Military Review

"Bow": the first Jeep Lend-Lease

The very first blows of the German tank formations across Poland and France have demonstrated that the era of protracted trench wars is a thing of the past, now lightning offensive operations dominated the battlefield and were not inferior to them in terms of counter-attack speed. The tracked base of tanks and other combat vehicles was perfect for this, but there was no similar passenger car in cross-country ability that could keep up with the advanced units when moving off-road. The armies of many countries felt an urgent need for such vehicles.

The first developments in the field of creating light army SUVs began to be conducted in the period between the two world wars in several countries of the world at once. However, the mass production and supply of such vehicles to the troops began as early as the Second World War. For example, the legendary American Willys MB began to enter the army in 1941. Perhaps it was this car that became the most popular off-road vehicle of the Second World War, taking part in combat operations in all theaters of operations. Under the Lend-Lease program, this car was delivered in large quantities to the USSR and the UK.

At the same time, another SUV produced in the USA, the Bantam BRC-40, was just as passable, speedy and lightweight, which, however, did not bring the car to the same fame as Willis. It was Bantam BRC-40 that could, under luck, take the place of Willys MB, which in the years of World War II was built by hundreds of thousands of copies, tens of thousands of which were delivered to the Soviet Union (about 52 thousands of all-terrain vehicles).

"Bow": the first Jeep Lend-Lease

In the competition for the creation of an army all-wheel drive reconnaissance and command vehicle, which took place in the US in 1940-1941, there was a 3 winner, each of whom received an order to make a trial batch of machines in the number of 1500 copies. Against their competitors, Willis and Ford, the American Bantam car, which received the BRC 40 factory index, looked at least as good, but when launched into mass production, the preference of the US military was not given to this car - and that the American Bantam plant had incomparably lower production capacity, the military doubted that the company would be able to cope with large orders. As a result, Bantam released the entire order of 2600 SUVs, the vast majority of which was transferred under the lend-lease program to the UK and the Soviet Union. It was the Bantam BRC 40 that became the first American off-road car, which, together with the northern convoys, hit the USSR at the end of 1941, six months earlier than the famous Willis began to flow through the ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

The small “Bantik” in the USSR, namely this affectionate nickname stuck to this American off-road car in our country, did not go unnoticed in the Red Army. It is known that it was on these machines that the protection of Marshal Zhukov went. Perhaps the explanation for this was the fact that the Bantam BRC 40 was notable for a wider gauge and lower center of gravity than its sworn competitor “Willis”, which means it was completely spared from its main drawback - the tendency to toppling.

History Bantam BRC-40

The first attempts to create an off-road vehicle were made by captain Carl Terry and his friend, engineer William F. Beesley, they were made back in the 1923 year. In fact, they themselves belong to the term "jeep", which originally meant "General Purpose", the phrase could be translated as a general purpose vehicle. The concept has been tested on Ford-T models. For this, everything that was possible was removed from the car, having managed to bring its mass to 500 kg. The problem arose with the selection of suitable tires. Then Carl Terry had the idea to use tires from the plane. The wheels of the car with great difficulties still managed to adapt to small airspaces, as a result of which the car's permeability increased significantly. Two seats were installed in the cab, covered with canvas, the basic design of the jeep was obtained, but it was not possible to finish this project, the time for such cars had not yet come.

We selected to create a similar car in the auto company Marmon Herringthon. So Arthur Herrington, learning about the attempts of the military to develop a light vehicle in off-road conditions, offered a four-wheel drive half-ton truck, his tests were conducted at the beginning of the 1938 of the year.

Around the same time, Bantam offered the Austin American military roadster to familiarize themselves with the car and demonstrate the possibilities of adapting it to any requirements. The initiator of the development was Charles Payne, who was responsible in the company for the sale of equipment of the American army. The military became interested in Bantam's development and in July 1940, the factory of this company, located in Butler, was visited by a delegation of the US Army to get acquainted with the production, personnel and their capabilities. At the same time, a more specific list of requirements that the future car had to meet was four-wheel drive, three seats, 7,62-mm machine gun and ammunition stock, speed on the highway - 50 mph (about 80 km / h) , on the road 3 miles / h (about 5 km / h). The weight of the all-wheel drive car should not exceed 1200 pounds (no more than 545 kg), and the payload should be 600 pounds (not less than 273 kg). The wheelbase is 190,5 cm and the height of no more than 91,5 cm combined with good ground clearance and the 45 ° and 40 ° corners provide excellent off-road performance. In addition, the car stood out for its rectangular case and folding windshield.

