For centuries China has stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences. But in the first half of the 20th century, China was beset by major famines, civil unrest, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping decentralized economic decision making. Output quadrupled in the next 20 years and China now has the world's second largest GDP. Political controls remain tight even while economic controls continue to weaken. - US CIA World Factbook

A list of Chinese tanks and mobile artillery is difficult to assemble. Every sort of import and captured weapon was used. Standardization was almost non-existent. Many local armor versions were assembled from materials on hand. Warlords would take normal trucks and have metal plates bolted to the sides and a machine gun mounted on the top. Any "Joe" Warlord would then own an "armored car." Put a few of these vehicles together, and the Mr. Warlord then commanded an armored unit! For example, In 1932 Marshal Liu Hsiang began putting together the "Armored Car and Tank Corps of Chungking". Armored cars were built in Shanghai based on the GMC 1931 truck with a 37 mm gun and 2 MGs in a crude turret. Exact numbers of this adaptation are unknown and I have yet to locate a photo. At the outset of the conflict with Japan, the Chinese had a variety of antiquated AFV and about 7000 trucks.

Nondescript Chinese Armored Car. - Photo contribution by Xin Hui of 4x2 homemade armored cars like this one built on a Ford 3-ton chassis, originally used by the Shanghai Volunteer Force, and then inherited by the Nationalist Forces. - Photo thanks to Magnus Rosander---Nationalist 6x4 homemade armored car dated 1933 seen here in Singapore or Hong Kong. This version had a conventional hull and a single low octagonal turret, with several machineguns in ball mountings. It would appear to have been built on a standard British 30 cwt chassis. - Photo thanks to Magnus Rosander---Nationalist 6x4 homemade armored car seen here in 1933. Behind a semi-armored motorcycle, a type obtained from the Germans in the 1930s. Note the armored shield for the driver and the machine gun mounted in the sidecar. - Photo thanks to Magnus Rosander---Nationalist 6x4 homemade armored car seen here in the Canton area in 1942. This car had two diagonally placed turrets with beveled sides. - Photo thanks to Magnus Rosander

China had 2 armored battalions that fought around Shanghai when war broke out with Japan in 1937. Nearly half of China's armor was either captured or destroyed by 1938 as out of the 96 tanks they started with, only 48 remained. China, at that time, had German advisors and help, but these were withdrawn as German relations with Japan warmed. The USSR then provided advisors and armor. In 1938 they sold 87 Model 1933 T-26 tanks and to China

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. China purchased an unknown number of BA-6 armored cars during the same period.

In 1939 the USSR signed a non-agression pact with Germany and relations started to cool. With the Soviet and Japanese non-agression pact signing, this help went out the window and China started searching for allies. Soon relations were made with the USA who only slowly began to (officially) provide help owing to it's isolationist  attitudes and neutrality stance.

VCL  Amphibious Tank - 1931---VCL  Amphibious Tank - 1931---VCL  Amphibious Tank - 1931---Carden Loyd M1931
Carden Loyd M1931 Amphibious Tank

Chinese Nationalists bought the Vickers Carden Loyd amphibious tank. 29 were purchased in 1935 and organized into the 1st tank battalion. The vehicle had a water-proof sheet-steel hull, with steel-sheathed floats attached. Steering was via a conical cylinder around the propeller, moved by a connection to driver's steering levers. The British Army found the vehicle mechanically unreliable, as the suspension weak and prone to damage easily.

Crew 2
Weight 3.1 tons
Length 13' 2"
Width 6' 11"
Height 6'
Engine Meadows, 6 cyl, gasoline, 88hp
Performance 40 mph, 6 mph in water
Range 150 miles
Armament 1 x Vickers .303 MG
Armor 9mm

(no picture)
Polish FT-17

Late in the 1930's, Poland sold a number* tanks to Spain, Uruguay, and China. It is not known if these FT-17 were obsolete French made units or Polish made. There is some mention of the Polish made CWS-FT-17 being exported. CWS means "Centralne Warsztaty Samochodowe" - Central Car Workshops - and between 1925 to 1927 they manufactured 26 or 27 tanks from French spare parts, and Polish iron plates and other parts. The Polish production model used normal iron instead of steel used in French manufacture. The Poles used the CWS made tanks for training as the armor was inferior for actual combat usage. There were two or three companies (some 30-45 tanks) sold to China according to one source.

* Some reports state "about 30", others state 64, still others claim 90.

Chinese FT17 - Photo courtesy of Mario Doherr
French FT-17

A Number of Renault FTs were acquired by the warlord Chang Tso-Lin in the 1920s and served in his private Manchurian Armay against other warlords. After his assassination by the Japanese, his son permitted the incorsporation of the tanks into Chang Kai-shek’s National Revolutionary Army. Here they are seen in operation around 1929 in northern China.

France had dispatched a small of Renault FT's to Vladivostok in 1919, and these were later passed an to the Manchurian Army under Chang Tso-Ling. The continuing border wars between Bolshevik, White Russian, Chinese and bandit forces led the Soviets to deploy most most of their small inventory of refurbished FTs on the Manchurian border in the mid-1920s. The Manchurian Army purchased 14 more Renaults in 1924-25, and these were used in the fighting with the warlord Wu Pei-fu in 1926. In 1929, the Renaults were nominally attached to the 1st Cavalry Brigade of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army (NRA). During the fighting with the Soviets over the Chinese Eastern Railway in the autumn of 1929 the Soviets brought up a company of MS-1 (T-18) light tanks to counter the Renaults, but a tank-vs-tank confrontation never materialised.

By 1930 the NRA had acquired in various ways about 36 Renault FT-17 tanks and some 24 Carden Loyd machine gun carriers, apart from its armoured train fleet.

The Japanese Army seized nearly all of Chinese/Manchurian Renaults in 1931 when they occupied Manchurian, adding to a small inventory of Renault FTs and NC 27s they had purchased 1922 (? NC 27). In Japanese service, they were known as the Type 79 Ko-Gata. The Renault FTs and NC 27s were used to form two tank companies in 1925 (? NC 27). in 1931, a section of Renaults was sent to Manchuria to operate alongside the Armored Car Platoon of the Kwangtung Army.

In the 1920s, two sections of Renaults were stationed in French Indochina, one in Saigon and the other in the citadel at Hanoi. During the China crises of 1927 the Saigon company was sent to Shanghai to protect the French concessions. It was joined latter in the year by the US Marine Corps Light Tank Platoon, equipped with the Six-Ton Tank. The Marine tanks were used to guard the rail line between Shanghai and Tientsin; and in 1928 two more French FT tank sections arrived to serve in Tientsin. Japan dispatched some of its Renault FTs and NCs to Shanghai in the same role. The Americans departed in 1929, but the French and japanese remained. The Japanese NC 27s, called Type 89 Etsu B, were used during the Shanghai incident of 1931. The Japanese seized the three sections of the French China Light Tank Company in the late 1930s; they were later turned over to the puppet Manchoukuoan Army which used them into the 1940s. The section in Hanoi remained there until 1945, and fought against the Japanese in that year when they occupied the citadel. ~ researched by Mario Doherr

Zaloga, Steven J., Armour of the Pacific War, Vanguard 35, London, 1983, Osprey Publishing Ltd.

Zaloga, Steven J., The Renault FT Light Tank, Vanguard 46, London, 1989, Osprey Publishing Ltd.

CV.33---CV33 aquired in 1936

100 (some sources state that it was only 20) of this two man Italian tankette were purchased in 1936. It is believed that these machines were armed with either a pair of 9mm Villar Perosa Model 914 machineguns, or 7.92mm Safat machineguns. A number of them served with the 2nd tank battalion. Weight: 3.5 tons.

