Introduction to Military Jeep Markings:
Military markings for jeep vehicles can sometimes be confusing and difficult to figure out. There are many regulations regarding the markings of military property; however, this post will hopefully provide some assistance in finding appropriate markings for your jeep vehicle. If you are an enthusiast interested in reproducing or restoring markings, you will want to take special care to check for original designations before you pick up a sandblaster or stencil during the restoration process… If you are able to uncover original markings on your vehicle, this is great news as collectors will often use these markings to verify a vehicle’s authenticity, history and identity.
Unfortunately, in some cases, your vehicle’s official markings may have been painted over by the military or have been lost forever due to deterioration over time. If this is the case, then you may want to use the information in this post to help you decide which markings may be appropriate to add to your jeep.
About Military Markings:
The AR 850-5 is the US Army manuscript outlining the regulations for marking vehicles, equipment, supplies, and clothing. Although that publication provides the basic structure of unit identification, many photographs will demonstrate that these regulations were not strictly adhered to. The standard color for a military vehicle was OD (olive drab), and was applied with a flat or lusterless finish. From late 1940 to February 1945, markings were to be made in blue-drab. This type of color scheme would prevent enemy intelligence from gathering and identifying military markings as the two colors were hard to distinguish from one another when viewed in black and white photographs. The official color of these markings was changed to flat white in February 1945, but the reserves of blue-drab paint were used until exhausted.
Starting with the Bumper:
Bumper numbers can tend to be a source of confusion. The information found on the bumper should be read from left to right as follows:
Left: Major command (Army, Corps, Division), Intermediate command (regiment, battalion)
*Frequently, a white five-point start was located in the center of the bumper, approx. 3 to 4 inches in diameter, depending upon bumper space.
(A white five-pointed star was the national symbol of all motor vehicles assigned to tactical units. Sizing of this star was dependent upon the motor vehicle type and had to be large enough to take advantage of the surface upon which it is painted. When required for camouflage or concealment, the symbol was to be covered by lusterless olive-drab gasoline solvent paint).
Right: Unit or activity (company), Vehicle number (order of march)
Jeeps always had the prefix 20, which stood for ‘reconnaissance’ followed by the vehicle’s registration number. For the first 99,999 jeeps, this was a 5 digit number; later jeeps had 6 digits. Registration numbers were painted in 3″ numbers (space permitting of course) on each side of the vehicle hood or somewhere on the back of the vehicle. If the vehicle was “suppressed” in order to carry a radio, the letter S (preceded by a dash) was applied as a suffix after the registration number. USA was painted before or above the registration number (space permitting).
On the top of the hood, a white five-point star was applied, approx. 15 inches and 1 1/2 inches from the cowl (size of star and placement vary depending upon space) which allowed it to be visible with the windshield up or down. There are several variations of the star – some were plain white five-point stars while others also incorporated a broken or solid circle. The star pictured above is detailed with a broken circle, also called the “invasion star”.
Rear Quarter Panel:
A six inch, white five-point star would have been placed towards the top of the rear quarter panel.
Rear of Vehicle:
(Note) Placement of the markings on the rear of the vehicles was not as consistent as it was on the front, and some vehicles had no rear unit markings. When applying markings to bumperettes, the same designations may be used as the front bumper.
Major Command (Army/Corps/Division)
Intermediate Command (Regiment/Battalion)
Unit or Activity (Company)
Vehicles number (Order of March)
“T.P.35″ – (Tire pressure) WWII-era US Army Jeeps sometimes had this painted on the dashboard, on the inside of the window, or on the inner sides of the wheel well, below the fenders and above the wheels. Post-war jeeps had the tire pressure painted on the rim of the fenders above the wheels (all 4). (Note) This location for the marking was only applied post-war. It is an incorrect marking for a war-era jeep.
“No Smoking” was an informal marking.
“Caution: Do Not Overfill – Allow for expansion” was sometimes placed to the left and below of the gas tank filler.
These are just a few of the informal markings that have been used.
Below is an excerpt from the AR 850-5. It provides the regulations to go by when marking a military vehicle. (Please note that in many photographs of jeeps, variations occur and standards were not strictly adhered to).
10. Unit markings.—Gasoline solvent paint or paint as prescribed by the War Department will be used.
a. Unit markings.—National symbol.
(1) A white five-pointed star will be the national symbol of all motor vehicles assigned to tactical units. Administrative motor vehicles operating in an active theater of operations will be similarly marked when directed by the theater commander.
(2) The size of the national symbol will be determined for each type of motor vehicle and will be large enough to take advantage of the surface upon which to be painted.
(3) Whenever requirements for camouflage and concealment outweigh the requirements for recognition, the national symbol may be covered by lusterless olive-drab gasoline solvent paint, camouflage nets, oil and dirt, etc., or will be removed.
b. Unit identification symbols.
(1) Front and rear markings.
