Original Source Documents: March-April 1941 - Quartermaster Review - The Army 'Bug' - By Lt. E. P. Hogan, Q.M.C.
Contributor: Robert A. Notman
Source: U.S. Army Military History Institute
THE ARMY "BUG"
New Quarter-Ton Command Reconnaissance Car
BY. LT. E. P. HOGAN, Q.M.C.
That old one about nothing new under the sun is definitely out. The Army has a brand new one. Officially it's "the ¼-ton, 4x4, command reconnaissance car," unofficially it has a number of names such as "bantam", "puddle-jumper", "bug" and others. Regardless of what you call it, its the smallest four-wheeled motor vehicle the Army had ever used.
This car is a combination of passenger vehicle and truck. Each is designed to carry three men and a machine gun, or can be used in handling light field pieces and in quick transport of troops. Either on order or being delivered now, is a total of 4,570 of these cars.
The mission of these cars is to do the fast, hard-hitting job performed in the highly mechanized Nazi Panzer divisions by motorcycles with side cars. Their four-wheel drive provides them with plenty of traction for the most rugged terrain and, on good roads, there are capable of traveling sixty miles an hour. They have four-cylinder engines, and, because they weigh only approximately one ton each (the average passenger car weighs approximately one and one-third tons) some people are even dreaming of the possibilities of carrying two or three of them in a transport or bombing plane.
An outstanding feature of the "bantam" is the success with which four wheel drive has been adapted to it. Its front axle can be used wither as a driving axle or an idling axle and, while the four-wheel drive feature in smaller vehicles is an adaptation of the Army's usual design, in the "puddle-jumper" the resulting performance has been far greater even than anticipated. "Bugs" are built for maximum cross-country mobility - an indispensable requirement in modern warfare - which is greatly increased by having power in all four wheels.
In addition to the regular gear box, the 1/4-ton had an auxiliary transmission which provides six forward and two in reverse. Each vehicle is designed to carry a 1/4-ton cargo, and is equipped with tires having a heavy mud and snow tread.
Command-reconnaissance cars have blackout lamps, front and rear, in addition to the regular lighting equipment. A brush guard protects the front of each car and its windshield folds flat over the hood. Each also has a detachable, folding top or canopy which is carried in a tool compartment in the vehicle. Under the spare tire rack of each car is a pintle for towing purposes.
The Army's smallest four-wheel vehicles are capable of climbing a 65 per cent grade with ease. They are painted with the new olive drab lustreless enamel, which does not reflect light and which lends itself to camouflage in natural surroundings. The bodies of these cars are built as low as possible, in order to eliminate any unnecessary silhouette in day or night driving. In fact, no effort has been spared in their tests at the Holabird Quartermaster Depot they have performed in a way that promises real utility to the Army. Both the Field Artillery and the Cavalry are making tests for their own purposes on the new 1/4-ton truck-car.