WWII Vehicles

Tanks were an important weapons system in World War II. Even though tanks in the inter-war years were the subject of widespread research, production was limited to relatively small numbers in a few countries. However, during World War II most armies employed tanks, and production levels reached thousands each month. Tank usage, doctrine and production varied widely among the combatant nations. By war's end, a consensus was emerging regarding tank doctrine and design.
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Panzer I (variants)
The Panzer I was a light tank produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German Panzerkampfwagen I ("armored fighting vehicle mark I"), abbreviated PzKpfw I. The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 ("special purpose vehicle 101").[2]

Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production began in 1934. Intended only as a training tank to introduce the concept of armored warfare to the German Army, the Panzer I saw combat in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, in Poland, France, the Soviet Union and North Africa during the Second World War, and in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Experiences with the Panzer I during the Spanish Civil War helped shape the German Panzerwaffes' invasion of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. By 1941, the Panzer I chassis design was used as the basis of tank destroyers and assault guns. There were attempts to upgrade the Panzer I throughout its service history, including by foreign nations, to extend the design's lifespan. It continued to serve in the Spanish Armed Forces until 1954.

The Panzer I's performance in combat was limited by its thin armour and light armament of two machine guns. As a design intended for training, the Panzer I was not as capable as other light tanks of the era, such as the Soviet T-26. Although weak in combat, it formed a large part of Germany's tank forces and was used in all major campaigns between September 1939 and December 1941. The small, vulnerable light tank would be surpassed in importance by other German tanks, such as the Panzer IV, Panther, and Tiger; nevertheless, the Panzer I's contribution to the early victories of Nazi Germany during World War II was significant. Later in that war the turrets of the then obsolete PzKpfw Is and PzKpfw IIs were repurposed as gun turrets on specially built defensive bunkers,[3] particularly on the Atlantic Wall.
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Panzer V Panther A
The Panther is a German medium tank deployed during World War II on the Eastern and Western Fronts in Europe from mid-1943 to the war's end in 1945. It had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. It was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther until 27 February 1944, when Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral "V" be deleted. Contemporary English language reports sometimes refer to it as the Mark V.

The Panther was intended to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the Panzer IV and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection, although its reliability was less impressive.[5]

The Panther was a compromise. While having essentially the same engine as the Tiger I, it had more efficient frontal hull armour,[6] better gun penetration, was lighter and faster, and could traverse rough terrain better than the Tiger I. The trade-off was weaker side armour, which made it vulnerable to flanking fire. The Panther proved to be effective in open country and long range engagements, but did not provide enough high explosive firepower against infantry.[7]

The Panther was far cheaper to produce than the Tiger I, and only slightly more expensive than the Panzer IV. Key elements of the Panther design, such as its armour, transmission, and final drive, were simplifications made to improve production rates and address raw material shortages. The overall design remained somewhat over-engineered.[8][9] The Panther was rushed into combat at the Battle of Kursk despite numerous unresolved technical problems, leading to high losses due to mechanical failure. Most design flaws were rectified by late 1943 and the spring of 1944, though the bombing of production plants, increasing shortages of high quality alloys for critical components, shortage of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of crews all impacted the tank's effectiveness.

Though officially classified as a medium tank, its weight is more like that of a heavy tank, as its weight of 44.8 tons puts it roughly in the same category as the American M26 Pershing (41.7 tons), British Churchill (40.7 tons) and the Soviet IS-2 (46 tons) heavy tanks. The tank had a very high power to weight ratio however, making it extremely mobile regardless of its weight. Its weight still caused heavy tank-esque problems however, such as an inability to cross certain bridges.
£11.99
Panzer V Panther D
The Panther is a German medium tank deployed during World War II on the Eastern and Western Fronts in Europe from mid-1943 to the war's end in 1945. It had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. It was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther until 27 February 1944, when Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral "V" be deleted. Contemporary English language reports sometimes refer to it as the Mark V.

The Panther was intended to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the Panzer IV and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection, although its reliability was less impressive.[5]

The Panther was a compromise. While having essentially the same engine as the Tiger I, it had more efficient frontal hull armour,[6] better gun penetration, was lighter and faster, and could traverse rough terrain better than the Tiger I. The trade-off was weaker side armour, which made it vulnerable to flanking fire. The Panther proved to be effective in open country and long range engagements, but did not provide enough high explosive firepower against infantry.[7]

The Panther was far cheaper to produce than the Tiger I, and only slightly more expensive than the Panzer IV. Key elements of the Panther design, such as its armour, transmission, and final drive, were simplifications made to improve production rates and address raw material shortages. The overall design remained somewhat over-engineered.[8][9] The Panther was rushed into combat at the Battle of Kursk despite numerous unresolved technical problems, leading to high losses due to mechanical failure. Most design flaws were rectified by late 1943 and the spring of 1944, though the bombing of production plants, increasing shortages of high quality alloys for critical components, shortage of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of crews all impacted the tank's effectiveness.

