During the latter years of WWII, the US equipped and trained a number of Chinese (Kuomintang) armies to fight the Japanese. Initially the Chinese armies were greatly inferior, armed with bolt-action rifles and a very limited amount of artillery; brought to modern standards, these armies outclassed their Japanese counterparts, with the semi-automatic M1 Garand rifle and fully-automatic Thompson submachine gun providing devastating firepower.

What were such armies (e.g. the New 1st Army) typically equipped with? How many guns and artillery of each type?

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    There's no "latter years"; the equipping of Nationalist units with American weapons only began in earnest after Wedemeyer replaced Stilwell. There was less than 9 months to go on the war by that time.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 3, 2018 at 9:41
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    To call the Nationalist armies (Chang's forces) Americanized is an error in labeling. I edited your title. Jul 4, 2018 at 1:56
  • @KorvinStarmast they were not only equipped, but trained, and had American officers embedded within formations for coordinating airstrikes. It's not an error. Jul 4, 2018 at 2:27
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    @congusbongus I think Korvin's point is that American-equipped is a better translation of the actual historical term. Besides, I'm not sure it's valid to call a unit "Americanised" for merely using some American equipment. Note also that only a few units received anything that could be reasonably characterised as American training. The scope for that is distinct from your original question.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 4, 2018 at 3:27
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    They were still very much Chinese, and even with American support that did not change who they were. Jul 4, 2018 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


It's difficult to speak of "typical" because in reality, equipment distribution was highly variable and carried out under haphazard circumstances. Undoubtedly, the best and most completely equipped Nationalist armies were those participating in the Chinese Expeditionary Force. These armies consisted of triangular formation divisions, each of which were, in theory, supposed to have:

  • 12x 75mm mountain guns on the divisional level
  • 6x heavy machine guns, 2x bazooka, and 2x81mm motar per battalion
  • 9x light machine guns, 18x Thompson submachine guns, and 6x 60mm mortars per company

Source:《民國軍事史》姜克夫 重慶出版社, 2009

In reality few units were ever equipped to this level, and certainly not before the Burma Road was reopened in the very last calendar year of the war. The situation within China was in comparison far more bleak. Generalissimo Chiang, for instance, famously denounced General Stilwell for hoarding airlifted equipment for the Burma expedition, alleging that by the end of his tenure in October of 1944:

In all, excepting the Yunnan Expeditionary Forces, the Chinese armies have received 60 mountain guns, 320 anti-tank rifles and 506 bazookas.

Romanus, Charles F., and Riley Sunderland. China-Burma-India Theater: Stilwell's Command Problems. Government Printing Office, 1953.

Even after substantial deliveries began to be made under Wedemeyer, equipment were distributed to armies which then handed them out as they see fit to subordinate divisions. Most supposedly Americanised divisions thus actually operated a Frankenstein mix of foreign and domestic arms.

The idea that the Nationalists had a vast army of well-equipped, modern units only ever really existed in Communist propaganda.

  • This answer is useful but somewhat weakened by presenting a thesis that, while not one I disagree with, is not sufficiently supported, especially in the last sentence. How well were the CEF-related formations equipped, in practice rather than in theory? What about other elite formations (e.g. 74th army), who did receive priority? And at what point in time? How did things change post-1944 and under Wedemeyer? Were there significant equipment transfers between formations between the end of WWII and resumption of civil war fighting, relating to that last sentence? Jul 4, 2018 at 23:12
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    @congusbongus it's impossible to give exact numbers, as on paper a lot more was delivered than actually was. Stilwell redirected equipment earmarked for the Quo Ming Tan to the Maoists, his staff having been effectively infiltrated by Maoist Chinese, more was lost in transit, or arrived in poor condition preventing it from being used.
    – jwenting
    Jul 5, 2018 at 5:40
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    @congusbongus Your question was framed in terms of WW2, hence my answer based on TOE goals in 1945 when American equipment became relevant. Its impossible to give precise numbers because it was a continuous process and China was perpetually short, which can be verified in US lend-lease records. f.e., 4,200x less 60mm mortars were delivered by VJ, i.e. at most 700 infantry companies, despite supposedly 33 divisions operating "full" American equipment. Now, if you intended for the Q's scope to extend into the Civil War, IMO there's too much year-on-year differences for 1 answer to cover.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 5, 2018 at 5:52

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