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Byron Jones’ Jeep Patent

Despite Karl Probst designing the first vehicle that would become the Jeep,  Col. Byron Jones filed an application to be certified as the inventor on behalf of the Army, covering "various aspects of the design and construction of the Jeep body."
Byron Quinby Jones, ca. 1915.

Byron Quinby Jones, ca. 1915.

Karl Knight Probst was an American freelance engineer and automotive  pioneer who is credited with drafting the design drawings of the first prototype of the Bantam Reconnaissance Car, the first "Jeep," in 1940. And yet, Byron Quinby Jones applied for — and received — a patent for a Jeep-like body in 1942. 

Byron Quinby Jones (April 9, 1888 – March 30, 1959) was a pioneer aviator and an officer in the United States Army. Jones began and ended his career as a cavalry officer, but for a quarter century between 1914 and 1939, he was an aviator in the various organizations that were the Army’s air arm.

Even though the first major production series of the quarter-ton truck known as the “Jeep” had been of the design submitted by Willys, the Army had a strong interest in establishing ownership of the design. Jones filed an application to be certified as the inventor on behalf of the Army, covering “various aspects of the design and construction of the Jeep body” with the United States Patent Office on October 8, 1941, stating in the application that 

“The invention described herein, if patented, may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalty thereon.” 

Patent 2,278,450 for a “Military Vehicle Body” was granted on April 7, 1942

Jones' 1941 patent for a 1/4-ton vehicle body

Jones' 1941 patent for a 1/4-ton vehicle body

Classification:

B62D47/003 - Motor vehicles or trailers predominantly for carrying passengers convertible in order to modify the number of seats.

Legend:

B - PERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING

B62 - LAND VEHICLES FOR TRAVELLING OTHERWISE THAN ON RAILS

B62D - MOTOR VEHICLES; TRAILERS

B62D47/00 - Motor vehicles or trailers predominantly for carrying passengers

Jones the Inventor

Jones was himself an inventor. The March 1944 issue of Popular Science described his proposal for a lightweight amphibious tank, and he was issued several patents:

Jone's concept of an amphibious tank published in Popular Mechanics

Jone's concept of an amphibious tank published in Popular Mechanics

  • a steering by driving mechanism, granted June 17, 1941
  • a multiple differential, granted November 3, 1942
  • an armored vehicle body, granted September 28, 1943
  • possibly a diaphragm muffler, granted March 22, 1927 to a Byron Q. Jones of Washington, D.C.
  • possibly a wind indicating airways beacon, granted June 27, 1933 to Byron Q. Jones of Washington, D.C.

In all the above patent applications (except that of the muffler), Jones included the stipulation that, "The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes without the payment to me of any royalty thereon."

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