Home Forums WWII Which military vehicules were the most commonly used during WWII?

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    Avatar photoStug

    I would like to know which weapons (tanks, artillery, tank destroyers, APC, halftracks …) were the most commonly used in WWII.

    I want to buy the most representative weapons used by countries during world war II. For now, I am starting with the germans and americans. Later, I will add other countries.

    Thanks for your help!

    Avatar photowillz

    That’s a very wide church Stephan, I would recommend “Rapid Fire” for a good set of rules which also cover weapons and equipment orbits.  A good place to start for introduction for this period.




    Avatar photoJozisTinMan

    I suggest you steer clear of the flashy kit if you want something representative.  Base your force on an infantry company for the appropriate nation and add start with a little armor, that is what I did when I started, the most common types:

    • Germans; lots of STuG III’s with Panzer IV’s and Marders too maybe.  Towed Pak 38 or pak 40 anti-tank guns
    • Americans: M4 Sherman in 75mm flavor to start with and M10 Tank Destroyers.  57mm anti-tank guns
    • Soviets: Tons of T-34/76 with SU-76’s as well.  76mm Divisional guns.

    This should get you a good start with a reasonable force.

    Following your entry into wargaming with interest, please keep asking questions!


    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    I would question if paper lists actually match the equipment that was used in any battle in any age as the forces where more involved in getting the job done than keeping accurate records.  Many units where dispatched with what was available rather than what the formation list stated so build lists vs used lists will differ.

    If you have decided on a set of rules that have force lists in them then I would use that as a starting point. Just be aware some rules have fallen into the dreaded Tiger trap where they allow you to field every Tiger that was ever made in one game (6mm are dearly for this as the costs does not make you think more than twice).

    Look for rules that have set scenarios – play both sides and have fun!

    Avatar photoTony Hughes

    Starting with Germans & Americans in W Europe means that you have missed out more than half the war so a bit difficult to get a ‘representative’ force.

    For the late war Jozis TinMan has it pretty well covered (but I might add in a Panther or two).

    Trucks & a few half tracks too.

    Not sure whether FoW has artillery on table but, if it does, both sides have 105mm guns as standard and you shouldn’t need more than a couple each.

    Mortars & MG for the infantry, some hand-held anti-tank weapons.

    Don’t go bananas to start with, just paint up enough to have a basic game and see how you like that. If you like what you have then the next purchases should be some basic texts on WW2 combat (try Osprey but there are plenty around, some specifically aimed at wargamers).


    Avatar photoFrank Ryan

    Stephan, Four questions.

    1. Are you going to wargame or just model?

    2. Regardless, are you looking at modelling just one each of (for example) a particular half track, all variants of a particular half-track, real life formations, or a scaled down representation of these. A friend of mine can identify every mark of Spitfire and is really picky about them, whereas I am a bit of a Philistine and don’t really care.

    3. What scale? Or are you prepared to use different scales?

    4. What sort of models are you looking to create? Really detailed with accurate paint jobs, or close enough and cheap beats detail any day? I use both approaches.

    For Germany, I have a stack of German half tracks and trucks with small numbers of tanks and some 1946ish planned vehicles. Works for me. In reality, the Germans used a lot of horses for transportation even late in the war. I don’t.

    Have a great day, Frank

    Avatar photoMike Headden

    Lots of good advice above.

    My WW2 stuff is mainly Eastern Front, mid-war, 10mm and used with the Blitzkreig Commander rules. Figures and rules from Pendraken (http://www.pendraken.co.uk/), in the main.  The rules include extensive army lists which show what was generally available when.

    I do have 3mm Oddzial Osmy Western Front late war, almost entirely unpainted.

