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Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy)

4x4 Utility Vehicle

United States | 1941

"Ford Motor Company added 280,000 examples of the world famous Willys Jeep during World War 2."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/01/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
In 1939, the United States Army invited some 135 to 165 manufacturing companies to submit design proposals within a 75-day timeframe for a new multi-purpose logistical military vehicle to replace its aging fleet of motorcycles and Ford Model T trucks. Only three companies responded: Ford Motor Company, Willys-Overland and American Bantam Car Company. The initial contract went to Bantam, but their manufacturing limitations soon saw the US military hand over its plans to both Ford and Willys. New prototypes were then ordered from the remaining two companies to which Willys ultimately won a procurement contract in July of 1941. Ford Motor Company then agreed to build from the Willys design plan (as the "GP" for "Government Pygmy" based on its original vehicle submission to the US Army) and Bantam, sadly, was charged with nothing more than manufacture of Willys compatible trailers. Ford Willys vehicles were further designated "GPW" to indicate their Willys origins and were largely copies of the competing design. Between Willys and Ford Motor Company, 634,569 "jeeps" were produced during World War 2 (1939-1945).

The Ford mark was given the long form designation of "Government 80-inch Wheelbase Reconnaissance Car". The vehicle proved a compact, 4x4 wheel drive vehicle powered by a 4-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine running at 4,000rpm for hours on end. The engine was coupled to a three-speed manual transmission system with a four-wheel-drive transfer case and high / low gears. The vehicle was also issued with a fold-up cloth roof to protect occupants against the elements but offered little in the way of protection from battlefield dangers. The design could run on roads at speeds of 60 miles per hour, climb 40-degree slopes, achieve a turning radius of 30 feet and tilt up to 50-degrees to either vehicle side without tipping over. The Jeep was also converted into an amphibious car to ford water sources by way of a special boat-like hull fitted around the chassis and special attachments fixed into place for air intake and exhaust of the engine. This form failed to achieve much in the way of large-scale use.

During World War 2, American factories produced Jeeps in the tens of thousands. Lend-Lease saw the vehicles shipped to the inventories of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union as well while many surplus forms in the post-war years were accepted into the Philippine Army (after major US forces withdrew from the Pacific island nation after the war) and elsewhere. Its reach was vastly global and the "go-anywhere" vehicle saw action throughout all major theaters of the war. At the peak of production, assembly lines turned out one vehicle every 90 seconds(!) As a result, the Jeep became something of a workhorse hero to the civilian-minded public. Demand for acquisition of the vehicle was high in the years following the war to the point that Willys continued production in large numbers. These civilian versions were designated as "CJ-2A" with the "CJ" standing for "Civilian Jeep".

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The Jeep would go on to see combat duty in the Korean War as well as the Vietnam War in all degrees of conduct. In the post-war decades, the line continued in large-scale use with the US Army and was continually improved until 1981, by which time it had been formally replaced in inventory by other light vehicles and, ultimately, the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle ("HUMVEE").

Official Jeep designations during World War 2 were Willys MA, Ford GP, Willys MB and Ford GPW. The Willys company produces over 363,000 examples whilst the Ford Motor Company produced over 280,000 jeep-types during the war. In all, hundreds of thousands of Jeeps of all types were produced, many versions solely differentiated visually by varying radiator grille arrangements.

During the early 1950s, the Willys M38 directly replaced the Jeep war-time models.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy) 4x4 Utility Vehicle.
1 x Ford 4-cylinder 2,200cc engine developing 54 horsepower at 4,000rpm.
Installed Power
65 mph
104 kph
Road Speed
301 miles
485 km
The physical qualities of the Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy) 4x4 Utility Vehicle.
10.8 ft
3.3 meters
O/A Length
4.3 ft
1.32 meters
O/A Height
3,086 lb
1,400 kg | 1.5 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy) 4x4 Utility Vehicle.
Mission Specific Armament but usually no armament. Can include one of the following:

1 x 7.62mm machine gun on pintle mount
1 x 12.7mm machine gun on pintle mount

Can also be supplemented by personal weapons of the crew such as pistols and submachine guns.
Dependent upon armament configuration.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy) family line.
Willys MA (Model A) - Willys-Overland production designation; rounded hood.
Willys MB (Model B) - Willys-Overland with flat hood.
Ford GP ("Government Pygmy") - Ford designation of original US Army pilot submission.
Ford GPW ("Government Pygmy Willys") - Ford production designation for Willys-Overland MB wartime models.
Ford GPA "Seep" / "Sea Jeep" ("Government Pygmy Amphibious") - Amphibious Variant for water fording.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 280,000 Units

Contractor(s): Ford Motor Company - USA
National flag of Argentina National flag of Australia National flag of Belgium National flag of Canada National flag of Denmark National flag of Finland National flag of modern Germany National flag of Iran National flag of Italy National flag of the Netherlands National flag of Norway National flag of the Philippines National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States

[ Australia; Argentina; Belgium; Canada; Denmark; Finland; Iran; Italy; Netherlands; Norway; Philippines; Soviet Union; United Kingdom; United States; West Germany ]
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Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy)
Image from the Public Domain.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Ford GP / GPW (Government Pygmy) 4x4 Utility Vehicle appears in the following collections:
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