HAIL TO THE BANTIK


©Wm Spear 2001

Bantam at Stalingrad in September of 1942

Bantam enthusiasts in North America are usually surprised that anyone has even heard of the BRC let alone expect to see Bantam properly credited for it's remarkable achievement in designing and producing the original jeep. But in Russia, the Bantam is a well known hero!

Russian BRC enthusiast Vladimir V. Ivashkevich says "..the BRC is well-known among Russian amateurs of engineering and a Military history today. I very much love him." And Vladimir goes on to prove it by showing me some remarkable technical drawings of the BRC he has drawn for the Russian modeling magazine "M-Hobby".

According to Vladimir, the BRC was the first Red Army jeep, having been delivered towards the end of 1941 under the Lend Lease program. [It is interesting to note that the Russians, having seen all three jeep variants in action in the US actually chose the BRC over the Willys and the Ford]. The Bantam was more numerous than the new Russian jeep, the GAZ-64 (which in it's prototype was a copy of BRC#1) in these early years and the mass shipments of Willys and Fords would not begin until the summer of '42.

Bantams were referred to in Russia during the war as "Bantiks". That is the diminutive for Bant (=Bow) thus a little bow knot with which you would tie your bootlaces. As the accompanying photo shows the Russian officers loved their little Bantiks, but Vladimir offers the opinion that the average soldier rarely saw them and that the "glory and wide popularity" of the BRC derived from the enthusiasm of GAZ- 64 designer Vitaly Grachev and other engineers of the time who marveled at the elegant design of the Bantam. The Bantik was often spoken of in their technical books and memoirs, and they were well aware of it's details from US technical journals and Russian military people in the US.

"Bantiks" were used on the frontline only by high ranking officers due to the lack of any command car in 41-42. Willys MA's were delivered in almost the same numbers (1500) but todays Russian enthusiast has no real knowledge of it (although of course the later MB and GPW are well known).

Are there any Bantams left in Russia? Well, that remains to be seen, but as for Vladimir who lives in Perm City about 100 miles from the Ural mountains he says "it would be absolutely incredibly for me to see the living or remain BRC in my country!". Well, me too!

And so if you feel the Bantam is neglected in your own country just remember that the little Bantik is well remembered in Russia as a ray of hope to the Russian people in a time of great national distressall because of a combination of the entrepreneurial drive and true grit of Roy Evans, Karl Probst , Harold Crist and all the dedicated and hard working people in Butler PA. Long Live the Bantik!
_____________