    For the Germans there’s a whole hodge-podge of vehicles being used late war but the commonest tank would be the PzIV, particularly the PzIVG or H with Panthers coming a distant second. Some formations got StuGIII’s when actual tanks got scarce but the StuGs were mainly used by the artillery in Sturmbatteries. With somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 produced they were the commonest Germans AFV of WW2 and the most successful. Tigers and Königstigers were formed into their own independent units and were much rarer on the battlefield than they are on the wargames table! The Sdkfz251 “Hannomag” APC was also used as the basis for various support vehicles, carrying artillery, mortars, flamethrowers, etc. There never seem to have been enough of them to go around. When I finally get the rest painted my panzer grenadiers will have 4 infantry battalions, three in trucks and one in 251s.

    For the Russians the T-34/76 was still in use but being rapidly replaced by T-34/85s. The same chassis was adapted to create the SU-85, SU-100 and SU122 assault guns. The KV series heavy tanks were replaced by the IS-1/ IS-2/ IS-3 towards the end of the war. The IS series then formed the basis for the  assault guns. Captured German and Lease Lend American and British tanks were also in use. The T-34 in all it’s incarnations was by far the commonest. The T70 would be next most common, a light tank developed from the T-60. The SU-76 (“Suka”) was based on the same chassis as the T70. It was second only to the T-34 in numbers.

    The Americans primarily used various models of the Sherman, supported by M10, M18 and M36 Tank Destroyers. M3 Half-tracks were used in large numbers as infantry transport. A very small number of M26 Pershings made it to NWE at the very end of the war.

    The British used Shermans, including the famous Firefly but also had some formations equipped with Cromwells. The British heavy tank was the Churchill. As well as M5 half-tracks, Lend Lease versions of the M3, they had the Universal Carrier (aka the Bren Carrier).

    OK that’s a quick trot through the commoner vehicles but excludes many armoured cars, tracked artillery, “funnies”  and a gamut of important vehicles produced in smaller numbers.

    It also excludes the things that should be there but that I’ve forgotten!!!

    No doubt others can correct my oversights!

    There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data

    Avatar photoMartinR

    I’d pick a particular campaign and stick to that to start with. The gear most countries went to war with was hugely different to where it ended.

    For starter forces fir US and German, I will assume Normandy 1944. The Westwall, Bulge and Rhine crossing campaigns are different with (even more) modern gear.

    US: Line infantry, lots of it. You can never have too much infantry. Pretend they are paratroopers if needs be. Jeeps, trucks (GMC or whatever). Lots of these. Towed 57mm AT guns, 105mm howitzers. Some M3 or M5 halftracks.

    75mm Shermans, 76mm Shermans, M10 Tank Destroyers, M3 or M5 Stuarts. I wouldn’t bother with M18 or M36 to start, nor all the wierd SP guns.  Maybe get some Priest 105mm guns. Some armoured cars, M8 Greyhounds are fun.

    German: As above, Infantry, lots of it. A couple of Kubelwagens, some lorries (Opel Blitz etc), some horse carts which can double up as gun tows. Infantry on bicycles are fun, the Germans had quite a lot of them. If you really want halftracks (there weren’t that many), then Sdkfz 251 and get a couple with short 75mm guns as they were very common in panzer grenadier battalions.

    Towed 50mm and 75mm AT guns, towed 75mm infantry guns. 105mm howitzers. Maybe some towed Flak. 20mm and an 88mm. I wouldn’t bother with SP artillery as it was quite rare, but self propelled infantry guns were very common in panzer grenadier units, so get a couple of SP 150mm guns on Pz 38 chassis (Grille or whatever).

    Some armoured cars, the four wheelers are fine, Sdkfz 221 or similar. Possibly some Marder 75mm SP guns, plus some Stug IIIG.

    As for tanks, Panzer IVH and Panthers. Lots of the Panzer divisions in Normandy had Panthers. The Tiger battalions were mainly concentrated against the British, so you don’t need many of them, but in the Normandy breakout small groups of Tigers were used all over place, so just buy a couple of them. Everyone likes Tigers.

    The US also encountered panzer units equipped with captured French tanks. Mainly Hotchkiss H39s. They can be fun and make a change.

