Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Humvee, jeep, jeep, jeep

Contributed by Dudley C. Gould, author of Follow Me Up Fools Mountain

Anytime you see a current Army vehicle on television now, it's usually a Humvee. Its predecessor was the jeep, used in World War II and Korea.

The first Army jeep was designed by Willys-Overland President, Joseph Frazer and chief engineer Delamar G. Roos as the Army's first general purpose vehicle. Qualifications for the vehicle were listed by Army Major Robert Howie at Fort Benning. Frazer later remarked that he thought Howie's brain child looked like a cross between a scooter and a diving board on wheels.

Dubbed the Bellyflopper, Howie's car mounted a machine gun and carried two soldiers lying down on their bellies.

Weighing 1300 pounds, Willy's pilot model arrived at Fort Holabird in November 1940 for Army tests. When other vehicles were tested based on Howie's basic idea, Willys was found to be best in the field.

Some have attempted to trace the jeep name back to GP, General Purpose, but those of us who rode in them at the beginning will remember the strange character Eugene the Jeep in the Popeye comics that went around uttering nothing but "jeep, jeep, jeep." An amphibeous jeep, made by Ford Motor Company, was called the Quack.

Incidently, Joseph Frazer joined with industrialist Henry J. Kaiser to form Kaiser-Frazer Motors after World War II. The Kaisers and Frazers were the first slab side cars with front and back fenders joined in the middle. The last new Frazers were made in 1951, but in reality, were 1950 cars with new rear fenders and new grills to make them seem new.

Later, Kaiser bought up Willys-Overland Motors and it became known as Kaiser-Willys Motors. 1955 was the last year for Kaiser and Willys passenger cars and the jeep was made by Kaiser for years after that. Copyright 2008 by Walter Haan, www.war-books.com

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