Bantam


Bantam BRC-40 Grille

Bantam BRC-40 Grille

We are excited to bring you a series of grilles courtesy of Oliver at o5m6.de. Drawing of the grille or brush guard of the American Bantam Car Company’s BRC-40. The drawing is copyrighted by o5m6.de and is used here with permission. The Bantam BRC-40 was the follow vehicle produced for the government after the acceptance of the initial 70 Bantam BRC-60’s.

Look for other grilles over the coming days.  Check out the excellent work of Oliver at http://www.o5m6.de/ for even more WW2 vehicles. The emphasis is on Russian vehicles but also includes foreign designed vehicles as used by the Russians. It’s a great site, check it out.

Don't you just love WW2 jeeps? I know I do.

Don’t you just love WW2 jeeps? I know I do.

You might be interested in BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS to find out more about the early WW2 jeeps.

Check out our website 42FordGPW and support our sponsors by clicking on their ads.

The new Bantam jeeps on one of the first field tests.

The new Bantam jeeps on one of the first field tests.

The above photo is from the National Archives and depicts the very early (some of the first 70 prototypes!) out on field maneuvers.

Even the jeep like the Bantam pilot could get stuck! Or is it!!

Any military vehicle can get stuck.  In the picture above it looks like the Bantam pilot might be stuck.  Is it?   Very likely it isn’t stuck, perhaps just waiting for the GI to engage the front axle.   Looking at a JEEP (Trademark owned by Chrysler LLC) today you might not think that it once was a revolutionary vehicle for the military.  It was tiny compared to other conveyances.  It was very lightweight as well.  Four guys could easily man-handle the jeep out of must situations.

I like to read about the early jeeps — do you?

For more about the Bantam “jeep” check out my book:
BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS. Available from Amazon.com and other booksellers.  The book discusses in detail the pre-standardized WW2 jeeps: Bantam BRC, Ford GP and Willys MA.

When copy writers are careless with the facts! Original caption, “New 1/4-ton ‘Bantam’ truck at Fort Myer, Virginia,” dated April, 1941. Writers were pretty lose during this time and used “Bantam” to frequently describe the 1/4-ton. With three different 1/4-tons that were very similar in construction it is not difficult to understand the confusion on the part of writers and even servicemen.

Throughout the war the term “Bantam” was used to describe the 1/4-ton, 4×4, truck, no matter what company built it.  Find out more about the Bantam jeep in BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS.  Don’t forget the great book by Rifkind.  Rifkind wrote a great history of the jeep shortly after it was introduced to the US Army.  While it is US Quartermaster Corps centric, it is still very interesting ready.  Check out Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942 at Amazon.com and other booksellers.

Ford was the largest and most financially stable war-time producer of the jeep. Their production efforts begin with the Ford GP Pygmy. The Pygmy was equipped with a modified tractor engine rated at 45 hp. It was considered a fairly modern engine for its day.

The Ford GP pictured above is pretty famous. It appeared in an article of Life magazine in 1944.  It was one of the first jeeps sold to the public.  A mayor in a small town in Kansas purchased it in Chicago for $750 and drove it home.  It stayed in the family until the mid 1970s.  Eventually it ended up in the Veterans Memorial Museum of Huntsville, Alabama.  This is a museum worth visiting!

More can be found out about the Ford GP in BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS.

 

The Bantam pilot model being put through its paces at Camp Holabird, MD. (photo courtesy of Wesley M Phillippi)

Every vehicle the Army considered purchasing was put through serious testing.  The jeep was no exception!  Of course back then it hadn’t yet picked up the name “jeep”.   Bantam, a little known company outside of true jeep history devotees, was the company to build and deliver the first “jeep”.  The Bantam Pilot in the accompany photo is being driven through mud as part of a test to see if it will get stuck.

During the initial testing the military beat the little Bantam hard.  It took such a severe beating that eventually the frame was cracked.  The military guys were doing crazy stuff like driving the jeep off of a 4 foot high loading dock at forty miles per hour.

Check out the book BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS for more information about these wonderful first jeeps.

Another great book to read for those interested in the early jeeps is Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.

Which pre-standardized WW2 jeep was best? Was it the Bantam, Ford or Willys?

Do you wonder which pre-standardized WW2 jeep was best? Was it the Bantam, Ford or Willys?

Which vehicle was better? It all depends on what you were must interested in.  Certainly, the Willys had the more power but it also had the heaviest weight.  While the Bantam was the lightest and slowest of the three.

