U.S. NAVY JEEP

Malcolm & Simon Frampton's jeep is pictured here standing next to mine in Romsey Town Centre one cold November day supporting the annual Poppy Day Appeal on behalf of the British Legion. Only relatively few restored jeeps depict the US Navy jeep which is perhaps fitting as the US Navy had relatively few grey jeeps.

The standard US Army Jeep was delivered from the factory to the US Navy in two colours:

Matt slate grey. This was the same colour as the aircraft were painted and the official name for this was Non-Specular Blue-Grey. The closest standard colour to this available in the US today is FS-36176.

US Marine green. This was also used for vehicles allocated to the newly formed SEABEES. The colour was officially known as USMC semi-gloss #23, Forest Green. This is still a standard colour in the US as FS-34052

The jeep was primarily a Marine Corps / SEABEE vehicle so most were delivered in Forest Green. As jeeps weren’t intended for driving around shipyards or supply depots not many were delivered in Non-Specular Blue-Grey. These were mainly limited to use as radio trucks with aviation units or for use by the US Coastguard.

Data Plates
In addition to the normal Army data plates, Navy jeeps had an extra data plate indicating Navy ownership and recording the chassis number and registration number.

Navy Registration number
The Navy registration numbering system did not distinguish between different types of vehicle. The number sequence began in the late 1930’s but it is difficult to predict the range of numbers allocated in any particular year as it would appear that that some Navy jeeps retained their previous Army registration numbers ( some were procured for the Navy by the Army also) instead of getting new Navy numbers, just a USA to USN change. There is also some evidence that numbers were re-issued as a vehicle was surveyed out of the Navy as is the case with the Navy numbering system in use today. (A list of some authentic USN registration numbers is given at the foot of the page.)

The registration number was painted on the side of the jeep at the factory. The ‘U.S.N.’ was placed just above the front grab handle and the number just below the handle (fig C). When the jeep was repainted this usually moved to being painted on the bonnet. The colour of the letters and numbers was as follows: Forest Green jeeps - usually black, sometimes grey, and late in the war chrome yellow, Non-Specular Blue-Grey jeeps - always black.

Official markings
Navy vehicles, including jeeps, had very few markings. The only Navy vehicles to have a star on them were ‘Amtrac’ armoured vehicles, the five pointed star did not appear on any jeeps. Generally, the only marking on a USN vehicle throughout its service life was the registration number. However, USN regulations allowed for official unit insignia or badge to be displayed on unit vehicles and equipment. From the middle of the war onwards the title ‘ U.S. NAVY’ appeared on the front and rear of trucks and sometimes on the side in 3inch yellow or black rounded lettering (fig D). Whether or not jeeps had this added to the front and rear bumpers is not clear.

Unofficial markings
Markings or identification in addition to the official registration number were at the option of the unit commander. Larger trucks sometimes appeared with a local unit code on the doors or above or below the registration number. This consisted of three letters followed by a number of up to three digits e.g. NOB-540. This did not apply to jeeps though. In common with army practice, vehicles serving on the front line had other unofficial unit or personnel markings in any style or position. This would only realistically apply to USN jeeps painted in Forest Green.

Seabees Trailer

Simon has completed some interesting restorations over the years including the unusual jeep trailer (opposite). It was rescued from a farm in the Southampton area and identified by the Imperial War Museum in London as a WW2 Seabees trailer. As the photograph shows it is basically a modified Willys trailer which had the original body replaced by a stronger and slightly larger one with a drop tail gate. It was also fitted with a run-on towing brake to compensate for the increased load carrying capacity and jockey wheel.

I am grateful to Mike ? for providing correcting an error concerning the range of registration numbers and for supplying the following list as a guide. If you have any other verifiable examples to add I am sure Mike would love to hear from you.

1939 Dodge truck - USN 124282 on door
40/41 Ford pick-up (gloss black paint) @ Pearl Harbor during attack - US NAVY 11990 over rear window
Early 40's Ford 1 ton panel in black @ NAS Treasure Island during WW2 - USN 15252
Early 40's Navy bus - USN 196742
Early 40's Ford one ton Shore Patrol panel - USN 197887
1942 MB - USN 178751
1942 Dodge 3/4 ton WC-56 - USN 129561
1942 and up Dodge 3/4 ton WC-53 - USN 55179, 58294
1943 GPW - USN 50222
1943 Chevrolet pick-up photographed new - USN 183003
1943 IH M-24 firetruck - USN 51148
44 MB (MZ - 1 radio jeeps) - USN 133818, 133738, 133744
44 MB - USN 249372
44 MB - USN 295134
45 MB - USN 242587
1946 Dodge pick-up gray with black fenders - USN 27306
1949 Dodge 2 1/2 ton truck photographed new - USN 287619

The photo shows the latest addition to the jeep, a period hardtop discovered in a breakers yard during 2005. The jeep is now depicted as being attached to the airbase NAS Quonset Point.

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