( registration number light tank M3 )




A registration numbering system was introduced for War Department vehicles in 1929 and this system continued to be used  throughout WWII. The numbers were formed from

                                                          1) the letter W for War Department
                                                          2) one or two numerals representing the vehicle type
                                                          3) a number indicating the sequence in which the vehicle was issued.

In addition the prefix letter K was used by the U.S. Signal Corps to designate special vehicle types. Towards the end of WWII, from mid 1944 onwards, the prefix W was often omitted.


Vehicles supplied to U.S. forces in Australia by the Australian motor industry for use in the Pacific theatre had numbers with the prefix letter U. 

The official registration number prefix numerals from 1943 onwards are:
Maintenance Trucks.
Cars and sedans.
Kitchen trailers.
Light trucks up to 1 ton.
Reconnaissance trucks, buses.
Medium trucks, 1 ton.
Tanks and some 'specials'.
Trucks, 2 ton and up to 4 - 5 ton.
Tracked and half tracked vehicles except tanks.
Trucks over 5 tons and prime movers.
Fire and crash trucks.
Motorcycles and sidecars.
Armoured cars and special technical vehicles such as command, radio, searchlight.
Amphibious vehicles.
Wheeled tractors.
Full and half tracked tractors.

Up to 1942 however registration number prefix numerals for trucks was slightly different.  


Utility truck, to 1 ton.


Light truck, 1 to 2 ton.


Medium truck, 2 to 4 ton.


Heavy trucks, 5 ton and over.


The registration numbers were painted in 3-inch high numerals, unless space dictated the use of smaller ones. The numbers were applied in the following positions:

                   Trucks : At the side edges of the engine bonnet, on each side of the truck.
                   Open trailers : On the side edge of the body near the forward end and across the tailboard.
                   Motorcycles : Across the upper part of the rear mudguard.
                   AFVs :

One each side of the vehicle.

( registration number armored car, M8 )
( registration number tank destroyer, M18 )



The letter "S" was used on a military vehicle to indicate that the vehicle so marked has been suppressed to eliminate radio interference, caused by the vehicle electrical system, over a frequency range 0.5 to 30 megacycles. The letter "S" was placed after the registration number.


( registration number truck, -Ton )



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