Well, I haven’t posted in about a year but I still have my 42 Ford GPW.   Right now the jeep is a part in my garage.  I need to reinstall the “new” steering gear.  I had it installed but discovered the horn wasn’t working.  Something was wrong with the contact at the steering gear level.  I resoldered it and placed the gear in the jeep but I still need to hook everything up and reinstall the fender.  I hope everyone stays well during this current medical emergency.

1942 Ford GPW

Happy New Year...you all!

During WW2 soldiers painted designs on their aircraft and sometimes other vehicles.

Often this was in the form of women or cartoon characters.  One such aircraft sported “Ho Hum”.

Nose Art, Ho Hum, Pin-UP

Nose Art, Ho Hum, Pin-UP Buy at AllPosters.com
Art Print

Pinup on the side of a WW2 aircraft.  Sometimes the quality of the artwork is amazing.  You also might be interested in Vintage Aircraft Nose Art (Motorbooks Classic) which is a great book with a lot of “nose art” in it!

What parts do I need to purchase to work on my WW2 jeep transmission??

What parts do I need to purchase to work on my WW2 jeep transmission??


This is a question you will best be able to answer only after you have torn down your transmission, cleaned and inspected the parts.

Richard Grace suggests, “the minimum parts replacement would have to be a Small Parts Kit which includes main drive gear rollers, thrust washers, synchronizer dogs and springs. One other almost necessity is mainline bearings.” 

Of course, you will want a new clutch disk and throw-out bearing (you might consider a new pressure plate as well).  So for a minimum investment (perhaps as little as $50, not including clutch disk and pressure plate), you could have a rebuilt transmission ready to install in your jeep.  Anyway a lot less than a so-called rebuilt transmission from a vendor and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.  You will need to add to your costs any defective or out of tolerance parts that you find during the cleaning and inspection process.

For much more about the WW2 jeep transmission, T-84J, check out my book – Trouble Shooting And Rebuilding The T-84J. This book, written by me, will take you through the process step by step–with lots of pictures!

Did you know that Ford made jeeps in WW2?

Did you know that Ford made jeeps in WW2?

When I bought my first WW2 jeep, it was sold to me as a 1941 “Willies”.  And me being the expert, I thought some crazy farmer had welded in a Ford script patch after cutting out a tailgate in the jeep.  Little did I know in 1981 that Ford also built jeeps during the war.  It was sometime later that I found out that Ford actually built their own model of a jeep–the Ford GP.

Ford was the largest and most financially stable war-time producer of the jeep.

Ford Pygymy

Their production efforts begin with the Ford GP Pygmy pilot model. The Pygmy was equipped with a modified tractor engine rated at 45 hp. It was considered a fairly modern engine for its day.  Ford was selected along with the other two producers (American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland) of the jeep to build 1500 examples for further Army testing.

1941 Ford GP

The Ford GP was the pre-standardized production model built by Ford.  Because the Willys vehicle was not ready for production in time both Bantam and Ford built more than the original contracted 1500.  Bantam built approximately 2,600 Bantam BRCs and Ford built approximately 4,450 Ford GPs.

For more about 1941 Ford GPs see Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942, and BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS.

Bantam built the first jeep!

Bantam built the first jeep!

Of those players in the field leading to the standardized wartime jeep, American Bantam Car Company was the smallest with “an approximate investment of one million dollars and employing around 450 men.”  Bantam had been through financial difficulties and receiverships, had applied to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for first-mortgage loans dating back to 1938.

During the late 1930s, Bantam had tried to interest the United States War Department in the utility of their small cars.  While several where tested, the immediate results went nowhere.  At this same time, the US Army had been testing various concepts for 4×4 (four-wheel drive) vehicles.  They had recently purchased many 1/2-ton 4×4 trucks.  While these trucks performed fairly well, they were just too big, too heavy, too long and needed refinement.

Bantam Pilot

In accordance with the agreement in its bid, the American Bantam Car Company built and delivered the first pilot model to Holabird in 49 days.  During the construction of this original model, the bugaboo of weight cropped up again.  It became evident to both Bantam and Holabird that strength and material limitations, as well as other engineering factors, would make it virtually impossible to meet the 1275 pound weight requirement.  Hence all 70 jeeps weighed some hundred pounds more, although still less than the 2100 pound limit set in the tentative specifications of July 7, 1941, or the still later revised military characteristics of July 3, 1942, which raised the final weight of the jeep, for the period covered by this study, to not more than 2450 pounds.

