Military Jeeps Could Drive Underwater

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Military Jeeps Could Drive Underwater
Military Jeeps Could Drive Underwater

Despite being a time of great sacrifice and uncertainty, WWII was also a time of tremendous innovation. Many things we take for granted today were developed as part of the war effort as we faced two fronts with sophisticated, determined enemies. With amphibious assaults playing key roles in the Pacific, Italy, and France, the US Military developed a way to let jeeps drive off a craft and underwater when near the shoreline, making them more of a flexible threat. How this was done was nothing short of genius.

See how one company gives the modern Toyota Tacoma a throwback look here.

According to a War Department video, this method allowed jeeps to drive in up to about 3.5 feet of water for up to 6 minutes. That might not seem like much but at the time it was revolutionary. Keep in mind we stand on the shoulders of those who came before and it’s obvious this innovation has evolved over time.

A film we’ve included below walks soldiers through the waterproofing process. There are multiple steps, so this isn’t something done with the flip of a switch. We’re not sure your average car owner could even begin to attempt something like this since most people these days seem incapable of so much as turning a wrench.


To the horror of many, a key component of the waterproofing process is an asbestos compound. You see a solider in the video work the compound like clay using his bare hands. Is it any wonder so many WWII vets died of cancer?

Another amusing component in the waterproofing kit for the jeep is a flexible tube that doesn’t look too dissimilar to the one you might extend your rain gutter downspout with. That was essentially the early predecessor to modern off-road snorkels, a device which not only is supposed to keep your rig’s engine from ingesting water but can put the air intake opening above the dust line if you drive on dirt roads often.

Sealing the different components under the hood the jeep was something a serviceman couldn’t rush or do sloppily. Insufficient coverage with the asbestos compound would result in engine failure, making the jeep a sitting duck in the water. After all, one of the reasons jeeps were so vexing to the Japanese, Germans, and Italians was their quick, agile nature. The driver and passengers sit exposed to small arms fire, so they’re not really meant to take a lot of hits.

It's amazing to think how revolutionary this admittedly somewhat tedious waterproofing process was for its time. Even more amazing is to think how far we’ve come since then with innovations that allow off-road rigs to drive through deep water without a series of temporary modifications made at the last minute.

Check out the process for yourself.