Tanks received the headlines and general-public fascination, but it was in non-combat motor vehicles, trucks, that the United States’ industry produced in huge volumes, 2,455,964 units. Logistics was a core US and Allied WWII strategy, and trucks were at the forefront when it came to supplying the ground-based troops. Through Lend-Lease the US supplied the Soviet Union with 152,000 trucks making up 27% of the Soviet 550,00 truck inventory. The Canadians built over 500,000 trucks during the war years. The UK produced 480,000 army trucks. Germany produced 347,490 trucks in WWII splitting them on all fronts. Japan produced 165,945 trucks. Through trucks the Allied nations were much more mobile than their Axis counterparts.
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Common Truck Types
These trucks were used in a variety of roles, from transporting troops and supplies to towing artillery and other heavy equipment. Some of the most common types of military trucks produced by the United States during the war included:
CCKW – Deuce and a Half
The CCKW was a 2.5-ton 6×6 truck, nicknamed the Deuce and a Half, that was widely used for transporting troops and supplies. More than 800,000 CCKWs were produced during the war, making it one of the most common military vehicles of the conflict. One of the most famous uses of the CCKW was during the Red Ball Express operations. It had a payload capacity of up to 5,000 pounds and was equipped with a gasoline-powered engine that produced between 91 and 104 horsepower, depending on the model.
The M3 Half-track was a versatile vehicle that combined the mobility of a truck with the off-road capability of a tank. It was used for a variety of roles, including troop transport and artillery towing. More than 40,000 M3 Half-tracks were produced during the war.
The GMC 6×6 was a heavy-duty truck that was used for transporting heavy equipment and supplies. It was also used as a prime mover for artillery and other weapons systems. More than 193,000 GMC 6×6 trucks were produced during the war. It had a payload capacity of up to 10,000 pounds and was equipped with a larger gasoline-powered engine that produced between 147 and 187 horsepower, depending on the model.
The production of military trucks faced several challenges. Here are some of the key challenges faced by manufacturers during the war:
Raw material shortages
The production of military trucks required large amounts of steel, rubber, and other raw materials that were in short supply during the war. As a result, manufacturers had to find ways to conserve materials and use substitutes when possible.
The war effort required many workers to enlist in the military, leaving factories with a shortage of skilled labor. This forced manufacturers to find ways to train new workers quickly and efficiently.
The demand for military trucks was high, and manufacturers had to ramp up production quickly to meet the needs of the war effort. This required the construction of new factories and the expansion of existing ones.
The logistics of transporting raw materials and finished vehicles was a challenge during the war, as many transportation networks, especially the sea routes, were disrupted by the conflict.
The design of military trucks had to balance a variety of factors, including mobility, durability, and ease of maintenance. Manufacturers had to find ways to create vehicles that could operate effectively in a variety of terrain and weather conditions.
Despite these challenges, the production of military trucks was a key factor in the Allied victory in World War II. Manufacturers worked tirelessly to overcome these obstacles and produce large numbers of vehicles that played a crucial role in the outcome of the conflict.
US WW2 Production – Combat and Motor Vehicles Data
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(1) 1941 = July 1, 1940 through Dec 41
(2) 1945 = Jan 1 1945 through July 31 1945
(3) Total = July 1, 1940 through July 31, 1945
Source: Gropman, Alan L. “Mobilizing U.S. Industry In World War II: Myth And Reality.” Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 1996, Washington, DC, Page 144, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/23588/mcnair50.pdf
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