Though officially classified as a medium tank, its weight is more like that of a heavy tank, as its weight of 44.8 tons puts it roughly in the same category as the American M26 Pershing (41.7 tons), British Churchill (40.7 tons) and the Soviet IS-2 (46 tons) heavy tanks. The tank had a very high power to weight ratio however, making it extremely mobile regardless of its weight. Its weight still caused heavy tank-esque problems however, such as an inability to cross certain bridges.
£11.99
Panzer V Panther G
The Panther is a German medium tank deployed during World War II on the Eastern and Western Fronts in Europe from mid-1943 to the war's end in 1945. It had the ordnance inventory designation of Sd.Kfz. 171. It was designated as the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther until 27 February 1944, when Hitler ordered that the Roman numeral "V" be deleted. Contemporary English language reports sometimes refer to it as the Mark V.

The Panther was intended to counter the Soviet T-34 and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV. Nevertheless, it served alongside the Panzer IV and the heavier Tiger I until the end of the war. It is considered one of the best tanks of World War II for its excellent firepower and protection, although its reliability was less impressive.[5]

The Panther was a compromise. While having essentially the same engine as the Tiger I, it had more efficient frontal hull armour,[6] better gun penetration, was lighter and faster, and could traverse rough terrain better than the Tiger I. The trade-off was weaker side armour, which made it vulnerable to flanking fire. The Panther proved to be effective in open country and long range engagements, but did not provide enough high explosive firepower against infantry.[7]

The Panther was far cheaper to produce than the Tiger I, and only slightly more expensive than the Panzer IV. Key elements of the Panther design, such as its armour, transmission, and final drive, were simplifications made to improve production rates and address raw material shortages. The overall design remained somewhat over-engineered.[8][9] The Panther was rushed into combat at the Battle of Kursk despite numerous unresolved technical problems, leading to high losses due to mechanical failure. Most design flaws were rectified by late 1943 and the spring of 1944, though the bombing of production plants, increasing shortages of high quality alloys for critical components, shortage of fuel and training space, and the declining quality of crews all impacted the tank's effectiveness.

Though officially classified as a medium tank, its weight is more like that of a heavy tank, as its weight of 44.8 tons puts it roughly in the same category as the American M26 Pershing (41.7 tons), British Churchill (40.7 tons) and the Soviet IS-2 (46 tons) heavy tanks. The tank had a very high power to weight ratio however, making it extremely mobile regardless of its weight. Its weight still caused heavy tank-esque problems however, such as an inability to cross certain bridges.
£11.99
T26E4 Super Pershing
The so-called "Super Pershing" before extra armor welded on. Note the 73 caliber gun to compete with the 88 mm KwK 43 L/71 gun on the King Tiger.
The 90mm M3 gun of the Pershing was similar to the German 88 mm KwK 36 used on the Tiger I. In an effort to match the firepower of the King Tiger's more powerful 88 mm KwK 43, the T15E1 90 mm gun was developed and mounted in a T26E1 in January 1945. This tank was designated T26E1-1. The T15E1 gun was 73 calibers in length and had a much longer high-capacity chamber. This gave it a muzzle velocity of 3,750 ft/s (1,140 m/s) with the T30E16 APCR shot and could penetrate the Panther's frontal armor at up to 2,600 yd (2,400 m). The model shown used single-piece 50-inch-long (1,300 mm) ammunition and was the only Super Pershing sent to Europe.

A second pilot tank was converted from a T26E3 and used a modified T15E2 gun that had two-piece ammunition. Twenty-five production models of the tank, designated T26E4, were built. An improved mounting removed the need for stabilizer springs.

Post-war, two M26 tanks had the T54 gun installed, which had the same long gun barrel, but the ammunition cartridge was designed to be shorter and fatter, while still retaining the propellant force of the original round. The tanks were designated as the M26E1 tank, but lack of funds cut off further production.
£11.99
Panzer VI Tiger I

The Tiger I is a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe, usually in independent heavy tank battalions. Its final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E often shortened to Tiger. The Tiger I gave the Wehrmacht its first armoured fighting vehicle that mounted the 8.8 cm KwK 36 gun (not to be confused with the 8.8 cm Flak 36). 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944.[9] After August 1944, production of the Tiger I was phased out in favour of the Tiger II.