Bantam BRC rear view

When the jeep reached the using arms (Infantry, Cavalry and Field Artillery) in the field its success was instant and sensational.  At posts, camps, and stations all over the country, it won the admiration of everyone for the manner in which it performed.  The demonstrations it gave of climbing and leaping, and its all-around ability to push its way through tough situations, impressed all beholders…Its four-wheel drive proved that it could operate over the roughest terrain.  Water eighteen inches in depth was forded with ease.  Although riding in the jeep was far from pleasure driving, it auxiliary transmission, providing six speeds forward and two reverse enabled it to hit a mile-a-minute clip on the highway or claw its way upgrades of 60% or better, in low.  In its appearance, too, the jeep was radically different. Soon well-known to every school-boy on the street were its squat, rectangular, utilitarian shape in its coat of olive-drab, lustreless enamel that had been developed shortly before; its low silhouette; the flat fenders on each of which an additional man could be carried if necessary; the heavy brush guard protecting the front; the folding windshield and detachable folding top or canopy; the pintle and towing hooks; the heavy duty mud-and-snow tread tires; and the front and rear blackout lights.”

The jeep proved so very successful that it has remained in production with minimal changes so that even today “every school-boy” still recognizes a jeep vehicle.  Unfortunately, the jeeps’ success would not be tied to the success of the American Bantam Car Company. The company would lose the bid for the standardized war-time jeep to Willys-Overland. Then through negotiations, Ford Motor Company would be selected as the alternate producer of the Willys jeep. Bantam after delivering its last Bantam BRC would never again produce cars for the government or anyone else. During the war, it produced trailers pulled by the Willys MB and Ford GPW. The company survived the war for a time producing civilian versions of the jeep trailer. The company was bought by another concern and quickly faded from the scene. A sad ending for the first designer and builder of the jeep.

For even more about Bantam and other early jeeps, check out Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.   Warbaby by William Spear is an excellent read on the Bantam Car Company’s effort to produce the jeep for the War Department in 1940-41.

Of those players in the field leading to the standardized wartime jeep, Willys-Overland was the mid-level company with a $50,000,000 capitalization.  It also had been through financial difficulties and receiverships, had applied to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for first-mortgage loans dating back to 1939.

Willys Quad

The Willys Quad went thru testing by the Army but it was not successful.  Ultimately it was rejected as too heavy and deficiencies needed to be corrected before production could begin.  Meanwhile, Bantam and Ford went on to produce their initial runs and more.

Willys-Overland did not win the bid to build the first 70 pilot models. That contract went to American Bantam.  Willys was awarded a contract for 1,500 vehicles as were Bantam and Ford. The Willys-Overland net price was $949.41 per vehicle.  (This compares with the net prices for the Ford ($925) and Bantam ($946.04).  These pre-standardized jeeps were generally successful, each vehicle exhibiting certain pluses and minuses. The Willys was favored for its’ 60 hp engine among other attributes.

Willys MA 1941

The Willys MA was very almost what the military wanted.  It grew into the Willys MB which used attributes from the Bantam and the Ford.  The most notable attribute from Ford was the grille!  A 9 slot pressed grille that morphed into the eventually trademarked 7 slot “Jeep” grille.

For more information about the Willys MA and other pre-standardized WW2 era jeeps, check out, BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS.

W.A.A.F.: a Young Lady Sheds Her Civvies and Puts on Her Women's Auxiliary Air Force Uniform

Pinups were very popular during WW2 and many photographs and paintings exist from this time.
W.A.A.F.: a Young Lady Sheds Her Civvies and Puts on Her Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Uniform

Buy at AllPosters.com

Giclee Print

This company has many quality reprints of WW2 or related pin-ups.  If you’re not interested in posters then maybe books about pinups would be more your cup of tea? The Great American Pin-Up Two hundred eighty pages of pictures from an age when eroticism was still innocent. Gathered from calendars, posters, and others.

From an article by Colonels Sterling A. Wood and Roy N. Hagerty as published in the Infantry Journal, May 1942fltjeep1The original question was how to float a jeep. With further research, I came across an article in the Infantry Journal, May 1942 that covered just that. Of course, you can also use cable elevated high enough for the jeep to clear the water and run it across that way as well. What follows is the work of Cols. Wood and Hagerty. The original photos from the article appear to all be of the Bantam and one of the first 70 vehicles at that as the jeep display has the rounded nose hood. Additional photos have been edited from the Nothing but WW2 Jeeps DVD available from Vintage Video. All fighting units need to know a number of stream crossing expedients for use when the standard stream crossing equipment (bridges, pontons, boats) is not on hand, which will often happen in action. In order to get the maximum benefit from the training in these expedients. commanders should limit the gear used to equipment and materials that are of standard issue or that troops may reasonably expect to find on the scene of actual operations.

