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Shipping Jeeps Overseas WW II
There were two main methods for shipping jeeps outside the United States during World War II. In one method, partially disassembled jeeps were palletized and enclosed completely in a wooden crate, a time consuming process that used a lot of materials. Like many other wartime practices shortcuts were found, streamlined procedures that used fewer scarce materials.
World War II Jeeps in Crates
WW II factory photos show jeeps being packed into coffin-like fully sheathed crates. A Ford Truck publication (Form 3679-T) from early in World War II is titled "Instructions for Unpacking & Assembly of Boxed Vehicle" referring to the 1/4 Ton 4x4 Ford GPW, the Ford-manufactured jeep. That eight-page document shows the crated jeep and tells how to remove it and prep it for service (photos from the document, right). A WW II poster titled We Need Lumber shows a factory photo of a jeep being enclosed in the same type of wooden box.
Jeeps were produced and packed this way for overseas shipment to U.S. and Allied country forces during WW II. But, boxing up a jeep was expensive and time consuming so it was only done when absolutely necessary. Jeeps that were crated were complete vehicles, not a box of parts -- windshields were folded, wheels taken off and a few other things done to minimize the cubeage. Very few, if any, of these crated jeeps remained in the United States. At the Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Richmond, CA, about 70% of production was boxed due to their close proximity to the San Francisco port.
It is also noted in wartime production records that some jeeps were boxed after assembly, to protect them until final disposition was determined. These were different from the factory crated jeeps in that these were fully operational, not partially disassembled.
Click this link to learn about the Myth of the $50 Jeep in Crate, a post-war Urban Legend.
Preserving and Packing Jeeps for Shipment
Vehicles being transported to an overseas Theater of Operations in the hold of a ship must be rigid and defended from damage due to collisions with adjacent cargo. In addition, corrosive salt water is an ever present danger requiring preservative covering on exposed surfaces. After being driven or shipped to the Port of Embarkation, jeeps (and other vehicles) had their windshields and radiators barricaded with plywood, lights and other sensitive parts taped, and protective coatings applied. Jeeps were stacked in pairs (top photo) with tie-down rods and bracing front and rear. Blocks were placed under the front wheels of the upper vehicle and the springs of the lower vehicle were blocked to bear additional weight. This combination provided a thoroughly rigid and secure bracing, as strong as the vehicles themselves.
The vehicles were water-proofed for transport and for amphibious driving once overseas. Spark plugs, ignition coil, carburetor, and distributor were painted with water-proof enamel. A corrosion inhibitor treatment called Par-al-Ketone was sprayed or brushed on exterior surfaces of parts subject to exposure.
Further Information about Packing and Shipping Jeeps During World War II
You can find a photo-essay showing jeeps being unboxed and assembled in England during World War II in the Spring 2003 issue (#103) of Army Motors (MVPA publication), titled "New Jeeps in Crates". The Olive-Drab.com photo gallery has some of these Signal Corps photos on display.
Find additional photos and hi-res versions of preparing jeeps for overseas shipment at Hampton Roads, VA) at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup: