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A History of Military Vehicles & Cars, Trucks and Tanks

The history of the military is intertwined with the history of the vehicles that fighting forces around the world have used to move their troops and supplies. From simple hand carts, horse-drawn wagons, and rudimentary tanks to today’s high-tech range of military trucks, tanks, and cars, many types of vehicles have played a vital role in the history of warfare. The image most people think of when they think of military vehicles began to form during World War II. However, vehicles continue to progress, and new models are regularly introduced around the globe.

Military Cars and Jeeps

The Jeep is often the first vehicle people think of when they consider military vehicles. Jeeps were originally designed for military use but are now popular civilian vehicles as well. The Hummer (beloved by celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger) followed a similar trajectory: It was first used as a military vehicle before being adapted for civilian drivers. However, nothing had the influence of the Jeep. Before the invention of the Jeep, even as recently as World War I, many European armies were still using horses and wagons to move supplies. Today, the U.S. Army works with car companies to produce ever more efficient and effective vehicles for battlefield use.

Military Trucks

Trucks are incredibly versatile. They work well in landscapes ranging from jungles to deserts, making them well-suited to military use. GMC and Jeep were the earliest civilian suppliers of trucks for military use. Toyota trucks are used by both militaries and rebel groups around the world. Typically, military trucks have been modified to be blast-proof and outfitted with special tires to prevent flats. Trucks make moving supplies and personnel easy, no matter where the conflict is occurring. However, the need for gas does expose troops to attack when they stop to refuel.

  • Toyota Hilux Preferred by Insurgents: Properly armored vehicles are quite expensive, so insurgent groups around the world tend to use Toyota pickup trucks as an inexpensive and versatile alternative.
  • Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle: Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, produced CUCVs for military use beginning in the 1970s.
  • Ford Trucks in Iraq: The U.S. government contracted Ford to build a special version of the F-series truck for use in conflicts in the Persian Gulf.
  • The Infantry Squad Vehicle of the Future: The ISV has been an important part of the Army’s fleet for a very long time. GM continues to modify and modernize the vehicle so it meets the needs of the present day.

Military Tanks

World War I saw the first use of military tanks. Today, tanks continue to be a useful part of any military’s vehicle arsenal. The ruggedness of tanks makes it possible for them to travel where cars and trucks (even military-grade ones) cannot. During World War II, the Sherman tank became famous. Today, the lineup of tanks used by militaries includes advanced MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected) vehicles.

  • The Importance of Tanks in World War II: The Sherman was just one type of tank that helped the Allies win World War II.
  • Common Korean War Tanks: The United States used a variety of tanks during the Korean War.
  • What Is a Tank? Tanks move on tracks instead of inflatable tires, making them capable of traveling over terrain other vehicles cannot.
  • The M-48 Patton Tank: During the Vietnam War, the Patton tank was used by the American military.
  • Tanks vs. IEDs: Modern tanks are engineered to withstand IEDs (improvised explosive devices), an important improvement.

Military Vehicle Modeling

By Alan Bernau Jr

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