WW2 Japanese Vehicles WW2-Vehicles

Type 94 Lorry

Imperial Japanese Army IJA (1934)
Military Truck – ?5000 built

WW2 Japanese Army Trucks

Like other industrial nations, and interested by UK’s own tests in the 1920s, Japan began motorizing its army and create motorized infantry regiments to go with its newly formed armoured regiments. Gradually, and especially until the end of the 1930s for operations in China, the Army purchased a variety of trucks to carry troops and supplies. This increased in WW2 with a variety of lorries and trucks built by mostly by Toyota, Nissan and Isuzu. These were the Type 94 6-Wheeled Truck, Type 95 Mini-truck, Type 97 4-Wheeled Truck, Type 1 6-Wheeled Truck and Type 2 Heavy Truck for the latter, and Toyota KB/KC Truck, Nissan 80 and 180 Trucks, plus the Amphibious Truck Toyota “Su-Ki”.

Development of the Type 94

The Type 94 was initially developed in 1933 as part of the Imperial Japanese Army’s program to sponsor independent motor companies, in order to provide the army with a reliable truck platform. This was to counter the already tested existing civilian lorries which had poor performance in the field. Isuzu showed their design and a prototype was tested and eventually accepted in 1934. This sturdy 6×6 configuration gave all satisfaction in terms of range, reliability, and most important, off-road capabilities.

Design of the Type 94

The Type 94 was a 6×6 army truck design, fitted with an Otsu diesel engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 60 km/h while preserving range. The vehicle itself neither unarmed and unarmored, but carried two spare tires on the side for maintenance. The crew comprised single driver and the practical payload was 1,300 kgs of cargo, or and infantry platoon. Total weight was around 4,800 kilograms, total length 5.3 metres.
Its army requirements design made it, unlike its civilian-based predecessors, highly reliable in the field and very capable of traveling cross country, helped also by a high clearance, to traverse the rough jungle terrain where it mostly served. Variants built during the war included an optional gasoline engine, a soft top and hard top conversions for the driver cabin roof.

The Type 94 in action

The Type 94 served abundantly in China and used widely across the Pacific Theater. Its performances were praised already in the late 1930s and was quickly adopted as the standard truck of the Imperial Japanese army. It served throughout until 1945 while thousands had been produced.

Links/sources about the Type 94 Lorry

The Type 94 on Wikipedia -in Japanese)
Japanese trucks overview
The Type 94 on

Isuzu Type 94 specifications

Dimensions 5.4 x 1.9 x 2.7m
Total weight 3.5-4.8 tons (1.5 tons payload)
Crew 1 (Plus infantry platoon)
Propulsion Gasoline Engine (Ko Model) or Otsu Diesel Engine:
43hp/1,500rpm or 68hp/2,800rpm
Top speed 45-60 km/h
Range (maximal at cruise speed) Unknown
Total production Unknown – possibly 5000+ 1934-45

Type 94 Japanese Lorry 6x6 army truck
Rendition by D Bocquelet, Tanks Encyclopedia of the Type 94 6×6 Imperial Japanese army truckIsuzu 6x6 army truck
Factory photo of the 6×6 IJA army truck

A Type 94 supplying the Imperial Japanese Army’s 16th tank regiment (equipped with Type 95 Ha-Go) on Marcus Island, ww2, date unknown.

WW2 Nazi Germany Vehicles WW2-Vehicles


Nazi Germany (1940)
Utility Car – 50,435 built

The “Bucket Car”

Probably one of the most famous ww2 German vehicle, it was the axis equivalent of the “Jeep“, although the production (over 50,000) which ended in 1945 was much less than its famous allied counterpart (over 650,000)… It was nevertheless the brainchild of genius engineer Ferdinand Porsche and was apparently named after its bucket seats (“Kübelsitzwagen” later contracted) rather than the open space of the vehicle which entire strength was in the chassis. Simple, reliable, rugged, with good cross-country performances, cheap and tailored for mass-production the Volkswagen Type 86 was everything needed for a versatile standard liaison/staff/recce/utility vehicle of the Wehrmacht.

VW Kübelwagen in North African livery, Afrika Korps
Kübelwagens were present in every single unit of the German Army and served on all fronts to the last day of the war and beyond. Thousands found their way on the civilian market, many were converted to other duties, and others ended in museums and made the delight of private owners around the world. Their long postwar life was helped by the solid fanbase of the VW Beetle which shared many parts with it. This vehicle was not armored, not armed by default, so it has no place in the regular encyclopedia.

Hello, dear reader! This article is in need of some care and attention and may contain errors or inaccuracies. If you spot anything out of place, please let us know!

From the Beetle to the Bucket Car

The very name of the factory created by order of Hitler under the direction of Ferdinand Porsche “Volks Wagen” meaning “people’s car” was a reflection of the ambition of the party to double the first autobahn with the first true popular, affordable mass-produced cars in Germany. However, if the chassis and engine for rail, industrial or agricultural hopper cars were ready in 1933, it was in april 1934 that Porsche discussed with Hitler of the possibility of a military derived vehicle, but only in 1938 that official specs were laid down by the Waffenamt. It was to be an inexpensive light-weight military transport with good cross-country performances in the most appealing conditions. The Beetle then in development was thought to procure a sturdy basis for the task.

Development: VW Type 62

In February, just a month after the official specs were known, a prototype was ready but not presented. Indeed Ferdinand quickly realized that the original chassis was not enough for the stress of cross-country rides with an engine powerful enough (1000cc) and an overall payload of 950 kg (2,090 lb). So it was decided to have the chassis lightened and strengthened at the same time. He also trusted a known coachbuilder, Trutz, for the bodywork.
The first prototype was the Type 62, developed until November 1938 for trials. As planned, despite lacking a proper 4×4 drive the vehicles showed in field tests that it was still lightweight enough to handle rough terrain, well helped by the ZF self-locking differential. It was even not inferior in performances than some true 4×4 German vehicles at that time, so the development was sanctioned to be concluded. The development still was on throughout 1939, focusing on the angular body design, equipment and fittings, engine settings and a first preseries. So much so that the first preseries Type 62s were tested operationally in September during the invasion of Poland, revealing some changes to be made and resulting in the production Type 82.
Kübelwagen 25HP 1131 cc engine 1943

The VW Type 82

This first experience shown indeed the vehicle was satisfactory but needed some changes as requested by the military: The lowest speed had to be reduced from 8 km/h (5.0 mph) to 4 km/h (2.5 mph) (infantry pace). Off-road performances had to be improved by mounting new axles with gear-reduction hubs, providing more torque and more ground-clearance. Dampers were modified with larger 41 cm (16 in) wheels, and a limited slip differential. Many other modifications were taken in account, resulting in a brand new model, renamed Type 82. Thanks to this the vehicle now corresponded to the Army’s requests, production was setup and started in February 1940, so that thousands of Kübelwagens would be distributed to the divisions, ready for the Western campaign in May. Development did not stopped there however, as 36 variants were developed until 1945.


The “bucket car” is really the simplicity itself. With a two-wheel-drive configuration so successful to cope with snow, ice and mud (to some extent), the vehicle surprised even those in charge of the development. In some test, it showed even superior handling characteristics than some 4x4s. This was due to a combination of a lightweight chassis and smooth, flat underbody which “surfed” on soft surfaces just like a motorized sled, allowing it to follow tracked vehicles without much trouble. It was propelled by a rear-mounted air-cooled flat-4, 985 cc (23.5 bhp (17.5 kW))/1,131 cc (25 bhp (19 kW)), linked to a 4-speed manual transmission with a self-locking differential. With its air-cooled configuration, it was dispensed a radiator and therefore proved less sensitive to bullets, while being also highly tolerant of climates extremes. For starting in winter, a volatile fuel was required, stored in a small auxiliary fuel tank.

Interior detail
Top speed was about 80 kph on flat, 20-30 kph on average on rough terrain. The wheelbase was only 2.40 m and weight 715 kg (1,576 lb) (GVW 1,160 kg fully loaded) but it had almost a 30 cm ground clearance thanks to the adoption of a portal gear hub reduction, which provided more torque at the same time. It had a basic 4-door utility roadster body layout. Since the body was not a load-bearing part of the structure, the chassis could receive a great deal of configurations and modifications for all purposes. All wheels had independent suspensions.
The first of these vehicles captured by the allies in November 1943 in North Africa were tested and evaluated by an US War Department Technical team and a British Humber Car Company engineers team, which both were rather dismissive to the model, the first pointing out only that it was “inferior in every way” to the Jeep but for seats accommodation, whereas the seconds were too unfavourable and dismissive. Apart mobility what more could bring this little bug? Not really protection. Basically the vehicle was wide open to schrapnells projections, and the steel sheets used were just not thick enough to repel bullets. On the armament side, there were a few custom modifications to install a Maschinengewehr 34 on the front hood for the co-driver to fire when the windshield was down, or in an AA mount at the rear. The only serious attempt, the Type 82/3, remained at the mockup stage. Any armour would have seriously hampered the mobility anyway.

Bundesarchiv VW Kübelwagen inspected by British troops in Sicily 1943


Mass-production started in February 1940, literally at the opening of the VW factories (known as Wolfsburg after the war), while the bodywork was produced by Ambi Budd Presswerke in Berlin. The design ws such a success that no major changes was required until it ended in 1945. The few minor modifications were aimed at simplifying the design (unnecessary parts) or strengthening some. The more complicated Type 62 Prototypes had four-wheel-drive and different engines, but since performances or capability does not proved better than the Type 82 they never left the prospects stage. In March 1943 however, a bigger 1,131 cc engine was adopted, which was initially developed for the Schwimmwagen (the amphibious equivalent of the Kübelwagen), which produced more torque and power. After VW closed its doors for years following the defeat of the IIIrd Reich, it had delivered 50,435 Kübelwagen vehicles, which proven itself useful, reliable, and durable and were also recycled for some in the world-beating Beetle in postwar years.
Souvenirs of the vehicle were such that VW even resurrected the basic Kübelwagen in 1969 as the Type 181. It was developed for the German Federal Armed Forces but also for the civilian market. Distributed in the US it was nicknamed the “Thing” in the US, “Trekker” in the UK, and “Safari” in Mexico. Despite their appearance, however, parts were not interchangeable with the Type 82. These vehicles were well used also in the movie industry related to ww2 and of course makes the delight of reenacters.

Modern VW Type 82 in a reenacment


Type 67: 2-stretcher ambulance (Type 60 chassis + mod Type 82 body)
Type 82/I: Three-seat radio car
Type 82/2: Sirencar (Siemens siren mounted on passenger side in place of the rear seat)
Type 82/3: Mock-up armoured and armed vehicle/command car
Type 82/5: Type 82 chassis with Type 60 LO Lieferwagen open pickup body
Type 82/6: Tropicalized boxy version, sedan-body van
Type 82/7: Three-seat Command car (Beetle body, roll-up canvas roof)
Type 82/8: Open body made of wood (production test)
Type 82/E: Beetle body (only 688 manufactured)
Type 86: 4×4 drive prototype (6 fabricated for tests)
Type 87: 4×4 Kübelwagen with Beetle command car body. (667 produced)
Type 89: Experimental automatic transmission
Type 98: Beetle cabriolet body, 4×4 drive train
Type 106: Experimental transmission
Type 107: Experimental turbocharger
Type 115: Fitted with a supercharger
Type 126: Fully synchronized gearbox
Type 155/1: Half-track/snow-track prototype.
Type 157: Railway kit used for Types 82 and 87
Type 164: Six-wheeled twin engine dual-control prototype
Type 177: 5-speed transmission
Type 179: Fuel-injected engine
Type 179-F: Schwimmwagen pre-prototype
Type 198: PTO and auxiliary gearbox for starting AFVs engines (in winter ?)
Type 235: Additional Electric motor
Type 239: Auxiliary Wod-gas generator mounted on the nose
Type 240: Auxiliary bottled gas as power source
Type 276: Towing hook to pull a 37 PAK gun
Type 278: Synchronized gearbox
Type 307: Heavy-duty carburetor
Type 309: Diesel engine prototype
Type 331: “native fuel system” (acetylene gas) engine prototype
Type 332: Anthracite coal auxiliary power unit

