'42 Willys Slat-Grille
The first production Willys jeeps used a welded grille similar to
The Steel Soldier, 1941-1945
Willys won a contract to built 16,000 standardized jeeps in July of 1941, and after all the required changes were added to the design, began producing them in November. Production bottlenecks involving components not built in-house-mainly axles and transfer cases-led the Army to tap Ford on the shoulder once more. In October, Ford was contracted to build jeeps to the standardized pattern, even taking on the additional burden of tooling up to produce Willys engines, Warner transmissions, and Spicer axles, and transfer cases in-house. Ford was really the only manufacturer at the time that could have carried this out. In the end, they did so at a financial loss.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the Ford development process was the iconic nine-slot stamped grille. Ford decided that the welded grille, which had debuted on their GP and later appeared on the Willys design, was too time-consuming to manufacture. They came up with an inexpensive stamped unit to replace it, and the modification was approved. All Ford jeeps used this grille, and Willys jeeps later switched over to it. Ironic, isn't it? One of the most iconic and noticeable jeep features was simply a production expedient.
'42 Ford GPW
The GPW was built to the Willys design. The government requirement was that
While the pre-standardized jeeps were the first to see combat, some with Allied units in Europe and some with the U.S. Army in the Philippines, the standardized jeeps from Ford and Willys soon replaced them, and the legend began to expand. If there is a way to fold, spindle, mutilate or adapt a vehicle to things way outside its design limits, a soldier will figure out how to do it. That's when the understated brilliance of the jeep design came into focus. With many soldiers, jeeps rose to a level of importance just below the rifle, and few GIs came home without a war story that didn't involved a jeep. Some even came home with a jeep! Even our enemies prized the jeep, considering them prime booty and worthy of drafting into service. And once the war was over, it was one of the most copied vehicles of all time.
'44 Willys MB
The MB was the standard Willys jeep and built to the tune of 361,339 units
'43 Willys MB
Near Monte Cassino, Italy, fall of 1943. Why was the life of a frontline j
'43 Ford GPA
The wartime jeep provided the platform for a lot of modifications and spec
The first postwar military jeep to appear was the CJV-35U. It was a militari
Brush Wars and Garrison Duty, 1950-1969
World War II military contracts had been the salvation of Willys. When the time came for upgrading the military 1/4-ton, they naturally worked closely with government officials. The first major upgrade came in 1950, with the model MC, eventually dubbed the M-38. It incorporated many of the civilian upgrades with certain standardized features newly adopted by the Army, including a waterproof, shielded 24-volt electrical system. Unfortunately, a new payload requirement, combined with the extra weight of the new features, took the "go" out of the Go-Devil engine, and the Army was less than impressed. Fortunately, Willys had developed a very economical and cost effective expedient for the next go-round: the F-head engine, later called the Hurricane.
To enhance breathing, a new cylinder head was developed. It moved the intake valves out of the block and into the new head, where they could be made larger. The result was a 20 percent increase in power and an almost 15 percent increase in torque from the same displacement. It utilized much of the old engine as well, so the retooling was minimal. You could even adapt the old flatheads to F-head configuration. The stickler was that the engine was taller and required a taller hood. That problem was solved two ways, with what became the CJ-3B (which essentially added some sheetmetal to the grille, cowl, and hood) and the new round-fendered body that would become the model MD (M-38A1) and, eventually, the CJ-5.
The MD/M-38A1 debuted in early 1952, and the new body delivered more room and utility for the military. The F-head engine gave it sprightly performance, and the MD lasted in service well into the '60s. From the MD came the MDA, a long-wheelbase field ambulance version known as the M-170.
When the Army decided to upgrade its fleet of Korean War-era Dodge tactical light trucks in the late '60s, Kaiser won the contract with an adaptation of its Gladiator truck line, eventually known as the M-715. The concept was to try a modified commercial truck in tactical situations instead of a more expensive purpose-built tactical truck. The M-715 was built with the heaviest-duty civvy components that Jeep could put together and built cargo, utility and ambulance versions to the tune of a bit over 30,000 units.
Ford out-jeeped Jeep in 1959 with its independent-suspension M-151 and turned the military away from the traditional military Jeep. Jeep got the last laugh when its commercial subsidiary, later known as AM General, won contracts to build large numbers of them. In the end, AM General eventually produced the majority of the M-151s, which were built into the late '70s. Ironically, it was also AM General that took the Humvee concept to completion and ended the reign of all jeep-like military vehicles altogether.