Mitsubishi Jeeps vs. Godzilla


As of early 2024 the latest Godzilla movie Godzilla Minus One (37th film in the series) is the most successful yet in terms of both critical response and box office business (approaching US$100 million.) It's a prequel describing the first emergence of Godzilla shortly after the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo, the two atomic bomb attacks and the surrender of Japan. It includes both compelling characters and stunning visual effects, but the 1946 setting means there are no convoys of Mitsubishi high-hood Jeeps rushing to do useless battle with the monster. So let's go back to some of the old classics of the series, where interesting old Jeeps were as predictable as the man in the rubber suit.

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

1972 poster Federico Cavedo has just pointed me to another film from the second phase of the Toho Studios series, when Godzilla had become a defender of Japan, helping to fight off other monsters. Chikyū Kōgeki Meirei Gojira Tai Gaigan literally translates as "Earth Destruction Directive: Godzilla vs. Gigan."

The plot in which aliens enlist monsters from space to help them take over the earth is pretty convoluted, and the monster battles are lengthy, since each of the title characters also has a sidekick. As seen on the poster, the dinosaur-like Anguirus helps out Godzilla, and the three-headed King Gidorah arrives from space with Gigan (who has a buzz saw sticking out of his chest.)

Frame Much of the music in this low-budget production was recycled from earlier Toho films, and likewise many of the shots of the self-defense forces arriving in Jeeps had also been seen before (and can be seen elsewhere on this page.)

Frame I don't remember seeing this closer shot before, which shows a civilian Jeep dressed up with details including the unusual sloping panel at the bottom of the windshield, and the handrail on top.

Frame There's a scene of actual recoilless rifle Jeeps with split windshields, preparing to do their best. Although this was the twelfth Godzilla movie, they never seemed to learn that it wasn't going to work.

Frame There's a good shot of one of the 106mm guns letting loose.

Frame The Jeeps in this shot of a miniature building are clearly models.

Frame Same goes for this, which looks like a radar-equipped Winnebago.

Frame The giant maser weapons are brought in.

Frame These mobile microwave ovens shoot some electromagnetic blasts at Gigan and King Gidorah, which mostly just annoys them and leads to them destroying the masers.

Frame So it's left to Godzilla to deal with the space invaders. At a couple of points it doesn't look good for him, but he recovers and in the end he sends them packing.

Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964)

1964 posterMosura tai Gojira, produced by the Toho Company in Japan in 1964, was known in English as both Mothra vs. Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Mothra. For the original English release, American International Pictures was probably worried that people wouldn't think a giant moth sounded scary enough, so the title was changed to Godzilla vs. The Thing. On the poster in English (230K JPEG), the mystery monster was hidden (except for very un-mothlike tentacles) but a Jeep was included.

Many people consider this one of the best Godzilla movies, possibly even better than the 1954 original. And it's also notable for being the last film of the original series, in which Godzilla was totally the bad guy.

FrameGodzilla starts stomping Tokyo after being disturbed by a developer building luxury condos. The Japanese military can't do much, even with the help of the U.S. Navy in the American release version. So it's up to the mystical giant moth Mothra to deal with the monster, whose rubber costume and special effects are quite fearsome in this film.

There are a few Mitsubishi Jeeps around 1964 Tokyo (see a CJ3B-J3 with a Nissan Pathfinder, 60K JPEG), but the most interesting ones are these police Jeeps.

FrameThe police vehicles are Mitsubishi CJ3B-J3's, which were built from 1953 into the 1970's. The Willys name and the Mitsubishi triangle are both stamped into the front grille. It's not clear how those red lights are attached to the canvas tops....

See also another shot of this Jeep (60K JPEG).

And if you get the urge to watch an old Godzilla film, this might be the one to rent if you want to scare the kids (see the trailer at IMDB.com.)

Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

I liked that monster In regcognition of Godzilla's 65th anniversary in 2019, MPC (Model Products Corporation) released its 1/25 scale plastic model kit of a World War II Willys MB as a "planetary defense vehicle... featured in Invasion of Astro-Monster." That film was the sixth in the Godzilla series (released in Japan in 1965, but not in North America until 1970, under the title Godzilla vs. Monster Zero.) The model kit included a cardboard backdrop (150K JPEG). See also the back of the box (80K JPEG).