Operational life

The Kübelwagen was mostly a staff car, and proved extremely versatile, although less than the jeep for heavier equipments. The only armoured and armed experiment never went ahead of the mockup prototype stage. It was used as an ambulance and transport, liaison vehicle and command car. Radios can be fitted in the rear corner (three seats configuration), even a map table or equipment for mounting an HQ. The only limitation of the vehicle was it was not amphibious, so that the Schwimmwagen was defined to bridge the gap. For rainy monthes, the vehicle could receive a kit for a folding frame canvas roof.

Bundesarchiv Kübelwagen in northern France, summer 1944
As mentioned above, the Kübelwagen was so succesful and produced in such numbers it was everywhere the Wehrmacht was showing up, since march 1940, virtually any front until 1945. The first mass deployment came with the western campaign in may 1940. But it also knew the Afrika Korps odyssey, enduring very hot climates without problems, neither it failed in the winter 1941 before Moskow. It was even capable to “surf” on Russian muddy roads in autumn where most trucks whereas literally sinking, often carrying must needed supplies instead.


The Kübelwagen on wikipedia
Personal website about the VW Type 82

Type 82 Kübelwagen specifications

Dimensions 3.74 x1.60 x1.65 m ( ft)
Total weight, battle ready 0.715 ton
Crew 4 (driver, 3 passengers)
Propulsion air-cooled flat-4, 985 cc/1,131 cc
Suspension 4×4 independent coil springs
Speed (road) 80 km/h (50 mph)
Range 300 km (180 mi)
Total production 50,435 in 1940-1945

Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2

Type 182 in France 1940
Type 182 in France 1940
Kübelwagen in Russia 1942
Kübelwagen in Russia 1942
Type 182 in North Africa, Afrika Korps 1941
Type 182 in North Africa, Afrika Korps 1941
Kubelwagen Ambulance
Kubelwagen Ambulance
Kübelwagen in Tunisia 1943
Kübelwagen in Tunisia 1943
Kübelwagen in Russia 1943
Kübelwagen in Russia 1943
Camouflaged Kübelwagen Normandy summer 1944
Camouflaged Kübelwagen Normandy summer 1944
Kübelwagen with MG.34 mount, 1944
Kübelwagen with MG.34 mount, 1944

Video (original footage)


Bundesarchiv Kübelwagen in Northern France summer 1944

VW Kübelwagen of the Feldgendarmerie, Operation Zitadelle Russia

MHV VW Kaefer Type 82E, Beetle based on the Kübelwagen chassis.

Kübelwagen at the Gmund Museum Austria

Kübelwagen of the Africa Korps

WW2 Nazi Germany Vehicles WW2-Vehicles


Hello, dear reader! This article is in need of some care and attention and may contain errors or inaccuracies. If you spot anything out of place, please let us know!

Nazi Germany (1942-44).
Amphibious car – About 15,000 built.

The Beetle and the Frog

The Schwimmwagen was a sub-product of the legendary Volkswagen beetle conversion into mass production for the Wehrmacht, under the name “Kübelwagen“, literally, “bucket-car”. A new model was studied by Erwin Komenda, car body designer of Ferdinand Porsche, in 1940, to provide an amphibious car. It was a mix of the VW type 86 four-wheel drive model, mixed with elements of the VW type 87 command-car, using the air-cooled “flat-four” boxer and a transmission with four speeds manual, two tranfer case, and a 4WD capability only on the first speed and reverse. The first body designed was based on the usual VW wheelbase, 240 mm (7,9 ft). This prototype initiated the type 128 series.

The type 128 schwimmwagen

The type 128 was quickly put on production despite showing some flaws that became obvious in operational theaters of war like the eastern front. The first limitation was its construction in custom welded bodytubes which was perfect because of its lightness in road condition, but unsuitable in rough rides, because of its lack of torsion rigidity. They were many hull ruptures at the front cross members and wheel wells. One solution was to cut 40 centimeters, making a new chassis with a wheelbase of two meters only. This, with a new reinforced hull, gave birth to the prototype of the type 166. The Type 128 was briefly seen, as a pre-production series of less than a hundred cars.

The type 166 Schwimmwagen

With a brand new hull, the type 166 proved far more reliable and was also simplified for mass production. From 1941 to 1944, no less than 15 600 were built, from which 14276 came from Fallersleben (Volkswagen factory) and only 1308 by Porsche at Stuttgart and the bodies at Ambi budd in Berlin. Porsche models differed only by a few details. These cars were characterized by a single speed FWD transmission (sometimes in reverse), front and rear axles ZD differentials, and portal gear rear hubs. A single screw propeller mounted in an amovible gear was easily put in place for swimming, directly tied to the transmission. That means only forward motion was possible. For maneuvers, simple paddle were used, or the normal reverse speed was activated, and the wheel motion could itself slowly move back the car. All these cars were equipped with a removable hood, spare parts and a spare wheel, all on the front, and additional shovel, pickaxe, and paddles locked on the hull sides. There were no doors for rigidity, two front seats and a rear bank.

The Schwimmwagen in action

The first of these vehicles equipped SS units on the eastern front and they proved valuable in marshy grounds like in the Pripet, many served also in Wehrmacht units in North Africa and Tunisia, Sicilia, and Europe. They were seen, like the Kübelwagens, in nearly all theaters of war. It was light and reliable and served for scouting, transport, dispatching, command cars, and regular officer cars on the frontline. They were unarmed but proved versatile, sturdy and reliable. Soldiers sometimes nicknamed it “the Frosche” (“frog”).
The schwimmwagen remains the most heavily produced amhibious car in history. Its VW mechanical basis made it popular after war, and 166 survived to this day in museums, private collections, and often in running conditions.