Bantam Reconnaissance Car No. Xnumx

At the same time, after all the technical requirements for the future car were formed, the military announced a competition to which 135 automakers were attracted, sending invitations to almost all companies that were associated with this business. The competition conditions were tough enough: the tenderer had to give 75 ready vehicles to the military after 70 days, and after the 49 days he had to provide a ready prototype. Order value was estimated at 175 thousand dollars. All companies received notices of the competition, but only two American firms Bantam and Willys responded to it.

After the conditions of the tender were received, Francis Fenn, the owner of the company Bantam, invited Karl Probst to work, who headed the project to create a jeep. At first Probst refused, because he doubted the technical, financial and production capabilities of Bantam, but Francis Fenn showed serious interest in the specialist and he yielded. 17 July 1940, they signed a contract, and it was necessary to make the decision to participate in the tender of the American Army before 9 in the morning on July 18. As chess players like to say, the game “was on the checkbox”. By signing a contract with Karl Probst, Francis Fenn agreed to participate in the tender. Thus, all the participants in the creation of the future jeep came together: his "mother" - the company Bantam, "father" - Karl Probst and the "midwife and matchmaker" at the same time - the American army. However, this was only the beginning of the story, which later became overgrown with real drama.

Karl Probst began work on a new car by concluding a contract with Spicer to obtain transmissions and bridges. He decided to use bridges from the car “Studebekker Champion” as a basis, and the weight of the car was 950 kg. The problem of overweight Probst so far did not care, because he believed that no one in the United States could simply solve it in the existing realities. He decided to use Continental - V 4112 as the engine, the transmission was supplied by the company - “Warner Gear”, the transfer case - “Spicer”. All the rest was selected directly at the Bantam production. In the course of the work, a car was born equipped with a 4 petrol 45-cylinder engine with horsepower, paired with a three-speed gearbox, a two-stage transfer case and front-wheel drive to be switched off. The car received an open body, designed for four people and not having doors. The car stood out flat windshield, rounded wings and grille. The off-road car received the designation Bantam Reconnaissance Car Quarter - Ton, becoming the first jeep in history, subsequently transforming into a Bantam BRC 40 model.

Jeep managed to collect on time, 23 September 1940, Karl Probst personally drove the car to the test site. The SUV overcame the distance in 350 kilometers confidently enough, having arrived at a military training ground half an hour before the expiration of the control period. The Bantam car was the only model that was submitted for testing in accordance with the conditions of the tender held by the US Army.

Upon arrival, the military subjected the jeep to a series of short but very tough tests. The car was able to safely endure all the tests, leaving only positive impressions about themselves. The only unresolved issue was the weight of the car, but the rest of the quality confidently took up, and Bantam received official permission to supply the remaining 70 vehicles for full-fledged army tests. The prototype was left to pass the test run with a length of 5500 miles, 5000 of which the military were going to overcome in off-road conditions.

Stolen triumph or robbery american

This planned triumph turned into a real disaster for a small company. Despite the approval of the project by Bantam, the US military was skeptical about the capabilities of this enterprise from Pennsylvania to set up the production of off-road vehicles in the quantities needed by the army (difficulties with production, personnel, funding). In order to insure themselves, Willys and Ford were allowed to participate in the tender, with the latter being dragged in to the ears literally. Since the models of these two companies were still not ready, the military simply gave them full technical documentation for the Bantam BRC car. Karl Probst was just furious at such a decision, but he could do nothing. After Bantam signed a contract with the US Army, the intellectual property rights for the prototype were transferred to the military.

