preliminary design work on the "M998 Series High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle" - the "HMMWV," in the inevitable governmental acronym, or "Humvee," as it came to be named for purposes of verbal communication. The Jeep was produced for the Army in continually improved versions until 1981, when it was replaced by the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (the "Hummer").
In 1987, Chrysler Corporation acquired American Motors Corporation, and with it, Jeep Corporation. Chrysler continued (and from time to time, modified) the Jeep line. A 1998 merger eliminated the Chrysler Corporation and produced DaimlerChrysler Corporation, which continues to produce the Jeep line of vehicles. DaimlerChrysler owns the Jeep brand as the successor corporation to Chrysler Corporation, American Motors Corporation, Jeep Corporation, Kaiser Jeep Corporation, Willys Motors, Inc., and Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.
Jeep, now on the scene in one form or another for sixty years, is widely known. For many years, Jeep was the only manufacturer of four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles; that monopoly within what was then a niche market (in comparison, by 2001 there were fifty-two models of SUVs available in the United States) focused the brand's prominence. Jeeps, and their grilles, have been depicted prominently in military movies, television shows, toys, other licensed products, and in billions of dollars of advertising.
Since 1945, DaimlerChrysler has sold tens of millions of Jeep vehicles with what it calls the Jeep grille design. DaimlerChrysler has advertised its vehicles down through the years, with DaimlerChrysler and its dealers and distributors spending billions of dollars on nationwide advertising and promotions that featured the grille. The grille that appears on today's Wrangler (and its headlamp openings) appears prominently on many products shown in the "Jeep Provisions Catalog," and is the symbol of an annual Jeep homecoming event called "Camp Jeep."
Today, DaimlerChrysler sells three Jeep models: the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee, and the Liberty. DaimlerChrysler discontinued a fourth model, the Cherokee, in 2001.
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