The American Automobile Industry in World War Two
An American Auto Industry Heritage Tribute
By David D Jackson


Overview      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   Sherman Tanks of the American Auto Industry   Tank Destroyers of the American Auto Industry    M26 Pershing Tanks of the American Auto Industry

    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   Pontiac   Saginaw Malleable Iron   Southern California Division   Rochester Products   United Motors Service

Truck Manufacturers:   American LaFrance   Autocar  Diamond T   International Harvester    Mack Truck
   Marmon-Herrington Company   Pacific Car and Foundry  Reo Motor Car Company   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Automotive Tire
Manufacturers:
  Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
 Updates and Additions  
Links

 

 Fisher Body - Home   Fisher Body - Craftsmanship   Fisher Body - Aircraft   Fisher Body - Aircraft Instruments   Fisher Body - Guns   Fisher Body  - Tanks   Fisher Body - Miscellaneous   Fisher Body - Database    Detroit Die and Machine Plant  Grand Blanc, MI Tank Arsenal   Grand Blanc built M4A2 Sherman Tank Photos   Grand Blanc Built M4A3 Tank Photos   Grand Blanc M10 Tank Destroyer Photos   Lansing, MI Plant   Memphis, TN Plant

Fisher Body Division of General Motors in World War Two / WWII
  Detroit, MI
1908-1986
Rest in Peace
Gone but not Forgotten!!!


 "Body by Fisher" became "Body Armament by Fisher" during the Second World War

This page updated 10-24-2016.


Nothing more can attest to the contribution of Fisher Body to the effort to win World War Two than this Fisher Body built M4A3 Sherman Tank combat veteran that is on display in downtown Bastogne, Belgium, and which was knocked out of combat during the one of the most famous battles of World War Two, the Battle of the Bulge, in December of 1944.  It sits at the intersection of several roads in Bastogne that made the town an important military objective during the battle.  Author's photo added 4-6-2015.

Fisher Body was the premier division of General Motors during the Second World War from a size, production, and documentation standpoint.  No other GM Division or US Auto Company documented what it did as well as Fisher Body with respect to numbers of weapons produced and in which plant they were produced.  But one would only expert this of what at one time was GM's premier division.

However, unless one worked in the auto industry previous to the 21st century there is probably no name recognition with the term Fisher Body. But everyone who owned a GM car or light duty truck built previous to 1986, or even a year or two after, had the Fisher Body insignia on the door sills of their cars. The driver and passenger would see it every time got they in and out of the car.  Fisher Body assembled the passenger compartment which was then trucked to the final assembly plant where it as dropped on to the chassis of an Oldsmobile or other GM car.  While most people had or have name recognition of the current and former GM care lines, most will not recognize the name Fisher Body, in spite of seeing it every time they opened the car door.  Fisher Body was a big GM division and may have been as large as Chevrolet, if not larger.

Growing up in Lansing, MI, the home of the former Olds Division, I would have problems telling my friends that my dad worked at Fisher Body.  If your dad worked at Oldsmobile, they would know what and where that was.  But Fisher Body, even when it was the second largest private employer in Lansing at 5,000, would be a mystery to most persons.


When one opened the door of their pre 1986 GM car or light duty truck, they would see the Fisher Body Emblem on the door sill.  With the exception of the instrument panel (dashboard) and steering wheel, everything else pictured here was assembled at the Fisher Body Plant.  Author's Photo.

 
Body by Fisher.  It used to be these were oval shaped.  Author's Photo.

The most coveted award sought by plants making war material during WWII was the prestigious Army-Navy "E" Award.  Only 5% of the eligible plants received the award during WWII.  This was truly and extraordinary feat by the Fisher Body organization and attests to the fact it was the premier Division of General Motors during the war!

Fisher Body Plants that won the Army-Navy "E" Award during WWII

Fisher Body Plant Number of times "E" Award won
Fisher Body Division, Aircraft Unit, Plant #21, Detroit, MI 4
Fisher Body Division, Central Development and Experimental Unit, Plant #21, Detroit, MI 2
Fisher Body Cleveland Division, Plant 1, Cleveland, OH 1
Fisher Body Cleveland Aircraft Division, Plant 2, Cleveland, OH 1
Fisher Body Division, Fleetwood Plant, Detroit, MI 4
Fisher Body Division, Stamping Unit #37, Detroit, MI 2
Fisher Body Division, Ternstedt Manufacturing Division, Division #9, Detroit, MI 2
Fisher Body Division, Ternstedt Manufacturing Division, Main Plant, Division #3, and Plant 15, Detroit, MI 1
Fisher Body Division, Die and Machine Unit, Detroit, MI 7
Fisher Body Division, Flint #1, MI 5
Fisher Body Division, Grand Blanc Tank Plant, Grand Blanc, MI 5
Fisher Body Division, Grand Rapids Stamping Plant, MI 1
Fisher Body Division, Lansing , MI 1
Fisher Body Division, Memphis Aircraft Plant, Memphis, TN 4
Fisher Body Division, Pontiac, MI 1

Fisher Body World War Two / WWII Production Numbers (Armament by Fisher) : 
Aviation -

B-17 -
(68,612) B-17 exhaust collector systems, (46,748) B-17 fixed engine cowlings and (40,228) B-17 removable engine cowlings


Fisher Body Division of General Motors built 46,748 B-17 fixed engine cowlings and 40,228 B-17 movable engine cowlings at several of its plants.  Author's Photo. 