Bantam BRC 40 with 37 mm M3 anti-tank gun

1,5 passed a month before Willys unveiled its prototype called Quad, and after 10 days, a Ford Pygmy arrived at the military range. Both cars were almost complete copies of the Bantam, the only difference between the "Pygmy" was its flattened hood. The main and decisive advantage and distinction of the Willys Quad SUV was its more powerful engine, the engine developed the power of the 60 HP. - immediately on 15 hp more than the latest version of Bantam, which received the designation BRC-40. The superiority in engine power — and with such a small mass, the extra horsepower 15 was very important — it provided the Willys jeep not only with higher maximum speed and better acceleration, but most importantly, the Quad turned out to be more efficient in off-road conditions. Willys climbed almost playfully on a slope that the Bantam SUV struggled with.

Evaluation tests of all three cars presented to the military, ended in a predictable victory for Willys Quad, the Bantam model became the second, and the Ford Pygmy SUV finished the third with a large lag. Despite the test results, each of the three companies received an order to manufacture 1500 vehicles that were planned to be sent to real army units, where they had to undergo a series of tests in conditions as close as possible to the combat ones. The final decision of the US Army was to take the results of the operation of machines in parts. Actually, the Bantam BRC 40, Willys MA and Ford GP jeeps were born that way. Their tests were carried out on a vast territory from Hawaii to Alaska, but the circumstances were such that none of the 4,5 thousands of vehicles of these parties were in the American army. All of them were sent to the UK and the Soviet Union according to the Lend-Lease program (more than 500 Bantam BRC 40 vehicles reached the Red Army).

Willys MA

Ford Pygmy

All tests conducted by the US military demonstrated the advantages of the Willys SUV in engine power, while the price of this car was the lowest. As a result, it was Willys MA who won the large-scale competition. The final report of the US military command in July 1941 recommended the launch of the standardized model based on the Willys Quad for mass production. If the first army order placed at Willys' plant in Toledo included the assembly of 16 thousands of off-road vehicles, after the Japanese attack on the American base Pearl Harbor and the states entered World War II, the Pentagon decided that these output volumes would not be enough. The second contractor was decided to make the firm Ford, which received from Willys a complete set of documentation for the car. Ford released the jeep under the abbreviation GPW (General Purpose Willys). In total, over the years of World War II, more than 640 thousand jeeps were produced in the USA. At the same time, while Willys and Ford were extracting huge profits from army contracts, American Bantam remained virtually at the mercy trough.

Nobody remembered the merits of Karl Probst, who managed in a very short time to create a fully functional and responsive prototype, which at least 60% was the main standardized later jeeps. A total of 2642 Jeep vehicles were assembled at the American Bantam plant in Pennsylvania, not counting the prototype. And the order from the military to produce 10 thousands of SUV trailers was a real mockery. The money from this order of the company was only enough to hold out in half until the end of the war, after which Bantam disappeared forever from the American market, and did not warm up in the beams of the deserved glory of the creator of the first military jeep in history.

Performance characteristics of Bantam BRC 40:

Overall dimensions: length - 3240 mm, width - 1430 mm, height - 1780 mm (with an awning roof).
Ground clearance - 220 mm.
Weight - 950 kg.
Powerplant: Continental BY-4112 power 48 hp
Maximum speed - 86 km / h (on the highway).
Fuel tank capacity - 38 l.
Power reserve - 315 km.
The number of seats is 4.

Information sources:
Open source materials
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  1. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 07: 24
    front grille looks approximately
    1. Simpsonian
      Simpsonian 17 May 2016 09: 11
      no tank will steal a jeep
      1. self-propelled
        self-propelled 17 May 2016 10: 17
        By the way, back in December 1940, the Main Armored Directorate (GABTU) of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army issued NATI terms of reference for an all-wheel drive (4x4) reconnaissance vehicle, which later became NATI-AR (often the name AR-NATI).
        in its essence and purpose NATI-AR was a "brother" of overseas machines. however, the experienced (2 copies were built) NATI-AR turned out to be technologically complex and therefore did not go into series in wartime conditions. the first serial Soviet by jeep became GAZ-64 (1941 of release)
  2. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 07: 26
    M1161 Growler
    1. cosmos111
      cosmos111 17 May 2016 08: 30
      Military light Jeep GMV Ultra Light.

