Forces of Valor 82104 US Army GPA Amphibian Diorama - 82nd Airborne Division "All American", "D-Day, the Beachhead, Normandy, 1944" (1:32 Scale)
"In war there is no second prize for the runner-up."
- General Omar Bradley
Having commissioned Willys, Ford and Bantam to build 4,500 jeeps (1,500 apiece) in March 1941, the US Motor Transport Board set up a project under the direction of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) to be designated ‘QMC-4 1/4 ton amphibian’. The Marmon-Herrington Co. - specialists in building military vehicles -- in conjunction with boat builders Sparkman & Stephens and the Ford Motor Company, undertook this work for the NDRC, which involved designing a conversion based on the 1/4-ton road vehicle. The aim was to have the vehicle in service in time for the first landing operations planed for September/October 1942 timeframe.
Unfortunately, the GPA amphibian proved to be too slow, heavy, and clumsy on land, not to mention too small a craft to be of much use on open water. The GPA did see important use with US forces during the landing on Sicily on September 9th, 1943, but most of the vehicles ended up being passed to the Russian Army under the Lend-Lease scheme. Ironically, its river crossing capabilities were found to be so useful by the Russians that the design was developed further for their own post-war variant.
This 1:32 scale vignette -- "D-Day, the Beachhead, Normandy, 1944" -- portrays a US Army GPA amphibian jeep storming ashore and advancing into a small town.
Dimensions of Diorama:
Length: 8.25 inches
Width: 6 inches
Height: 6 inches
Release Date: December 2003
Historical Account: On August 15th, 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division became the first airborne division in the U.S. Army. On that date, the All-American Division was redesignated the 82nd Airborne Division. The Division's first two combat operations were parachute and glider assaults into Sicily and Salerno, Italy on July 9th and September 13th, 1943. With two combat jumps under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war, Operation Neptune - the airborne invasion of Normandy. The operation was part of Operation Overlord, the amphibious assault on the northern coast of Nazi-occupied France. On June 5th-6th, 1944, the paratroopers of the 82nd's three parachute infantry regiments and reinforced glider infantry regiment boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders to begin the largest airborne assault in history.
By the time the All-American Division was pulled back to England, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered 5,245 paratroopers killed, wounded or missing. Following the Normandy invasion, the 82nd became part of the newly organized XVIII Airborne Corps, which consisted of the U.S. 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions. In September, the 82nd began planning for Operation Market-Garden in Holland. The operation called for three-plus airborne divisions to seize and hold key bridges and roads deep behind German lines. On September 17th, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted its fourth combat jump of World War II into Holland. Fighting off ferocious German counterattacks, the 82nd captured its objectives between Grave and Nijmegen.
Its success, however, was short-lived because of the defeat of other Allied units at Arnhem. The gateway to Germany would not open in September 1944, and the 82nd was ordered back to France. Suddenly, on December 16th, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which caught the Allies completely by surprise. Two days later the 82nd joined the fighting and blunted General Von Runstedt's northern penetration in the American lines.