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Thursday, February 16, 2012

American Reconnaissance Vehicles

The workhorse reconnaissance vehicle of the US Army was the Willys Jeep. 640,000 of them were built during the war, with about a third of them going to the British and the Soviets. The Jeep began its development in 1940. It was initially prototyped by the American Bantam Car Company. Despite the success of their initial prototype, a second prototype was ordered from Ford and Willys-Overland who made small adjustments, mainly giving it a more powerful engine. The Army selected the Willys model but because of the number of vehicles required, production contracts were granted to both companies, although both would build the Willys model. The Willys Jeeps were labeled as the Model MB and the Ford ones were the Model GPW, with production beginning in 1941. The Jeep was a rugged, reliable 4-wheel drive vehicle, able to travel all over the battlefield. It was used both as a command vehicle as well as a scout car. It often mounted a .50 cal Browning machine gun. An amphibious variation of the Jeep was also produced by Ford called the GPA or 'Seep' (Sea Jeep), but it did not enjoy much success as it was neither a good off-road vehicle nor a good water vessel. In terms of models, I have a couple examples to show, courtesy of Forces of Valor.

Forces of Valor US Willys Jeep
A decent looking vehicle, although I would have expected a more detailed paint job from FOV. Considering that this is an off-road vehicle, some mud would have been in order and perhaps even some dents. Also, the driver is way too clean.

Britains Deetail US Willys Jeep - Part 1
Here is another version of the Jeep. It is a little beaten up. You can tell that this vehicle has been through some rough backyard battles! It is still a good addition to the collection.

Britains Deetail US Willys Jeep - Part 2
I initially thought that the jeep had come without any figures, which was unusual because the Deetail vehicles usually had a crew, and weeks later I realized that I had left the figures in the bubble wrap that it came in. Luckily I had not thrown it away. Note how the man in the back is leaning back to shoot at the Stuka dive bomber coming at them!

New Ray US Willys Jeep
This is a decent die cast vehicle from New Ray. It has a nice metal weight/feel to it. The level of details is also nice enough. It does not have much in terms of moving parts though, but still a nice addition to the collection.

Lone Star Willys Jeep - Part I
This is a Willys Jeep made by Lone Star. It is a bit on the smaller side of the 1/32 scale, but still acceptable. I believe it came with a crew of British Paras, so perhaps it should be faetured under the post about British Reconnaissance Vehicles? Such a vehicle could have been made available to them through Lend Lease.

Lone Star Willys Jeep - Part II
Here is the same Jeep from Lone Star in Tan. Presumably it would have been used in the North Africa Theater of Operations, although I don't recall seeing any pictures of tan US vehicles. Either way, it is rare enough as a collectible that I was glad to get my hands on one of them. 

Auburn US Willys Jeep
This is an unusual vehicle that I ran across recently while trying to collect the rest of the Auburn GIs. It is made out of rubber and the driver is cast as part of the vehicle. It is slightly under scale for 54mm. It probably dates from shortly after the War as Auburn switched from rubber to plastic when plastic became common in the late 50s or 60's. Not the prettiest, but certainly unique.

Dinky US Willys Jeep
Here is another version of the popular Willys Jeep. This one is made by Dinky and it can be used to tow the M101 105mm howitzer. It came with its own driver and overall it is a nice, well made vehicle. The only 'negative' thing to note is that over the years, the tires have become a bit dry as they are made out of rubber, and some of them have begun to crack, particularly the spare tire in the back. I suppose someone tried to remove it and that made it worse. 

Forces of Valor US Amphibian GPA
Similar commentary about this vehicle as for the Jeep. But at least this vehicle gets extra points for being more unique and unusual.

Britians Deetail US Dispatch Rider
This guys is probably more of a messenger than a scout, but hey, you could still send him ahead if you needed to take a quick look up the road. Like the other Deetail motorcycles, it is a nice, well made vehicle. Will need to look into the make of the actual bike that it represents.

Click here to see a post about American Cargo Trucks
Click here to see a post about American Tanks
Click here to see a post about German Reconnaissance Vehicles


  1. On the subject of US recon vehicles, Monogram produced a 1/32 model of the M8 Greyhound armored car. I did not get one back in the 1970s when they first came out, but paid only 1 limb for one in an eBay auction last summer. The sad news is that I need 4 more to fill out my platoon! Hoping to build it this spring.

    Those old Monogram models do help to fill things out. On my summer spree last year, I picked up 2 M4A1 Colliopes in eBay auctions (total cost: 1 nut) which I built as standard M4A1s to flesh out the M4 Hedgehogs reissued recently by Revell (which owns the rights to the Monogram designs), and the 21st Century/MotorWorks and FOV M4s in my now-complete company of Shermans.

    I also picked up on eBay a PanzerJaeger (Jagdpanzer) IV from the old Monogram line and built it with quite satisfactory results. Don't ask about the cost, lest my wife finds out.

    1. I just looked up some of the Monogram models. It looks like they requre assembly, do they? I understand exactly what you mean about the cost of some of these things. Particularly when one 'needs' several of them to setup a complete unit! But I bet it's worth it in the end. Your Sherman company is likely something to be seen :-) I might need to look into one of those Calliopes!

  2. The Calliope built as such would be a great addition.

    But if you want an M4A1, the version with the rounded hull, in 1/32nd scale, it is the only option on the market, whether you build it with the rocket launcher or as a standard Sherman, as I did.

    But with all the Monogram kits except the Hedgehog, which Revell has reissued, we are talking about finding unassembled complete kits that are 30+ years old. That is why they are so costly.

    1. I can imagine... do you feel a bit torn assembling them?