Re: [MV] Correctly naming military vehicles

Douglas Greville (
Sun, 26 Jul 1998 13:14:35 +0930

Dave Cole wrote:

> told me he drove deuce and a halfs and five tons for years over there.
> When I asked if they were M135's or what he asked me what a M135 was?
> Apparently the military did not and does not generally use the M
> series

I have never really understood the American tenacity to name virtually
everything with an "M" number: but especially the repeated use of the
same "M" number?

Why the continual use of M1 for seemingly everything from a Rifle
to a Tank?

I know it is considered a mystery in America why the British continually
"hung" names on everything militarily American they have acquired over
the years. To me it is very convenient.

Nobody in the aeroplane world has any doubts what is meant by Spitfire,
Hurricane etc. In the British MV world names such as Stuart, Lee, Grant,
Sherman, Chaffee; instantly conjure up the appropriate US tank. But if
said M3, M3, M3, M3, M3, M4, M24 you then have to qualify what it is you
talking about eg., M3 Scout Car, M3 Half-track, M3 Light Tank,
M3 Medium Tank with American turret, M3 Medium Tank with English Turret,
M4 Medium Tank, M24 Light Tank.
As to someone ( say Gordon McMillan) owning a Dee Uoo Kay Double-U,
I will call it a Duck, every time.

Now lets swap to Germany, what's a PzKpw VI? But if I said "Tiger"
chances are I am talking about a certain notorious tank! I would
be very interested to know which name/number would be recognised
by the average member of the public in America if you asked them
to name a tank?. Would it be an "M1 tank" or would it be "Tiger tank"?
An SdKfz 2? Andreas owns one - a Kettenkrad.
What's the number for a Kubelwagon?

British tanks are always known by a name and not a number, the only
time you use there number is for parts. Anyone who referred to say, a
Ferret as an FV-701 in general conversation would probably get asked
'what's that?'
One notable exception is the FV-432 Trojan APC, here the naming
system fell foul of a car manufacturer who had the name "Trojan"
copyrighted. The "432" never did aquire a popular name.

As to WW2 equipment I have never heard of the number designations
for British MV's, doubtless they exist, but who uses them?

To say someone has an M3? - What? Sub-machine gun? Tank? Truck?
Half-track, Gun Mount, Water Bottle?

As to the use of the "M" number for parts etc, have a look at a US
parts book, the "M" number is of only passing interest, very quickly
you find most vehicles have a "G" code eg., G136-0170339 ( an engine
for my "M8" Greyhound), the only place the "M" number is mentioned
is on the cover of the parts manual.

It is interesting that post-WW2 the American military started adding
names to their vehicles, for some reason this doesn't seem to have
been a success. Why, I would be curious to know? Perhaps because
the "M" number usage is so entrenched?
An Abrams is an M1, a Bradley an M2 or M3, a Sherridan an M551 and
so on.

But when it really comes down to it.

Names are more familiar and picturesque.

At least, that is my opinion.


Armoured Vehicles Collector
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