A rival: The Trippelwagen

Certainly less known, there was another amphibious scout car in service with the Wehrmacht: The Trippelwagen was built at the Bugatti factory in Molsheim (Alsace) between 1940 and 1944. The vehicle was designed by Hanns Trippel on the basis of a prewar forest civilian work car, amphibious, used also for hunting, fishing, etc. Called SG6, it was propelled by an Opel 6 cylinder gasoline engine capable of 80 kph, had a removable propeller, and its military variant was built to a rate of just 20 vehicles monthly (objective, so about 800-900 total) at Trippelwerke. So it’s quite rare today and an estimated 9 are still in existence, including one at Saumur – Musée des Blindés. Molsheim also produced dozens of Torpedoes for the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe, motorized sleds for the Russian front, flying bombs, and even a light tank prototype (currently researching infos).
Read more: (Fr)


Exhaustive resource about the vehicle.

Specs. VW schwimmwagen type 166

Dimensions : 3,82 x 1,48 x 1,61 m
Total weight, battle ready : 910 Kgs.
Crew : 4 (Driver + 3 passengers)
Propulsion : VW 4-cyl boxer, air cooled 1131 cm3, 25bhp@3000 rpm
Speed : 80 km/h (52 mph)
Range (road) : 250 km
Total production 15584

An Afrika Korps Schwimmwagen, Egypt, june 1942.
An eastern front schwimmwagen, Pripet marshes (Russia), august 1941.
A Wehrmacht Schwimmwagen in Normandy, june 1944, with the most current camouflage, with dark green and dark brown vermicels on a beige-brown basis.
schwimmwagen of the Afrika Korps in display
schwimmwagen of the (Afrika Korps?) or unit operating in Ukraine by 1942 on display – Wikipedia
Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2

WW2 USA vehicles WW2-Vehicles


USA USA (1941-1945)
Amphibious armored truck – about 21,147 built

The GMC DUKW (“D” – year 1942, “U” – utility, “K” – all-wheel drive, “W” – twin rear axles) was soon colloquially known as the “duck” to both US Army and Marine infantrymen. This strange vehicle was massively produced and soldiered all around the globe, from the Mediterranean to Europe, Russia, the Pacific and the Far East. This was the only wheeled amphibious vehicle serving in such numbers on the Allied side. They are still used to this day, either for training or in civilian uses.

Initial design (1941)

The first lines of the DUWK were drawn by Rod Stephens Jr., a yacht designer from Sparkman & Stephens, Inc., a British deep water sailor resident in the U.S., Dennis Puleston, and a Reserve Officer detached from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Frank W. Speir. At that time there wasn’t any immediate need for such a vehicle, as the USA still uninvolved in the war. The project was developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development. GMC was then charged with building the vehicle, using any available components.

GMC prototype design (1942)

General Motors Corporation (GMC) sought the most appropriate vehicle to meet the requirements laid down. The GMC ACKWX, a cab-over-engine (COE) special version of the CCKW six-wheel-drive military truck, also later popularly known as 2-ton utility “Deuce”, was chosen. This allowed commonality with an already produced vehicle, using the power plant, transmission, transfer case, drive shafts, axles and brake system, with easy maintenance prospects. A steel sheet watertight hull was welded around the chassis, strengthened with reinforcements beams. The hull was rectangular, with a curved bow, sloped ends and a flat bottom. The bow and stern shapes were determined by the angles of approach and departure.

Around 1/3 of the vehicle was occupied by the engine, a 270 cu in (4,425 cc) GMC straight-six engine giving 64 hp (47.74 kW) and a lot of torque. Transmission used a 10-forward speed, two reverse gearbox. Behind the engine was the open-top driver compartment. The last two-thirds of the hull were occupied by a large utility cargo area. Usual payload was 2 1/2 tons over land or water. The versatile cargo compartment could be covered by a tarpaulin cover. The driver compartment, made of plywood, was protected by a windglass designed by Henry Gassaway, working for Libbey Glass (Ford), to withstand excessive vibrations. At his left, a space could be used for a ring mount, holding a heavy machine-gun (0.5 cal/12.7 mm). The hull was light and unarmored (3.2 mm/0.12 in at the thickest).
The DUKW on a supply action, acting as a marine truck between the cargoes and the frontline, without stopping.
The cooling system was somewhat unusual in that air was drawn from behind the driver, pushed through the radiator and exhausted on each side. Nearly 50 different combinations of radiators, fans and ducts were tried before finding the optimal solution. There was also a complex and powerful heating system, to avoid water freezing in the bilge or in the bilge pumps. By using well-placed shutters on the engine outlets, warmed exhaust air was recirculated into the hull sides, decks, cargo compartments and even below the floor to warm the bilge.

This vehicle was fast on road, with a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), but could still cruise at 5.5 knots (6.33 mph/10.2 km/h), the speed of most barges, for long cruises, up to 50 nautical miles (58 miles/93 km). This was later proven to be enough to cross the English channel without difficulty, also demonstrating its seaworthiness. There was a duplex drive system, with a long transmission shaft acting a screw propeller housed in a tunnel at the rear end of the hull, and steered by removable rudders.
Artist View
There were two other innovations specific to the model. One was the fitting of a high capacity bilge pump system (total capacity of approximately 300 gallons/1135 liters per minute) if the hull was breached or submerged by rough seas. The second was Speir’s device, an internal system allowing to vary the tire pressure from the dashboard, which was useful when trying to deal with soft or hard ground (in the first case, pressure was decreased to provide a larger tire surface in contact -and lessen ground pressure). This was extremely helpful when it was required to land on sandy beaches.

