, 2014 marks the 70th
anniversary of the invasion of Normandy
by Allied forces
. This invasion, known as Operation Overlord
still stands as the largest seaborne invasions in history. While this attack was mostly carried out by boat and by air, there were quite a few land vehicles that were brought in after the initial invasion was over. One of the most common and prolific of those vehicles was the quintessential off-road beauty we still love today: the Jeep.
1. The Original Jeeps were Produced by Willys Overland
Production of the Willys MB, better known as the Jeep, started production in 1941. The “Jeep” contract made it so that Willys Overland ranked 48th
among corporations in the United States in regard to military production contracts during WWII. Nobody is quite sure where the name “Jeep” came from, with some believing it came form the GP abbreviation for the Willys vehicle while others claim it has ties to a character on the then-popular comic strip Popeye
. Many people mistakenly believe that all Jeeps had the designation of GP and that it stood for “General Purpose.” Both of these are technically wrong.
2. Ford Actually Made Some Jeeps
The only Jeeps that had the designation of GP were actually made by Ford Motor Company, which was contracted by Willys Overland to produce part of the approximately 640,000 total military Jeeps produced for the war effort. The GP also didn’t stand for General Purpose, but instead the G was a Government designation and the P designated the 80” wheelbase. These models also had a W following the GP to signify the Willys engine design. Every component on every Jeep produced by Ford carried an “F” stamp on them, even including the bolts. This continued until the practice was stopped in 1942.
3. Each Jeep Cost Willys $648.74
The original contract given to Willys Overland by the US Government was for $648.74 per jeep. Ford’s Jeeps cost significantly more, at $782.59 per Jeep. Compared to today’s military vehicle and Jeep prices, this seems like a great price, but in today’s money
this was nearly $9,500. While still not a lot of money today, knowing that more than 600,000 were produced for the war effort makes this a pretty huge number.
4. Each Army Infantry Regiment had 145 Jeeps
During WWII and Infantry Regiment has approximately 3,250 men that were commanded by a Colonel. This means that there were 22 men per Jeep on average, making it an extremely common sight on the battlefield.
5. There was an Amphibious Jeep Called the Seep
For a short period of time Willys Overland made a specific version of the Jeep for water travel. The Seep, or Sea Jeep, was basically a standard Willys Jeep with a boat tub on the bottom and holes cut out for the wheels and a propeller in the back. The Seep wasn’t known for being particularly seaworthy, but were useful for crossing small yet deep bodies of water.