Although we might live with a host of products every day that are essential to modern life, where and how they are manufactured is often alien to us. Not only that, but other products manufactured by the same company that creates our television, toasters and used cars might be completely unknown. In the case of vehicles, a number of manufacturers that you’re likely to have heard of have also used their skills to aid governments as well as individuals, by producing military vehicles and technology.
While not all vehicle manufacturers produce a large range of other technologies for use by the military or governmental bodies, during wartime or times of national emergency, it’s all hands to the deck. When materials and labour are scarce, it’s essential that private manufacture contributes to state efforts – so it’s no surprise that, during the Second World War, well-known car manufacturer Ford produced more than half a million Jeeps to be used in the fighting.
In the UK, military vehicles during this period were often imported from other countries, most notably the USA with vehicles like the Daimler Armoured Car. However, smaller, British-based manufacturers also produced vehicles – how about driving a Rolls Royce Armoured Car? Even the most unlikely car manufacturers turned their hands to helping the war effort, like Morris Motors Limited and their light armoured cars.
In times of peace, car producers have still looked at how military vehicles can make the crossover to civilian roads – and vice versa. The monster Hummer, popular in the US and in certain limousine variants for prom night here in the UK, was adapted from the M998 Humvee, a military vehicle produced by AM General. Other manufacturers, like Panhard, began producing civilian vehicles but then moved solely into military production, creating products like the Peugeot P4 off-road vehicle.
A huge range of manufacturers also produce not only vehicles themselves, but key components of vehicles that are essential for military technology. Fighter jet engines, control panels, and much more are often produced by every day manufacturers: in the US, General Electric produce everything from kitchen appliances to military-spec weapons built into vehicles. In other countries across the world, household names contribute to government efforts, including offshoots of Hyundai, Daewoo, Mitsubishi and many more.
Next time you jump in your used Ford or second hand Morris, don’t forget – your car is just one cog in a huge machine of fantastic technologically-advanced vehicle production! Image via Creative Commons from Commodore Gandalf Cunningham