Development and production

Yellow Truck and Coach at Pontiac was charged with building the prototype, and refined the construction details. The prototype built by GMC was eventually demonstrated to a military commission. The initial proposal was immediately rejected by the Army, but the team later choose a particularly difficult spot because of high winds and heavy surf, at Provincetown, Massachusetts, rescuing the entire crew of a Coast Guard Cutter in distress and safely carrying them to the beach. The DUKW performed admirably, whereas any conventional solution would have failed.
Postwar tests. Here a hydropter.
Some officers changed their mind, and authorized the production for internal needs (mostly the US Marine Corps now involved in the Pacific), and the Allies through Lend-Lease. Eventually, 21,137 were produced by GMC and its subcontractors, the bulk being absorbed by the US forces, and around 4,000 sent to the Allies. Production started at the end of 1942 and lasted until the end of the hostilities. Unit cost was $10,750.00 dollars apiece.

The DUKW in action

The DUKW first arrived to units -both in the Pacific and Europe- in early 1943. Its first action came with Operation Husky (invasion of Sicily, November 1943). It was also seen during D-Day, where 2000 were committed in action, carrying personnel and 3,040,000 tons of supplies ashore during 90 days of uninterrupted service, Operation Anvil-Dragoon. Other notable operations include the landings in the south of France, the Battle of the Scheldt – the capture of Antwerp, Operation Veritable – the battle of the Reichswald, north-western Holland, and Operation Plunder – the crossing of the Rhine. The Canadians were largely involved in these operations, having received approximately 800 of these.
The British forces received around 2000 of these and the Australians fighting in New Guinea, 535. The Soviet Union also received 589 of them, for river fording operations and in the marshy Pripet area. The Free French also operated many DUKWs during operation Anvil Dragoon (landings in Provence) and later on. The DUKWs were found vital in most submerged or (voluntary) inundated areas, in Holland and western Germany.
US ordinance identification
In the Pacific, the first commitment came with the USMC reinforcements at Guadalcanal. Although tracked amphibious vehicles were often preferred, DUKWs were massively employed during nearly all island assaults conducted until the end of the war, and the whole Philippines campaign. Usually they were cargo-borne, like any landing craft, but with the enormous advantage of being able to properly land. Only their lack of protection prevented their use in the first waves, as they were often relegated to ferry supplies instead of assault troops, including heavy ones, like 105 mm (4.13 in) howitzers.
A DUKW carrying gen. De Gaulle and his staff in France, after D-Day.
Some were used as ad hoc SPGs, delivering fire support in various operations, despite the fact that the recoil largely stressed the thin hull and chassis. Some versions mounted 100+ 4.5″ rockets. Other were used as naval ambulances, ferrying wounded soldiers to the hospital ships nearby. In all cases, the DUKW demonstrated a remarkable reliability and versatility in all situations.
Tactically the British deployed their DUKWs in RASC companies comprising 470 men on 132 vehicles. Australian DUKW companies comprised 173 men and officers for 50 vehicles. Ideal crew strength was found to be four men.
The DUKW’s postwar influence can’t be underestimated. Some “super DUKWs” were conceived in the fifties, the Drake and the BARC (later known as LARC-LX), and the LARCs, sometimes mislabeled as “DUKWs”. The Soviets made their own version, the BAV 485, produced in large numbers until 1962. Existing stocks were spread among Allied nations, and some are still in service today. The French largely used it in Indochina. Some saw action in Korea and Vietnam. Surplus vehicles were also sold to private owners for collection or transportation. Some serve to this day as “Duck Tours”, carrying amazed tourists in London, Dublin and elsewhere.

Links about the DUKW

The DUKW on Wikipedia

DUKW photo gallery

GMC DUKW specifications

Dimensions 9.4×2.5x2x17 m (31×8.2×7.11 ft)
Total weight 5.9 tons empty
Crew 1 (driver)
Propulsion GMC 6-cylinder 269 cid, 94 hp (70 kW), 14 hp/ton
Speed 80 km/h (50 mph) road, 5.5 nautical miles (6.3 mph/10.2 km/h) water
Suspension 6×6 wheels
Payload capacity 2.3 tons or 12 troops
Range 600 km (400 mi) at cruise speed 56 km/h (35 mph) road
50 nautical miles (93 km or 58 miles) on water
Armament None, had ring mount for a cal.50 (12.7 mm) Browning M1920 heavy machine gun
Armor From 1.6 to 3.2 mm (0.06 to 0.12 in)

operation Anvil Dragoon, French Riviera, August 1944
DUKW during operation Anvil Dragoon, French Riviera, August 1944. Notice the low roadwheel covers. The vehicle had its wave deflector unfolded.
DUKW with tarpaulin over both the driver\'s compartment and the cargo bay.
DUKW with tarpaulin over both the driver\’s compartment and the cargo bay.

A DUKW carrying a M3 75 mm (2.95 in) gun, Normandy 1944.

A DUKW carrying a 75 mm (2.95 in) M1 pack howitzer, with the standard 0.5 cal (12.7 mm) M1920 heavy machine gun ring mount.
Unknown Allied unit, Sicily, fall 1943
Unknown Allied unit, Sicily, fall 1943.
 2nd Belorussian Front
A Soviet Lend-Lease DUKW in Eastern Prussia, with Konstantin Rokossovsky\’s 2nd Belorussian Front, January 1945.

USMC DUKW Company at Iwo Jima, “Joan Molley”, February 1945.

WW2 USA vehicles WW2-Vehicles

Willys MB/Ford GPW Jeep

USA (1941)
General purpose vehicle – about 650,000 built

An American myth

The vehicle universally known as the “Jeep” is more than a simple military vehicle. It has all the characteristics of a mechanized legend, with few competitors worldwide, except, perhaps, for the German Volkswagen Beetle and its Kübelwagen derivatice. In 1991 it was labelled an “International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark” by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In postwar years, the Jeep inspired the civilian 4×4 concept, and was copied all around the world, with nearly a million built, by 1968, in the USA alone.

