10 US & UK Military Vehicles That Helped the Allies Win WWII

It’s not just men who won the WWII but it’s also military vehicles that supported them and made their effort a possibility. If it wasn’t for the Liberty Ships, food, ammo and equipment could never have been shipped to the UK whilst the Atlantic Ocean was still infested with U-Boats which sank massive numbers of Allied ships. Check out the 10 vehicles which helped allies winning the WWII.

10. The Jeep

 The Jeep
The Original Jeep, the Bantam BRC 40 [Via]

The original Jeep was the prototype Bantam BRC and the Willys MB Jeeps went into production in 1941 specifically for the military. The Jeep became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the United States Army and the Allies during World War II, as well as the postwar period. The term became common worldwide in the wake of the war.The Army felt that the Bantam company was too small to supply the number of vehicles it needed, so it supplied the Bantam design to Willys and Ford, who were encouraged to make their own changes and modifications. The resulting Ford “Pygmy” and Willys “Quad” prototypes looked very similar to the Bantam BRC prototype, and Spicer supplied very similar four-wheel drivetrain components to all three manufacturers.

 The Jeep
A willys Jeep outfitted for the SAS as they used them in North Africa, 1942

Willys Overland and Ford produced about 640,000 Jeeps towards the war effort, which accounted for approximately 18% of all the wheeled military vehicles built in the U.S. during the war.

 

9. GMC CCKW Truck

GMC CCKW Truck
CCKWs in a Red Ball Express convoy, 1944 [Via]

Thе GMC CCKW is a 2½ ton 6×6 U.S. Army cargo truck that saw heavy service in both World War II. It was the backbone on the logistics operation and hauled uncounted thousands of tons of supplies to the front lines. The CCKW came in many variants, including open or closed cab, long wheel base (LWB 353) and short (SWB 352), and over a score of specialized models.The name CCKW comes from GMC model nomenclature:

  • “C”, designed in 1941
  • “C”, conventional cab
  • “K”, all-wheel drive
  • “W”, dual rear axles
GMC CCKW Truck

A GMC CCKW -353 on Uporttery Airfield 

Initially, all versions used a modified commercial closed cab design having a metal roof and doors. By 1944 an open cab version, with a canvas roof and doors, was used. This was easier to build, and the roof could be removed to lower the shipping height. 1 in 4 open cabs had a machine gun mounting ring above the co-drivers position.

By the end of production in 1945, 562,750 CCKWs in all variants had been built, a total second only to the “Jeep”

 

8. LCVP / Higgings boat

The Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) or Higgins boat was a landing craft used extensively in amphibious landings in World War II. The craft was designed by Andrew Higgins based on boats made for operating in swamps and marshes. More than 20,000 were built, by Higgins Industries and licensees.

Typically constructed from plywood, this shallow-draft, barge-like boat could ferry a platoon-sized complement of 36 men to shore at 9 knots (17 km/h). Men generally entered the boat by climbing down a cargo net hung from the side of their troop transport; they exited by charging down the boat’s bow ramp.

LCVP / Higgings boat
LCVP at Maisy Battery in Normandy.
LCVP / Higgings boat

No less an authority than the Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, declared the Higgins boat crucial to the Allied victory on the European Western Front and the previous fighting in North Africa and Italy:

“Andrew Higgins … is the man who won the war for us. … If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.”

7. C-47 Dakota

C-47 Dakota
Douglas C-47 “Skytrains”, 12th Air Force Troop Carrier Wing, loaded with paratroopers on their way for the invasion of southern France, 15 August 1944. [Via]

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota (RAF designation) is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remains in front line service with various military operators to the present day.

C-47 Dakota
A C-47 Dakota at Upottery Airfield in the UK

The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma, where the C-47 made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese army. C-47s were used in all paratrooper operations, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Market Garden and Varsity. Between these operations they were used to haul supplies and most of all fuel to the front line after the Normandy breakout, bringing casualties back to hospitals further back or in England/

Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying “The Hump” from India into China. The expertise gained flying “The Hump” was later be used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 played a major role.

6. Aircraft Carrier

Aircraft Carrier
USS Enterprise (CV-6), the most decorated US ship of World War II. [Via]

The aircraft carrier dramatically changed naval combat in World War II, because air power was becoming a significant factor in warfare. The advent of aircraft as focal weapons was driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. They had higher range and precision than naval guns, making them highly effective. The versatility of the carrier was demonstrated in November 1940 when HMS Illustrious launched a long-range strike on the Italian fleet at their base in Taranto, signalling the beginning of the effective and highly mobile aircraft strikes.

This operation incapacitated three of the six battleships at a cost of two torpedo bombers. World War II in the Pacific Ocean involved clashes between aircraft carrier fleets. The 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a clear illustration of the power projection capability afforded by a large force of modern carriers. Concentrating six carriers in a single unit turned naval history about, as no other nation had fielded anything comparable. However, the vulnerability of carriers compared to traditional battleships when forced into a gun-range encounter was quickly illustrated by the sinking of HMS Glorious by German battle cruisers during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.

