August 11, 2022

 

The state of the U.S. Military (1918-39)

Though World Warfare I started in August 1914, the US didn’t enter the battle till April 6, 1917, after quite a few U.S. service provider ships have been sunk and casualties mounted from civilian ships being torpedoed or shelled by German U-boats. U.S. Military and U.S. Marine Corps troops took half within the final offensives that ended the battle. By 1918 there have been practically 2.4 million males within the U.S. Military, and practically 53,000 within the Marines. Nevertheless, after the armistice was signed in November 1918, the U.S. armed forces have been as soon as once more decreased in measurement. By 1919, the Military was lowered to simply over 851,000 males, and by 1923, it was lowered additional to simply over 133,000 males.

U.S. Army soldiers in the late 1930s wore denim "uniforms" and had few modern weapons. 
(Photo: nostalgiaonwheels.blogspot.com)
U.S. Military troopers within the late Nineteen Thirties wore denim “uniforms” and had few trendy weapons.
(Picture: nostalgiaonwheels.blogspot.com)

World Warfare II formally started on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Nevertheless, an undeclared battle had been underway since 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria after which China.

Whereas the US remained formally impartial till the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the leaders of the U.S. armed forces realized the necessity to enhance the dimensions of the service branches, in addition to to modernize its weaponry and transportation methods.

Estimates of the Military’s manpower in 1939 vary between 174,000 and 200,000 troopers. The U.S. Military was ranked solely the nineteenth largest on the planet – and it was smaller than Portugal’s military! President Roosevelt appointed Basic George C. Marshall as Military chief of workers in September 1939 with the mandate to increase and modernize the Military in preparation for battle.

At the Casablanca conference in Casablanca, Morocco, President Roosevelt with Major General George S. Patton, Jr., affixing the Congressional Medal of Honor upon Brig. General William H. Wilbur in the presence of General George C. Marshall. (Photo: Library of Congress.)
On the Casablanca convention in Casablanca, Morocco, President Roosevelt with Main Basic George S. Patton, Jr., affixing the Congressional Medal of Honor upon Brig. Basic William H. Wilbur within the presence of Basic George C. Marshall.
(Picture: Library of Congress)

The necessity for a brand new automobile

Following President Roosevelt’s mandate, the Military sought a automobile to exchange horses and the motorbike as a mechanized type of transportation that may very well be mass-produced rapidly and would even be quick, light-weight, and in a position to journey on most sorts of terrain.

The concept of a small, sturdy car was championed by retired Navy Commander Charles ‘Harry’ Payne, an American Bantam Automobile Firm (Bantam) salesman. He labored with Robert Brown, a civilian marketing consultant working for the U.S. Military Quartermaster Corps (QMC).

The Military despatched an RFP  to 135 firms to supply proposals for a brand new 1/4-ton 4 wheel drive automobile. Of the 135 firms, solely two – Bantam and Willys-Overland – responded.

Employees of the American Bantam Car Company pose for a photo with the first Bantam Reconnaissance Car (better known then and now as the jeep) in 1940. (Photo: visitbutlercounty.com)
Workers of the American Bantam Automobile Firm pose for a photograph with the primary Bantam Reconnaissance Automobile (higher recognized then and now because the jeep) in 1940. (Picture: visitbutlercounty.com)

The competitors was Bantam’s alternative for progress; the corporate was in monetary issue. Bantam’s chief engineer Harold Crist and Frank Fenn, the corporate’s president, labored collectively in the course of the spring of 1940 to develop the specs for what they termed the Bantam Reconnaissance Automobile. Crist did the majority of specifying, conceiving, designing and building of the automobile. Bantam additionally recruited Karl Probst, a contract engineer, to draft and formalize Crist’s pre-existing format and the Military’s necessities.

Utilizing the work of Crist, Fenn and Probst, Bantam submitted its prototype design, bid and blueprints for a brand new automobile to the U.S. Military on July 22, 1940. The Military accredited Bantam’s design, and the corporate delivered the primary Bantam Reconnaissance Automobile (higher recognized then and now because the jeep) to the QMC on September 23, 1940 at Camp Holabird, a U.S. Military base east of Baltimore, Maryland. Engineers from Ford Motor Firm and Willys-Overland have been current at Camp Holabird throughout testing to be taught extra about Bantam’s new automobile.

