The U.S. / American Automobile Industry in World War Two / WWII
An American Auto Industry Heritage Tribute
By David D Jackson

The U.S. Auto Industry at the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944
The U.S. Auto Industry and the B-29 Bomber   U.S. Auto Industry Army-Navy "E" Award Winners   The Complete listing of All Army-Navy "E" Award Winners
    Automobile Manufacturers:  American Bantam Car Company   Checker   Chrysler   Crosley   Ford   General Motors   Graham-Paige   Hudson
   Nash-Kelvinator   Packard      Studebaker    Willys-Overland
General Motors Divisions
(Undergoing development) Aeroproducts   Brown-Lipe-Chapin   Buick   Cadillac   Chevrolet   Cleveland Diesel   Delco Appliance   Delco Products   Delco Radio   Delco-Remy   Detroit Diesel   Detroit Transmission   Electro-Motive   Fisher Body   Frigidaire   GM Proving Grounds   GM of Canada   Guide Lamp   Harrison Radiator   Hyatt Bearings   Inland   Moraine Products   New Departure   Oldsmobile   Packard Electric   Saginaw Malleable Iron   Southern California Division   Rochester Products   United Motors Service
Truck Manufacturers:   Autocar  Diamond T   International Harvester    Mack Truck
   Pacific Car and Foundry  Reo Motor Car Company   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company    
Updates and Additions  



 The U.S. / American Auto Industry in World War Two / WWII
An Overview

New page added - Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation added 9-29-2016.
New page added - Ford M4A3 Sherman Tank Photos added 8-11-2016.  Link is on the main Ford page.
New page added
-The complete listing of all Army-Navy "E" Award Winners page added 7-28-2016.

New page added - Grand Blanc built M4A2 Sherman Tank images added 7-3-2016.
New page added -
U.S. Automobile Industry Army-Navy "E" Award Winners page added 6-15-2014.

See the "Updates and Additions" page for other new information as it is added.

This page updated 10-7-2016.

There is no greater testament to the US Automobile Industry's contribution to help win World War Two than this Fisher Body Grand Blanc Tank Arsenal built M4A3 Sherman Tank combat veteran, on display in downtown Bastogne, Belgium.  It was knocked out of combat during the one of the most famous battles of World War Two, the Battle of the Bulge, on December 30, 1944.  It was fighting with B Company, 41st Tank Battalion, 11th Armored Division when it was put out of action near Renuamont, Belgium.  It had been named "Barracuda" by its crew. It sits at the intersection of several roads in Bastogne that made the town an important military objective during the battle.  The town has been completely rebuilt since the war.  German artillery fire virtually leveled the town in attempting to drive out the American soldiers defending it.  The tank has been on display since 1948.  Author's photo.

The Purpose of this website:

The purpose of this website is to bring together in one location that which the US Automobile industry produced during the Second World War.  What the products were, which company made them, the numbers produced, and their manufacturing locations.  At the beginning of WWII there were twelve auto makers left in the United States, down from the hundreds that had been producing auto early in the 20th century.  All twelve are included in this website.

While there are many good historical sources on the US auto industry in WWII, most focus on the Big Three and are Detroit centric.  Not only are the other nine auto makers of the era covered in a comprehensive manner on this website, but all of the GM Divisions of the time are also included.  General Motors had five car divisions:  Buick (Flint, MI), Cadillac (Detroit, MI), Chevrolet (Flint, MI and other locations), Oldsmobile (Lansing, MI), and Pontiac (Pontiac, MI).  GMC was the truck division located in Pontiac, MI.  The Fisher Body Division of GMC was headquartered in Detroit, but had multiple plants where each of the car assembly plants were located.  General Motors also had a host of component divisions located in such towns as  Anderson, IN Dayton, OH Flint, MI and Rochester, NY.  These plants produced such items as starters, batteries, car radios, sparkplugs, radiators, and steering wheels.  Chevrolet and Fisher Body each had over a dozen plants, and each was as large or larger than Ford at the time, and larger than Chrysler. 

The format for each auto maker, GM division, truck manufacturer, and auto supplier includes a short history of the company, followed by a listing of items produced during the war, with production numbers, if available.  Contemporary photos of the products are used for the most part instead of historical photos.