    2. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 17 May 2016 08: 58
      A small all-terrain vehicle is sometimes more necessary than a hefty armored trough, especially when there is no way to bring this trough to where you need to, because as the saying goes: a tit is better in a hand than a crane in the sky.
      1. The comment was deleted.
  3. Stormtrooper
    Stormtrooper 17 May 2016 07: 57
    And what is it there in the fifth photo? Did this jeep jump with the gun? =)
  4. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 08: 01
    Jeep in action - Bantam BRC-40
    1. Sorokin
      Sorokin 18 May 2016 08: 15
      Thank you for the video. Pretty impressive. At UAZ I did not dare to do this.
  5. Uncle lee
    Uncle lee 17 May 2016 08: 11
    I had JEEP, licensed by General Motors for the army and police. 15 years off-road Sakhalin 5+
    1. marshes
      marshes 17 May 2016 11: 26
      Pictured Mitsubishi Jeep
      compact SUV of the Japanese company Mitsubishi Motors, manufactured from 1952 to 1998 under the license of the American company Willys-Overland motors. It was originally a complete copy of the Jeep CJ3A. Also supplied to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

      I wanted to get the same thing at first, when we had a boom on the right-handed ones, but still took Suzuki Escudo, more comfortable.
      1. Uncle lee
        Uncle lee 17 May 2016 12: 35
        I proceeded from the availability of cash ... But on cross-country ability and maintainability there were no equal. And he ate any diesel fuel in any frost.
        1. marshes
          marshes 17 May 2016 12: 48
          Quote: Uncle Lee
          I proceeded from the availability of cash ... But on cross-country ability and maintainability there were no equal. And he ate any diesel fuel in any frost.

          All the same, "Japanese".
          We in Kazakhstan love "Japanese", not whimsical and reliable, cheap spare parts and available. Unlike "Germans" and "Americans".
          I didn’t meet the original jeeps of those years, only the GAZ-67. My neighbor had it in the mid 80s. And then he refused the tent and made a makeshift booth.
          The Indians release something similar, such as they met one. The engine of frosts was very much afraid.
          And on Suzuki Conder is, yes, automatic transmission is a trifle but nice.
          Mahindra Tar.
          1. Uncle lee
            Uncle lee 17 May 2016 13: 13
            At that time, they only heard about automatic transmission. And here everything is according to the classics: a box, a razdatka, bridges. Passable and not very gluttonous, 90 hp, a powerful stove, and in the heat put a fan. The view is really plain, but the whole city knew me. They teased that the commandant Maoko was still driving this car.
            1. marshes
              marshes 17 May 2016 13: 35
              Quote: Uncle Lee
              At that time, they only heard about automatic transmission

              Even with the Union drove? It is clear Japan is nearby.
              In 93 I ran into right-handed Japanese, my brother Nissan Skylan for some time appeared. I could not get used to the "mechanics" on the left.
              We have a fan to climb the mud, remake 69 or 469.
              69 with "guts" from the Oise was quite often the winner in impromptu rallies.
              Now Kruzaki is held in high esteem, on roads 40 and 70, that they just don’t do with them. And a carbon fiber coating on the body. That would not worry about the condition of the paintwork.
              There is a Wrangel but roads are in service.
              We use the Uazovskuyu Loaf and Nissan Patroll, a peasant economy. I brought the killed Opel to the franther, we will restore it. It was taken off the register, the "local" utilization program. All the same, they decided to leave the roof. without a roof was.
              1. Uncle lee
                Uncle lee 17 May 2016 14: 52
                I'm used to the Japanese, already fifth. They stay with me for a long time.
                1. marshes
                  marshes 17 May 2016 15: 00
                  Quote: Uncle Lee
                  I'm used to the Japanese, already fifth. They stay with me for a long time.