(a) General.—Front and rear markings are identical and consist of four groups in consecutive order, from the left to right when facing the vehicle, separated by a dash 1 inch long. Markings may be on a single line or on two lines, but in no case will groups be broken nor order of groupings be changed. If two lines are used, the first and third groups will be on the top row. Composition of groups is indicated below.
(b) First group.—The first group will designate the smallest appropriate unit listed below in accordance with the following code:
|Division (infantry)||Arabic numeral.|
|Division (armored)||Arabic numeral followed by triangle 3 inches high with ¼-inch stroke.|
|Division (cavalry)||Arabic numeral followed by letter C.|
|Corps (army)||Roman numeral.|
|Corps (cavalry)||Roman numeral followed by letter C.|
|Corps (armored)||Roman numeral followed by triangle 3 inches high with ¼-inch stroke.|
|Army||Arabic numeral followed by letter A.|
|Air force||Arabic numeral followed by a star 3 inches high.|
|Zone of communications||ZC.|
|Army Ground Forces||AGF.|
|Services of Supply||SOS.|
|Zone of interior||ZI.|
|Replacement training center||RTC preceded by arm or service symbol.|
|Training center||TC preceded by arm or service symbol.|
|Firing center||FC preceded by arm or service symbol.|
|All others||Nonconflicting letters.|
(c) Second group.—The second group will designate separate regiment, separate brigades; groups, separate battalions, or separate companies, and similar units by appropriate number or symbol, followed by arm or service in accordance with abbreviations listed below. When indicating headquarters and headquarters companies or special companies of units identified in first group, the second group will consist only of the letter “X.” When indicating brigades, the numeral will be underlined.
|Arm or service||Designation|
|Army Air Forces units||Star 3 inches high.|
|Armored regiment||Triangle 3 inches high with ¼-inch stroke.|
|Chemical Warfare Service||G|
|Coast Artillery Corps||CA|
|Corps of Engineers||E|
|Infantry||I (preceded by dash ½-inch square)|
|Ordnance Department||O (preceded by dash ½-inch square)|
(d) Third group.—The third group will designate companies and similar organizations by letters in accordance with the following code:
|Headquarters and headquarters company (or headquarters and headquarters and service company) of lowest unit identification in previous groups.||HQ|
|Service company of lowest unit identified in service groups.||SV|
|Headquarters and headquarters company of battalion not previously identified.||Numerical designation of battalion followed by letters HQ.|
|Service company of battalion not previously identified.||Battalion number followed by letters SV.|
|Lettered company||Letter designation.|
|Separate company identified in second group.||X or abbreviation of company.|
|“Name” company (other than headquarters company, headquarters and service company or service company).||Nonconflicting letters assigned for identification purposes, preceded by the battalion number, when necessary.|
(e) Fourth group.—The fourth group will designate the serial number of the vehicle in normal order of march within the organization to which it is assigned. Vehicles assigned to any headquarters will be combined for purposes of numbering with those of the appropriate headquarters company or similar organization, and will be given the smaller serial numbers used therein.
|(a)||1—X—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Co, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—X—1S—10||10th vehicle, 1st Sig Co, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—X—1R—10||10th vehicle, 1st Rcn Tr, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—16-I—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 16th Inf, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—F—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Btry, Div Arty, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—33F—D—10||10th vehicle, Btry D, 33d FA Bn, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—1E—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 1st Engr Bn, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—1M—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A (Coll), 1st Med Bn, 1st Inf Div.|
|1—1Q—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 1st QM Bn, 1st Inf Div.|
|(b)||1Δ—X—SV—10||10th vehicle, Serv. Co, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—81R—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 81st Rcn Bn, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—1Δ—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 1st Armd Regt, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—27F—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 27th FA Bn, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—16E—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 16th Engr Bn, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—6–I—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 6th Inf, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—TN—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Co, Div Tn, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—1-O—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, Maint Bn, 1st Armd Div.|
|1Δ—1Q—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, Sup Bn, 1st Armd Div.|
|(c)||1C—X—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Tr, 1st Cay. Div.|