The army truck, 1/4 ton, 4×4

All started when war in Europe seemed imminent. The United States Department of War looked to replace older vehicles still in use with a new specially-built 4×4 light cross-country reconnaissance and utility vehicle. This effort had started for some time, in 1937-38, and several companies delivered prototypes, like the Marmon-Herrington based on a Ford 1/2 ton truck, the Austin or American Bantam. Only on June, 11th, 1940 were the specifications made official and delivered to 136 American manufacturers. It asked for a “(…) general purpose, personnel, or cargo carrier especially adaptable for reconnaissance or command, and designated as 1/4-ton 4×4 Truck.”
The bids had to be delivered to the Army’s Ordnance Technical Committee in only ten days (the 22nd of June). Moreover, the urge was so great that the companies had to present their first prototype within 49 days, and be ready to deliver 70 more pre-series test vehicles in 75 days. The specifications asked for a four-wheel drive, 75 in (1.9 m) wheelbase/ 47 in (1.2 m) track vehicle, with a crew of three, 300 kg (660 lbs) payload, a folding windshield, and a 85 ft/lbs (115 J) torque-capable engine. Moreover, it had to be kept within the strict limit of 1,300 lbs (590 kg). Needless to say, the combination of such demands within such a short time was deemed impossible and declined by all companies but two: Willys-Overland & American Bantam.

The 1940 Bantam prototype

Indeed, as daunting as it was, the prospect of earning a huge army contract motivated Roy Evans, who was the head of American Bantam since 1935. He had previously saved the company from bankruptcy. In 1940, the prospects were still quite meager for the small company. He contacted an experienced designer, Karl Probst, and finally answered the bid, within the time frame, with the “Blitz Buggy”, after an exhausting day-and-night technical and mechanical marathon. Willys-Overland was the lowest bidder (promising $748.74 per unit), but was found unable to guarantee the pilot and test models on time. Therefore, Bantam was chosen at first by the Army commission, which tested the “Blitz Buggy” at Camp Holabird, Maryland, on 23rd September 1940. Bantam also delivered the promised seventy BRC-60s for extensive tests.
However, the financial and technical aspects of massive wartime production were something the commission could not ignore. Soon, Ford and Willys were both asked to deliver their prototypes anyway (receiving Bantam’s original blueprints, freshly acquired by the army). Other tests were performed at the same location with the three vehicles in November. Under pressure of the hierarchy, and finding that the three models (Willys Quad, Ford Pygmy and the new Bantam BRC 60) were strongly similar, the commission eventually awarded a 1500-units contract to each company, while the weight limits were raised to a more reasonable 2,160 lbs (980 kg).
While all three companies started production, and the first models arrived for testing in the US Army, the commission still had to decide to give the mass-production contract to a single company. Willys-Overland won the contract, mostly because the Go-Devil engine gave by far the most impressive performances, as stated in numerous field reports. The cost was also a concern, as well as a lower silhouette.


The three were open-top vehicles, although a tarpaulin could be fitted to the windshield, held in place by two folding tender bars over the cargo bay. This cargo bay comprised a rear seating bank, and there were two front bucket seats. The suspensions were independent, but leaf-sprung. The cargo bay covered the rear wheels, while the front ones had mudguards of different shapes, like did the side openings used to access the driver compartment. For better rigidity and mass production simplification, there were no doors. The same reasoning was applied to the front, which had a flat radiator grille, which also covered the main headlights. All these points could help distinguish between the factory models.
A modern, preserved Willys MB
The Jeep also received 6 x 16 tires, a spare wheel and gas jerrycan at the rear, provisions for trailer lights, but also spark interference suppression, blackout light system (which could be hinged up to illuminate the engine compartment by night), as well as sealed spring shackles. Most also received folding top bows, used to hold in place a waterproof canvas with plastic windows, usually stored in a dedicated compartment. It was attached to the top windshield bar. The hull also received exterior handles for manual extrication of muddy terrain. There were also large bumperettes. The instrument panel was military, with black faced oil pressure, ammeter, fuel level, water temperature and speedometer gauges. On the original Bantam, differential and transfer case levers were found at the left of the transmission lever. In production models, these were placed at the right. A sturdy pintle mount base was also welded on the floor, just between the two front bucket seats, which could handle any kind of ordnance machine guns, and even a twin bazooka mount. The standard pintle mount was capable of a near-vertical elevation for AA fire. This gave the Jeeps fitted with M1920 cal.50 (12.7 mm) anti-aircraft capabilities at company level. The original stamped and welded roadwheels were also gradually replaced by bolted combat wheels, easier to replace.

Willys MA

The Willys Quad was very similar in dimensions and features to the others, but completely outperformed them in one area. The Go-Devil engine developed by Delmar “Barney” Roos, giving 60 horsepower, 105 foot-pounds of torque, compared to Bantam 83 and Ford 85. The “Quad” was refined and simplified, ending as the first production version, Wyllis MA. A total of 16,000 vehicles had to be supplied to the army, starting in June 1941. “MA” means “Military”, model “A”. Eventually, Willys would deliver 1553 MA models until the end of 1941. In 1942 the production was shifted to the simplified MB.

Willys MB

The Willys MB was the mass-production version, modified according to army field operation reports and simplifications in design. The most obvious change was the front radiator grille. It was, for the 25,000 initial deliveries, a welded flat iron “slat”, later replaced by the familiar and simpler stamped, slotted steel grille, originally a Ford design. According to factory designation, this model was renamed “B” (MB). Eventually, Willys will produce 361,339 Jeeps until the end of the war, including 25,808 of the slat radiator grille model, and 335,531 with the stamped steel grille. The MB retained the MA windshield design for some time, before swapping to a new model.

Ford GP/GPW model

By October 1941, it was already clear that Willys-Overland couldn’t keep the pace of deliveries, and Ford was contacted. Ford delivered 280,000 Ford GPs, alongside an amphibious model, the GPA. 4456 GPs derived from the Ford Pygmy were built in 1941, followed by 277,896 improved GPWs, derived from the Willys design. GPW means “Government”, “P” being the usual factory letter for passenger cars with a 80 inch wheelbase, and “W” to signify it was a Willys licensed design. Since regular soldiers preferred the Willys model, many Ford GPWs were part of the Lend-Lease program. No less than 15,000 of these were delivered to the Soviets.

