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M-38A1 Army Jeep

The M38A1 Truck, Utility, 1/4 Ton, 4x4 was introduced in 1952 as the military improvement upon the M38 Jeep. The M38A1 was manufactured by Willys where it was known as the Model MD.

The M38A1 featured rounded front fenders, a contoured hood, two-piece windshield, top-mounted windshield wipers, and a new "Hurricane" F-Head 4-cycle, 4-cylinder engine and Warner T90 transmission. It had a crew of one and could carry three passengers or 500 pounds payload.

The M38A1 military jeep is the model that inspired the CJ-5 civilian jeep. It differed from the CJ-5 in that it had a stronger frame and suspension, reversed front spring shackles, standardized military instruments, and 24-volt electrical system. A provision for a machine gun mounting post was installed on the floor of the body tub.

The model M38A1C was modified as a platform for the 106mm recoilless rifle.

More information and photos are available on this Olive-Drab.com page about M-38A1 Military Jeeps.

M38A1 Truck, Utility, 1/4 ton, 4x4 with experimental TV remote control unit installed, photo circa 1955
M38A1 Truck, Utility, 1/4 ton, 4x4 with experimental TV remote control unit installed, photo circa 1955.

Today in WW II: 30 Sep 1938 Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Édouard Daladier sign the Munich Agreement, abandoning Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland to German occupation.   

M-38A1 Truck, Utility, 1/4 Ton, 4x4 (G-758)

The production history of the M38A1 jeep began 28 Jan 1952 and included four companies in addition to Willys-Overland, the developer and original manufacturer. Willys Overland became Willys Motors after its acquisition by Kaiser in 1953. Ford of Canada built the M38A1 CDN version as did Kaiser-Jeep. Finally, an affiliate of Kaiser in Holland assembled M38A1 jeeps in Rotterdam using US-made parts. In total, a little over 100,000 M38A1 military jeeps were produced, about 80% for US military use. The M38A1 military jeep was replaced in the 1960s by the M151 jeep.

Original M38A1 engines have a block number embossed in the form MDnnnnn or R MDnnnnn, the latter for replacement blocks. Small design differences during the production life of the M38A1 military jeep included:

  • Front bumper width increased to 54.5 inches early in production
  • Hinges at base of front grill eliminated after the end of 1953
  • Thumb screws retaining the cowl battery box cover eliminated after the end of 1953
  • Front fender seam eliminated after the end of 1953

Manuals for the M-38A1 Truck, Utility, 1/4 Ton, 4x4 (and the related Front Line Ambulance M170) include:

  • TM 9-804A Operation and Organizational Maintenance (July 1952)
  • TM 9-8014 Operation and Organizational Maintenance (6 April 1955)
  • LO 9-804A Lubrication order
  • LO 9-8014 Lubrication order
  • TM 9-1804AA Maintenance Manual
  • TM 9-1804AB Maintenance Manual
  • TM9-8015-1 Ordnance Maintenance: Engine and Clutch
  • TM9-8015-2 Ordnance Maintenance: Power Train Body and Frame
  • ORD 7 SNL G-758 Organizational Maintenance Allowances (June 1952)
  • ORD 9 SNL G-758 List of all Service Parts (3 June 1954)
  • TM 9-2320-208-20P Organizational Repair Parts and Special Tools (January 1966)
  • TM 9-2320-208-34P DS/GS Maintenance Manual with Repair Parts and Special Tools List (22 July 1966)
  • CDN-OM-9-804A Operation and Organizational Maintenance (M38A1 CDN)
  • CV-32 Parts List (M38A1 CDN)

Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the M38A1 military jeep at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup:

Convoy commander, Terry Shellswell with his M38A1 jeep led the MVPA 2009 Transcontinental Convoy that traveled more than 3,200 miles across 11 states from Washington, DC to San Francisco, CA. Shelswell has been a member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) for 15 years.  Photo date: 6 July 2009.
USO Salute Our Troops Jeep Tour:  Drew Stipe and Tim McGinn are spending 100 days during the summer of 2011 driving throughout the southeast US with their restored M38A1 military jeep, along a route of stops at Kangaroo Express convenience store chain locations and community events.  The tour is in honor of the US military, to raise funds to benefit the USO, Wounded Warrior Project, and state-based military support organizations that benefit troops and their families.
M38A1 Truck, Utility, 1/4 Ton, 4x4, introduced in 1952 as an improvement upon the M38 Jeep. The M38A1 was manufactured by Willys where it was known as the Model MD.
USAF CH-3C helicopter airlifts a 106mm recoilless rifle mounted on an M38A1 US Army jeep from a rear area into the simulated battle zone in support of OZARK forces during U.S. Strike Command Joint Exercise GOLD FIRE I, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, 10 November 1964.  Several M151 jeeps are on the ground.
M38A1C jeeps and soldiers from the 2d Battle Group, 158th Infantry, 258th Infantry Brigade, Arizona National Guard, with 106mm recoilless rifles in Ft. Huachuca's Garden Canyon, 1959.
USAF M38A1 jeep, Korea, October 1953.

M38A1 Military Jeep Photo Gallery

M38A1 column with Marines from the 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment, the first convoy to enter Beirut in July 1958
M38A1 column with Marines from the 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment, the first convoy to enter Beirut in July 1958. Track to the left is Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel–5 (LVTP-5).

Truck, Utility: 1/4-Ton, 4x4, M-38A1. Photo: From TM9-2320-208-20P, February 1959
Truck, Utility: 1/4-Ton, 4x4, M-38A1. Photo: From TM9-2320-208-20P, February 1959.

Truck, Utility: 1/4-Ton, 4x4, M-38A1 on display in showroom of Shaver Automotive Group, Thousand Oaks, CA, 19 Oct 2010. M100 trailer in tow.  Photo: Olive-Drab.com LLC
Truck, Utility: 1/4-Ton, 4x4, M-38A1 on display in showroom of Shaver Automotive Group, Thousand Oaks, CA, 19 Oct 2010. M100 trailer in tow. Photo: Olive-Drab.com LLC.

Willys Overland M-38A1 (delivered 9-1952).  Photo: Courtesy of John Heckert
Willys Overland M-38A1 (delivered 9-1952). Photo: Courtesy of John Heckert.

Early M-38A1.  Photo: Courtesy of Joe Young
Early M-38A1. Photo: Courtesy of Joe Young.

M38A1.  Photo: Courtesy of Cliff Todd
M38A1. Photo: Courtesy of Cliff Todd.

M-38A1 with 106mm recoilless rifle
M-38A1 with 106mm recoilless rifle.

M-38A1 with 106mm recoilless rifle slung from U.S. Air Force CH-3C helicopter, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, 10 November 1964
M-38A1 with 106mm recoiless rifle, slung from U.S. Air Force CH-3C helicopter, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, 10 November 1964.

M38A1C jeeps and soldiers from the 2d Battle Group, 158th Infantry, 258th Infantry Brigade, Arizona National Guard, with 106mm recoilless rifles in Ft. Huachuca’s Garden Canyon, 1959
M38A1C jeeps and soldiers from the 2d Battle Group, 158th Infantry, 258th Infantry Brigade, Arizona National Guard, with 106mm recoilless rifles in Ft. Huachuca’s Garden Canyon, 1959.

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