When U.S. troops were called into action to join the battlefields against Nazi Germany and Japan, the U.S. government awarded the contract to Willys (out of three notable automobile manufacturers) to assemble the most versatile and capable war vehicles the world had ever seen. The Jeep, as it was later coined, proved to be a powerful transportation tool as it skillfully navigated and conquered every terrain. The success of the Jeep on the battlefield prompted soldiers to keep the brand alive after the end of World War II.
Enter the M422 Mighty Mite, the new and improved Jeep made especially for U.S. Marines.
American Motors Corporation began creating the M422 prototypes between the late 1940s, immediately following the end of the Second World War, and the mid-1950s. Other automakers competed to manufacture similar prototypes, including Willys and Bantam, but none was as advanced as the AMC models.
The M422 Mighty Mite was designed to provide the same powerful capabilities as the original Willys MB, but in a compact and lightweight truck body. In fact, it became the first U.S. Jeep equipped with an aluminum body weighing at an impressive 1,700 pounds. To this day, the Mighty Mite holds the title of being the lightest American military truck ever manufactured. It had many unique features that contributed to its lightweight design, such as:
● Independent suspension with leaf springs
● Air-cooled helicopter based V4 engine
● Inboard differential-mounted drum brakes
● Limited slip-differentials
● Three-speed manual transmission
● 65-inch wheelbase
● Center-point steering
The M422 Mighty Mike was the first of its kind to pack so much functionality into a compact design. Although smaller than the original jeep, which sat four soldiers, the Mighty Mite could transport up to six Marines. Additional fold-up seating was integrated into the tailgate, and fold-up backrests lay in the rear fenders. Furthermore, deep-water fording equipment was installed throughout the body, as was the case with all Marine vehicles.
It was a small vehicle, but it packed a big punch. That’s probably the reason why it became popular at the time, with American Motor Corporation producing almost 4,000 Mighty Mite Jeeps. A second model was manufactured quickly thereafter, known as M422A1. The redesign expanded on the original M422, increasing the wheelbase by six inches, retrofitting the windshield, and adding a spare tire — all of which added an additional 80 pounds to the vehicle. There was a third model as well, the M422E1, but very few were produced.
As land and air transportation quickly evolved, the M422 Mighty Mite and its $5,000 price tag (a very expensive figure at the time) became obsolete. However, Jeep enthusiasts can still appreciate the innovation and ingenuity crammed in this small wonder of transportation.
Find all your military jeep parts by browsing the Army Jeep Parts website today.