Light utility vehicle is a general term for small, jeep-like military trucks for tactical use. They are generally short, relatively light compared to other trucks and cars, unarmored with 4-wheel drive and short body overhangs for all-terrain mobility and at least 4 passenger capacity. [1] Civilian adaptations of the Jeep and Land Rover were the first sport utility vehicles, and some SUVs such as the Chevy Blazer have been used as military Light Utility Vehicles.

The importance of this class of military vehicle was summed up by General Eisenhower who said that the four most important US weapons in World War II were the C-47 Skytrain, the bazooka, the jeep, and the atom bomb, and similar vehicles are among the most common military vehicles in armies of most nations.

Covered Willy's jeep Wings Over Wine Country 2007

The WWII Willys MB US Army Jeep

The Willys MB US Army Jeep of World War II is the most widely known vehicle of this class. Over 350,000 Jeeps were built for World War II, and they inspired many vehicles similar in layout, or function. The M38A1 Jeep was used in the Korean War. It was followed by the Vietnam-era M151 MUTT, which was designed by Ford. By the mid-1980s, this role would be taken over by the larger HMMWV, which would be used as an armored fighting vehicle in Iraq. The US also purchased Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicles based on commercially available light trucks. US forces are currently defining the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle which would be designed to be armored from the outset, with the smallest 4-person payload capacity class corresponding to the traditional jeep role.


M1009 CUCV a militarized Chevrolet K5 Blazer

VW Schwimmwagen 1

VW Schwimmwagen

In World War II, Germany used the Volkswagen Kübelwagen for a similar role. It had two-wheel drive, but took advantage of light weight and a rear-mounted engine for mobility.

The Volkswagen Schwimmwagen was the most mass-produced amphibious car in history, and arguably the most capable light military wheeled off-roader in World War II.

The Soviet Union produced the GAZ-64 based largely on the US jeep design, succeeded by the GAZ-67. That series was replaced by the UAZ-469 commander jeep which was introduced in 1973.

In 1948, the British Land Rover was developed. Originally intended to be a civilian and agricultural successor to the Willys Jeep (the prototype Land Rover was built on the chassis of a Willys and used Willys transmission parts but production vehicles used no Jeep components) the Land Rover was brought into military service in 1949, becoming the standard Light Utility Vehicle for the British Army and many armed forces of the Commonwealth. The original Land Rover design evolved into the modern-day Land Rover Defender which is still in military service throughout the world.

In the 1960s, China's Beijing Automobile Works produced its own "jeep", the BJ212 which was largely a Chinese copy of the Soviet UAZ-469B. Often called the “Beijing Jeep”, the BJ121 was widely used in both military and civilian service in China, with over 200,000 produced by end of production in 1983. In May 1983, American Motors Corporation (AMC) agreed to allow the updated BJ2020S to use the 85hp engine of the XJ Jeep Cherokee.[2] The latest Chinese light utility will be the BJ2022JC 'Brave Warrior', built by Beijing Benz-DaimlerChrysler Automobile Co. Adapted from existing Mercedes Benz designs, the BJ2022JC will carry 0.7 ton[vague], with a wheelbase of 110 inches, and has an independent suspension system with a 101.5 kW 3.2 L turbo-charged inter-cooling diesel engine.[3]

HMMWV-like vehicles Edit

The HMMWV layout is larger and wider than the original jeep, and inspired another generation of similar vehicles.

GAZ 2975 Tigr

GAZ-2975 "Tigr" on rehearsal of Moscow Victory Parade

Toyota Mega Cruiser

Toyota Mega Cruiser

References Edit

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