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Willys MB /
Ford GPW "Jeep"

"Divine instrument of wartime locomotion" are the words of American war correspondent Ernie Pyle in describing the ubiquitous Willys MB Jeep. This quarter ton four wheel drive utility vehicle was to become one of the most recognizable icons of World War II. The Jeep arose out the Army's request to car manufacturers to submit their designs to replace their aging fleet of reconnaissance vehicles. The resulting design competition involved American Bantam, Willys-Overland and Ford Motor Company. Willys won the first mass production contract, largely on the merit of its 60-HP "Go-Devil" engine, but when the War Department realized that the demand for Jeeps would run into the hundreds of thousands, Ford was given a contract to manufacture Jeeps under license. Ford-produced Jeeps were designated GPW. Externally the Willys MB Jeep and Ford GPW were virtually identical, but with small differences in production details. During the war years, Willys built 335,531 Jeeps and Ford turned out 277,896. Again, in the words of Ernie Pyle: "Good Lord, I don't think we could continue the war without the jeep. It does everything. It goes everywhere. It's as faithful as a dog, strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carries twice what it was designed for, and keeps on going." Not surprisingly, the men of the 347th Ordnance Depot Company relied on the Jeep just as much, and it is seen literally everywhere in this photo collection.

Sources: Doyle, David. U.S. Military Vehicles Field Guide. Iola, WI: KP Books, 2005.
"Willys MB / Ford GPW Military Jeeps." Nov. 4, 2009. Oct. 6, 2010.
"War Correspondent Ernie Pyle Knew The Value Of A Jeep." Oct. 6, 2010.