|1C—X—1S—10||10th vehicle, 1st Sig Tr, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—91R—A—10||10th vehicle, Tr A, 91st Rcn Sq, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—X—27-O—10||10th vehicle, 27th Ord Co, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—1C—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Tr, let Cav Brig, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—12C—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Tr, 12th Cav, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—F—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Btry, Div Arty, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—61F—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 61st FA Bn, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—8E—A—10||10th vehicle, Tr A, 8th Engr Bn, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—1M—A—10||10th vehicle, Tr A, let Med Sq, 1st Cav Div.|
|1C—1Q—A—10||10th vehicle, Tr A, 1st QM Sq, 1st Cav Div.|
|(d)||2A—21Q—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 21st QM Regt, Second Army.|
|3A—61Q—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 61st QM Bn, Third Army.|
|★—1Q—SVAV—10||10th vehicle, 1st QM Co, Serv Gp, (Avn) AAF.|
|3A—21Q—CAR—10||10th vehicle, 21st QM Car Co, Third Army.|
|3A—56Q—COM—10||10th vehicle, 56th QM Sales Comm Co, Third Army.|
|3A—67Q—REF—10||10th vehicle, 67th QM Ref Co, Third Army.|
|4A—79Q—DP—10||10th vehicle, 79th QM Depot Co, Fourth Army.|
|1A—87Q—RHD—10||10th vehicle, 87th QM Rhd Co, First Army.|
|1A—132Q—TRK—10||10th vehicle, 132d QM Trk Co, First Army.|
|★—862Q—MT—10||10th vehicle, 862d QM L Maint Co, AAF.|
|(e)||GHQ—101M—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 101 Med Regt, GHQ.|
|II—40M—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 40th Med Bn, II Army Corps.|
|3A—1M—VET—10||10th vehicle, 1st Vet Co, Third Army.|
|II—701M—SAN—10||10th vehicle, 701st Sn Co, II Army Corps.|
|II—3M—EV—10||10th vehicle, 3d Evac Hosp, II Army Corps.|
|3A—53M—GEN—10||10th vehicle, 53d Gen Hosp, Third Army.|
|1A—151M—STA—10||10th vehicle, 151st Sta Hosp, First Army.|
|3A—63M—SUR—10||10th vehicle, 63d Surg Hosp, Third Army.|
|3A—16M—VET—10||10th vehicle, 16th Vet Evac Hosp, Third Army.|
|1A—1M—DP—10||10th vehicle, 1st Med Sup Dep, First Army.|
|3A—2M—LAB—10||10th vehicle, 2d Med Lab, Third Army.|
|(f)||1A—101P—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 101st MP Bn, First Army.|
|ZI—704P—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 704th MP Bn, ZI.|
|IV—X—44P—10||10th vehicle, 44th MP Co, IV Army Corps.|
|(g)||IX—18E—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 18th Engr, IX Army Corps.|
|II—62E—D—10||10th vehicle, Co D, 62d Top Engr, II Army Corps.|
|(h)||1A-41-O—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 41st Ord Bn, First Army.|
|I—1-O—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq & Hq Det, 1st Ord Bn, I Army Corps.|
|3A—X—60-O—10||10th vehicle, 60th Ord Co, Third Army.|
|★—714-O—AB—10||10th vehicle, 714 Ord Co, AB, AAF.|
|(i)||IIΔ—1S—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 1st Sig Bn, I Armd Corps.|
|III—26S—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 26th Sig Bn, III Army Corps.|
|★—X—S—10||10th vehicle, Sig Co, AAF.|
|III—X—280S—10||10th vehicle, 280th Sig Co, III Army Corps.|
|ZI—1S—SV—10||10th vehicle, 1st Sig Serv Co, ZI.|
|(j)||1A—2G—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 2d Cml Bn, First Army.|
|3A—3G—MT—10||10th vehicle, 3d Cml Co Maint, Third Army.|
|3A—3G—DP—10||10th vehicle, 3d Cml Co, Dep, Third Army.|
|(k)||II—13F—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Btry, 13th FA Brig, II Army Corps.|
|I—17F—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 17th FA, I Army Corps.|
|1A—6F—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 6th FA Bn, First Army.|
|GHQ—71F—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 71st FA Bn, GHQ.|
|I—1FOB—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 1st FA Obsn Bn, I Army Corps.|
|(l)||3A—33CA—HQ—10||10th vehicle, Hq Btry, 33 CAC Brig, Third Army.|
|1A—2CA—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 2d CAC, First Army.|
|AA—302CA—A—10||10th vehicle, Btry A, 302 CAC, AA Comd.|
|(m)||2A—601TD—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A. 601 TD Bn, Second Army.|
|TD—693TD—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, 693 TD Bn, TD Comd.|
|(n)||★—850E—A—10||10th vehicle, Co A, Engr Bn Avn, AAF.|
(3) How marked.—Unit identification markings will be painted in white letters on olive-drab background.
(4) Height of letters and figures.—Letters and figures will be of a character style and dimensions as designed for use for traffic signs. Where space does not permit this size, letters and figures will conform to space available.
(5) Marking not required.—Rear marking only is required on trailers, except on trailer, bomb, M5 and trailer, tractor, crane (see figs. 29 and 30). Unit marking will be placed on motorcycles when practicable.
(6) Removal of unit markings.—The first two groups of unit markings will be removed from all motor vehicles when leaving home stations for movement to theaters of operations or ports of embarkation and in the theater of operations when directed by the theater commanders.
(7) Administrative vehicles, motor vehicles assigned to administrative units or functions at posts, camps, and stations or similar activities will substitute abbreviations or words for the first two groups in order to show station and activity represented, Abbreviations will be those commonly used and where practical will conform to those prescribed in these regulations.
Sources of information shared in this blog post:
Standard catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles 2nd Edition by David Doyle
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