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Old 10-14-2014, 11:51 AM   #1
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The Military Jeep Paint and Marking thread

Between my ’07 JKU and ’43 Willys MB, I’ve kind of made a hobby out of WWII US Army paint and markings.

I hope to make this the thread a good go-to source for people wanting to be as authentic as possible when painting and/or marking their Jeep (old or new) with a US military theme. I know, that's a big task but I don't expect this thread to stay stagnant, I hope it will grow. For the most part, the markings the original Jeeps had, is what most people go for so that is what this thread will mostly be about.


Before we get started: A brief background on the Jeep:
  • The vehicles we think of as WWII Jeeps actually came in two identical models
    • The Willys MB (Short for Model “B”)
    • The Ford GPW (G=Govt. contract, P= 80” wheel base W=Based in the Willys design)
  • In the summer of 1940, the US Army requested bids from 135 manufacturers for a new command/reconnaissance vehicle. Bids had to be returned in 22 days and the first prototype vehicle needed to be available in 49 days.
  • Only 3 companies submitted bids for the new vehicle.
    • The Bantam Car Company with their Reconnaissance Car
    • The Willys-Overland Company with their Quad
    • The Ford Motor Company with their Pygmy
  • Only the Bantam Company was able to fulfill 100% of the contract requirements and was able to produce a prototype in the allotted time so the contract was awarded to them. Even though the Bantam Company won the bid, they were a small company and couldn't provide the quantities the Army needed so the contract was given to Willys-Overland.
  • Willys' powerful "Go Devil" engine in their Willys MA (short for model "A") put them ahead of Ford to get the contract after Bantam was unable continue.
  • When they went into full production Willys started producing their Willys MB
  • In 1941 when production needed to increase beyond Willys' capacity, a second contract was awarded to Ford using the Willys design.
  • Bantam's primary roll during the war turned to manufacturing trailers.
  • There were approximately 648,000 Jeeps built in 45 months, from Nov 1941 to Aug 1945.
    • Approx. 370,000 were built by the Willys-Overland Company
    • Approx. 278,000 were built by the Ford Motor Company

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Old 10-14-2014, 11:52 AM   #2
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Paint

Okay, bottom line is that in my opinion, there is only ONE decent military paint manufacturer. It is sold in both gallons and rattle cans and it all comes down to one word:

Gillespie Coatings

Okay, that was two words

The biggest advantages to Gillespie is that it 1. It comes in every military paint color you can imagine. 2. It blends well so you don't see any streaks or lines. 3. it is not as porous as paint like Rustoleum and holds up to the weather better.
Now comes the part where our friend Google comes in. Gillespie makes the paint but they don't sell direct. The first batch I picked up was from a place called Army Jeep parts. Then I found a place called Rapco Parts, same paint and cheaper price.

I recommend the Army Jeep Parts web site as a great reference because they have good descriptions of the paint colors and where they should be used. The color most people associate with a WWII Jeep is shade 33070 and that’s what I went with on my Willys. To purchase the paint, I'd recommend going through Rapco.


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Old 10-14-2014, 11:53 AM   #3
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WWII US Army markings

Note: The vast majority of the Jeeps were owned by the Army (to include the Air Corps) so that is what I will concentrate on more. Navy and Marine markings will be addressed later.

Stars:









  • Prior to the war they were just the plain star and that was how they were delivered from the factory during the war.
  • Because of the lend-lease program The US gave lots of military equipment to our allies and some fell into enemy hands. The US wanted to make a different star on our vehicles to tell them apart on vehicles entering the ETO (European Theater of Operations).
  • When we entered the war it was decided to put a circle around the star and they were named "invasion stars". The circle was intended to be solid around the star but most of the time it was just sprayed it on out in the field and the stencil gaps were left in place.
  • There was 1 large star (generally 20”) on the hood that by regulations was just forward of the windshield (rather than in the middle of the hood) and straddled the gap in the hood. This way, when the windshield was folded down, you could still see the star.
  • On the Jeeps, there were 6” stars on the sides aft of the rear wheel wells and 1 smaller star in the middle of the front bumper. The front bumper star does not have the circle around it.
  • The larger trucks usually had an 18” - 20" star on the door
  • After the war, they went back to the plain star.
Hood (registration) numbers:


  • Military vehicles are generally identified 3 ways.
    • Vehicle ID number (VIN) assigned by the manufacturer
    • Registration Numbers (aka hood numbers) assigned by the military
    • Unit ID numbers (aka bumper numbers) assigned by the unit of assignment
  • The registration numbers were assigned by the Army Quartermaster Corps and not the same as the vehicle ID number on the data plate.
  • The numbers for Army Jeeps and reconnaissance vehicles began with “20” and were followed by 5 (and later 6) numbers.
  • When the vehicles were delivered from the factory, the hood numbers were not always white. From mid ’42 to mid ’43 they were blue drab lusterless enamel and from mid ’43 on, they were white, or even yellow or black.
  • The standard for the hood numbers was 3-inches high. The numbers were painted white in the field and the regs allow for the “USA” to either be in front of the numbers or on top depending on the space available.
  • Prior to, and early on in the war, the hood numbers were preceded by a “W-“ to indicate it belonged to the war department. In 1944, the “W” was dropped.
  • If the vehicle had been modified for radio use, the hood numbers had a “-S” at the end to indicate the vehicle electrical system had been “suppressed” so as to not interfere with the radio.
Bumper (unit ID) numbers:


  • When the vehicles were delivered from the factory there were no bumper numbers
  • AR-850-5 established a comprehensive set of unit bumper codes to quickly identify a vehicle andthe unit it belonged to.
  • Basically, it shows the chain of command for which the vehicle is assigned and indicates if it is vehicle #1, #2, etc., of a unit.
  • Pretty much the only way to distinguish an Air Corps Jeep is that there is a star with the numbers on the left of the bumper.
Flag on the windshield:


  • This was actually started as a D-day thing and continued for all vehicles assigned to the European Theatre of Operations (ETO).
  • A piece of paper was printed and placed in the lower left side of the driver’s windshield.
  • On one side there was a flag (48 star of course)
  • On the side facing the driver, there were “fording” instructions to explain what needed to be done going ashore and to cross rivers.
Reference documents the markings:Places to purchase stencils and decals:
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Old 10-14-2014, 11:54 AM   #4
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WWII US Navy and Marines' paint and markings

The US Navy (of which the Marine Corps is assigned) had their own contracts with Ford and Willys. Most of their vehicles were acquired under those contracts but often they acquired Jeeps from the Army. The paint and markings of US Navy and USMC Jeeps during this time often reflect how the vehicle was acquired.



Paint:


  • During the war, Navy Jeeps were generally painted battleship gray and the Marine's Jeeps were their own shade of OD green.
  • The vast majority of Jeeps produced during WWII were produced to Army specifications so while Jeeps produced under the Navy contract rolled off the assembly line gray, the underside and wheel wells were still OD.
  • Many times, due to the urgent need of the vehicle, the Navy put Jeeps acquired from the Army putting them into service with the original OD color intact.
  • The Marines had their own shade of OD green specified but often they used the Army shades as well.
Markings





  • The Department of the Navy, did not require stars on their vehicles during the war.
  • The registration numbers assigned by the US Army Quartermasters were often used if the vehicle was acquired from the Army (as you can see in Admiral Nimitz's Jeep above)
  • When the Jeep was delivered under the Navy contract, it would have a 5 digit registration number on the hood
  • Instead of bumper numbers like the Army, the Navy would list the ship or naval station it was assigned to.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:32 PM   #5
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Were there any military jeeps that had rank insignia on them? I think the upper echelon had them but I can't find any pics.
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Old 12-30-2014, 06:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoga-Mud-Sand View Post
Were there any military jeeps that had rank insignia on them? I think the upper echelon had them but I can't find any pics.
Generally all they did was put a placard on the front bumper for general officers. Also, they would sometimes add a flag but usually just for parades.

  • Here's a picture of a 1st Infantry Division general having chow on his Jeep.



  • Then there was Patton's highly modified Jeep. He had doors and special fenders put on as well as a more comfortable seat. He had a 3-star placard, a flag as well as a siren and air horns. Here's a picture with his driver standing beside it.

