Swiss Army Jeeps



The Swiss Army purchased 500 American surplus World War II jeeps in 1946, and continued to buy Jeeps from Willys and Kaiser, including many CJ-3Bs and CJ-5s, until 1972. This photo of 3B's in service in Switzerland comes from the book Fahrzeuge der Schweizer Armee by Markus Hoffman.

Ulrich Tribelhorn of the Jeep Club of Central Switzerland mentions that, "At the time when the army still used horses, young farmers who went in the military service could pay a part of the cost of a horse and could take it home after their service. When the army started to buy Jeeps they kept this tradition. This is the reason that quite a few of our members still have the Jeep they used in the military service."

Distinctive Details

Most of the Swiss military Jeeps were painted olive drab; some were grey.

Eric Cerottini says, "During my obligatory military service I frequently drove a 1972 CJ-5, but when I discovered CJ3B.info in 1999, I decided to buy a CJ-3B type." He bought this 1956 CJ-3B in a private sale from the second owner in Emmental, Switzerland.

He says, "It comes from Swiss Army stock. I registered it as 1956 according to the serial numbers reproduced in CJ3B.info. But I think it is one year older, as the Swiss military registration plate found on the dashboard says 1955."

See also photos by Raymond Richard of the dashboard (40K JPEG) and data plates (30K JPEG) on his ex-Swiss Army Jeep.

Spare mountEric mentions, "I found a jerrycan rack and a spare wheel support (see a wider view, 70K JPEG) at the 1999 Swiss military vehicle sale. The holes that I found on the tailgate of my 3B are exactly corresponding to the bolts on the two pieces. The four 3B's sold this year in Thoune had the same pieces on their back.

Seat"I probably found another Swiss particularity: there is a special piece on the driver's seat that was used to hang a soldier's rifle between the two front seats."

Swiss Army Jeep Sale

Lot 257Philipp Burger gave us a heads-up that the three CJ-3Bs included in the 2006 Swiss Army surplus vehicle sale in April were likely the last ones.

As usual, the Jeeps had grille screens, military-style soft tops, and ventilating windshields with top-mounted wipers and a pair of rear-view mirrors. Only the one seen here had the front blackout light -- but at least a couple had the air horns behind the front bumper.

Swiss surplus Jeeps The sale of surplus Swiss Army vehicles is held annually in Thoune, Switzerland. Eric Cerottini saw 45 Jeeps at the 1998 sale, but reported that the prices were high. He returned and took these pictures at the next sale in Thoune on 21 April 1999. He reports that in 1999 "there were more than 700 vehicles and working machines to buy: trucks like GMC 1949, Saurer 2DM, Unimog S, Pinzgauer/Puch, Toyota Landcruiser, and Landrover. Also 36 Jeeps, all CJ-5 except four CJ-3B (1965)! The beginning price was 3,000 Swiss francs (2,000 US dollars), and final prices of sales by auction came to 5,000/6,500 Swiss francs (3,300/4,300 US dollars)."

CJ-3B front "The 3B's looked in pretty good condition, even if they needed some work."

See a larger copy of this photo (40K JPEG) of a 1965 model.

Rear This rear view shows the jerrycan rack and spare tire mount, as well as the military-style folding top.

See a larger copy of the photo (50K JPEG).

On the Road

RestoredThis restored example carries unit identification on the front. Like the Jeep in the photos from the sale, this one has a chaff screen over the grille -- maybe there to prevent buildup of snow inside the grille?

This photo (source unknown) also shows snap-in side curtains for the soft top.

Here are some sources for Jeep parts in Switzerland:

Thanks to Eric Cerottini for his photos, and Luiz Mariano Paz for finding Markus Hoffman's book. -- Derek Redmond

See also Johannes Tanner's 1961 Swiss Army 6-Volt Radio Jeep and Marcel Martinetz's 1959 Swiss Army Vet.

See more M606 Military Jeeps on CJ3B.info.

Elsewhere on the web, see a blog with photos of Swiss Army CJ-3B Jeeps.

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Last updated 30 December 2006 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond