Tank and self-propelled gun production was near parity between the Allies and Axis in 1939 and 1940, however with Germany’s invasion of the USSR a production divergence begins in 1941. In 1942 US and USSR production numbers ramp up significantly and the divergence becomes huge. Germany produced 90 percent of the Axis tanks and self-propelled guns but were outproduced by the US at a 1.9 to one ratio. And the USSR topped the US with a 2.2 to one production rate ratio over Germany. World War II saw unprecedented levels of tank and self-propelled gun (SP) production.
Annual Allied Axis Tank and Self-propelled Gun Production 1939-45
The year 1939 saw relatively little production because the war did not officially begin until September of that year. The Soviet Union produced the most units during this year, nearly 75% of the world’s total.
The year 1940 saw a massive increase in German going from 247 units to 1,643 units, including the Panzer III and IV tanks. The Soviet Union produced just over 2,794 units while the United Kingdom produced 1,399.
The year 1941 was a pivotal year in the war and saw a significant increase in production as a result. Germany produced 3,790 units during this year. The Soviet Union also ramped up its production, producing 6,590 units, including the T-34. The United States began production in significant numbers, with just over 4,000 units produced during the year.
The year 1942 saw rising production, with over 66,00 units produced worldwide. Germany produced just over 6,000 units, including the Panther and Tiger II tanks. The Soviet Union produced over 24,000 units, including the T-34 and KV-1 tanks, while the United States produced just 24,997 units.
The year 1943 saw the highest-level production during the war, with just over 74,000 units produced worldwide. Germany produced just over 12,000 units, including the Panther and Tiger I. The Soviet Union produced just over 24,000 units, including the T-34 and IS-2. The United States produced just over 29,000 units during this year.
The year 1944 saw a decline in tank production, with just over 70,000 units produced worldwide. Germany produced just over 19,000 units, including the Tiger II tank. The Soviet Union produced just under 29,000 units. The United States produced just over 17,500 units during this year.
The year 1945 saw a dramatic decline in tank production as the war began to wind down. Germany produced just 3,932 units. The Soviet Union produced just over 15,000 units, including the T-34 and IS-3. The United States produced just 11,968 units during this year.
In terms of specific tank types, the most produced tank during World War II was the Soviet T-34, with over 84,000 units produced. The second most produced tank was the United States M4 Sherman with 49,422 units produced.
World War II saw a massive surge in tank and SP production, with the years between 1942 and 1944 seeing the highest levels of production. The USSR produced 48% of the Allies units followed by the US at 40%, the UK at 13%, and Canada at 3%. Germany produced 90% of the Axis units followed by Italy and Japan at 5% each.
Annual Allied Axis Tank and Self-propelled Gun Production 1939-45 Data
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Note: Canada’s total production of 5,678 units was spread over the time period in proportion to the UK production.
Source: Ellis, John, “The World War II Databook”, BCA by arrangements with Aurum Press Ltd., London, 1993, Page 277, Table 87