This new-found importance of naval aviation forced nations to create a number of carriers, in efforts to provide air superiority cover for every major fleet in order to ward off enemy aircraft. This extensive usage required the construction of several new ‘light’ carriers. Escort aircraft carriers, such as USS Bogue, were sometimes purpose-built, but most were converted from merchant ships as a stop-gap measure to provide anti-submarine air support for convoys and amphibious invasions.

Aircraft Carrier

Attack on carrier USS Franklin, 19 March 1945. The casualties included 724 killed. [Via]

Following this concept, Light aircraft carriers built by the US, such as USS Independence, represented a larger, more “militarized” version of the escort carrier. Although with similar complement to Escort carriers, they had the advantage of speed from their converted cruiser hulls.

5. Supermarine Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire
K9795, the 9th production Mk I, with 19 Squadron in 1938. [Via]

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries during and after the Second World War. The Spitfire was built in many variants, using several wing configurations, and was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war.

During the Battle of Britain (July–October 1940), the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. However, because of its higher performance, Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes.

Supermarine Spitfire
Spitfire XIVe NH749 of the Commemorative Air Force, based at Camarillo airport, Southern California, [Via]

When the last Spitfire rolled out in February 1948, a total of 20,351 examples of all variants had been built, including two-seat trainers, with some Spitfires remaining in service well into the 1950s.

4. Liberty Ship

Liberty Ship

Aerial photograph of the Liberty ship SS John W. Brown outbound from the United States carrying a large deck cargo. It probably was taken in the summer of 1943 during her second voyage. [Via]

The Liberty ship was a class of cargo ship built in the United States during World War II. Though British in conception, the design was adapted by the U.S. for its simple, low-cost construction. Mass produced on an unprecedented scale, the now iconic Liberty ship came to symbolize U.S. wartime industrial output.

The class was developed to meet British orders for transports to replace those torpedoed by German U-boats. The vessels were purchased both for the U.S. fleet and lend-lease deliveries of war materiel to Britain and the Soviet Union. Eighteen American shipyards built 2,710 Liberty ships between 1941 and 1945, easily the largest number of ships produced to a single design.

Liberty Ship
SS John W. Brown is one of only two surviving operational Liberty ships. [Via]

Their production mirrored on a much larger scale the manufacture of the Hog Islander and similar standardized ship types during World War I. The immensity of the effort, the sheer number of ships built, the vaunted role of Rosie the Riveters in their construction, and the survival of some far longer than their original five-year design life, all make them the subject of much continued interest.

Only a handful remain in 2015, two as operational museum ships.

 

3. Sherman Tank

Sherman Tank
British Firefly in Namur, 1944 [Via]

The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most numerous battle tank used by the United States and some other Western Allies in World War II. It proved to be reliable and mobile. In spite of being outclassed by German medium and heavy tanks late in the war, the M4 Sherman was cheaper to produce and available in greater numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named after the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman by the British.

Sherman Tank
A Sherman Tank of the Dutch Army museum

When the M4 tank arrived in North Africa in 1942, it was superior to the lighter German long-barrel 50 mm-gunned Panzer III and short-barrel 75 mm-gunned Panzer IV. For this reason, the US Army believed the M4 would be adequate to win the war, and no pressure was exerted for further tank development. Logistical and transport restrictions, such as limitations imposed by roads, ports, and bridges, also complicated the introduction of a more capable but heavier tank.

A total of 49,234 were built and they remained in service in multiple countries for decades after WWII ended.

2. P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustangs of the 375th Fighter Squadron, Eighth Air Force mid-1944. [Via]

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II.

P-51 Mustang

 

From late 1943, P-51Bs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF’s Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF’s 2 TAF and the USAAF’s Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944.

The P-51 was also in service with Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean and Italian theaters, and saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down.

Over 15.000 were build during WWII.

1. DUKW

DUKW
A British DUKW carries American airborne troops and supplies across the River Waal at Nijmegen [Via]

Last but certainly not least, the DUKW!

The DUKW (colloquially known as Duck) is a six-wheel-drive amphibious modification of the 2-ton capacity CCKW trucks used by the U.S. military in World War II. The DUKW was used for the transportation of goods and troops over land and water. Excelling at approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious warfare attacks, it was intended only to last long enough to meet the demands of combat.

DUKWs were initially sent to the Pacific theatre’s Guadalcanal, and were used by an invasion force for the first time during the Sicilian Operation Husky in the Mediterranean. They were used on the D-Day beaches of Normandy and in the Battle of the Scheldt, Operation Veritable and Operation Plunder.

DUKW

Amphibious beachheads were thought to be highly vulnerable to early counterattack as the landing units would deplete their ammunition and the supply system would not yet be established. The principal use was to ferry supplies from ship to shore, and tasks such as transporting wounded combatants to hospital ships or operations in flooded (polder) landscape. When not used for amphibious operations they were employed as regular trucks bringing supplies to the front.

21,147 were built during the war and they were used by all Allies, including the Russians who build and used a copy.

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