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Air Force Museum Foundation

Willys Quarter-ton Jeep


"[The] equipment ... among the most vital to our success in Africa and Europe were the bulldozer, the jeep, the 2 1/2 ton truck and the C-47 airplane. Curiously enough, none of these is designed for combat."
- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

The jeep, first used by the U.S. military during World War II, was an all-purpose vehicle for reconnaissance and cross-country travel. Development began in the 1920s, and in 1940 the Army Quarter Master General invited bids on a 1/4-ton four-wheel-drive truck. After testing models submitted by the American Bantam Co., Willys-Overland Motors and the Ford Motor Co., the Army chose the Willys design. More than 639,000 jeeps were built by Willys and Ford during WWII.

Although the origin of the jeep's name is obscure, many believe that it was an abbreviation for general purpose vehicle. The jeep had a four-cylinder 60-hp engine and weighed 2,200 pounds. It had both two- and four-wheel drive, six forward speeds and two reverse speeds, and a top speed of 55 mph. In addition to its usefulness as a cross-country vehicle, the versatile jeep could be adapted to pump air or water; pull anti-tank guns, howitzers or even plows; haul a 1/2-ton load; or even ford streams or flooded areas in water up to 40 inches deep.

The vehicle on display was built in 1952 and transferred to the museum in 1963.

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