Can You Identify These WWII War Items?

By: Staff Author
Image: Bukvoed & Askild Antonsen & Armémuseum via Wiki Commons/Pexels

About This Quiz

The Second World War was a conflict unlike any the world had ever seen. It completely eclipsed even the Great War, a name that would itself shrink into history when faced with the enormity of its successor. But beyond being a clash of nations or ideologies, it was foremost a war of human beings. In their attempt to triumph in this world-encompassing war, humans deployed some of the most extraordinary and fiendish instruments of destruction yet imagined. Here you will find a few of them, either weapons they bore into ferocious battle or artifacts with which they girded themselves to face the nightmare conflicts before them.


How much do you know about these pieces of military equipment? Pistols, machine guns, helmets, carbines, sniper rifles, they're all here.  Can you tell the difference between a pith helmet and a stahlhelm? A Luger and a Colt 1911? Don't worry, we have hints to act as a map to lead you through these mine fields. But be warned, this still won't be easy: you need a true mastery of WW2 arms and armor if you're to survive *this* quiz. Are you a field marshal or a humble GI? Show us if you've got the right stuff and see if you can identify these items from WWII!

The Dreyse M1907 was an older model pistol dating back to Austrian use in the Great War. Its use in WW2 was largely due to it being employed by Volkssturm units of militia. There were plenty of them lying around and they were easy to manufacture allowing for wide deployment.

The Steyr M1912 is another Austrian pistol that dates back to the Great War. After the Anschluss, fond memories of this weapon led the Wehrmacht to order tens of thousands of them for the upcoming second World War.

The Adrian Helmet, and its descendant the M26, were French helmets used in the Great War and WW2. It was the first steel helmet to be used in a modern combat setting, and was specifically designed to deal with the dangers posed by shrapnel caused by artillery fire.

The Colt M1911 was one of the most well known weapons of WWII. The US commissioned an astonishing 2.7 million of these bad boys and, incredibly, the weapon is still in use in segments of the US military today!

Although they are now the basic military head wear of many militaries, in WW2 berets were primarily used by tanker crews as a mark of their peculiar occupation. They were also used by airborne regiments, like the "Red Devils" from the UK.

The Mauser C96 was a semi automatic pistol that was produced in vast numbers. It used a kind of funny looking wooden stock, and its semi-circular handle gave it the distinct nickname "the broom handle".

The Walther PP's acronym stands for the German words for "police pistol" indicating that this is a law enforcement weapon. It's a bit of a misnomer however, as what that means in the context of WW2 is controlling occupied population and hunting insurgents.

The humble sailor cap is a stylish peaked cap which became popular in the 19th century. Variants of it were used by many of the navies involved in WW2. It is still in use today, but it is largely ceremonial in nature.

The utility cover is an eight-pointed cap partly inspired by a railroad engineer's cap! It was popularized in WW2 by its use by the Marine Raiders, an elite unit within the Marines that has been described as "like a Marine, but more so!"

The Mauser HSc's acronym is actually German for "self cocking hammer". It was initially designed to be a commercial pistol, but production was swung toward military purposes come WWII, with a preponderance of the weapons going to the Kriegsmarine.

A Tam o' Shanter is a traditional Scottish bonnet, named after a fictional Scottish national hero. It is know for its distinctive round shape and the fuzzy ball that sits jauntily atop it. This was frequently used by, unsurprisingly, Scottish troops in WWII.

The Stahlhelm is the most famous German helmet of the second world war. It cuts a distinctive curved silhouette, and was commonly used in military propaganda by both the Axis and the Allies. Its curved design does an excellent job of protecting against shrapnel caused by artillery and cannon fire.

The Luger P08 is the distinct thin-barreled semi automatic pistol used by many German officers in WW2. Its particular profile has gotten quite a bit of commercial attention in the years since the war, and it is frequently seen as a "bad guy gun" in entertainment productions.

The Carcano is a distinct Italian-made bolt action rifle. It saw use by many nations in the time around WW2. The Finns used it in the short but sharp Winter War, and the Japanese used it in their battles against the United States.

The M1 Carbine was the standard-issue semi-automatic rifle of the WW2 American infantryman. It was inexpensive, light, and easy to produce en masse, but various complaints about its reliability came in after they first started being used in combat. In particular the weapon was criticized for a lack of stopping power.

The pith helmet is known for its characterful oversized mountain shape. It was generally issued to British troops in hotter climates, where the fact that it was raised from the head might make the wearer a little more ventilated.

The M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR for short, was a light machinegun assigned to most American Infantry squads in WW2. It could even be fired on the move, from the hip, giving it extraordinary flexibility for a machine gun.

The Gewehr 98 was a German bolt action rifle used in limited quantities in WW2. It was a venerable design by that point, but it was still utilized by various Axis powers as well as notably by Nationalist Spain in their civil war against the Republicans.

The Tokarev TT-33 was a Soviet Union designed semi automatic pistol used in WW2. It was used by thousands of troops, but was primarily an officer's weapon. A Tokarev TT-33 was famously used in a piece of Russian propaganda where a soldier wielding one urges his comrades to victory.

An early example of a light machine gun, the Bren was the standard LMG used by British Commonwealth troops in the second world war. In spite of its classification, it was quite heavy and best used with a bi- or tripod.

The Papakhi is a traditional Russian cap, worn by men in the Caucasus Mountains. Although the Soviet Union had forbidden their use as being connected with the old regime, by WW2 they had come back into use as the mark of an officer.

The Jeep cap is a simple woolen cap, meant to be worn underneath a helmet to keep the bearer's head warm. Its appearance is similar to a beanie or similar homespun hat. Patton was noted for despising the cap, as they appeared to him slovenly and casual to a level unbecoming the military.

The Pistolet wz.35 Vis was a Polish weapon based off the American Browning 9mm. It was very popular among German soldiers who captured them, and by the end of the war it became standard equipment for paratrooper units.

The Colt M1903 is known as the "pocket hammerless" which is quite unnecessarily confusing, as the pistol does in fact have a hammer. The trick is that the hammer is covered and concealed from view, and it being covered makes the weapon itself easier to conceal.

The Beretta M1934 was designed specifically to be a standard semi automatic sidearm for Italian military personnel. One thing notable about it is how its serial numbers refer to the Fascist calendar, making them somewhat unique as collector's items.

The Winchester Model 1895 was somewhat venerable by the time WW2 rolled around, but it was used in some small numbers by various of the major powers. It was also notable for being a weapon sent by the USSR to the Spanish Republican militias.

The Browning HP is an incredibly prolific military sidearm, used by dozens of militaries over the course of its long production life. In WW2 they were literally used by both sides during the war. Despite their heavier than normal trigger pull, they have proven an enduring and well-loved weapon.

The M1A1 Thompson is a legendary weapon that has gone by many names, from the ubiquitous "Tommy Gun" to the "Chicago Typewriter". Although the weapon had serious jamming issues, soldiers found you still couldn't beat a Tommy when you needed a hand-held weapon with astounding rate of fire.

The Karabiner 98b is more interesting for what it is not than what it is- it is not actually a carbine at all! Rather, it was a rifle designed to appear to be one, so as to avoid the limitations of the Treaty of Versailles, which forbade the production of military rifles but allowed carbines.

The MG42 was designed to replace its predecessor, the '34, but in reality both were used until the end of the war. Relatively cheap and easy to produce, the MG42 was also extremely effective, firing an astonishing 1200 rounds per minute with a peculiar shriek that gave the weapon the nickname "Hitler's Buzzsaw".

The Garand was the standard issue service rifle for the United States Army during WW2. As a result, an incredible 5.4 million were produced! General George Patton called "The greatest implement of war yet devised." Fritz better keep his head down!

A strong combination of an easy to carry heft and significant stopping power made the Colt M1911 a favorite for allied forces both in WW2 and in the years to come. It also has short recoil, which greatly aids in accuracy.

The Krag-Jørgensen was a somewhat antiquated Norwegian rifle that saw some use in the second world war. The Germans actually forced the Norwegians to produce this weapon for their second line units, but due to sabotage and deliberate slow work on behalf of the laborers, relatively few, shoddy weapons saw service.

The Suomi KP/-31 is a submachine gun par excellence, with surprising accuracy and large ammunition storage. Its main weakness is its expense to produce, which proved suitably metaphorical when the Finns went up against the vast armies of Soviet Russia in the Winter War.

The Browning M2HB Heavy Machine Gun, known to its friends as "Ma Deuce", is an incredible weapon. Usually vehicle mounted, its efficiency is second to none: incredibly this weapon, which predates WW2, is still in official use today!

This bolt action rifle was the primary infantry rifle of the German Wehrmacht. Over the course of the war, these rifles would prove to be overtaken by submachine guns, but it still saw significant use until the very end.

This weapon, colloquially called the Johnny Gun, was an American LMG used during the second world war. It was lighter than the cumbersome BAR, and was especially favored by small, mobile units like commandos.

The M2 Carbine was an enhanced version of the well loved M1 carbine with a significant change: it was capable of alternating fire modes between semi automatic and full automatic fire. Though limited by ammunition, this was still a meaningful difference!

The Thompson light rifle was largely an unsuccessful experiment: It was too heavy to easily wield, and it proved to be extremely expensive, limiting its usefulness. It was also made up of 80 separate parts, which was inefficient to say the least!

An iconic piece of American war equipment, the M1 helmet was the quintessential US infantry headpiece. It has two layers, a hard outer shell and an inner piece that functions like a construction worker's hard hat. These layers of protection are great for insulating against explosive shocks and shrapnel.

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