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Old 12-30-2014, 02:57 PM   #7
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Ok. Thanks.

The jeep military transformation is going well. I think it's going to be more of a tribute to my family's service than an attempt at historic accuracy. Loving every minute of it
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:52 PM   #8
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One thing to remember with WWII Jeep markings is that there was historic accuracy and there was historic accuracy. Sure the Army had regulations on how things were supposed to be to make things uniform. The reality came down to the troops in the field. The Jeeps rolled off the assembly line and arrived to the field with stars (no circle) and blue hood numbers.

In the field, they painted the circle around the star, and painted the hood numbers white. They also painted the bumper numbers on when it was assigned to a unit.
  • The circle around the star was supposed to be unbroken but most of the time, the stencil lines were left in place.
  • Sometimes they left the hood numbers blue
  • Even though there were standards for the unit ID numbers on the bumpers, it was all left to gut motor pool on how they looked.
Additionally, there were many times when a vehicle was assigned to a soldier or group of soldiers and they would personalize the Jeep with a saying, unit ID or name of a girl friend or wife.

For the most part, there is no wrong way to do it, just make it yours.
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Old 12-31-2014, 08:55 PM   #9
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Jeep hair!


2015 Billet JKU Stock
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Old 05-26-2015, 12:55 AM   #10
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Can civilian are allowed to have military jeep? Is there any law to state this term in USA?
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Old 05-26-2015, 07:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Can civilian are allowed to have military jeep? Is there any law to state this term in USA?
Sure, it's completely legal. The military periodically sells their surplus items, everything from shop tools to large trucks and even airplanes. When they are sold, they come with all the paperwork to be able to transfer the title and register it.

Now with that being said, they recently announced that they will be selling off almost all of their HMMWVs but they will not be able to be registered to drive on the road. The bidding will start at $10k each and the buyer must give them a statement saying what it will be used for (driving on a ranch, etc).

AM General, the Humvee's manufacturer, is pretty unequivocal on its website, saying, "The Humvee was designed for a military mission and was not designed to meet civilian safety standards." they go on to say "AM General does not endorse nor support the sale of these military vehicles to the general public or private entities. AM General further opposes any use of these military vehicles by individuals or entities outside of the military context for which the vehicles are designed. AM General does not sell the military vehicle or service parts for the military vehicle to the general public."

So even if you did get one, I don't know where you'd get parts.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:57 PM   #12
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After reading up on the history of the Willys I am interested in finding a "Go Devil" decal. My Google searches came up short. Any idea where I could find one or even a picture of one?
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRHDix View Post
After reading up on the history of the Willys I am interested in finding a "Go Devil" decal. My Google searches came up short. Any idea where I could find one or even a picture of one?
Wow, good question

I know that's what it was called but I never researched the origin. That being the case, I'm not sure if it was an official name or just a nick name. A nick name most likely wouldn't have a logo but if it was official there may be a commercial icon of some sort around.

Oh great, I have another research project.
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Old 11-02-2015, 11:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beastmaster View Post
Wow, good question

I know that's what it was called but I never researched the origin. That being the case, I'm not sure if it was an official name or just a nick name. A nick name most likely wouldn't have a logo but if it was official there may be a commercial icon of some sort around.

Oh great, I have another research project.
Good question and a good answer too.
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Old 11-03-2015, 07:35 PM   #15
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Is that the right image?
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:06 AM   #16
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Is that the right image?
That's the only one I had been able to find too.
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Old 12-22-2015, 10:41 AM   #17
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I thought I would share a website that I found while researching my own project. Lots of history, markings and links to authentic milspec paint suppliers.

Military Vehicle Owners Guide
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Old 12-27-2015, 09:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
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I thought I would share a website that I found while researching my own project. Lots of history, markings and links to authentic milspec paint suppliers.

Military Vehicle Owners Guide
Just saw your post. You're right, Olive Drab is one of the best resources on the web for old military stuff
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Old 05-24-2016, 01:30 PM   #19
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Thanks for your post. I just purchased a JKU 75A Sarge green. I think I'm going to add some navy decals on it as a tribute to my family. So this is useful.
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:26 PM   #20
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Yes, Sir!

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