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China's Vehicle History


These are excerpts from an article that appeared in Military Modeling Manual in 1983 by Steven Zaloga.

The Chinese had over 1,000 Russian advisers by 1925. Most were experienced from the Russian Civil War and they worked primarily on armored trains. Trains were intended to be used offensively. They generally had 2 turreted guns, could carry troops and supplies, and were built so that they could go in either direction.

The first tanks to come to China were 36 FT-17s purchased from France and the first 10 arrived in 1924 as "agricultural tractors."

In 1927 General Chiang Kai-shek began to distrust his Russian advisers and began to purge the communists in his military and severed the ties with Russia. After this German advisors came.

In 1929 24 Vickers Carden Loyd MG carriers were ordered. These fought on the Lunghai front.

In April 1932 Marshal Liu Hsiang began building the Armored Car and Tank Corps in Chungking. The armored cars were built in Shanghai and were based on GMC M31 trucks with a 37 mm gun and 2 MGs in a turret.

In 1935 10 PzKpfw Is and SdKfz 221 and SdKfz 222 armored cars were purchased. Also 20 Italian CV 33 were purchased around the same time. From Britain 16 Vickers 6-Tons and 29 Vickers Carden Loyds, and in 1936 4 more were purchased and these were equipped with radios.

In 1937 full scale war with Japan broke out. The 1st and 2nd Armored Battalions fount in and around Shanghai. Many of these were captured by the Japanese. By 1938 approximately 48 tanks remained out of a force of 96.

With the war the influence of the German advisors waned as they were withdrawn due to pressure from Japan. The Russians became advisors again and in 1938 sold 87 T-26 Model 1933 that went to form the 200th Mechanized Division. A few BA-6 armored cars were sold too.

After signing the nonaggression pact with Germany and defeating the Kwangtung Army at Khalkin Gol, Russia started to withdraw it's help from China

In January 1941 the United States permitted China to join the Lend Lease program. In October 1941 36 M3A1 scout cars were delivered.

In 1943 a Provisional Tank Group was being reequiped in India with M4A4 Shermans, M3A3 Stuart, half-tracks, and Bren Carriers. It went into battle in 1944 in Burma.


Foreign Tanks

Great Britain

  • VCL M1931: 29 purchased in 1935 and formed the 1st Tank Battalion.
  • Vickers 6-Ton Mk E & F: About 20 were purchased and used in 1st and 2nd Tank Battalion.
  • VCL Mk VI Carrier: 24 purchased in mid 1930s and used in 2nd Tank Battalion.


  • FT-17: 36 ordered. Attached to 1st Cavalry Brigade of the 1st Army Division in 1929.



  • L3/35: Approximately 100 were purchased. Used in 2nd Tank Battalion.

Soviet Union

  • T-26 M33: The Russians provided 88 from 1938 to 1939. Most were put into the 1st Tank Regiment and put into the 200th Infantry Division.

United States


450,000,000, 457,835,475, 520,100,000


  1. World War II in Numbers, Peter Doyle, 2013
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site