The U.S. auto industry produced 20% of the total U.S. output of the material manufactured to fight World War II, with the total value of goods produced by the U.S. automobile industry in the war effort surpassed $29 billion. GM produced $12 billion of that or 41% the industry output and 8% of the entire American war economy.  Ford came in second with $3.9 billion, and Chrysler was right behind with $3.5 billion in war contracts.  Willys-Overland had $7.34 million for the nineteen wartime projects it had.  While the auto companies were the logical manufacturers of trucks, armored cars, jeeps and tanks, the product line was extensive and many of the items built were new to the industry.  Both Ford and General Motors both built entire warplanes for the conflict, and many aircraft components were produced by the industry. 

Below are a few of the items produced by the auto industry during World War Two.  Some are readily associated with the industry, while others are totally unassociated with what the industry commonly produced at that time. 

The US Auto Industry produced all of the fully tracked tank destroyers during WWII.  Here are three of the most important ones as seen at the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles at Nokesville, VA.  On the left is a Fisher Body Grand Blanc, MI produced M10 Wolverine.  In the center is an M18 Hellcat built in Flint, MI by the Buick Motor Car Division of GM.  On the end is a Ford M36.  This originally was built as the M10A1 Wolverine at Ford's Highland Park, MI plant.  It was later converted into the M36 which replaced the 3 inch main gun with a more powerful 90mm cannon.  Author's photo.

The nose section of the B-29 "Enola Gay".  This is one of the most famous, or infamous aircraft of all time, being the first bomber to drop a nuclear weapon.  The B-29 is not a WWII weapon that one would normally associate with the American auto industry.  The eighteen foot long nose section of the fuselage that has the name "Enola Gay" painted on it was built by Chrysler DeSoto Division in Detroit, MI.  Author's photo.

With the exception of the wing center section, all of the other major wing, fuselage, and control surface sections were built by the US Auto Industry.  These companies were Briggs, Chrysler, Firestone, Hudson, Goodrich, Goodyear, and Libby-Owens-Ford.  Several Fisher Body Divisions, along with seventeen component divisions of GM, supplied components.  Dodge supplied the engines.  For the complete story, please see the dedicated B-29 page above.  Author's photo.

This JB-2 "Loon" cruise missile is another weapon one would not associate with the US Auto Industry.  Willys-Overland, better known for its production of Jeeps during WWII, built America's first cruise missile in Toledo, OH under contract from Republic Aviation.  The engine was built by the Ford Motor Car Company.  The JB-2 was a reverse engineered copy of the German V-1 "Buzz Bomb".  It was intended for use by the US Navy in the invasion of Japan.  Author's photo.

Pontiac Motor Car Division built aerial launched torpedoes at its facilities in Pontiac, MI.  Pontiac's plant 11, which manufactured the torpedoes, was the first US automaker to receive the Navy "E" award in January, 1942.  Author's photo.

Here is another unusual product not typically identifiable with the US Auto Industry.  This is a SCR-584 anti-aircraft radar unit.  Chrysler produced 2,098 radar antenna mounts and  parabolic antennas; and then installed them in the ten- ton Freufauf built trailer.  The radar antenna mount stowed inside the trailer for travel.  It dropped straight down to where the table and mannequin are located.  Note the cables on the wall have slack in them, to allow for the up and down movement of the antenna unit.  This photo was taken at the National Electronics Museum in the Baltimore, MD area, which exhibits a history of the former Westinghouse Electronics Division (now Northrop-Grumman) located in the area.  Westinghouse installed the electronics within the trailer after receiving it from Chrysler.  Author's photo added 10-7-2016.

When World War Two ended, Nash-Kelvinator had built more helicopters than the American aviation industry.  It built the most advanced Sikorsky Helicopter design of the war, the R-6A Hoverfly II, which can be seen at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH.  Author's photo.

Graham-Paige built LVT-1's, like this one displayed in the main lobby of the National Museum of the USMC in Quantico, VA.  This diorama depicts the LVT-1 going over a log barrier on Tarawa.  Author's photo.

Yes, this is a photo of a replica of the first atomic bomb dropped during WWII.  It is located at the National Museum of the US Air Force.  Chrysler delivered 1,000 railroad cars of equipment for the diffusion using hexafluoride gas to separate U-235 from U-238 at Oak Ridge, TN (The Secret City.) during WWII.  Author's photo.

The Cleveland Diesel Division of General Motors of Cleveland, OH supplied half of the diesel engines installed in the US submarine fleet of WWII.  Today the WWII era submarine USS Cod can be seen along the waterfront in Cleveland, OH.  One of the four Cleveland Diesels Engines on the submarine is operational.   Author's photo. 

The 40 mm cannon on the deck of the USS Cod was built by Firestone.   Author's photo. 

Last revision date:  10-1-2016
Original publication date:  8-30-2013




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