Panzerkampfwagen 1 Ausf A Sd kfz 101 (seen here in German service)---PzKpfw1 (seen here in Chinese service)
Panzerkampfwagen 1 Ausf A Sd kfz 101

10 of these German vehicles served with the 3rd tank battalion in 1937 at Nanking. Vehicles received from Germany in their dark grey delivery scheme. While at Nanking most were marked with the Kuomintang sunburst national insignia, but tactical markings were carried by this unit.

Crew 2
Weight 5.4 tons
Length 4.02 meters
Width 2.06 meters
Height 1.72 meters
Engine Krupp M305, 6 cyl, gasoline, 100hp
Performance 37 kmh
Range 145 km
Armament 2 x 7.92mm MG13
Fording 1' 11"
Trench 4' 7"
Verticle Obstacle 1' 2"
Armor 6-13mm

Vickers 6-Ton Mk E & F---Vickers 6-Ton Mk E & F
Vickers 6-Ton Mk E & F

20 of these British tanks were purchased and used in the 1st and 2nd tank battalions. Weight: 7 tons. Armament: One 47 mm gun and one bow MG. 6ton Mk 'E', Vickers-Armstrong, in service 1936, three-man light tank, single turret type, 16 vehicles acquired. 6ton Mk 'F', Vickers-Armstrong, in service 1936, three-man light tank, single turret type, 4 vehicles acquired, fitted with radio equipment housed in turret rear overhang.

VCL M1936
Carden Loyd M1936

In service 1936, two-man light tank, fitted with radio equipment, 4 vehicles acquired.

(no picture)
VCL Mk VI Carrier

24 of these vehicles were purchased by China in 1929 and fought on the Lunghai front. 29 more were purchased in 1936 and used as part of the 2nd tank battalion. They were designed as a carrier to increase the mobility of the Vickers MG. Weight: 1.5 tons.

Bren Gun Carriers - 1943. Photo courtesy of Xin Hui.
Bren Gun Carrier

Chinese units being refitted and reformed in India were equiped with an unspecified number of these units.

T-26b---nationalist-t26.jpg (32274 bytes)---T-26b


88 (some sources state 87) of these Soviet tanks were supplied between 1938 to 1939. Most were formed into the 1st tank regiment that was assigned to the newly forming 200th Infantry Division, the only motorized infantry formation in the Chinese Army at that time. Weight: 10.5 tons. Armament: One 45 mm gun and one bow mounted MG. Some had a second MG for AA purposes.

Click here for a short history of the T-26 provided by

By 1941, well over 12,000 units of this tank were produced, making it the most numberous vehicle in the Soviet inventory at that time. The Germans destroyed and captured huge numbers of these tanks when they invaded Russia. Many of these were converted into tractors for artillery or self propelled guns. The series ceased entirely in 1941 when the Germans overran most it this tank's manufacturing facilities.

(no picture)
T-27b 1933

Based on the VCL 2 man tankette.

Gerat 80 Light Armored Car
Gerat 80 Light Armored Car
Leichter Panzerspahwagen (MG) Sd Kfz 221

Exported by Germany to China prior to 1939. Specifications were nearly the same as listed below for the 222. The 221 was a 4x4 Light 3 man vehicle with a small turret mounting a single 7.92mm MG. From this evolved the 222 listed below.

Crew 2
Weight 4 tons
Length 4.8 meters
Width 1.95 meters
Height 1.7 meters
Engine Horch 3.5
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse
Performance 90 kmh
Range 320 km
Armament 1 x 7.92 MG34
Armor 5-8mm

Gerat 81 Light Armored Car---Gerat 81 Light Armored Car---Gerat 81 Light Armored Car
Gerat 81 Light Armored Car
Leichter Panzerspahwagen (2cm) Sd Kfz 222

Exported by Germany to China prior to 1939. The unit had a slightly larger turret than the 221. The 222 came with an open top and a potential to mount heavier armament. In China it was adapted to take a wide range of armament that ranged from heavy machine guns to light anti tank guns.

