December 14, 1940

Original Source Documents:   February 1941 - 'Contract for Manufacture of Light Cars' - QMG to Chief of Staff

Contributor:    Bill Norris

Source:  Lt. Colonel Dow's collection, Detroit Library




MEMORANDUM FOR:  The Chief of Staff


SUBJECT:  Contract for Manufacture of Light Cars.


1.  Reference General Moore's memorandum dated February 8, 1941, subject as above, military characteristics of development type solo motorcycles has been forward to the Adjutant General for approval of action by the Quartermaster Corps Technical Committee, as outline in paragraph 3, thereof.


2.  A review of the records pertaining to the procurement of the forty-five hundred (4,500) trucks, 1/4-ton, 4x4, now in production by manufacturers shows that this procurement was originally proposed by the Motor Transport Sub-Committee of the Quartermaster Corps Technical Committee as an extension of the project for development and service test of this type of vehicle.  While the original recommendation of the Sub-Committee, dated October 18, 1940, provided for the procurement of an additional fifteen (1,500) only of these trucks, the special concurrence in this action by the Infantry representative recommended the issue of fifteen hundred (1,500) "Bantam" make trucks to the Infantry alone, and the procurement of proportional additional quantities for other arms and services interested.  As the time this action was taken, October 18, 1940), it was known by the Technical Committee that the track as manufactured by the American Bantam Car Company could not be build within the originally proposed weight limitations.  The pilot model was the subject of inspection and several conferences by the Technical Committee at Holabird Quartermaster Depot between September 24, 1940, date of delivery of the pilot, and October 19, 1940.  The additional procurement totaling forty-five hundred (4,500) of the 1/4-ton, 4x4, trucks, split equally between the three (3) interested manufacturers, Bantam, Ford and Willys-Overland, was accomplished by this office under directives issued by the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 after protest, contained in 2nd Indorsement, this office to the Adjutant General, dated November 1, 1940, file QM 451 M-P (Proc. 398-41-9) (Trucks, 1/4-ton, 4x4), against the procurement of the entire fifteen hundred (1,500) from the American Bantam Car Company under the authority contained in 1st Indorsement from the Adjutant General to this office dated October 29, 1840, file AG 451 (10-22-40) M-D.  It has been the policy of this office, which has been well justified by the results obtained in the current procurement program to explore the competitive field, wherever possible, for any given type of vehicle before recommending standardization on a given make or negotiation with a selected source.


3.  This office has considered the procurement of the additional quantities of this vehicle as an extension of the development and service test project originally authorized by 4th Indorsement from the Adjutant General to the Chief of Ordnance and The Quartermaster General in turn, dated July 6, 1940, file AG 451 (6-15-40) M-D.  The military characteristics under which the first seventy (70) vehicles were procured, as approved in the 4th indorsement referred to, and as contained in Sub-Committee Report of the Ordnance Technical Committee dated June 22, 1940, were formulated as the result of a conference held at the factory of the American Bantam Car Company, Butler, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1940, and are clearly within the scope of paragraph 8, AR 850-25, a proposed goal for attainment.  These characteristics were based on the contemplated adaptation of a standard production "Bantam" vehicle to the used contemplated.  The proposed adaptation of the commercial "Bantam" was found impractical due to major structural and design changes required in working out the all-wheel-drive feature, in providing increased power, ruggedness and other modifications necessary to meet the statements contained in paragraph 2.d., of the report dated June 22, 1940, referred to above, and the service and performance requirements.


4.  In the production of the actual pilot vehicle under the original tentative characteristics and specification, it became evident that it would be impossible to build the truck within the weight limitation originally proposed as a desired characteristic.  Since the project was classified as one of development, the critical importance of weight was weighed against many other factors, in repeated conferences with representative of the interested arms and services at Holabird with the vehicle at hand.  The correctness of this approach to the problem is now being demonstrated by the current test operation of the original group of which, although weighing twenty-one hundred (2,100) lbs., are fairly well balanced between weight, performance and stamina.  Further evidence of the soundness of the decision to abandon the attempt to modify the commercial "Bantam" is the recent abandonment by the British Army of their proposed use of the British "Austin" and "Morris" chassis for similar application.


5.  The subject case presents a typical example of the tendency, in many matter pertaining to motor vehicle equipment on the part of non-technical using arms and services, to inject into military characteristics details which are properly for development in applicable specifications prepared with full consideration of the technical and engineering principles involved.  Military characteristics for the truck, 1/4-ton, 4x4, have now been revised and were approved February 14, 1941, as a result of the information secured in connection with the original procurement of four thousand five hundred and seventy (4,570) vehicles.  This office does not concur in the opinion that any usurpation of functions by the contracting office has occurred.  It is rather felt that the opposite is true and that the Technical Committee has acted beyond the intent of paragraphs 8a. and 9b., AR 850-25 by stipulation of excess details in the Military Characteristics as for example, in this specific case by the arbitrary stipulation of a maximum weight limit, based on the pilot models of the Bantam and Ford production but under that of the Willys design which may yet prove to be a most satisfactory piece of equipment.  This office cannot reconcile the acceptance by the Technical Committee of an increase in maximum allowable weight amounting to eighty percent (80%) over the proposal of the Ordnance Technical Committee on June 22, 1940, with the rejection of an added 4.9 percent represented by the differential between the adopted two thousand one hundred sixty (2,160) lb limit and the weight of the Willys product.  The lack of agreement between various using services, indicated in current test reports on the first seventy (70) of these vehicles, as to the critical necessity for stipulating any specific maximum weight limit as opposed to other equally desirable qualities, is very apparent.  This office believes that the responsibility for details of design and development of vehicles to meet an approved military characteristics prepared in accordance with the definition contained in paragraph 8a., AR 85-25 is clearly prescribed in paragraphs 3a. and c., AR 850-15 and cannot properly be usurped by the Technical Committee.



Major General,

The Quartermaster General.


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