Born amid the clamor of World War II, the Jeep was called 'America's greatest contribution to modern warfare.' Six thousand years ago, somewhere in Asia, people began using horses and mules in warfare. For 60 centuries these animals were essential in military ventures: galloping forward in bold charges, hauling equipment, carrying scouts. Then came World War I (1914-18) and its brutal advances in machine guns and artillery shelling. Men and animals were slaughtered in vast numbers. "It may be true," writes author A. Wade Wells, "that the idea (of the Jeep) was born in the scream of a shell-torn horse" during the First World War. World War II (1939-45) was a "war of motors," said Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. A few horses and mules were still used, but most of their jobs were taken over by motor-driven vehicles: tanks, motorcycles, big trucks, and, in the Allied armies, the Jeep - rugged, olive-drab, homely-but-beautiful, "America's greatest contribution to modern warfare," according to Gen. George C. Marshall. The key Jeep prototype was produced in 1940 by a company called American Bantam. Big construction contracts were given by the Army in 1941-42 to Willys-Overland of Toledo, Ohio, which built about 363000 Jeeps during the war, and Ford, which constructed 281000 in Dearborn, Mich. The vehicles were shipped to every theater of the conflict and to the armies of several nations. Intended initially for reconnaissance, Jeeps became multi-purpose vehicles.

Film Duration: 43 min .