Origins of “Jeep” name

At least several theories exist, but anyway, the original army designation was too long to be used in everyday soldier talk. It was perhaps the bastardization of “General Purpose”, “GP”. Anyway, it started as a nickname and had a life of itself, surviving the original manufacturers. On military test bases, mechanics usually called untested models “Jeep”. When the first preseries vehicles arrived in garrison, the impression was such that common soldiers started to use the nickname in reference to “Eugene the Jeep”, Popeye’s lightning fast and resourceful pet companion, from the popular comic strip created by E. C. Segar in 1936. Later on, a press demonstration was organized at the marches of the capitol by Willys Overland, and the test driver, Irving “Red” Haussmann, hearing soldiers repeatedly giving the vehicle this nickname at Camp Holabird, also used it when interviewed by the Washington Daily News. It spread like a bonfire.

Variants and derivatives

The incredible versatility of this vehicle, deeply rooted in the Army’s original specifications, made it the perfect go-anywhere, do-anything of all infantry divisions and most services of the Army. It was everywhere and used for any conceivable task, often transformed in the field. Since regulations and “kits” were largely distributed among units by the Army, some Jeeps ended with several configurations during their active life, which spanned -for some models- nearly forty years before joining the civilian market. Such was the reliability and sturdiness of the package.

Personal carrier

As delivered, most Jeeps were serviceable for this task, without armament. They could accommodate three passengers, plus the driver.


The most frequent combination encountered in the field. They were fitted with medium-range radios, and armed with the M1919 air-cooled Browning placed on the central pintle mount (fired by a standing gunner), but in some occasions, a heavier M1917A1 liquid-cooled was placed above the engine hood and fired by the co-driver. The M1920 often replaced the M1919 for added firepower. Usually the crew was two or three, the spare seat being utilized for ammo racks and gasoline jerrycans, allowing extra range. In practice, a large blackout headlamp was also mounted on the left front fender.

Antitank Jeep

The speed, small size and off-road capabilities of the Jeep made it an excellent “tank killer” when acting as a “skirmisher” at short range. In general, a specially tailored twin-bazooka encasing was fitted on the central pintle mount. It was not standard practice however. A recoilless gun was also tried after the war.

Armored Jeep

In reconnaissance operations, the Jeep proved fast, but clearly unprotected. This led to field adaptation of armored plates and, after some time, formulated and officialized as the “1/4 ton 4×4 armored truck”. This was an attempt by the army to set regulations of field modifications, consisting of adding a kind of “armored box” made of three plates (actually a single plate folded in three) protecting the front and sides of the driver compartment, with two small sight openings. The front plate replaced the windshield. The protection was sufficient against small arms fire.


It could be said that the Jeep saved countless GI lives on the frontline. Many were hastily converted on the field, but after some time, the regulations, again, dictated a “kit” to be fitted. In this configuration, the Jeep carried three stretchers on a welded frame, held in position in the cabin, and overhanging by 1 meter to the front.

Weather vehicle

These special vehicles were used by HQ auxiliary services, using a twenty foot tall meteo antenna with wind, pressure and humidity receptors, and a long range radio and generator which occupied the cargo bay.

Radio vehicle

Although most Jeeps received medium and short range radios, for long range advanced patrols, the cargo bay received a long range radio and generator. Like the weather vehicle, it was unarmed, except for the small arms of the driver and radio operator.

Tractor/Supply vehicle

Jeeps were fitted with a hook for a trailer, the ordnance two-wheeled “Trailer, 1/4-ton, 2W, cargo, Amphibian”, which had a splayed cross-section, and a tarpaulin. The main models were the K38 and K-38A, used by the US Army Signal Corps. The postwar models were the M100 and M416 trailers. The K38 could be distinguished by the use of curved mudguards. As a tractor, the usual loads consisted in the US M2 60 mm (2.36 in) or M1 81 mm (3.19 in) mortars, the Howitzer, Pack, 75 mm (2.95 in) M1 on Carriage M1, and the standard 37 mm (1.46 in) Gun M3 on Carriage M4.

Ford GPA

This was an amphibious version of the Jeep, designed by Ford in 1942, somewhat fueled by the success of the DUKW. It was also called the “Seep” (contraction of “Sea” and “Jeep”), and was in fact a Jeep wrapped by a waterproof hull, overhanging front and rear. It was rushed in production in 1942 and criticized for its shortcomings, namely a low freeboard, which proved highly problematic, combined with a much heavier weight than the original Jeep (3520 vs 2640 lbs/1596 vs 1140 kg). It was unable to carry a significant cargo load and therefore was mostly used as personnel carrier. It was often found that the vehicle could simply sink in shallow waters, if there were any waves, and it was slow, anemic and unwieldy on land. The crews simply despised this model. Eventually, most were shipped to the USSR via Lend-Lease, and the production was stopped in March 1943 after 12,778 vehicles had been delivered.

The Jeep in action

About 144 Jeeps were provided to every infantry regiment in the U.S. Army, so it was the most currently available vehicle. This explains why it was used for so many tasks and so extensively, marking a deep and durable imprint on simple soldiers. Since it was involved in every possible operations performed by the US Army and Marines in Europe, Africa and the Pacific, it would be pointless to detail specific assignations. It was used as personnel carrier, staff transportation, medevac, liaison, reconnaissance, patrol, spearheading advanced columns or deep into enemy territory. It should be noted also that shortly after WW2 started, a stretched version of the Jeep was envisioned, to carry more personal and payload, but the project was eventually cancelled due to the large availability of the Dodge C51 and Dodge T214.
It was used as light artillery tractor, ammo, water, food, fuel supply vehicle, mortar tractor, infantry support vehicle and even fast antitank vehicle, armored and equipped with bazookas. 30% of the production, mostly Ford GPAs, were turned to the Lend-Lease effort, largely distributed among British & Commonwealth, Free French, Free Polish forces and the Soviets, which ultimately derived a vehicle from it, the GAZ-67B. The production of this Soviet version started in September 23, 1943, and lasted until 1953, after 92,843 had been delivered.
One of the most thrilling uses of the Jeep, was performed by British and Allied LRDG units, “Long Range Desert Group” in North Africa. Often paired with Chevrolet WB trucks, they were heavily armed and received a lot of extra fuel. Their task was to navigate deep and far into enemy territory, gathering intelligence and operating covert reconnaissance. But they also hit depots, camps or even airbases, sometimes at night or dawn, striking hard and fast, and creating havoc in rear line sectors reputedly “quiet”, and therefore weakly defended. They made such an impression on the Italians in particular (which called it the “Pattuglia Fantasma” or “Ghost Patrol”) that they developed a special vehicle, the AS-42 Sahariana, derived from the AB-41 armored car for the same tasks and missions.