Fisher Body Division of General Motors built 68,612 B-17 exhaust collector systems like this one on the B-17 "Yankee Lady."  Also show is the movable engine cowling.  Author's Photo. 
 

B-25 - (5,214) B-25 Bomber Assemblies which included the fuselages, wings, tail assemblies, exhaust collectors along with forgings, castings and machined parts, all of which went to the North American Plant in Fairfax, KS.  At  the beginning of the war, Fisher Body supplied 55% of the content in these B-25s. Production started in early 1941 and continued through June of 1945.  Ten Fisher Body Plants were involved.  See pages 4-7 of the the Fisher Body - Aircraft Page for more specific information and photos on Fisher Body and the B-25 project during WWII.


This B-25J Mitchell Bomber was one of 4,318 J models built at the North American B-15 plant in Fairfax, KS during the war.  North American also built 2,290 D model at Fairfax.  In Detroit the B-25 assemblies were built at its Stamping, Detroit Aircraft Unit, Central Development and Experimental Unit, Fleetwood, and Ternstedt plants.  Grand Rapids, MI, Memphis, TN, Cleveland, OH and Pontiac, MI Fisher Body Plants also made B-25 parts.  Author's Photo.

B-29 - (13,772) B-29 Engine Nacelles.  Fisher Body also built horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizers, rudders, elevators, outboard wing sections, flaps, exhaust collectors, engine cowlings, tail gun turrets and rudder pedals along with many miscellaneous parts.

In June of 1942 the USAAF contracted with Fisher Body to build 200 B-29s in a new plant built in Cleveland just for that purpose.  A year later it was decided to instead have the Martin plant in Omaha, NB that had stopped production on the B-26 build those B-29s.  Fisher Body then concentrated on building the above listed components, many of them going to Martin Omaha.  The B-29 Silverplate atomic bombers, including the "Enola Gay" and "Bockscar", were built in Omaha.  Fisher Body provided many of the components as listed above for these historic bombers. 

Some historians and websites say the Fisher Body built entire B-29s.  This is untrue.  It was scheduled to do so, but the situation changed and the work went to Martin Omaha.  Page 8 of the attached official end of war Fisher Body document Fisher Body - Aircraft makes that very clear.


The B-29 "Enola Gay" as seen at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.  What connection does it have with Fisher Body?  Originally when the B-29 program began Fisher Body received a contract to build at least 200 B-29s in its Cleveland plant, along with parts to supply other B-29 final assembly plants in the nation.  Later in the war it was decided by the military to move the final assembly of B-29s from Fisher Body Cleveland to the former Martin B-26 plant in Omaha, NB which was no longer producing the B-26. Fisher Body then became one of the prime suppliers of B-29 airframe components to the Martin B-29 Plant.  The "Enola Gay", seen here, and "Bockscar", located at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH were the two B-29s to drop the atomic bombs on Japan to end the Second World War.  Both were built in Omaha and had Fisher Body components.  Author's Photo.


Fisher Body built 13,772 B-29 engine nacelles at its Cleveland #2 plant in the Second World War.  3,663 B-29s were built with four nacelles each meaning Fisher Body built 90% of them.  It also built horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizers, rudders, elevators, outboard wing sections, flaps, exhaust collectors, engine cowlings, tail gun turrets and rudder pedals along with many miscellaneous parts.  Author's Photo.


Aircraft -  (13) P-75 Eagles.  These were built at the Cleveland Plant 2. 


The only surviving Fisher Body XP-75 as seen at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  Author's Photo added 5-11-2015.

Other Aircraft Parts -
(20,000,000) Dzus Fastener Blanks were stamped out by Ternstedt Division.  These fasteners when complete were used as quick release fasteners on on engine cowlings and panels.  Every aircraft had them.

(85,600) 150 Gallon Drop Tanks for the US Navy and (53,600) mounting kits.  This order probably did not get filled as shipping was to begin after the war ended.  No doubt the Navy was anticipating the need for the drop tanks as carrier aircraft operated off the coast of Japan during the planned invasion.

P-80 intakes and wingtips.  Another order taken on in 1945 that probably did not get filled.  Some sources have misinterpreted this information and claim that Fisher Body built the actual aircraft in Plant 21 in downtown Detroit.  The contract was for tooling and parts, not entire aircraft.

(1,500) FG-4 Engine Cowlings.  The FG-4 was to be the Goodyear built version of the Vought F4U-4 Corsair which never went into production.

Aircraft Instruments - (168,400) Gyro Horizons, (124,700) Directional Gyros, (46,615) Compass Transmitters, (76,291) Compass Indicators. For the Bendix Air Position Indicator Ternstedt Division produced (4,724) analog computers, (4,716) pumps and (9,425) right angle drives.

Tanks, Tank Destroyers and Prime Movers:  (11,358) M4 Series Tanks, (1,799) T28E3, T26E4, M26 Tanks, (5,368) M10 Tank Destroyers, (487) M36 Tank Destroyers, (40) M39 Prime Movers.

For the complete story of Fisher Body tank production, please view the Grand Blanc Tank Arsenal page.


The Fisher Body built M4A3 on display in downtown Bastogne.  Registration Number 3081532 was one of 339 M4A3 Sherman tanks built in the Fisher Body Tank Arsenal in Grand Blanc, MI in March of 1944.  Author's photo added 4-6-2015.


  The M4A3 Sherman tank was powered by a Ford V-8 engine and was armed with a 75mm cannon.  It was one of 1,711 M4A3s that were built by Fisher Body between February and September of 1944.  Author's photo added 4-6-2015.


This period photo shows a Fisher Body built M4A3 tank that was also hit by enemy fire in the Bastogne area.  3081563 was another of the 339 M4A3 tanks built in March of 1944 at the Fisher Tank Arsenal in Grand Blanc, MI.  Between February of 1944 and March of 1945 Fisher Body built 3,071 M4A3 Sherman tanks.  Photo courtesy of the Patton Museum.


The 2014 movie Fury with Brad Pitt featured a Fisher Body built M4A2E8 Sherman Tank as the other co-star. 



Fisher Body also built 5,368 M10 Tank Destroyers like this at its Grand Blanc, MI tank plant.  This one was totally restored by the Virginia Military Vehicle Museum in 2016 and was photographed at its annual open house. .  Author's Photo added 10-24-2016.


This is an M26 Pershing tank that is on display at Fort Jackson, SC in front of the US Army's Basic Combat Training Museum.  Fisher Body built 1,799 Pershings between November 1944 and June 1945 at Grand Blanc, MI.   The M26 was designed with a 90mm main gun to be able to be better able to defend itself against the newer German tanks.  The first twenty Pershings sent to Europe were all Fisher Body built, and saw the majority of the action of the 300 that eventually arrived in the theatre.  Author's photo added 9-22-2015.

Tank and Tank Destroyer Components - (2,245) M18 turrets, (1,511) M18 hulls, conversion of (600) older M18s into M39 prime movers and the new construction of (40) new M39s.  (1,798) M8 turrets and (4,962) M5 turrets.  (600) anti-aircraft turrets for the Staghound armored car.  (3,554) M24 hulls.  (100) M8 tank turrets modified for use in LVT's by the Navy.

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Fisher Body supplied (2,245) turrets and (1,511) hulls for the (2,507) Buick assembled M18 Hellcat tank destroyer.  Fisher Body also removed the turrets from (600) older M18s to make them into M39 primer movers.  It also made forty brand new M39s.   Author's Photo added 5-12-2015.


For the (3,592) M24 Chaffee tanks M24 Cadillac assembled, Fisher Body produced (3,554) of the hulls.   Author's Photo added 5-12-2015.


Cadillac produced (1,824) M5 and (4,726) M5A1 Stuart tanks and Fisher Body (4,962) M5 and M5A1 turrets.  Author's Photo added 5-12-2015.

Armament - (2,359) 90mm AA guns, (550) 120mm (4.7inch) M1 AA Guns (550 was the total amount of these weapons produced during the war.), (6,342) Breech Housings for 5in Naval guns, (480) 5 inch gun mounts, (9,459) Breech Housings for 3 inch Naval Guns, (888) cradles and arcs and (1,053) yokes for 155mm "Long Tom" artillery pieces, (1,500,000) Parts for 20mm Cannons for Oldsmobile  (551,772) 155mm shells, (2,000,000) incendiary bomb noses and (200,000) 4.5 inch rocket fins.


Photographed at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN, this three inch Naval gun as one of 9,459 breech housings produced by the weapon by Fisher Body between February 1942 and September 1944.  Author's photo added 5-6-2015.


Here is a close-up of the 584 lb breech housing with the Fisher Body name stamped on to the side.  This is serial number 2,722 of 9,459 produced by Detroit Die and Machine Unit.  Author's photo added 5-6-2015.


This 90mm anti-aircraft gun is located at the National Electronics Museum in the Baltimore, MD area. Fisher Body produced 2,359 90mm weapons like this between June of 1944 and May of 1943.  Author's photo added 10-24-2016.


Author's photo added 10-24-2016.

Other - (9,353) crankcases for marine Diesel engines, (140) planers, (250) vertical boring machines, (48) horizontal mills, and (25) drilling and tapping machines; (50,000) cutting tools.


Fisher Body built diesel crankcases were used in the Cannon Class Destroyer Escorts.  The USS Slater located in Albany, NY is the only Cannon Class DE still in existence.  Photo added 10-24-2016 and courtesy of Bill Maloney.


Note that the Body has been X'd out and Armament has replaced it for the duration of WWII.  B-29s originally staged out of China for attacks on Japan so hence the Chinese boy pictured here.


 


Five inch gun parts were made in Lansing by Fisher Body.


Next in series:  Fisher Body Craftsmanship goes to War
 

 

 

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