                  And with us, the right-handed people are banned, until they are completely worn out. Deliki and Pradiki are popular.
                  Normal left-handed, almost twice as expensive as comparing prices in the Russian Federation. Raf-4 in Omsk last year 26-28 killed raccoons and we have 34 and above.
                  The whole family except the father, Skoda, on yapontsakh.Samy normal service and cheap spare parts for Toyota.I, unlike the "Germans", special keys and removers, repairable at home. smile
                  1. cosmos111
                    cosmos111 17 May 2016 19: 56
                    Here is a copy, what is "Jeep", what company?
                    1. kugelblitz
                      kugelblitz 17 May 2016 20: 41
                      This is an artillery tractor FIAT SPA TL37, in no case a jeep. Even the power drive circuit flowed through one differential and bevel transmissions, the so-called H-shaped circuit.

                      There was still a truck AS37

  6. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 08: 24
    good off road
    1. Alexander Romanov
      Alexander Romanov 17 May 2016 08: 28
      Quote: godofwar6699
      good off road

      There is no winch, it will get stuck.
    2. marshes
      marshes 17 May 2016 11: 33
      An open SUV, great where there is low dust. Otherwise, you will be covered in dust.
      On an ordinary quadric or motik, the whole back is in the dust.
  7. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 08: 48
    [quote = Alexander Romanov]
    There is no winch, it will get stuck.
    easy to install.
    in some regions of Russia may be needed
    1. cosmos111
      cosmos111 17 May 2016 12: 24
      Quote: godofwar6699
      in some regions of Russia may be needed

      USA 1941 years. There was already a Jeep on a goose.
      1. faiver
        faiver 17 May 2016 16: 02
        Salt is not in a jeep on a gooseneck, and that INTO such pribludy just dress and take off, and you can wear them, as I understand it, on any four-wheel drive cars
    2. faiver
      faiver 17 May 2016 15: 58
      test pribluda
    3. faiver
      faiver 17 May 2016 17: 53
      I looked at the price of this stray - 52. Canadian dollars per set, and choked :)
      1. godofwar6699
        godofwar6699 17 May 2016 19: 32
        Quote: faiver
        I looked at the price of this stray - 52. Canadian dollars per set, and choked :)

        The N Go track costs $ 25,000 and includes all adapters for vehicles and freight ramps.
        1. faiver
          faiver 18 May 2016 09: 51
          I do not see a fundamental difference even 2,6mln. rub, although 1,6mln. rub, the red price of such a set of half a million, and then with the pressure ...
  8. kvs207
    kvs207 17 May 2016 09: 19
    In St. Petersburg, on the eve of Victory Day, there was an exhibition of military technology, where this car was present. The exhibition impressed me with its scale and organization.
  9. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 09: 37
    Jeep with a 37mm gun and Browning M1917 in the USA 3rd Infantry, Newfoundland, 1942
    1. gladcu2
      gladcu2 17 May 2016 19: 17

      Suspicious construction. Recoil, judging by the brakes of the recoil of the gun, can pull a ton.

      When shooting a jeep, it’s probably cool to stand on its hind legs.
  10. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 17 May 2016 10: 04
    I was lucky in the late 80's to ride on the road
    in the army in a "jeep americai", as we called it.
    More from the Vietnamese stocks that the Americans
    transferred to Israel in the war 73 years.
    A trough on wheels, but creeping belly over the rocks, like
    nothing happened.
    Somewhere in the early 90s they were all written off. Replaced by a jeep
    an Israeli assembly based on a Ford that broke shamelessly.
    1. gladcu2
      gladcu2 17 May 2016 19: 21

      I also rode on such.

      Do not write them off until the 2000s. The engine seems 2 liters. Fuel consumption of 60 liters per 100 km.
  11. godofwar6699
    godofwar6699 17 May 2016 10: 05
    Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., deputy commander of the 1st Infantry Division during the invasion of Sicily, shown here with his jeep in January 1944.
  12. kvs207
    kvs207 17 May 2016 10: 29
    A few more photos from the exhibition
  13. kvs207
    kvs207 17 May 2016 10: 30
    More photos from the exhibition.
  14. runway
    runway 17 May 2016 11: 23
    Thank you for the article.
    Very informative. Karl Probst
    My grandfather had a military Willis. My father enthusiastically told me that replacing the engine of a car was carried out in a matter of minutes by one person. It was enough to push the guides into place along the guides! There were two engines of different power (I don’t remember exactly now), but one seemed 90 strong. The cross is exceptional. The car was very cheap ....
  15. Lanista
    Lanista 17 May 2016 12: 56
    I do not know if such an action against the Bantam company is justified in wartime, but in peacetime it is called the capacious term "kidok".
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 17 May 2016 18: 29
      Quote: Lanista
      I do not know if such an action against the Bantam company is justified in wartime, but in peacetime it is called the capacious term "kidok".

