Extraordinary color photos show Americans training in tanks at Fort Knox in the summer of 1942 before being sent to face the ferocious German Panzer divisions on the Western Front, North Africa and the Pacific.
Learning lessons from the First World War - which saw death on an industrial scale due to the 'mechanization' of war including machine guns, tanks and planes - the United States realized it needed an overwhelming armored force to counter the Axis armies in the battlegrounds.
In 1940, the USA only operated a few hundred tanks, but by the end of the war that number had soared to nearly 100,000.
A parade of firepower: M4 (closest to the camera) and M3 (second in line) tanks line up - American M3 Lee tanks were named after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, while British variants used a different turret configuration and were known as the M3 Grant, after the Union general Ulysses S. Grant. Meanwhile the M4 Sherman was named after the William Tecumseh Sherman another Union general in the American Civil War
The M3 Lee was built in 1940, with the first operational by 1941, to help the British in their need for armored vehicles to compete with those of Nazis. Despite being well-armored and with strong firepower capabilities, the M3 was inferior to the German Panzer IV. The M4 Sherman was introduced soon after to compete with the Wehrmacht's technology and Panzer Commander Hans von Luck conceded it had surpassed the German war machine
A US tank driver peers through the window to his tank. The Sherman's have been dubbed 'Death Traps' although many historians contradict the notion that they were inferior to the German Panzer IV - though most concede the Panzer V was superior. The M4 first saw combat at the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in October 1942, where they had been modified for British use with sand shields. The addition of the Sherman's against the German Panzer III's and IV's was vital to securing victory.
Dust-covered crewmen pose in front of their new tank, knowing they are headed to the front. The first American-manned Sherman's were used in the Anglo-American assault of French North Africa - Operation Torch - in November 1942. Fitted with a 75mm turret, a .40 caliber gun - the tanks were capable of penetrating the German tanks at ranges of 1,000 yards. However, with the arrival of the German Tiger I in 1942 and the Panther in 1943, these capabilities were drastically reduced
A tank commander poses for a flash lit photo on the training field. At the Battle of Arracourt in Lorraine, France in 1944 the M4s were decisive. The Germans had a larger number of tanks in the field than the Americans and anticipated swift victory, but their crews were inexperienced in the new Panther tanks. Although their armor was stronger and their firepower greater, the Americans used the M4's faster turret speed to their advantage. Poor tactics from the Germans meant the faster US tanks were able to get on their flanks in the field and knock out dozens of the enemy vehicles. The victory was part of President Dwight Eisenhower's plan to stop the Third Army's advance across France.
An infantryman crouches beside a half-track with an M1 Garand. Thousands of half-track vehicles were used throughout Europe by the Allies and Germany. The regular wheels at the front were used for steering, while the rear track to heft the majority of the load over rough terrain. Early American M3 half-tracks had stowage for land mines and a .50 caliber Browning machine gun.
An M3 Stuart light tank plows through a water-filled ditch. The Stuart - named for the American Civil War Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart - was the lighter variant of the M3 Lee. It took part in Britain's Operation Crusader against the Axis powers in North Africa in 1941. It was intended to relieve pressure at the Siege of Tobruk in Libya, but the plan failed in part due to the superiority of the tanks used in Rommel's Afrika Korps
A young infantryman aims an M1 Garand from inside an armored vehicle. The .30 semi-automatic rifle was standard issue throughout WWII and the Korean War. It was designed for field stripping within seconds, without tools, so that troops were able to clean and maintain their rifles with ease. Its fire-rate was renowned and it averaged 40-50 accurate hits per minute at a range of 300