The Military’s assessments and the choice

Bantam had produced probably the most fuel-efficient engine and first prototype underneath the unique U.S. Military tender specs. The Military subjected Bantam’s prototypes to a rigorous set of trials, and its analysis reported that “this automobile demonstrated ample energy and all necessities of the service.” Bantam was awarded the primary contract to supply the automobiles for the Military.

The Sam Werner Military Museum in Monteagle, TN has two 1941 Bantam jeeps. This is one of 50 that were built with four-wheel steer. The rear wheel is slightly turned as part of the four-wheel steering. This jeep was delivered to the U.S. Army on November 10, 1941. (Photo: David D Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)
The Sam Werner Army Museum in Monteagle, TN has two 1941 Bantam jeeps. That is one in every of 50 with four-wheel steer. The rear wheel is barely turned as a part of the four-wheel steering. This jeep was delivered to the U.S. Military on November 10, 1941.
(Picture: David D. Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)

After the supply of the primary take a look at jeep, Bantam started serial manufacturing of the Mark II (additionally referred to as the BRC-60) jeeps with enhancements beneficial by the QMC. The corporate manufactured and delivered one other 60 quarter-ton, four-wheel-drive vans for testing on November 29, 1940. These prototypes are thought of to be the primary jeeps. Bantam was the only real producer of jeeps put into service by the U.S. Military throughout 1940.

In whole, Bantam constructed 2,675 jeeps from 1940 by way of 1943. The majority of these automobiles have been delivered throughout 1941. Greater than half of the preliminary manufacturing run was despatched by the US to the Nice Britain, and a few additionally went to the Soviet Union.

This photo (also taken at the Sam Werner Military Museum in Monteagle, TN) shows how utilitarian the original jeeps were. 
(Photo: David D Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)
This picture (additionally taken on the Sam Werner Army Museum in Monteagle, TN) reveals how utilitarian the unique jeeps have been.
(Picture: David D. Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)

Nevertheless, Ford had relationships inside the Quartermaster Corps. It was identified that Bantam lacked the manufacturing capability to supply the automobile on the dimensions wanted by the Military; this led to the reopening of the bidding and contracts.

On account of Bantam’s monetary and labor challenges, restricted amenities and the manufacturing requirement of 75 items per day (earlier than the nation entered World Warfare II, when the amount was elevated), the Military gave the unique Bantam Reconnaissance Automobile designs to Willys-Overland and awarded the mass-production contract to Willys and Ford. What turned recognized to thousands and thousands because the jeep was initially a product of the American Bantam Automobile Firm.

A jeep production line during World War II, "manned" by women. (Photo: warhistoryonline.com)
A jeep manufacturing line throughout World Warfare II, “manned” by ladies. (Picture: warhistoryonline.com)

When the US entered World Warfare II on the aspect of the Allies in late 1941, manufacturing of jeeps was in excessive gear. After getting into the battle, the Military elevated its order for the automobiles; about 650,000 jeeps have been manufactured in the course of the battle. Jeeps have been essential to the battle effort. For a lot of they turned an emblem of American ingenuity. Sadly, Bantam acquired little credit score for its growth of the automobile.

This photo shows the last jeep manufactured by the Ford Motor Company at its Louisville, Kentucky facility in World War II. (Photo: wlky.com)
This picture reveals the final jeep (quantity 93,389) manufactured by Ford at its Louisville, Kentucky facility in World Warfare II.
(Picture: wlky.com)

American Bantam launched an promoting marketing campaign in 1943 that boasted that “Ivan received his first Jeep from Bantam.” This was in response to an software by Willys-Overland to the US Patent and Trademark Workplace to trademark “JEEP” that was filed on February thirteenth, 1943.