      Nope. It's written:
      After Bantam signed with the U.S. Army, the intellectual property right for the prototype passed to the military.

      And the army did the right thing, passing documentation to those companies that could ensure the production of equipment in the volumes required by the army.

      In the United States, in wartime, intellectual property was not ceremonial at all. For example, firms whose planes lost at tenders could be given orders for the production of components and components for the planes of competing firms that won this contest. With all the documentation. The army needed a shaft - and the state did everything to optimally load the available production capacities and eliminate downtime.
  16. zenion
    zenion 17 May 2016 18: 37
    Well to hell with this Jeep. Although it was needed during the war. But to sit in it was like on an awkward horse. As they threw and shook in all directions. Whoever was sitting next to the driver had to grab at all the places in the car when she was traveling at high speed. I remember the driver Zhenya, who drove this car and drove his bosses. When he drove along a level primer, he was thrown so that we were afraid that the car would go on without him. Here Studebakers were cool.
  17. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 17 May 2016 22: 03
    good article !!! thank!!!! and in the comments about AR-NATI mentioned. I did not make it in time........
  18. iouris
    iouris 18 May 2016 00: 02
    On the Western Front, one of the German field marshals drove a captured Willis. It was considered chic.
    By the way, the story of the "jeeps" shows that the US government thoroughly prepared for the war in advance; planned this war, like the First World War.
    About seven years before the beginning of the First World War ("good war"), the United States began to massively build ships of a new type: grain carriers. Let me remind you that Europe was fed with bread by Russia. In the local history museum of Barnaul, you can see how Altai oil was decorated, which was exported to Denmark until 1914. Altai is a former royal patrimony.
  19. iouris
    iouris 18 May 2016 00: 08
    On the Western Front, one of the German field marshals drove a captured Willis. It was considered chic.
    By the way, the story of the "jeeps" shows that the US government thoroughly prepared for the war in advance; planned this war, like the First World War. About seven years before the start of the First World War ("good war"), the United States began to massively build ships of a new type: grain carriers. In this process, for the first time, the method of network planning and management (Gantt charts), developed by a Russian engineer of Polish origin (this is to observe intellectual property rights in the United States in peacetime) was tried on. Let me remind you that Europe was fed with bread by Russia. In the local history museum of Barnaul, you can see how Altai oil was decorated, which was exported to Denmark until 1914. Altai is a former royal patrimony.
    It can also be noted that the R-39 Airacobra fighter, on which many of our aces, including A.I. Pokryshkin, flew, was also built only for lend-lease deliveries (mainly in the USSR), since The USAF considered it a failure.
  20. Fat
    Fat 18 May 2016 04: 48
    Quote: iouris
    It can also be noted that the R-39 Airacobra fighter, on which many of our aces, including A.I. Pokryshkin, flew, was also built only for lend-lease deliveries (mainly in the USSR), since The USAF considered it a failure.

    For the goals and objectives of the USAF, the aerocobra was unsuccessful! However, at the beginning of the Great War this aircraft unexpectedly proved itself to be good for the Americans ... The Kingcobra R-63 was developed with the recommendations of Soviet fighters, but it turned out to be very difficult to pilot ...
    Returning to the "bow" ... Oh, how American it is! Make a cult ... from an unsuccessful, but massive series. Here you have both "liberty" and "SPAM" (spieced ham) and trousers made of twill dyed with low-strength blue dye. Cheap, angry, but very, very ... very annoying a lot.
    1. iouris
      iouris 19 May 2016 14: 10
      There was no alternative. Machine life in war is sometimes measured for hours.