Crew 3
Weight 4.8 tons
Length 4.8 meters
Width 1.95 meters
Height 2 meters (with screen)
Performance 50 mph
Range 300 km
Engine Horch 3.5 or 3.8
Fording 24"
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse
Armament 1 x 7.92 MG34, 1 x 2cm KwK30 or 38
Armor 5-8mm

Soviet Ba-20
Soviet BA-20

(no details)

Soviet Ba-6
Soviet BA-6

Ba-3 and Ba-6 had little differences. Ba-3's Ford chassis were changed for "GAZ" and there were no "back door" in Ba-6 The Ba-6 was exported to Turkey (60 units), Spain (100 units of Ba-3 and Ba-6), Mongolia, China and Afganistan.

Seen in this photo are Nationalist BA6 & BA27 armored cars. The BA6 is nearest the camera and the BA27 has the stripes on the turret. - Photo submitted by Magnus Rosander.
Soviet BA-27

(no details)

US M3A1 Scoutcar. Photo courtesy of Xin Hui.---Nationalist US M3 Scout Cars M3 are seen here during a military review for Lung Yun, Governor of Yunnan Province. - Photo submitted by Magnus Rosander
U.S. M3A1 Scout Car

With the US becomming more involved in WW2, China was given full rights to join the Lend Lease Program in January 1941 and 36 of these units arrived in China in October.

(no photo)
U.S. M42

17 units equipped with 40mm AA were acquired.

(no photo)
U.S. Willys Jeep

No details.

(no photo)
U.S. M52

90 units equipped with 105mm cannon were acquired.

(no photo)
U.S. M44

6 units equipped with 155mm cannon were acquired.

Captured equipment from either the Korean War or from the Chinese Nationalists. - Photo contribution by Xin Hui.
U.S. M41, M41A1

60 M41 units were acquired by the Nationalists. 190 M41A1 were acquired.

Captured equipment from either the Korean War or from the Chinese Nationalists. - Photo contribution by Xin Hui.
U.S. M24 Light Tank

233 units were acquired by the Nationalists.

(no photo)
U.S. M74 Recovery Vehicle

7 units were acquired.

(no photo)
U.S. M74 Recovery Vehicle

7 units were acquired.

Photo contribution by Xin Hui of
U.S. LVT(A)4

Capable of transporting 2000lbs of material, Food Machinery Corporation (FMC), built 1890 of these sturdy units.

Crew 5
Weight 38,000 lbs
Length 26'1"
Width 10' 8"
Performance 5.2 knots (water), 25 mph (land)
Engine Continental radial air-cooled 7-cylinder 200 hp. @ 1,800 rpm gasoline engine
Armament 1 x .50cal MG, 1 x 75mm howitzer

M3A3 1943---Photo courtesy of Xin Hui---Photo courtesy of Xin Hui of

Photo courtesy of Xin Hui of courtesy of Xin Hui of
M3A3, M5A1 Stuart

Lend/Lease from the USA. It came with a 37mm main gun that was gyrostabilized. This gave it a "shoot on the run" edge over most of it's opposition. China aquired 48 of these tanks in 1943.

M4 Sherman---Photo courtesy of Xin Hui---Photo courtesy of Xin Hui---Chinese M4 Sherman in India, 1943. Photo courtesy of Xin Hui.
M4 Sherman

35 M4 were aquired under the United States Military Assistance Program between 1943 and 1944.

U.S. M-18

Is it possible that any nation that fielded armor did not own at least one of these tanks? The U.S. M1918, a U.S. copy of the Renault FT-17. In service in 1927, it was a two-man light tank delivered to Chang Tso-lin.

