World War I is considered the war of trenches, meaning that soldiers remained in the same place for long periods of time, and the war was not moving from one place to another that much. On the contrary, during World War II, battles took place in a lot of different scenarios, it would move quickly from one place to another, having multiple war zones across different countries and continents. Therefore, mobility and transportation were key and vehicles were a very important aspect during World War II. Mobility took place on ships, planes and, of course, trucks, tanks and other land military vehicles.
During the years previous to the war, when the unrest was increasing and the prospect of a war was almost a fact, and also during the war, manufacturers produced huge amounts of vehicles to support their armies. The transformation of the automobile industry during this period is now clearly noticeable. Let’s now take a look at the seven most used vehicles during World War II.
Usually known as “Duck”, is a six-wheel amphibious vehicle, meaning that it can be driven both on land and on water. It’s a modification of the 2 ½-ton CCKW. Designed by a partnership made between the American company Sparkman & Stephens and General Motors Corporation, it was widely used for the transportation of both goods and troops. This vehicle became very popular since it gave a solution for crossing beaches and hard paths which included water flows, making it a perfect ally, ready for any occasion. They were used by the allies during the important D-Day operation on the beaches of Normandy, also to cross the coral reef of Asian islands such as Guam, and during the last battles on the final days before the war ended.
2) The Jeep
One of America’s most beloved vehicles was created during World War II. This was one of the most iconic vehicles during the war and clearly afterwards. The Jeep was the first lightweight four-wheel driving vehicle to be produced in mass production, with more than 650,000 units produced during the war years. The creation of the Jeep is linked to the willingness of the US military to have a vehicle that was light and could easily travel through rough paths. During the war, Jeeps were used as a replacement for animals in moving soldiers, material and communicational documents. After the war, it remained as an easy drive vehicle that is still preferred by thousands of people.
3) GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck
Also known as “Jimmy”, it had different variants. It was used as cargo trucks, for heavy work and through roads. Out of the more than 2 million trucks that the US Army got during the World War II years, at least one third of the total were CCKW trucks.
4) Harley-Davidson WLA
Yes, all types of vehicles were used during the war, including motorcycles! This Harley Davidson was produced according to the US Army specifications. It was also produced for some years after the war ended. This model was based on an exciting model, used by civilians, the WL. The use of motorcycles included police and escort work, scouting, transportation of radio equipment, among others. On the Allies side, they were not used in combat, as some motorcycles were by Germany.
5) M3 Half-Track
This half-track was used for personal carriers and it was also widely used by the Allies during World War II and also during the Cold War. More than 40,000 units were manufactured, including its variants. Another fact about this vehicle is that it was produced by many different manufacturers, such as Diamond t, Autocar and White Motor Company. They were mainly used as a self-propelled artillery or anti-aircraft weapon.
By Alfred T. Palmer – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID fsa.8b09365. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=576804
6) Dodge WC series light trucks
Sometimes called “Beeps”, it composed, along with some similar models, the main light trucks used during World War II, meaning more than 280,000 units manufactured. Dodge was the primary supplier of light vehicles to the US military, since World War I.
7) Volkswagen Kübelwagen
It was a light military vehicle, designed by Porsche and built by Volkswagen during the war, for Germany’s use. More than 50,000 units were manufactured. The idea that gave origin to this vehicle was the possibility of having a light-weighted and inexpensive military vehicle. This model was based on the Volkswagen Beetle.