In its early phase, the training should be conducted at a quiet pond or lake or at a stream with a slow current. Crossing operations on streams with strong currents are difficult and there is much danger of injury to men and equipment. Practice over swift streams should come later after the men have had experience in quiet waters and know what to expect and how to deal with it. Different kinds of floats can be used but the volume of any float should be made as large as practicable to ensure maximum water displacement and a high freeboard. The center of gravity of floating bundles, particularly those floating large vehicles should be kept as low as practicable to prevent capsizing. In general, the construction of wooden rafts is uneconomical in time and labor. Other expedients do the job as well and much more easily and quickly. A safety-line stretched across the stream downstream from the crossing site is useful, when free floats are being crossed, to catch unmanageable floats carried downstream by the current. The ¾ inch rope in the infantry pioneer equipment and truck-winch cables are useful here. If a winch-truck can be crossed early in the operation it will be a big help in pulling other floats across and in beaching heavy equipment. Each load being floated should have a rope or cable attached to it with a buoyant object such as a stick or log tied to the loose end which will rise to the surface and mark the location of the cargo in case of accidental sinking. This line should be strong and attached so as to make salvage a simple job. Other than the large paulins used to float trucks larger than the quarter-ton truck, the stream-crossing methods described here only require equipment and materials usually on hand within an infantry regiment or materials usually found at a crossing site. The major items of equipment and materials needed are:

  • Canvas paulin, 20 feet 6 inches x 40 feet (not issued to infantry units)
  • Canvas cover, 2-½-ton truck, 14 feet 6 inches x 14 feet 8 inches
  • Canvas cover, 1-½-ton truck, 11 feet 4 inches x 13 feet 11 inches
  • Canvas cover, ½-ton truck, 8 feet x 13 feet 11 inches
  • Shelter half
  • Inner tubes, from truck tires
  • Saplings and brush

jeepfloat2The quarter-ton truck with a normal load (including men) can be launched, floated across a stream, and beached if both stream banks slope gently. Four men can do the job using any of the following methods: First wet the bank at the site of the launching in order to make it easy to slide the truck into the stream. Then spread the canvas cover of a 2-1/2-ton truck on the bank at the water’s edge and drive the quarter-ton truck onto the center of the canvas.jeepfloat1

Raise the edges of the canvas at the front and rear of the truck and fasten the short tie ropes to convenient points on the truck. Next raise the edges of the canvas at the sides of the truck and tighten the draw ropes about the sides of the truck and tie them, but be careful that the canvas is not folded sharply at the ends (like a clerk does in wrapping a shoe box) because the canvas may leak at the creases.jeepfloat3  Four men can slide the wrapped vehicle with its normal load of equipment into the water. It will float easily if correctly wrapped and tied.jeepfloat4d

jeepfloat5There are several ways of getting the vehicle across, the method used depending more or less on the depth and current. If the stream is not too deep the men can push it across by wading; it can be poled across by three or four men sitting in the vehicle using saplings or paddled across by three or Four men sitting in the vehicle using shovels as paddles. It can be towed across by using a light towing line such as a field telephone wire which is first stretched across the stream by a swimmer; towed across by running the cable of a truck winch on the near side of the stream through a snatch block attached to a tree on the far side, thence back to the floating vehicle or pulled across (hand over hand) by men on the vehicle; or along a rope or cable stretched across the stream and anchored at both ends. When the vehicle reaches the gently sloping bank on the far side of the stream, untie the ropes of the cover, drop the canvas and drive the vehicle out under its own power.fltjeep2Another way of getting a truck across a stream is to use two box frames made of saplings, each 1 foot 6 inches x 3 feet x 11 feet. The saplings should be notched and lashed together with small ropes or short lengths of field-telephone wire. Each frame is then wrapped in the canvas top of either a 2-½-ton truck or a 1-½-ton truck, which makes improvised pontons of them. The canvas is held in place by ropes tied around the pontoon. The quarter-ton truck is driven to the water’s edge between the two pontoons. Large saplings are securely lashed, horizontally, to the front and rear bumpers, with the ends of the saplings extending along the sides of the vehicle and above the ends of the pontons. The pontons are then securely lashed to these cross pieces, thus raising them a few inches off the ground. Disconnect the fan belt of the truck so that the motor won’t be flooded and drive the truck into the stream under its own power.fltjeep3Any of the propulsion methods used to get a wrapped-up truck across a stream will get the ponton job across. Then untie the bumper lashings, take off the front pole, and drive the truck out of the water under its own power. Don?t forget to replace the fan belt. If the bank of the stream is so steep that the vehicle can’t be driven out of the water under its own power, it may be pulled out by using the winch of a truck emplaced on the near side of the stream, the cable running through a snatch block attached to a tree on the far side. Another type of ponton can be made by constructing two outriggers each consisting of five inner tubes, 9 inches x 20 inches (from 2-½-ton trucks), and two stout saplings (upright poles for the large wall tent can be used). The inner tubes are inflated to a pressure of about eight pounds and lashed to the poles. If smaller tubes are used more of them will be needed. The quarter-ton truck is driven to the water’s edge and the outriggers are placed on the ground, one on each side of the truck. Large saplings (or ridge poles for large wall tents) are securely lashed horizontally to the front and rear bumpers, with the ends of the poles extending beyond the sides of the vehicle and above the ends of the outriggers. The outriggers are then securely lashed to these crosspieces. An additional inner tube is lashed under the front bumper of the vehicle to provide flotation for launching. The fan belt of the truck is disconnected and the vehicle is driven into the stream under its own power. Anyone of several methods of propulsion may be used and the vehicle is beached as described above. After beaching, the cross poles are unlashed from the bumpers and the rigging is lifted by hand over the truck and floated back to receive another vehicle.fltjeep4These methods of crossing the quarter-ton truck are not practicable when the current is very swift or the banks are steep and high. Here the aerial cable ferry will be found useful. In constructing a cable ferry it is important to have the ends of the cables anchored as high as possible so that there is considerable slack. Too little slack in the cables may cause enough tension to break them. Since winch-cables are normally 300 feet in length the spans of such cable ferries are limited accordingly. Two 2-½-ton trucks equipped with power winches are anchored against trees on the high, near bank of the stream. Light ropes or lengths of field-telephone wires are stretched across the stream and tile two winch cables are pulled across with these lines. The cables are secured to stout trees on the far bank at points well above the ground. The cables should be roughly parallel and about twelve feet apart. A quarter-ton truck is placed under the cables and rigged to snatch blocks by tow-chains attached to the front and rear bumpers. Slack is taken out of the cables by the winches to raise the vehicle off the ground. A sapling is lashed to the snatch blocks on the cables to keep the vehicle from swaying while being pulled across the stream. A bridle in the towing line will also prevent sway. An additional snatch block is attached to the base of a tree on the far bank. A light towing line is stretched from the near bank through this snatch block, returned to the near bank and attached to the vehicle. Four men on the near side can then pull the vehicle across. A quarter-ton truck may be rigged to two snatch blocks placed on a single cable from a 2-½-ton or 1-½-ton truck winch and pulled across in the same fashion. Picture Sources: Infantry Journal, May 1942

