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Hello there. Welcome to the Normandy beaches. It's not the kid of weather for a paddle though!
It's June 1944
the second world war's in full swing
and what you're looking at here is the original Jeep
The Willy's Overland MB.
There was nothing quite like this back when war broke out; motor companies Bantam,
Willys and Ford designed the first light light four-by-four trucks
to meet a US war department criteria just as the second world war was starting
now Willys was a car and tractor manufacturer from Toledo Ohio.
They soon because the front runners in the design of these little trucks
and they already had the ideal engine
a powerful 2.2 litre four cylinder engine called the Go-Devil
but a powerful engine like that had to be pretty heavy
so to meet US War Department's lightweight requirements that meant
everything else on the vehicle had to be stripped to the bone but still incredibly strong.
Willys drew some of the best ideas from Bantam's model and came up with
a final design, and by 1941 they were demonstrating production versions
with a unique new nickname... the Jeep.
But where on earth did they come up with a name like that?
Some say it's born out of early references to its GP or general purpose use.
Others say it was named by soldiers after a Popeye character called Eugene the Jeep
who famously could go anywhere. Whatever the source, the name stuck!
Ford joined Willys in manufacturing the Jeep largely because Willys alone
couldn't make enough of the little beggars.
and just imagine if the Willys factory had been bombed by the enemy
that would have put production at a stand still.
Of course in this war the yanks are using them all over the world and so are we!
our British armed forces are fighting with 'em in europe, north africa
the far east not to mention back home in Blighty.
all our allies are using them - the French, Canadians, the Indians, Australians
and fifty thousand being shipped to Russia
for use by the Soviet Red Army fighting Hitler on the Eastern Front.
By the end of the war you'll find Willys and Ford have together produced
almost 650,000 Jeeps... well over half a million!
They can carry troops or a quarter ton of kit
they're great for fast off-road reconnaissance, they can pull artillery
or be used as ambulances.
They're small and light enough to be transported in planes or even gliders,
and they can be waterproofed to drive through rivers
as long as the driver keeps his head above the water!
there's even an amphibious version that's pretty much seaworthy.
Without a doubt the old girl she's a classic design
and will set the shape of 4x4s for decades to come.
But more than just an icon of military design,
these vehicles perfectly combine form and function
after this war is over General Eisenhower, supreme commander of all allied forces,
will famously comment that the four things that won the war
were the C-47 transport plane, the bazooka,
the atom bomb, and the Jeep!
now if you'll excuse me, we've got a beachhead to clear here.
Jerry's not going to hand it over on a plate!
Video by John Hamlett at Lunar www.lunar.co.uk