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British Airborne

Willys MB/ Ford GPW 1/4 Ton 4x4 Jeep

 

Recce Squadron Jeep


Statistics

Country of Origin/Used by: Great Britain
First Produced/Service Dates: 1942
Manufactured by: Willys-Overland Motors and Ford Motor Company
Crew: 2-4 (but many more could be, and were, "piled" on)
Armament: The standard airborne Jeeps were not normally armed.  However, they were specially fitted with mountings/clips/brackets that allowed the crews to keep their personal and transported crew-served weapons close at hand.  An exception to this rule were the Recce Squadron Vehicles which were equipped with (1) or (2) .303 Vickers "K" (Air) Machine Guns or (1) .303 BREN MG.
Engine: 4 Cylinder
Miscellaneous Info: In 1942 during the allies' preparation for the invasion of continental Europe, they chose the proven Willys MB/ Ford GPW 1/4 ton Jeep to provide their airborne forces with motorized transport.  They would use the Jeep to move rapidly to secure and hold key objectives during their airborne and airlanding (glider) operations.  However, although small, the Jeep still posed problems to the British due to the smaller dimensions and loading/off-loading limitations of their primary glider transport: the Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Mark 1 Glider.  Therefore, if they were to use the Jeep in airborne operations, changes would have to be made. Work by the British Airborne Forces and the Royal Electical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) was carried out and the problem solved by developing a set of standard modifications that would allow the Jeeps to fit into the Horsa Mark 1 glider.  These standard modifications were made to most Jeeps as outlined by official British War Office regulations. 

Although the modifications were standard, they were not made to all vehicles.  The modifications were omitted or changed based upon the role of the individual vehicle and on the operational conditions expected.  The most notable (and visible) standard Jeep modifications were the fitting of a removable steering wheel, removal of the windscreen/hood sticks, removal of the rear-bumperettes, removal of the side/rear grab handles, shortened front bumper, front mounted spare tire, pick and shovel, the jerry cans moved to the inside of the vehicle, the fitting of rear-mounted "A-Frames" for towing, and the fitting of a rear stowage rack/pannier. 

Besides acting as a basic transportation vehicle, the British Airborne Jeeps would also be used to fulfill specific roles or accomplish unique tasks.  These specialized roles were Artillery Supply/Towing Vehicle, Field Ambulance, Reconnaissance Vehicle, Signals/Radio Vehicle and Supply Vehicle.  While carrying out those duties, they were commonly seen towing the 10 cwt General Service Lightweight Trailer, Ordnance QF 6 pounder Anti-Tank Gun (on Mark 3 Airborne Carriage), M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzer (on M8 Airborne Carriage) and No. 2 Mark 2  20mm Poltsen Airborne Anti-Aircraft Gun.  As such, they required "operational" modifications (also standardized) to help them accomplish their tasks.  Some of these operational modifications included angle-iron stowage frames fitted to the Jeep hoods, the addition of a small towing jaws added to the front bumper, front & rear stretcher brackets, weapons mounts, extra wireless/signals equipment, the fitting of stowage brackets, bins and telephone wire reels.
Data Sheet Available:  None Available

Photos

Reference Source/Provider
  Ford GP British Airborne Jeep Photo (1942 - with pre-standardized modifications) The Imperial War Museum
  Airborne Field Ambulance Jeep Photo Ian Young - United Kingdom
    Airborne Field Artillery Jeep Photos Ian Young
Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron Jeep Photos Ian Young
    Airborne Signals Jeep Photos Ian Young
British Willys MB/ Ford GPW Airborne Jeep Photos (Operation Market-Garden: September 1944) German Bundesarchiv
British Willys MB/ Ford GPW Airborne Jeep Photos The Imperial War Museum
British Willys MB/ Ford GPW Airborne Jeep Photos Ian Young
10 cwt Lightweight General Services Trailer (No. 1 Mark 2) - Manufactured by SS Cars, Ltd. Anonymous Warwheels.net Supporter - St. Louis Missouri USA

References Available

Online

Reference Source/Provider
British Willys MB/ Ford GPW Airborne Jeep Information and Photos 6th Airbourne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment
British Willys MB/ Ford GPW Airborne Jeep Information and Photos Andy's French Military Jeep Site
British Willys MB/ Ford GPW Airborne Jeep Information and Photos ParaData Website
British Airborne Signals Jeep Photos Visual Collector Index

Printed

Reference Author
All-American Wonder: The Military 1/4 Ton 4x4 Truck -Volumes 1-3 (Victory WW2 Publishing) Ray Cowdery (Vol. 1 & 2) & Fred Crismon (Vol. 3)

  "British Airbourne Jeeps" (July 2014 Issue of Military Machines International Magazine)

Ian Young

British Airborne Jeeps 1942-1945: Modifications & Markings (Groucho Publishing)

Rob & Monica van Meel

"British Jeeps" (May 2010 Issue of Military Machines International Magazine)

