I've seen many times the lend-lease help cited for Russia, about 450,000 trucks (actually they were "jeeps and trucks" so it's hard to know trucks exactly). However, what I've never seen is citing how many trucks Russia already had, vs how many Germany had. Without these numbers, the lend-lease stuff cannot be compared to anything.

How many trucks did Russia have at the start of Barbarossa (1941 Jun 22)? How many did Germany have?

I googled around with various phrases, but it's hard to find something not talking about lend-lease. I did find the wiki page for Soviet automotive industry which has some things:

In 1937, the Soviet Union produced over 200,000 vehicles, mostly trucks, putting the country in second place worldwide by production of trucks.

But wikipedia contradicts itself here, because according to its chart...

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...it was not 1937, but 1938. Maybe it was a typo?

Also note that this is for all automobiles, not just trucks. It really annoys me when it says things like "cars were only a small share of all vehicles produced in the early years of Soviet production." How small is small? What is the number? How do they know it's small unless they had the actual numbers to look at and judge it small? Why would anyone then omit the numbers?

Another thing I could not find was the weight of these trucks. I seem to remember the lend-lease trucks were 2.5 tons each, but I went looking for a source and couldn't find it. How many tons were the American and Soviet and German trucks?

As for the Wermacht, all I can remember off the top of my head is that 80% of the army was horse-drawn. But that is just a relative percent and I have no way of translating it into an absolute number of trucks.

The Wermacht stuff seems to have more info, or maybe just chat, on the web. I found this website which has entries 32,558 , 53,348 , and 51,085 for 1939 to 1941 for "military trucks and lorries". So if you take half the 1941 number, it would appear that Germany had about 112,000 trucks by Barbarossa. However, this is just production for those years. It does not say how many already existed beforehand. It does not say how many were lost between 1939 and 1941. And also, I could not find any source citation on that website.

I also tried to tackle this question from another angle: How many trucks did the USSR lose in Barbarossa? That could give us an idea of how many they had. But no luck there either.

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    Sidenote: One of the big problems for the German military in the war, actually one of the reasons Germany went to war, was the lack of indigenous resources, including oil. This needs to be kept in mind when looking at the number of German trucks, tanks etc. -- a fully motorized Wehrmacht would have consumed what little there was that much faster. (Aside from steel being scarce as well).
    – DevSolar
    Jan 18, 2018 at 5:56
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    Related question: history.stackexchange.com/questions/30607/… Jan 18, 2018 at 7:31
  • I had similar issues attempting to find the tonage sent to russia during the canadian amd american supply runs to ruasia dubbed the murmansk run. Part of the issue is i believe the trucks were sent in parts (some assembly required) to save shipped space. No could i find any number about parts sunk enroute. Possibly in old archives, nothing readily available.
    – Twelfth
    Jan 19, 2018 at 3:52

3 Answers 3


To answer your side questions about paucity of information about Soviet industry: having established a superb intelligence network in the West, USSR was understandably paranoid about the symmetric efforts and classified all information about its industry to the degree that no official numbers could ever be trusted. Combine this with приписки and you see that no one, not even Politburo, knew what was actually happening. Compound that with the obsession to downplay the impact of lend-lease and you will see why we will never know anything.

Another issue one has to be aware of is quality vs. quantity. The Lend-Lease trucks and jeeps were far better than anything the Soviet industry could produce at the time. The "workhorse" was "полуторка" - 1.5t truck based on Ford Model AA, and the Soviet Army had about 150,000 of them (and their modifications) in 1941.

When accounting for the German trucks using production numbers, one has to be aware that in 1941 the whole Europe was working for them: they were getting Renault, Citroën, and Tatras in addition to their own production.

For the Operation Barbarossa the Germans deployed 104 infantry, 19 panzer and 15 motorized infantry divisions (plus some other unidentified divisions). Nominally, this amounts to 104,100 trucks, 96,200 motorcycles and 67,240 cars. Wikipedia claims about 600,000 motor vehicles (about twice as much), which sounds reasonable - a lot of transport has to be done by non-front-line units at the corps/army level.


In the WWII, the basis of logistic (Wehrmacht and Red Army) was a horse. The infantry company (Wehrmacht / RKKA) had one wagon with one horse for supplying ammunition. At a higher level of supply (battalion, regiment, division), the Wehrmacht and the Red Army used trucks. During major offensives, the supply route stretched out up to 100 kilometers. However, for example, the Finnish army did not have many trucks. Many Finnish divisions were supplies only by horses.

In addition, the Wehrmacht at the beginning of the war had a strong transport aviation fleet. This allowed the supply of advancing units or surrounded garrisons.

The next level of supply is the railways. These are not only large echelons, but also small trains (the Wehrmacht often used captured armored cars with one railway carriage). By the way, the Finnish army had in 1939 a rocked railway to supply the Mannerheim Line.

Unlike Germany, the USSR did not have a developed industry. In fact, in the early 20s there was only 1 plant - AMO (and Yaroslavl workshops). In the 30s, Ford built a factory in the USSR. But it produced light 1.5-ton trucks GAZ-AA (FORD-AA). It was the cheapest and most produced truck. ZIS (formerly AMO) plant built the best and perfected Soviet ZIS-5 trucks. The Yaroslavl plant built small series of heavy 5 ton trucks. But they were complex, expensive. The USSR was able to create many light 1,5 and 3 ton trucks, but did not have heavy trucks and all-wheel drive trucks.

