The subject of WW2 US Army Vehicle markings has been extensively written about both in books dedicated to the subject and articles in military vehicle collectors’ magazines around the world. However, despite this fact they are still largely misunderstood or misinterpreted by vehicle owners and re-enactors alike. I hope that through this two-part study of bumper markings and other vehicle markings, I can offer a concise and comprehensible guide to marking up your military vehicle with accurate markings. Nothing frustrates me more than to see a Jeep loaded with immaculately uniformed and equipped personnel with some spurious markings that have either been copied from a film, or which have been taken from other restored vehicles. I know that to some this might seem petty or knit-picking, but one wouldn’t dream of wearing the incorrect shoulder sleeve insignia for his portrayal, so why should his vehicle markings be any different?

Unfortunately, the subject is rather extensive, and as I’ve already stated there are entire books which explain the bumper markings, as well as numerous other vehicle markings. I hope that this two-part series will be sufficient to provide the reader with the adequate knowledge for them to mark their vehicle to represent almost any unit. By offering generic examples as opposed to more specific ones for each unit, I will try and provide an overview and explanation of the markings,

Along with samples of correct markings for good measure.

Army Regulations No. 850-5 governed “Markings of Clothing, Equipment, Vehicles, andProperty”.

Specific paragraphs covered a variety of subjects, such as registration markings, unit markings, tactical markings, special markings, markings for animal-drawn vehicles, and markings for tractors and tanks. The very first Army regulations specifically dealing with “Markings of Vehicles” came out September 15, 1936, and covered prototype jeeps and early production Willys and Ford .-Ton Trucks. Since most of the early Regulations do not really apply to E.T.O. WW2 Military Vehicles, we will restrict ourselves to Unit Markings and Special Markings related to vehicles used and / or operated in this particular Theatre. This implies that the article will include elements from basic AR, including Changes dated August 5, 1942, October 15, 1942, March 25,1944, and February 15, 1945.

The Basics:

Understanding bumper markings can be extremely difficult without the correct research resources. When I first started re-enacting, I found it very confusing to not only interpret the markings, but also to understand how vehicles were assigned to units within the US Army. This latter point is one of the key points to understanding the markings that should be applied to a vehicle at any given time.

The bumper marking system was designed such that it could be used to represent a vehicle from Corps level, right down to individual Weapons Batteries (in the case of Coastal, Field and Anti- Aircraft Artillery units) or indeed Platoons (Military Police units, for example). Bumper markings were divided into four ‘groups’, with each one being used to represent and uniquely identify that vehicle within the unit to which it pertained. By combining the unit’s number with a series of letters and abbreviations, all possible combinations could be achieved. The illustration below shows an example bumper, with all four groups.

The first group designates the smallest appropriate unit listed below in ccordance with the following code: