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).
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).
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.
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