While the Tiger I has been called an outstanding design for its time,[10] it was over-engineered. using expensive materials and labour-intensive production methods. The Tiger was prone to certain types of track failures and breakdowns, and was limited in range by its high fuel consumption. It was expensive to maintain, but generally mechanically reliable. It was difficult to transport, and vulnerable to immobilisation when mud, ice and snow froze between its overlapping and interleaved Schachtellaufwerk-pattern road wheels, often jamming them solid. This was a problem on the Eastern Front in the muddy rasputitsa season and during extreme periods of cold.[citation needed]

The tank was given its nickname "Tiger" by Ferdinand Porsche, and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II entered production. The initial designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘‘Panzer VI version H’’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H) where 'H' denoted Henschel as the designer/manufacturer. It was classified with ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 182. The tank was later re-designated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943, with ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 181.

Today, only about seven Tiger Is survive in museums and private collections worldwide. The Tiger 131 at the UK's Tank Museum, which was captured during the North Africa Campaign, is currently the only one restored to running order.

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Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell (A27M)
The Cromwell tank, officially Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell (A27M),[a] was one of the series of cruiser tanks fielded by Britain in the Second World War. Named after the English Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell, the Cromwell was the first tank put into service by the British to combine high speed from a powerful and reliable engine (the Rolls-Royce Meteor), and reasonable armour. However the originally proposed dual-purpose high velocity gun could not be fitted in the turret and the medium velocity dual purpose gun fitted proved inadequate. An improved version with a high velocity gun became the Comet tank. The name "Cromwell" was initially applied to three different vehicles during development. Early Cromwell development led to the creation of the A24 Cavalier. Later Cromwell development led to the creation of the competing Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Centaur (A27L) design. The Centaur tank was closely related to the Cromwell, both vehicles being externally of very similar appearance. Cromwell and Centaur differed in the engine used. While the Centaur had the 340 hp Liberty engine, the Cromwell had the significantly more powerful 600 hp Meteor. The Cromwell first saw action in the Battle of Normandy in June 1944. The tank equipped the armoured reconnaissance regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps, in the 7th Armoured Division, 11th Armoured Division and the Guards Armoured Division. While the armoured regiments of the latter two divisions were equipped with M4 Shermans, the armoured regiments of the 7th Armoured Division were equipped with Cromwell tanks. The Centaurs were not used in combat except for those fitted with a 95mm howitzer, which were used in support of the Royal Marines during the amphibious invasion of Normandy.
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M4A3 Up-armoured Marine Sherman tank with snorkels
The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. The M4 Sherman proved to be reliable, relatively cheap to produce, and available in great numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.

The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank,[N 1] which had its main armament in a side sponson mount. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design, but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticle on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction.[6] The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors, combined with the Sherman's then-superior armor and armament, outclassed German light and medium tanks fielded in 1939–42. The M4 went on to be produced in large numbers. It spearheaded many offensives by the Western Allies after 1942.
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Tank, Cruiser, Challenger (A30)
The Tank, Cruiser, Challenger (A30) was a British tank of World War II. It mounted the QF 17-pounder anti-tank gun on a chassis derived from the Cromwell tank to add anti-tank firepower to the cruiser tank units. The design compromises made in fitting the large gun onto the Cromwell chassis resulted in a tank with a powerful weapon and reduced armour. The extemporised 17-pounder Sherman Firefly conversion of the US-supplied Sherman was easier to produce and, with delays in production, only 200 Challengers were built. The Challenger was able to keep up with the fast Cromwell tank and was used with them.
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FV4101 Tank, Medium Gun, Charioteer
The Charioteer Tank, or FV4101 Tank, Medium Gun, Charioteer was a post-war British armoured fighting vehicle. The vehicle was produced in the 1950s to up-gun units of the Royal Armoured Corps continuing to use the Cromwell tank during the early phases of the Cold War. The vehicle itself was a modified Cromwell with a more powerful gun installed in a relatively lightly armoured two-man turret.