Willys Astro-Monster was the sixth film in the Godzilla series, and had a lower budget than the previous movies, so there was a good deal of stock footage re-used from other Toho productions. This was likely the reason that it did briefly feature Willys MBs, including one with a recoilless rifle.

Mitsubishi A scene featuring civilian characters would have been shot specifically for this film, so these Jeeps were from Mitsubishi, apparently CJ3B-J3s dressed as military.

Nick Adams Invasion of Astro-Monster had an American co-producer, who suggested including actor Nick Adams as an astronaut, to help sell the film in the U.S. market. Adams' film roles had included Rebel Without a Cause, and he starred in the TV series The Rebel from 1959-61. Like his friends James Dean and Elvis Presley, he died young, in 1968 at the age of 36, of a drug overdose.

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

PosterGojira tai Megaro (Toho Company, 1973) is generally considered one of the worst of the Godzilla series. A user on the Internet Movie Database commented, "One couldn't make a parody of the Godzilla films as funny as this; yet, incredibly, there's no sign that this was not intended to be taken seriously." But another reviewer adds, "Look guys, this Godzilla movie was clearly made for children. Judging this movie against the darker and more mature films in the series is clearly missing the point."

The consensus of course is "So bad it's good." One fan concluded, "A great movie, hilarious fight scenes. I recommend the movie to anyone, you'll love it! One of the best monster fights ever put on film!"

FrameThe film was clearly shot and edited very quickly, and fans of the genre have again noticed that the military vehicle shots are taken straight out of earlier monster films, in particular Toho's War of the Gargantuas (1968) which is where this convoy of Jeeps comes from.

FrameThe Jeeps carry mostly "maser" weapons, from which soldiers with white gloves can fire blasts of amplified electromagnetic radiation. One of the Jeeps has an unusual feature in the form of some kind of fairing stretched over the cowl.

FrameThe masers are no more effective against Megalon than the good old 106mm rifle carried on this J4 with extended rear box. So it's up to Godzilla and the robot Jet Jaguar to save Japan by taking on the giant cockroach Megalon and his sidekick Gigan from outer space, in the climactic battle seen on the poster.

Godzilla 2000 (1999)

PosterIt's 1999, and the Godzilla Prediction Network (GPN) in Japan is studying and tracking Godzilla when he appears on the coast of Nemuro. He completely destroys the city.

"Gaaaaaaaargh!" says Jim Gay in a review at Amazon.com. "The guy in the rubber suit is back with a vengeance. The plot is familiar to anyone who was a 12-year-old boy: Godzilla erupts from the sea for reasons that are never made clear, proceeds to wreak havoc amongst the buildings of a model city, and meets and beats a monster his own size, thus saving humanity. "

Oh Oh

"Godzilla's nemesis this time around is a 600-foot-long rock that scientists find at the bottom of the ocean and unwisely bring to the surface, where it proves to be an alien spacecraft bent on acquiring Godzilla's regenerative abilities. 'A visitor from outer space?' exclaims one of the scientists, 'My god, it's just too crazy to believe!' To which the lead scientist responds, 'Right, like Godzilla's normal.'"


The government's top man on the scene gets driven everywhere by soldiers in Mitsubishi military Jeeps.

Trick or treatGay continues, "Godzilla's back in the nurturing hands of Toho Studios, and they've beefed up the big beast with more highly developed spinal fins, resembling large crystals, and more menacing teeth. But he's the same guy in the rubber suit who smashes Tokyo's buildings and cars and dukes it out in larger-than-life smackdowns with the universe's monstrous villains."

I liked that monsterThe two photos above show what is probably a Mitusbishi J54A military Jeep, a diesel-powered version of the CJ-3B built in the late 1960s and early 70's. Later in the film, the newer Jeep seen here makes some appearances; it looks like a J24A, built in the 1970's-80's.

Ed Freniere spotted the Jeeps in Godzilla 2000 and commented, "As for the movie, it is classic Godzilla, updated for the 1990's, complete with low-budget special effects. I found myself wearing a wry smile throughout the movie. As they say, it's so bad it's good."

Thanks to the Internet Movie Cars Database for photos. -- Derek Redmond

See more Mitsubishi Military Jeep Photos on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 6 January 2024 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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