Armies

German military parade

Adolf Hitler at a miltary parade for the reintroduction of the military service.

Strength, Organization, Orders of Battle, Weapons, Equipment of WW2 Armies.

A description of the strength, organization, orders of battle, weapons and equipment of the armies and armed forces of the involved nations for different periods of WW2.

On 1 September 1939 the armed forces of Nazi Germany began WW2 by invading Poland. With the notable exception of the German Wehrmacht, the organization and many weapons of the armed forces which fought the early campaigns was dominated by the memories of World War I and this was also the case in the design of uniforms. Not before the end of WW2, organization, uniform, equipment and weapons had often acquired a very modern look, as we knew it until today.

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French Armed Forces 1940

French heavy tak Char B1

Strength and organization of the Army Forces and Air Force of France in May 1940 French Army On 10 May 1940 the German offensive began by outflanking the Maginot Line in an advance through the Ardennes region, a move totally… learn more

Dutch Armed Forces

Dutch mortat team in action

Strength and organization of the Army, Air Force and Navy of the Netherlands in Europe in May 1940 Dutch Army During World War One Holland’s neutrality had been respected and during the inter-war years her government saw fit to reduce… learn more

Norwegian Armed Forces

Three Allied soldiers evacuated from Norway

Strength and organization of the Army, Air Force and Navy of Norway in April 1940 In 1939, after more than a hundred years of peace, Norway did not possess a large standing army and her government considered that effective national… learn more

Japanese Army 1941-42

Japanese patrol on Guam

Strength and organization of the Imperial Army The focus of the war moved away from China to the Pacific when Japan attacked American and British bases in the Far East in December 1941. The Imperial Army was involved in a… learn more

Luftwaffe and German Airborne Forces May 1940

German Paratroopers during the air landings in Holland

German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and Airborne Forces for the campaign in the West, May 1940 German Air Force For the campaign in the West the Luftwaffe deployed 3,902 aircraft (1,482 bombers and dive-bombers, 42 ground-attack planes, 1,016 fighter planes and… learn more

German Orders of Battle for the campaign in the West, May 1940

A Panzer I leads Panzer 38(t)

German Orders of Battle for the campaign in the West, 10 May 1940 By May 1940, the number of divisions in the German army was as follows: 129 infantry divisions; 8 motorised infantry divisions (3 Waffen-SS); 10 panzer divisions; 3… learn more

Waffen-SS divisions 7-12

7.5cm AT gun of 12 SS 'Hitlerjugend' in Normandy

Order of Battle Waffen-SS divisions 7 (Prinz Eugen) – 12 (Hitlerjugend) The Waffen-SS divisions from this and the previous page were Germany’s most effective troops of WW2. 7 SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division Prinz Eugen Raised (as division) March 1942 (operational October 1942). The… learn more

Wehrmacht vs US Army

Wehrmacht soldiers in training

Fighting power of the Wehrmacht, Part II back to Fighting power Wehrmacht Part I Training of soldiers The duration of basic training in the Wehrmacht was different. In 1938 it took’s 16 weeks for infantrymen, 1940 only eight weeks, 16… learn more

Finnish Armed Forces in the Winter War 1939-40

Finnish instructor for Suomi sub-machine gun

Finnish Army The Finnish army was one of the smallest in Europe and the Red Army expected little opposition. But the Soviet invasion found the Finns well prepared; and they turned to their advantage the sub-zero temperatures and deep snow… learn more

Red Air Force and Navy 1939

Polikarpov I-16 Rata

Russian Air Force Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s the Soviet Government made enormous efforts to build up a large modern air force, but the difficulties in finding suitable designs and the machines and materials to mass produce aircraft were enormous.… learn more

Red Army 1939

Russian infantry with BT-7 tank

Strength and organization of the Russian Armed Forces in 1939 During 1939-40, the Red Army were undergoing a period of transition. New weapons and tactical ideas were being developed, but misguided and often stultifying central control meant that there was… learn more

Red Air Force and Navy 1941-1942

MiG-3 fighters over Leningrad

Russian Air Force 1942 The enforced lull in air operations during the winter period allowed the Red Air Force to recover from the first shocks. Training was improved and the quality of the aircrews rose generally through direct combat experience.… learn more

Red Army 1942

Russian infantry assault winter 1941-42

Strength and Organization of the Russian Armed Forces On 5 December 1941, in temperatures of minus 30 degrees centigrade, the Red Army launched its counter-offensive with 720,000 men, 670 tanks (205 of which were heavy KV-1 and medium T-34 models),… learn more

Japanese Navy 1939-40

Japanese battlecruiser Kirishima

Strength and organisation of the Imperial Japanese Navy The Prime Minister presided over Imperial General Headquarters (GHQ) which was split in two sections – Army and Navy. Holding positions at Imperial GHQ were the Navy Minister and the Chief of… learn more

Japanese Army 1939-40

Japanese soldiers crossing a pontoon bridge in China

Strength and organization of the Imperial Army and Air Force. The Japanese Army was a mirror of Japanese society before 1945. It contained a peculiar amalgam of medieval attitudes and modern material, for the Army still followed the code of… learn more

Polish Armed Forces in Exile

Polish troops march through an English town during the summer of 1940

POLISH ARMY IN EXILE Many Polish soldiers, singly or in small groups, had evaded capture or escaped internment after the defeat in 1939, and made their way to France through the Baltic countries in the north, and through Hungary, Romania,… learn more

Czech National Army in Exile

Czech soldier on exercise in Britain

CZECHOSLOVAK ARMY Before 1938, the 1,500,000 strong Czech Army was one of the largest in Europe. After the Munich Agreement, Czech soldiers began to leave their homeland, and the first Czech units abroad were formed in Poland. The nucleus of… learn more

French Armed Forces 1939

French soldiers moving a heavy artillery gun

Strength and organization of the Army divisions and l’Army de l’Air of France in September 1939 France emerged from World War One with considerable military prestige, but the French Forces and indeed the whole nation were exhausted. After the experiences… learn more

Luftwaffe Orders of Battle September 2, 1939

Ju 87B dive-bomber

Strength and aircrafts of the Luftflotten on the day after Germany invaded Poland The Luftwaffe Orders of Battle gives the strength of the German air force operational units on the day after Germany invaded Poland, and the day before Great… learn more

German Orders of Battle for September 1, 1939

German Panzer Division after the first border fights in Poland

Orders of Battle, strength of the Army divisions and tank inventory of the Wehrmacht at time of campaign in Poland The German Orders of Battle at the time of the campaign in Poland and the resulting outbreak of World War… learn more