Charioteer saw limited use with the British army, but was used more extensively by overseas nations in Europe and the Middle East. Charioteers saw action in conflicts in the Middle-East.
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Tank, Cruiser, Comet I (A34)
The Comet tank or Tank, Cruiser, Comet I (A34) was a British cruiser tank that first saw use near the end of the Second World War. It was designed as an improvement on the earlier Cromwell tank, mounting the new 77 mm HV gun in a new lower profile and part-cast turret. This gun was effective against late war German tanks, including the Panther at medium range, and occasionally, at close range, the Tiger. The tank was widely respected as one of the best British tanks of the war, and continued in service afterwards. The Comet, which was a development of the Cromwell, rendered the Challenger obsolete, and led to the development of the Centurion tank. When firing APDS rounds, the 77 mm HV was superior in armour penetration capability to the 75 mm KwK 42 gun of the equivalent Axis tank, the Panther. The Comet saw action in the closing stages of the Second World War and remained in British service until 1958. In some cases, Comets sold to other countries continued to operate into the 1980s.
£8.99
Tank, Cruiser, Mk IV (A13 Mk II)
The Cruiser Tank Mk IV (A13 Mk II) was a British cruiser tank of the Second World War. It followed directly on from the Tank, Cruiser, Mk III (A13 Mk I). The first Mk IVs were Mk IIIs with extra armour fitted to the turret. Later Mk IVAs were built with the complete extra armour. The tank was used in France in 1940 and in the early part of the war in North Africa, before being withdrawn from service. In total, 955 of these tanks were built.
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Tank, Cruiser, Mk III (A13 Mk I)
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk III, also known by its General Staff specification number A13 Mark I, was a British cruiser tank of the Second World War. It was the first British cruiser tank to use the Christie suspension system, which gave higher speeds and better cross-country performance; previous cruiser tank models had used triple wheeled bogie suspension.
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Tank, Cruiser, Mk II (A10)
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk II (A10), was a cruiser tank developed alongside the A9 cruiser tank, and was intended to be a heavier, infantry tank version of that type. In practice, it was not deemed suitable for the infantry tank role and was classified as a "heavy cruiser".
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Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9)
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9) was a British cruiser tank of the interwar period. It was the first cruiser tank: a fast tank designed to bypass the main enemy lines and engage the enemy's lines of communication, along with enemy tanks. The Cruiser Mk II was a more heavily armoured adaptation of the Mark I, developed at much the same time.
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Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in eleven marks, plus various specialised variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production.[1] The many variants included riveted and welded construction, petrol and diesel engines and a progressive increase in armament. It was supplied in large numbers to the USSR and built under licence in Canada. Developed by Vickers, it proved to be both strong and reliable.
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SU-76M
The SU-76 (Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 76) was a Soviet self-propelled gun used during and after World War II. The SU-76 was based on a lengthened and widened version of the T-70 light tank chassis. Its simple construction made it the second most produced Soviet armoured vehicle of World War II, after the T-34 tank.

Crews liked the vehicle for its simplicity, reliability, and ease of use. However, the steering was also sometimes regarded as difficult, leading crews to also refer to the vehicle as suka (Russian: сука; "bitch") or suchka (Russian: сучка; "little bitch"). It was also nicknamed Golozhopiy Ferdinand (Russian: Голожопый Фердинанд; "bare-arsed Ferdinand") due to its very light armor and somewhat similar silhouette, when compared to the Germans' heavy Ferdinand/Elefant casemate tank destroyer of some 65 tonnes in weight.
£8.99
SU-76i
The SU-76 (Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 76) was a Soviet self-propelled gun used during and after World War II. The SU-76 was based on a lengthened and widened version of the T-70 light tank chassis. Its simple construction made it the second most produced Soviet armoured vehicle of World War II, after the T-34 tank.

Crews liked the vehicle for its simplicity, reliability, and ease of use. However, the steering was also sometimes regarded as difficult, leading crews to also refer to the vehicle as suka (Russian: сука; "bitch") or suchka (Russian: сучка; "little bitch"). It was also nicknamed Golozhopiy Ferdinand (Russian: Голожопый Фердинанд; "bare-arsed Ferdinand") due to its very light armor and somewhat similar silhouette, when compared to the Germans' heavy Ferdinand/Elefant casemate tank destroyer of some 65 tonnes in weight.
£8.99
M4A3E8 'Easy Eight' Sherman Medium Tank
The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. The M4 Sherman proved to be reliable, relatively cheap to produce, and available in great numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.

The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank,[N 1] which had its main armament in a side sponson mount. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design, but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticle on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction.[6] The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors, combined with the Sherman's then-superior armor and armament, outclassed German light and medium tanks fielded in 1939–42. The M4 went on to be produced in large numbers. It spearheaded many offensives by the Western Allies after 1942.
£8.99
M4A3 Medium Tank (multiple variants)
The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. The M4 Sherman proved to be reliable, relatively cheap to produce, and available in great numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.

The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank,[N 1] which had its main armament in a side sponson mount. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design, but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticle on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction.[6] The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors, combined with the Sherman's then-superior armor and armament, outclassed German light and medium tanks fielded in 1939–42. The M4 went on to be produced in large numbers. It spearheaded many offensives by the Western Allies after 1942.
£8.99
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