Geoff Fletcher
GPW Jeeps In Detail: WW2 Jeeps From the Ford Factories (R046) Wings and Wheels Publications
"Jeep Rebuild (Part 1)" (September 2013 Issue of Military Machines International Magazine) Ian Young
"Jeep Rebuild (Part 2)" (October 2013 Issue of Military Machines International Magazine) Ian Young
"Jeep Rebuild (Part 3)" (November 2013 Issue of Military Machines International Magazine) Ian Young
"Jeep Rebuild (Part 4)" (December 2013 Issue of Military Machines International Magazine) Ian Young

"Jeeps in Camera (WW2 British Airbourne Jeeps)" (January 2010  Issue of Military Machines International Magazine)

Mark Askew
MB Jeeps: In Detail - WW2 Willy's and Composite Jeeps (R054) Wings and Wheels Publications
Military Jeep: 1940 Onwards (Ford, Willys & Hotchkiss) (Haynes Publishing - Enthusiasts' Manual) Pat Ware
Quarter Ton: The Story of The... 4x4 Utility in British Military Service (1941-1958) (Warehouse Publications) Pat Ware
WWII MB Willys Jeeps In Detail (R 054) Wings and Wheels Publications

Hobby Modeling

Kits and Accessories

Model Kit Manufacturer Scale Other Information
Willys British Airbourne Jeep Kit (A02339) Airfix 1/72 Injection Molded Plastic
British Airborne Troops Riding in 1/4 ton (Jeep) Truck and Trailer (CB35169) Bronco Models 1/35 Injection Molded Plastic.
British 1/4 Ton (Airbourne) Truck (Jeep) with 6 pounder Anti-Tank Gun & Crew model kit set (CB35170) Bronco Models 1/35 Injection Molded Plastic.
British 1/4 Ton (Airbourne) Truck (Jeep) with with 75mm Pack Howitzer & Trailer model kit set (CB35163) Bronco Models 1/35 Injection Molded Plastic.
       
Accessory/Detail Set Manufacturer Scale Other Information
Willys Jeep Instruments & Placards

Review by Patrick Keenan

Archer Fine Transfers 1/35 Decals; Designed for Tamiya Kit.
Ford Jeep Instruments & Placards (AR35382) Archer Fine Transfers 1/35 Decals; Designed for Bronco Kits.
Brit Para Jeep "Before Drop" Accessory Set (T35110) Black Dog.CZ 1/35 Resin.  For Bronco kit CB35107?
Brit Para Jeep "After Drop" Accessory Set (T35111) Black Dog.CZ 1/35 Resin.  For Bronco kit CB35107?
Windshield Cover for U.S. WWII 1/4 ton 4x4 (Jeep) Truck (AVM35001)   Minor Model 1/35 Photo Etched Brass; For Tamiya kit, but adaptable to all model kits.
Stowage rack for WWII Jeep (AVM35002)   Minor Model 1/35 Photo Etched Brass; For Tamiya Kit. This product is also offered with some of the other Minor stuff in combination sets
Jeep M48 Dash Gun Mount and Accessory Set (AVM35020)   Minor Model 1/35 Photo Etched Brass; For Tamiya Kit. This product is also offered with some of the other Minor stuff in combination sets
Standard Airborne Jeep Conversion with Trailer (35.1147) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Conversion for newer tooled Jeep Model Kit (35219). Out of Production
Airborne RMAC-Medical Jeep Conversion (35.1148) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Conversion for newer tooled Jeep Model Kit (35219)
Airborne Royal Artillery Jeep Conversion (35.1149) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Conversion for newer tooled Jeep Model Kit (35219); Includes both 6 pounder and 75mm ammunition.
Airborne Recce Jeep Conversion (35.1153) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Conversion for newer tooled Jeep Model Kit (35219)
Airborne Signals Jeep Conversion (35.1156) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Conversion for newer tooled Jeep Model Kit (35219)
Standard Airborne Jeep Conversion, Trailer & 20mm Polsten Airborne Anti-Aircraft Gun (35.1196) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Conversion for newer tooled Jeep Model Kit (35219).  Includes Set 35.1147 and 20mm Polsten AA Gun.  Out of Production.
10 cwt Airborne Trailer Set (35.1158) Resicast 1/35 Multi-Media Set with Two Trailers
Willys MB Jeep Lense and Tailight Set (SKP141) SKP Model 1/35 Multi-Media; For Newer Tamiya Model kit
Jeep Lense and Tailight Set (SKP197) SKP Model 1/35 Multi-Media; For Bronco Model kit
Jeep Wheel Set (SKP241) SKP Model 1/35 Resin; For Bronco Model kit
Jeep Firestone Wheel Set (SKP246) SKP Model 1/35 Resin; For Bronco Model kit
Willys Jeep Wheels Trakz 1/24 Resin

Model Photos

Reference Source/Provider