Bantam Ford Willys
Overall Rating 2 3 1
Grade Climbing Ability 2 3 1
Braking tests 1 3 2
Cross Country Ability 1 1 1
Highest Level Road Speed 59 mph 64 mph 74 mph
Fuel Consumption, speed range 20 to 50 mph 23.2 mpg 20.9 mpg 20.2 mpg
Turning Radius 20.4 ft 17.3 ft 19.4 ft
Grade Climbing 28° in low ratio second gear Succeeded, no reserve power Failed to reach top Topped raise at 10mph, great reserve
Best Features steering handbrake seats engine, superior, greater torque
springs springs top
headlights transmission, greater ease of shifting
front brake line protection front brake line protection
tire carrier radiator
gear shift location stronger frame
Unfavorable Features inaccessibility of handbrake performance poor driver’s position
difficulty fastening top gear shifting difficult leg room
carburetor failure on severe slopes steering unsatisfactory, wanders accelerator pedal location
difficult top setup handbrake location
carburetor failure on severe slopes gearshift lever location
carburetor failure on severe slopes
Price, net $946.04 $925.00 $949.41

For more information you might be interested in Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.  It’s available from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

Bantam Pilot Replica Built by Duncan Olds

Bantam Pilot Replica Built by Duncan Olds

The Bantam pilot has been resurrected as a replica built by Duncan Rolls.   Duncan told me that he spent four years in constructing the pilot.  Two years of the four were spent doing pure research.  He got his hands on hundreds of Bantam pilot photos. Ducan was also able to obtain access to Gramps (Old Number 7) the last remaining Bantam BRC60 of the original 70 built for the US Army.  Gramps is in the Smithsonian collection. A basket case Bantam BRC-40 was purchased not to be used as parts but to be used as a source of parts to cast new parts! He constructed the entire pilot by hand and only purchased a few parts like the NOS continental engine.  Duncan even handmade the oil filter as the original was not available.  Because he was using pictures he had to make some parts several times.  He made the bow brackets six times before he got it right.


For more about the original Bantam you might be interested in Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.  This book was written from the Quartermaster Corps’ perspective but draws on numerous resources and documentation to put together a pretty good picture of what happened. The other thing in its favor is that Rifkind’s work was written in 1943. But even by that time the jeep story was clouded over who did what and when. Rifkind covers Bantam’s involvement, Willys-Overland and Ford companies developments, the contracts and other details important to the student of the WW2 jeep! What makes it even more valuable is that Rifkind actually lists the sources he used. So if you can figure out the record system used by the government back then and determine where to find them, you will find a gold mine of information to research. This book includes a reproduction of the original manuscript created by Rifkind. You will even find some pen and ink changes.

The Bantam Pilot Replica sits next to a sibling.

The Bantam Pilot Replica sits next to a sibling.
The WW2 jeep was one of the finest weapons of that war.  It has continued on in one shape or another for over 60 years.  Many of those WW2 jeeps are still in service–albeit, not military service but in the hands of collectors who dole out TLC. The very first 1/4-ton reconnaissance and liaison car (or jeep) was damaged in a traffic accident while enroute from Fort Knox, KY to Butler, PA after having performed a demonstration test.  The 1/4-ton collided with a 1 and 1/2-ton truck at 40mph.  In a report dated November 6, 1940, a Capt E.L. Moseley said that this only caused minor damage and attested to the ruggedness of the vehicle.  Shortly after this report the pilot disappeared.
In a phone call, Duncan Olds shared some details about his most excellent replica of the Bantam Pilot pictured above.
For more about the early jeeps  see…
BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS—1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS

BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS—1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS (book)

Print: $24.95

The 1/4-ton, 4×4, truck of World War Two started out in the hands of the Infantry and a little company called American Bantam Car Company. Bantam worked with the Army’s Quartermaster Corps to produce the pilot model that was accepted and then fulfilled their initial contract for 70 trucks. During testing of the pilot both Ford and Willys-Overland were invited to check out this new vehicle. The vehicles were studied in great detail. Soon, at their own expense, Ford and Willys-Overland submitted pilots for testing too. This book covers the production prototypes–Bantam BRC-40, Ford GP and the Willys MA.

The Army is putting the new Bantam 4x4 pilot through testing.

The Army is putting the new Bantam 4×4 pilot through testing.

In many books and websites you see poor Lt. E.P. Hogan misquoted about where the name “jeep” came from. But he has some other interesting words as well.

An outstanding feature of the “bantam” is the success with which four wheel drive has been adapted to it. Its front axle can be used whether as a driving axle or an idling axle and, while the four-wheel drive feature in smaller vehicles is an adaptation of the Army’s usual design, in the “puddle-jumper” the resulting performance has been far greater even than anticipated. “Bugs” are built for maximum cross-country mobility – an indispensable requirement in modern warfare – which is greatly increased by having power in all four wheels.

Now Hogan was a QMC man but reading this it seems to say that the jeep wasn’t a “new” idea so much as its performance was outstanding.

Check out BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS for more information about Bantam and the other pre-standardized jeeps.

How about a good book with lots of pictures covering the pre-standardized jeeps?

BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS—1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS
The 1/4-ton, 4×4, truck of World War Two started out in the hands of the Infantry and a little company called American Bantam Car Company. Bantam worked with the Army’s Quartermaster Corps to produce the pilot model that was accepted and then fulfilled their initial contract for 70 trucks. During testing of the pilot both Ford and Willys-Overland were invited to check out this new vehicle. The vehicles were studied in great detail. Soon, at their own expense, Ford and Willys-Overland submitted pilots for testing too. This book covers the production prototypes–Bantam BRC-40, Ford GP and the Willys MA.

Print: $24.95 plus shipping.  Available through most booksellers.

 

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