A 1931 American Austin Roadster on display at the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum in LaPorte, Indiana. 
(Photo: David D Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)
A 1931 American Austin Roadster on show on the LaPorte County Historic Society Museum in LaPorte, Indiana.
(Picture: David D. Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)

Bantam’s historical past

The American Bantam Automobile Firm was initially based in 1929 as American Austin Automobile Firm in Butler, Pennsylvania. The corporate launched a line of small British-designed Austins in 1930. Nevertheless, the corporate solely offered 8,558 Austins in 1930 – far wanting the 60,000 the corporate anticipated could be offered by the corporate’s 4,000 sellers. Poor gross sales led the American Austin Automobile Firm to declare chapter early in 1936.

On June 2, 1936, Roy Evans and his co-founders included American Bantam Automobile Firm in Butler County, Pennsylvania,and transferred the property bought from the American Austin Automobile Firm, together with $500 in money, to the brand new firm.

In early 1937, Evans contacted Rely Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who had designed the unique Austin physique. Evans requested de Sakhnoffsky to design a brand new line of our bodies for Bantam. Nevertheless, the brand new designs must be improvised across the current tooling due to the corporate’s lack of funds.

The designer accepted the problem; he visited the Bantam manufacturing facility and designed a very new entrance grille, new entrance fenders and new rear fenders. As well as, the Austin engine was redesigned with a brand new aluminum induction system and cylinder head. The engine retained the 45.6-cubic inch displacement, however a completely pressurized oil system was adopted, which elevated the compression ratio by 40% to a 7:1 ratio and the brand new design produced 20 horsepower at 4,000 rpm, a 50% enchancment over the Austin engine. Regardless of the brand new designs, the enhancements to the engine, and a variety of Bantam physique kinds (which ranged from gentle vans to woodie station wagons), solely about 6,000 Bantams of every kind have been constructed.

This is a very rare 1940 American Bantam Standard Coupe. Only 11 were produced; it was years ahead of its time as a small economical two-passenger vehicle. Weighing only 1,100 pounds, it was powered by a four-cylinder 22-hp engine. It is displayed at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. (Photo: David D Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)
It is a very uncommon 1940 American Bantam Commonplace Coupe. Solely 11 have been produced; it was years forward of its time as a small economical two-passenger automobile. Weighing just one,100 kilos, it was powered by a four-cylinder 22-hp engine. It’s displayed on the Gilmore Automobile Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. (Picture: David D. Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)

American Bantam continued to construct vehicles till August 18, 1943. Going ahead, all of its manufacturing efforts have been targeted on World Warfare II weapons manufacturing, together with the “manufacture of torpedo engines, plane controls and elements, torpedo tail gearing, amphibious trailers and cargo trailers.”

American Bantam built 73,569 T-3 jeep trailers. This one was displayed at the 2013 MVPA Rally at the now defunct Ropkey Armor Museum. Willys-Overland designed and also built the trailer.  (Photo: David D Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)
American Bantam constructed 73,569 T-3 jeep trailers. This one was displayed on the 2013 MVPA Rally on the now defunct Ropkey Armor Museum. Willys-Overland designed and in addition constructed the trailer. (Picture: David D. Jackson/usautoindustryworldwartwo.com)

Legacy

The American Bantam Automobile Firm and the idea of small vehicles have been forward of their time in the US. It wasn’t till the Fifties that sufficient small vehicles have been offered within the nation to realize an appropriate market share. Even then, it wasn’t till the oil embargoes of the Seventies that small vehicles offered in giant portions.

Following the top of World Warfare II, Bantam continued to fabricate trailers for the patron market till the corporate was taken over by American Rolling Mills in 1956.

Bantam is credited with the invention of the unique jeep and the primary serial manufacturing navy jeeps ordered by the U.S. Military in 1940. Sadly, few are conscious of Bantam’s position within the growth of the jeep (and in the end the event of the auto business’s sport-utility automobile section).

Since World Warfare II, the jeep has remained in use for navy and civilian functions alike.

FreightWaves Classics thanks the Smithsonian Establishment, usautoindustryworldwartwo.com (and particularly, David D. Jackson), Wikipedia, alternatewars.com and Automobile and Driver for data and photographs that have been used on this article.

A 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. (Photo: Car and Driver)
A 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is a far cry from a 1940 Bantam jeep! (Picture: Automobile and Driver)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.