    That will do fine for starters.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoStug

    Wow, thanks everyone for your help. I really appreciate.

    Stephan, Four questions.

    1. Are you going to wargame or just model?

    2. Regardless, are you looking at modelling just one each of (for example) a particular half track, all variants of a particular half-track, real life formations, or a scaled down representation of these.

    3. What scale? Or are you prepared to use different scales?

    4. What sort of models are you looking to create? Really detailed with accurate paint jobs, or close enough and cheap beats detail any day?Frank

    Hi Frank. Here are my answers.

    1. I want to wargame and model too.

    2. I want more than one each. I looked on GHQ website and most of their vehicules come in packs of five.

    3. 6mm. I prefer to keep everything in 6mm.

    4. I want to create models that are as realistic as possible but I don’t want to spend my time painting and modeling. I bought them for wargaming first.


    Avatar photoFrank Ryan


    1 and 4. Wargaming and modelling, but you wish to spend the bulk of your time wargaming, not preparing. Don’t forget that Modelling can produce that yet to be produced model that you need (/want! and I always want more).

    • Consider buying second hand painted armies on Ebay or similar platform – you will always get the bulk vehicles then get what’s missing from the manufacturers (hint: the tanks and mechanised infantry vehicles will be there in heaps, the supporting units may not be. Of course, you may decide you don’t want to model the supporting units and can skip them altogether – but where’s the fun in that!).
    • As regards simplifying painting, start by making all your German units Yellow or Gray  (the German WWII mustard colour was used in later units Grey earlier, combined with other colours as appropriate but I’d stick to just one colour initially) and your Russian Units Olive Drab or White.
    • There are some free 1/285 Paper models that may also interest you (good for buildings and other scenery, I don’t use paper for this small a scale – too fiddly).

    2. You want more than one model so I suggest you look at historical formations and then decide how many models you wish to represent these formations with. Of course, various rulesets will recommend/mandate ratios.

    • I prefer company sized units modelled 1:1 in 15mm and I include some support units like Artillery, Engineering/Pioneer/Bridging, Medical, Supply, Air and HQ units.
    • I start off with a reconnaisance company (Commonwealth term Squadron), an armoured company  (Commonwealth term Squadron), a mechanised company and the supporting units as listed. Each company will be between 20 and 40 vehicles, depending on what you are modelling and how depleted your unit is from prior combat.
    • As an example, a Gepanzert (Amoured) Pazergrenadier company from 901st Panzergrenadier Lehr Regiment in July 1944 contained 28 vehicles at full strength – 2 motorcycles, 1 Kubelwagen, 3 Kettenkrad, 4 Sdkfz 251/10, 2 Sdkfz 251/3, 12 Sdkfz 251/1, 2 Sdkfz 251/2, 2 Sdkfz 251/9 – spread across a Company HQ, 3 Panzergrenadier Platoons and a Heavy Platoon including HQ, Heavy Gun, Heavy Machine Gun and Mortar Sections.
    • Attrition – 2nd Company 101st Heavy SS Panzer Battalion (Commander Michael Wittman) nominal strength was 14 Tiger tanks, but deploying in Normandy they only had 6 tanks, 2 of which required urgent maintenance. And, from my “allied” perspective, this was a good thing.

    3. Scale 6mm – GHQ is a good choice.

    • There are lots of others – google search will show lots more (check postage from the manufacturers to your country – this may have a significant impact on overall price. I am in Australia so overseas postage ranges from hardly noticeable to “forget it!”).
    • I tend to use plastic models (long time aversion to keeping lead away from children and now grandchildren) and Butler’s (https://www.butlersprintedmodels.co.uk/6mm/ww2/german) works for me. If you decide to try them, get a small order first – many don’t like the quality but I like their variety and find their quality acceptable and improving with a new resin formula.
    •               This advice goes for whatever manufacturer you are considering.

    Have a great day, Frank

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