Duncan Olds built a replica of the original war baby – Bantam Jeep.

Duncan Rolls’ Bantam PilotThe 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.

War Baby by William Spear

War Baby by William Spear

Warbaby, A great book by William Spear. This had to be a labor of love and it is really well done.  This is a hefty book that Bill did a lot of research and work to bring to us. If there is one thing he knows, it’s Bantam’s.  His interest in the car led him to the Bantam “jeep”.  He examined how American Bantam Car Company came up with the short stick in producing jeeps for the WW2 war effort.  Sure they built a lot of stuff, including jeep trailers but except for some exploratory pre-production models the company was cut out of jeep production.  This is amazing as the Infantry, the branch that most wanted the jeep, was satisfied with the Bantam model.  They were concerned that the Willys model (which did not pass its initial testing) would be too heavy.  Bill has done the jeep history a great service by pulling this together.


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 First Jeep

The First Jeep

Another book that is worth a look if you are interested in the first jeep and that book is called, Project Management in History: The First Jeep (Project Management in History Series) (Volume 1).  The book is an interesting read that needed to have a bit more editing to be really polished.  But let me not nitpick about that.  The book gives us details that have not appeared in any other book  The author called upon contacts that had the inside story at American Bantam Car Company.  We learn all about the company and the many details that led to the jeep.  It is a fascinating story.  The author blesses us with a ton of endnotes so that you can do your own research.


An “S” should be present on the cowl or after the registration number on World War Two jeeps. It went on the jeeps that passed the radio interference test whether or not they had a radio. AR 850-5, Change 9, dated 27 Jan 1944, a regulation that required an “S” marked on vehicles. This same change also stated an “S” marked vehicle was to be preferred over a non-S marked vehicle when installing a radio. Common sense? Well, sometimes the Army had to spell it out.CRW_3615_adj2xzx_blue‘S’ symbol on the cowl of a 1942 Ford GPW and Army Jill sitting on the fender.

CU_USN_jeepAn interesting closeup from a photo of a US Navy jeep in use with the US Marines… This is clearly marked as a US Navy vehicle.

USN 24467

It appears that the original US Army marking and registration number was painted over with a dark olive drab or black before the yellow US Navy markings were added. Also note, the “S” to the left on the cowl. This is blue drab! The “S” was used to designate vehicles that had been tested and passed for radio suppression. This was equipment/parts added to the vehicle to help keep it from interfering with radios by eliminating static. You can also spot what may be blue drab to the right of the registration number. Also, note the dark area immediately next to the USN and registration number.

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