M3 Halftrack belonging to the 1st Chinese Regiment, 5332nd Brigade, 1st Tank Group, in training at Kabani in Burma on 25 January 1945. - Photo contributed by Bill Morran.
U.S. M3 Halftrack

No data

(no picture)
Marmon-Herrington CTLS-4TAC

Between 1935-41 Marmon-Herrington Co. of Indianapolis built a variety of light tanks for export.  In 1941 the CTL-4ATC, was produced for the Netherlands East Indies government. This had a turret offset to the right and left-hand drive. The companion model, the 4TAY, had the turret to the left and right-hand drive. Before the contract could be completed the Japanese overran the East Indies and the balance of the contract, about 240 tanks, was taken over by the US Army. The 4TAC became the Light Tank T-14 and the 4TAY the Light Tank T-16. A few were sent to Alaska and the rest were designated for training. In service 1940, two-man light tank, right hand turret type. It may be possible that Marmon Herrington completed 82 of either this tank or the CTLS-4TAY or a combination of the two and delivered them to China. The U.S. Military Assistance Program lists "82 Miscellaneous Tanks" as delivered.

(no picture)
Marmon-Herrington CTLS-4TAY

In service 1940, two-man light tank, left hand turret type (Note: Both 4TAC and 4TAY orders were taken over by US Ordinance Department and redesignated: Light Tank T16 & T14). It may be possible that Marmon Herrington completed 82 of either this tank or the CTLS-4TAC or a combination of the two and delivered them to China. The U.S. Military Assistance Program lists "82 Miscellaneous Tanks" as delivered.

The Japanese type 94 as used by the Nanking puppet government of China. Note the German helmets and the symbol on the tank.---A captured Japanese Type 94 being used by Chinese soldiers. - Photo contribution by Xin Hui of
Japanese type 94 "TK"

Model 94 Tankette had a codename, "TK", which means "Tokushu (Special) Ken-in sha (Tractor)". The TK's true purpose was to pull the supply/toxic gas/bleaching powder (to counter act toxins) trailer. Please see the Japanese section of TANKS! for more details.

Type 95 Japanese tank in the PLA service.
Japanese type 95

No Details

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong reviews an armored unit on 01 October 1949. -  Photo contribution by Xin Hui of
Japanese type 97

No data.

Photo courtesy of Xin Hui of courtesy of Xin Hui of troops with their JS2 (IS2) tanks in Korea during the Korean War. - Photo contribution by Xin Hui
Soviet IS-2

No data.

Photo contribution by Xin Hui
Soviet SU76

No data.

Chinese SU100 - Photo provided by Xin Hui---Chinese SU100 - Photo provided by Xin Hui
Soviet SU122

A total of 1148 of these vehicles were manufactured at factory No.9, Ural Heavy Machinery Factory, in the USSR between December 1942 and early 1944. No specific Chinese details of usage or numbers are known.

Crew 5
Weight 68,000 lbs
Length 22' 10"
Width 9' 10"
Height 7' 7"
Performance 55km/h
Engine 500HP Diesel
Armament 122mm Howitzer M-30S, no secondary armament
Armor 20 - 45mm on superstructure. 65mm on mantlet.

Photo courtesy of Xin Hui of courtesy of Xin Hui of courtesy of Xin Hui of courtesy of Xin Hui of

T34/85 seen here on the founding day of the PLA tank command - Photo provided by Xin Hui
Soviet T34

No data.

(no photo)

This is a T34 with twin 37mm AA guns.

People who helped make this page possible

Dr. Tom Nimick

Mario Paesani

Akira "Taki" Takizawa

David Barrett
David Barrett

Tim Keenon

Witold J. Lawrynowicz
Witold J. Lawrynowicz
Author of
Renault FT Tank

Jakub Marszalkiewicz
Jakub Marszalkiewicz
Author of
JAKUB MARSZALKIEWICZ - moja strona / my page

Peter Lago

Michal Derela
author of
PIBWL military site: Polish armour
Steel Panthers site

Mario Doherr

Magnus Rosander

Xin Hui
Author of
China Defense

Ralph Ricco, thanks to his book and personal input, was a major contributor to this section.
Ralph Ricco

Bill Morran



Last Update: Wednesday, March 12, 2003


General Cao Cao

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