Philips Tin Jeep, 1945


Philips Jeep Philips, established in Eindhoven, Netherlands in 1891 as a manufacturer of light bulbs, has been best known as an electronics company, and in recent years has been focussed on healthcare technology. But one of its lesser-known products was a toy jeep manufactured briefly at the end of World War II.

Left As soon as the south of the Netherlands was liberated by the Allies in late 1944, Philips found a way to keep its workers employed, by producing toys and household items. The simple design of this tin jeep was a pretty accurate representation of the popular vehicle that was suddenly everywhere in the country, but it was made from only a few pieces of tin.

Base Eleven centimeters long (approximately 1/30 scale,) the jeep is assembled from five folded pieces:

  1. front bumper, grille, hood, fenders and windshield
  2. tub sides and back
  3. floor and rear seat
  4. front seats
  5. top and bows.
The wheels, spare tire, jerry can and steering wheel are stamped from smaller pieces, and steel rod is used for the axles and the steering column soldered under the hood. The whole thing is held together by just eight pop rivets.

Biscuit tin
The necessary large flat pieces came from food cans delivered by Allied troops to the civilian population. In retaliation for a railway strike that harmed the Nazi war effort, Germany had blocked food shipments to parts of the Netherlands, creating the "Hunger Winter" of 1944-1945, during which an estimated 20-30,000 people starved to death. The Allies organized emergency air drops and truck deliveries even before the official surrender of the German Army in the Netherlands.

Together with their families, the workers who lived in Eindhoven and the surrounding area went from house to house collecting empty food cans that could be spared. The project was named "rolling up your sleeves."

May 1945 The large cans can be seen in this photo of a Canadian truck being loaded with emergency food supplies in Wageningen on 3 May 1945, for delivery behind German lines. The air drops and truck convoys required cooperation from the Wermacht, who were preparing to surrender. (Photo by Alexander M. Stirton, Canada Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada item PA-134417.)

Pen Gun newspaper A couple of weeks later, the commander of the Dutch Armed Forces, Prince Bernhard and his staff decided to publish a weekly newspaper for their personnel, under the name De Pen Gun. The paper's title was a play on the name of the main weapon of the Netherlands Armed Forces, the Sten gun.

This 1945 photo from Wikimedia Commmons shows soldiers and sailors unloading bundles of the Pen Gun.

Pen Gun editor Philips apparently got an early example of their little jeep to a member of the Pen Gun editorial staff. In this photo he appears to be commenting on the power of both the pen and the jeep, but it's not known whether the paper published a review of the new toy.

Ad Philips distributed the jeep through their dealers. This newspaper ad from "Radio Hertog" in Alphen aan den Rijn says that in their store in the Prins van Oranje building "you will find a nice collection of living room ornaments and wall lighting, as well as table lamps and hallway lights. Philips light bulbs in various wattages.... We expect a batch of 'JEEPS' from Philips in time for Saint Nicholas."

Rear Red paint on three of the pop rivets turns them into two front marker lights and a taillight.

In addition to the invasion star on the hood, the jeep is marked with a "C" number indicating it belongs to the Canadian Army, who played such a large role in liberating the Netherlands.

Canadian Army jeep Canadian vehicles sent overseas were given numbers assigned to the Canadian Army from the British War Department Census List. (Photo of a nice restoration, from Jeeps in Canadian Forces service.)

Top The Philips Jeep was popular in the Netherlands, but it is not known how many were produced. It seems like something that deserves to be exhibited at the Philips Museum in Eindhoven, but they don't appear to have one on display.

This near-perfect example belongs to Jan Hogendoorn.

Side In the months after the German surrender, foundries including Fonderie Millen in Maastricht, south of Eindhoven, began casting toy jeeps from surplus iron and aluminum (140K JPEG, photo by Citroman from the Historic Military Vehicle Forum.)

The Philips jeep, however, was probably the first toy jeep mass-produced in Europe.

Thanks to Jan Hogendoorn for providing the information and the photos of his Philips jeep. -- Derek Redmond

See also Jeeps in the Netherlands on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 15 February 2024 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond