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1949 Article on the Jeep’s Forest Fire Fighting Potential

(Given fireworks have arrived, this article seemed appropriate …) This August 07, 1949, article was published in the Spokesman Review out of Spokane, Washington, but it likely originated from a Wisconsin news report. The article mentions Nicolet National Forest, which is located in Northern Wisconsin, and the event was sponsored by E. W. Schwartz Motors out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One interesting statistic noted was that conservative estimates put the number of jeeps in service in state and national forests at over 1,000 jeeps by the summer of 1949.



3 Comments on “1949 Article on the Jeep’s Forest Fire Fighting Potential

  1. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    With the 7 slot grill and tailgate it’s obvious the jeep pictured is a civilian model that was probably purchased new, but I understand that that there was a process where local, state, and federal government agencies could apply for and receive WW2 surplus jeeps. Out of those 1,000 forest service jeeps it’s possible a significant percentage were MB’s and GPW’s, correct?

  2. Barney Goodwin

    Steve in SE Penn – Your question intrigued me. I’m just not sure any of us can answer with an affirmative “Correct”. But here are some things to consider while forming at least an opinion on it. First and foremost, I’m not sure that a 4 year old (at least) surplus MB could withstand this abuse. We know that the 2A had extensive improvements in order to work in agriculture, and post war MBs required extensive modifications to perform satisfactorily in that environment. Add to this the economics of modifications an agency would have to commit to converting an MB/GPW to this duty. When all they had to do was order a fleet already outfitted from WO. As a former manager for a municipal fleet, I can tell you that we always fought the temptation of obtaining used surplus equipment and the headaches that came with them. To be clear, MB/GPWs were available. And the Army was still using them as ’45 models were the first into Korea. But even for the Army, it was time to move past the limitations of the “Scout Car” MB/GPW to the heavier duty M38 and M38A1. And Willys Overland was moving beyond the 2A to the 3A pictured at the top of the article.

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Steve, to Barney’s comment I would add that the last thing Willys-Overland wanted was for the surplus jeeps to compete with new jeep sales. Somewhere I have an article or document that notes there was some level agreement on the issue of surplus sales of jeeps domestically.

    Additionally, I would imagine that W-O discouraged the government from undermining sales by moving surplus jeeps to gov entities like the Department of Interior.

    But, as Barney points out, we’ll likely never know the answer.

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