The Willys MB, commonly known as “Jeep”, created a whole new class of frontline transport. The Jeep is a general-purpose personnel or cargo carrier, especially designed for reconnaissance or command. It is extremely versatile and readily adaptable to any role required. The original design came from the American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pennsylvania in answer to a US Army competition for a small, lightweight, rugged and versatile vehicle. The requirements included four-wheel drive and the capability to carry three passengers or a payload of 600 lbs (272 kg).

Later, Willys-Overland Motor Company and Ford Motor Company joined the competition. The US Army took the best features from each vehicle and revised the original specifications. Willys-Overland was awarded the contract for the Willys MB and Ford also built them under licence (Ford GPW). American Bantam was awarded the contract for the ¼ ton two-wheeled Jeep trailer.

Between 1941 and 1945, Canada ordered a total of 13,800 Willys MBs, and 5,500 trailers. 10,489 Jeeps were shipped to the Canadian Army and RCAF Overseas during World War II. The RCAF used the Jeep for transporting aircrew, as an emergency tug to move aircraft, or had a trailer attached to transport ammunition or supplies to the aircraft. Some were also modified as crash tenders or rescue vehicles. The remainder were used for Canada’s Home Front in all three services and some were modified with winter enclosures and heaters.

The Airborne Assault: Riflemen of 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles, 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division, aboard a jeep and trailer, driving off Landing Zone ‘N’ past a crashed Airspeed Horsa glider on the evening of 6 June 1944. The Willys MB and trailer had been delivered in one of the gliders.

A Willys MB is being loaded aboard an Airspeed Horsa glider in England prior to Operation Market Garden.

An Iroquois helicopter slinging a Willys MB Jeep. The Jeep has a Net Weight of 2337 lbs (1060 kg) and a Gross Vehicle Weight of 3250 lbs (1474 kg).

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Primary funding for the care and preservation of our artifacts comes from donations and grants to the Comox Valley Air Force Museum Association.

Comox Air Force Museum

The Museum Willys MB was delivered to the US Army on 13 March 1945. A private collector in Texas restored it to US Army standards, another collector from Vancouver acquired it in 1991, and in 1998 it was donated to the Museum. It sports a utility trailer, a canvas top cover, and is now finished in the markings of the RCAF in Comox, BC. The Jeep is authentic except for two gauges and no combat rims for the tires. It has been displayed at numerous parades and functions in the Comox Valley.

At the Comox Air Show, 17 August 2011. Note the canvas top cover. On the top of the engine hood can be seen the markings “R.C.A.F. 35-828 C,X,”. This is the arm of service, the DND vehicle number and the “C,X,” stands for Comox. (photo by Len Phillips)

At the VE Day Parade in Cumberland, BC, 1 May 2005. Note the rifle stowage holder above the dashboard. Also at the top of the dashboard are the two clamps that hold the windshield in the upright position. Unclip these and the windshield folds forward onto the engine hood; the rifle still being accessible.

At the Spitfire Open House, 23 May 2004. The canvas top cover has been removed and note the stowage position of the shovel and axe. The spare tire is mounted on the rear of the Jeep.

A pose with the Museum volunteer restoration crew. Note the canvas cover on the trailer.

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