Postwar career & legacy

The Willys M38 was the immediate postwar continuation of the original Jeep, also known as the Willys MC. Produced to 61,423 units from 1950 to 1952, and replaced by the M38A1/Willys MD (1952-57 and 101,488 units), Willys M606 in 1954-64 (6500), and the M606 until 1968 with 155,500 vehicles. So that, in 1970, when a replacement was first sought, the “Jeep” production culminated to a staggering 972,830 vehicles -almost a million. It was also largely produced under licence during the postwar by many NATO and non-aligned countries, many of which are still in use. A true replacement was to be the M-151 MUTT (M151 Truck, Utility, 1/4-Ton, 4×4), of which eventually 100,000 (1959–1982) were built by the Ford Motor Co. However due to its tendency to roll-over easily, it has been never popular.
It was replaced in the eighties by the Humvee. Its civil career was also brilliant, as the discharged GI’s started buying surplus vehicles at such a rate that Willys sold thousands more of the “CJ”, the MB civilian version. There was, for some time, a brand battle around the name of “Jeep”, that eventually Willys inherited after Bantam went bankrupt in 1955. “Jeep” has, in the meantime, became a standalone brand and inspired Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki to produce off-road vehicles, thus leading to the actual branch of SUVs.

A disastrous Derivative: The Ford GPA “SEEP”

Ford GAP Seep
The Ford GPA ‘SEEP’ (For “sea jeep”) was an interesting derivative, launched by the US Motor Transport Board as the “QMC-4 1/4 Ton Truck Light Amphibian” in March 1941. Roderick Stephens Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens Inc. yacht designers were commissioned to design a reduced version of the successful DUKW. The final result looked like a reduced copy of the latter, complete with a collapsible front breakwater tarpaulin for heavy water, and a screw propeller and proper rudder at the tail while the hull was a monocorps boat-shaped piece with no doors. At 1200 kgs it was like the Jeep, a front-engine RWD/4×4. Ford and Marmon-Herrington competed and the former GPA was chosen for production. However, it was halted in March 1943 after production of only 12,778 vehicles. Reports came from the front criticizing its poor handling on land, and dangerous overweight and performances at sea. The DUKW was infinitely superior in any way. Despite of this, the SEEP was also used by British Forces and copied by the Soviet Army as the GAZ-46 and provided under Lend-Lease. The SEEP’s only major action was at at the Sicily landings of September 1943.

Links about the Jeep

The Willys MB on Wikipedia
Kaiser Willys, Jeep parts and accessories

Willys MB 1941 specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h) 3.32 x 1.57 x 1.83 m (131 x 62 x 72 in)
Wheelbase 203 cm (80 in)
Curb weight, battle ready 1040 kg (2293 lbs)
Crew 1+3 (driver +3 passengers)
Propulsion Go Devil I4, 134 cu in (2.2 l), 60 hp
Transmission 3-speed manual 2 reverse, 2-speed Dana-18 transfer case
Top speed 110 km/h (65 mph) road, 50 km/h (29 mph) off-road
Maximum range 458 km (285 mi)
Armament None
Armor Maximum 6 mm (0.2 in)

Bantam BCR40
Bantam BRC-40, the original Jeep of 1940.
Willys MA
Willys Jeep MA, early production.
Ford GP
An early Ford GP in China, Flying Tigers Squadron, 1941.
Willys cal.30
Standard Willys MB with a cal.30 (7.62 mm) machine-gun. High quality illustration.
Willys cal.50
Willys MB with a cal.50 (12.7 mm) machine-gun, the heaviest weapon fitted regularly on the Jeep.
Jeep with tarpaulin
Standard Willys MB Jeep with tarpaulin.
Operation Torch 1942
A Willys MB from the 1st Infantry Division, Operation Torch, November 1942.

Willys MB Jeep, Belgian Ardennes, Battle of the Bulge, December 1944.
Willys with M1917A1
Willys fitted with radio and Browning M1917A1 liquid-cooled machine gun (7.62 mm/0.3 in) and a M1920 cal.50 (12.7 mm). High quality illustration.
1/4 ton 4x4 truck armored
1/4 ton 4×4 truck armored, Belgium, winter 1944-45.
Antitank squad
1/4 ton 4×4 truck armored, fast antitank squad, Belgium, January 1945.
Willys radio
Radio Willys MB.

Willys MB, liaison vehicle.

Soviet Ford GPW, Leningrad sector, winter 1943.
British MB tarpaulin
British MB Jeep with partial tarpaulin and canvas doors, Burma, 1945.

Russian Lend-Lease hardtop Ford GPW Jeep.
LRDG vehicle, Libyan desert, 1943.
British Jeep Willys MB Italy 1944
A British Willis MB in Italy, early 1944. Notice the Boys AT rifle and AA Bren gun.
Willys MB Ambulance
Jeep Willys MB Ambulance.

British Willys Jeep MB Tractor with 2 pdr gun (40 mm/1.57 in).

Willys MB with standard trailer.


Blitz Buggy
Bantam BCR40
Ford GP 1942
Willys MB slat grille
Willys MB 1941