In Germany there was a developed industry. There were many firms that in the 1920s already produced 3 ton trucks. Wehrmacht had excellent heavy trucks in service. For example, the "backbone of supply" in France were 10-ton trucks. Fortunately, the USSR did not have German autobahns, thus these trucks could not be used in the USSR. It's Russia, baby!

Fuel. The Wehrmacht used excellent synthetic gasoline. The USSR had very poor gasoline for trucks. The main truck of the Wehrmacht (Opel) is simply stalled after Russian gasoline. In fact, in addition to "General Frost" and "General Dirt", the Wehrmacht fought also with "Colonel Chemical". The Opel company was forced to "modernize" the Opel to the level of the Soviet ZIS-5: simplified the design, forced the engine to eat a surrogate.

In the period from 1928 to 1937, the number of vehicles in the Red Army increased by 1050 units to 40 thousand cars. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War in the Red Army was in service with 272.6 th.(thousand) cars, including 257.8 th. trucks and special [trucks], of which the overwhelming majority of cars wore GAZ-AA and ZIS-5 brands. [1, p.108]

As of June 22, 1941, there were 272.6 thousand cars of various types and 5784 armored cars in the Red Army. Until the end of the year, another 166,300 vehicles were mobilized ... [1, p.366]

Wehrmacht had half a million cars. And these were good trucks, including off-road trucks. In 1941, 333 thousand cars were produced in Germany, 268 thousand in the occupied countries, and the satellites of the Third Reich produced 75 thousand more cars.

On June 22, 1941, the share of 1.5ton's trucks accounted for 151.1 thousand units, 3-ton - 104.2 thousand units, that is almost 94% of the entire park. On January 1, 1942, taking into account the mobilization of machines from the national economy and their losses were 148.7 and 89.1 thousand respectively. [1, p.368]

...from June 22, 1941 to May 9, 1945, all Soviet plants produced 205 thousand cars of domestic design, of which 146.6 thousand were sent to the Red Army. machines, or 71.5% of their output. At the same time, according to various sources, from 312.6 to 477.8 thousand cars arrived in the Lend-Lease in the USSR, that is, 2,1-3,2 times more than put all their Soviet factories [...] In addition, the Red Army had 60.6 thousand captured vehicles at the end of the war. [1, p.371]

40% - the all-wheel drive cars. On May 1, 1945, the entire of the Armed Forces of the USSR amounted to 664.5 thousand cars, of which 100th. units were in the automobile troops, numbering by that time 35 automobile regiments, 173 separate battalions and 30 companies.


1) Evgeny Kochnev, "Automobiles of the Red Army 1918-1945" / Moscow, "Yauza", "Exmo", 2009

  • 5
    It would make your answer easier to follow if you use the built-in formatting tools in the toolbar above the edit area. Enclose all quoted information in quote blocks by highlighting(selecting) the quoted text, then click on the large double quote symbol in the toolbar. It will help clarify your answer for those reading (and voting) on it.
    – justCal
    Jan 18, 2018 at 21:25
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    I would question the quality of German fuel. From what I've read on the subject, while German synthetic fuel industry was the best in the world at that moment, its production quality still was less than traditional processed-oil fuels. They only used it because Axis oil production wasn't enough to supply all of their war effort. Not that I'm saying that Soviet-produced couldn't be even worse, but your quotes say nothing on the point, and I've never read that particular point before, though plenty of references to German WW2 fuel being low-quality. Jan 19, 2018 at 4:01
  • Are you sure all Soviet trucks used gasoline? I thought it was diesel. Diesel fuel is easier to refine than high-quality gasoline and I've never heard of diesel quality problems in USSR. Nice answer, btw, +1.
    – DrZ214
    Jan 19, 2018 at 5:12
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    @DanilaSmirnov: The quality of synthetic fuel per se was not the problem; synthetic fuel was, AFAIK, low-octane. B4 fuel had 87 ROZ, the "improved" C3 fuel 100 ROZ. That was a problem, especially in aircraft.
    – DevSolar
    Jan 19, 2018 at 11:47
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    Thank you for your comment. I mean that German trucks are faced with the problem of supplying from Soviet resources. Of course there was a high-aviation aviation kerosene in the USSR, but the usual "Zakhar" (ZIS-5) used to go on fuel of very low quality. Fuel was a headache for Soviet mechanized corps: T-26 (gasoline), BT (high-active gasoline), T-34 and KV (diesel). The Soviet mechanized corps is a nightmare of a logistician.
    – Konstantin
    Jan 19, 2018 at 12:53

Soviet Union: On 22nd June 1941, the Red Army had around 270,000 trucks, and received another 745,000 during the war. Out of these, 150,000 were new domestic production, 221,500 trucks drafted from the industry and agriculture sectors, 60,600 captured enemy's trucks and 312,600 lend-lease trucks.

The average lift capacity of a Soviet truck was 2 tonnes, and they had very poor cross-country capability (two wheel drive), except for LL trucks which were mostly 2.5 tonne capacity with 6x4 drive.

The Soviets used 600,000 horses in 6/41, in 1-8 horse teams, less 60k for riding. Soviet divisions almost never had the authorized levels of transport, and were usually at 25-40% of the authorized level.

Source: varies, but mostly from Operation Barbaross Vol IIIA by Askey.


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