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   Saginaw Steering Gear   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:
   B.F. Goodrich    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   Cleveland Plant #1    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

Surviving Fisher Body Plants - General Motors Corporation in World War Two
Detroit Die and Machine Plant (Fisher Body Plant #23)
1920-19??

This page updated 8-25-2017.

The Fisher Body Die and Machine plant on Piquette Avenue covered an entire city block between Beaubien and Hastings Streets in the Milwaukee Junction area of Detroit.  Parts of the plant still exist today.

Fisher Body Die and Machine Plant World War Two / WWII Production Numbers / Statistics:  B-25, B-29, P-80 aircraft tools and fixtures; M4, M10, M36, M26, M18 tank parts; 3 inch and  5 inch Naval Gun Breech Housings, 155mm and 8 inch Gun parts, Diesel Engine parts and Torqmatic Transmission parts.


The Tool and Die plant in the 1950s'.  This photo is looking southwest with Piquette Avenue on the left.  The building in the photo below is in the upper left and is the southwest corner.


This is the former Fisher Body Detroit Die and Machine Plant at the corner of Piquette Avenue and Beaubien Street in Detroit, MI.  It is still in use as a stamping plant under a new owner.  Author's Photo.


The Die and Machine Plant was the first auto company to receive the Navy "E" for Excellence award.  It would add six stars and keep its original Navy "E" Award instead of converting it to the new Army-Navy "E" for Excellence award.

The original award (flag) was received in November 1941 for being "ahead of schedule production" of five inch naval gun breeches.
The first star came six months later for "steady production" five inch naval gun breeches of in May 1942.
The second star was added for "uninterrupted production" five inch naval gun breeches on November 10, 1942.
Four more stars were added at later dates during the war.

Only 4,283 plants out of 86,000 were awarded either a Navy or Army-Navy "E" for Excellence awards during the war.  The Fisher Body Die and Machine plant was one of only eight plants to be awarded six stars, the most ever given.


The Navy "E" flag with six stars.

Naval Five Inch Gun Breech Housings for the US Navy:  The order to Fisher Body was originally made in September, and called for a production rate of 25 units per month.  In April 1942 the first shipment was made. From that point on, the Die and Machine plant was always ahead of the Navy schedule, hence the record number of Navy awards.  In July 1943, 170 breech housings were coming off the assembly line.  A total of 6,342 housings were shipped during the conflict, with Fisher Body Grand Rapids starting production in March 1944.

Naval skeptics did not believe that the Die and Machine Plant could produce 25 units per month when its own Naval Gun Factory could only turn out five per month.  It seemed impossible to the skeptics that Fisher Body could machine down an original 6,100 pound rough forging to a finished weight of 2,932 pounds, to which 217 other components had to be added.  But the mass production expertise of Fisher Body made it all possible.


The main armament on US Navy destroyers during WWII was the five inch, 38 caliber gun, for which the Fisher Body Die and Machine plant supplied the breech housings.  The USS Kidd on display in Baton Rouge, LA is armed with four 5 inch main guns.  Author's photo.

The five inch 38 caliber naval gun was also used on cruisers, battleships, and aircraft carriers.  It could either be used against other ships, for land bombardment, or for anti-aircraft defense.  It was the most versatile weapon used by the US Navy during WWII.

Naval Three Inch Gun Breech Housings for the US Navy:  The Die and Machine Plant also produced 9,459 three inch naval breech housings starting in April of 1942, at a rate of 100 per month.  This run rate was achieved four months ahead of schedule and one month before the first one was contracted to be shipped!  The three inch guns were used on 2,710 Liberty ships, 534 Victory ships, 1,050 LSTs, 97 Evarts Class Destroyer Escorts, 105 Buckley Class Destroyer Escorts, and 72 Cannon Class Destroyer Escorts.  The three inch gun was also used on various types of merchant shipping during the war.

The Mark 2 three inch/50 caliber gun was served by a seven man crew, and had a muzzle velocity of 2,100 feet per second.  It had a maximum range of 14,000 yards against surface targets and could reach 30,000 feet when used against aircraft.  With a well trained crew, it could fire 18 rounds per minute.

The USS Slater DE-766:  I was able to visit the USS Slater in August of 2017.  This is the best ship's tour I have been on!  The guided tour of the top side of the ship was most informative.  Beside finding the Fisher Body 3 inch gun breech, I was also found a GM Pontiac Division 20mm Orelikon on the tour.  I then paid for the engine room tour to view the seven GM Cleveland Diesel engines onboard.  Also found in the engine room were two GM Harrison Radiator heat exchangers.

I highly recommend anyone interested in WWII, or naval history to visit this excellently preserved ship.  It is the most complete of the WWII ships I have visited.


The Number 1 three inch/50 on the USS Slater DE-766 has a Fisher Body built breech.  The USS Slater is on display along the Hudson River water front in Albany.  It is the only Cannon Class Destroyer Escort on display in the world.  Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


The tour guide encouraged those on the tour to get on the gun mount and operate the elevation and transverse controls.  Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


This is Fisher Body three inch breech serial number 13324.  Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


The tour guide showed the size of the three inch round to my tour group.  Author's photo added 8-25-2017


Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


This is one of the few three inch guns I have seen that has the range setting device on it.  By inserting the round into the device, the crew could then use the hand crank to set the range for anti-aircraft fire.  Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


Author's photo added 8-25-2017.


The ranger finder's scale runs from 0 to 30 which was 0 to 30,000 feet in altitude when the 3 inch gun was used as an anti-aircraft weapon.  Its maximum range for a surface target was 14,000 yards.  Author's photo added 8-25-2017.

LST-393:


The LST-393 located at Muskegon, MI, is one of only two LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) on display in the United States.  The LST is identifiable by its bow doors, which allowed it to unload vehicles and troops directly to an invasion beach.  A total of 1,051 were built during WWII.  LST-393 is 328 feet long and is 50 feet wide and was designed to deliver tanks and other vehicles directly to an invasion beachhead.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


LST-393 was launched on November 11, 1942 in Newport News, VA and saw service at Sicily, Salerno, and Omaha Beach in Normandy.  Sicily was the first utilization of the LST in combat.  LST-393 delivered 3,248 vehicles and 9,000 plus soldiers during WWII.  Many of the vehicles and troops were landed during the 30 round trips LST-393 made to Normandy.  It also returned to England 10,000 wounded troops and 5,000 German POWs.

The LST was one of the most important weapons in WWII.  The Normandy Invasion was originally scheduled May 1, 1944.  General Eisenhower delayed the operation one month until June in order to obtain a few more LSTs for the landings.  Because the invading forces had no ports in Normandy to unload heavy equipment and supplies, much of it would have to be unloaded out of the open bow doors of LSTs on the beach.   A total of 245 LSTs were used at Normandy, still five short of the 250 originally planned.  But the invasion of Europe could wait no longer.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


On the port side gun position is a three inch naval gun with a Detroit Tool and Machine Plant breech.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


In normal practice during WWII, the three inch/50 caliber gun would be mounted on the fantail gun tub at the rear of the LST.  Since LST-393 was used as a car ferry on Lake Michigan from 1946 until 1973, the ship was highly modified from its original configuration, and currently does not have a fantail gun tub.  The current owner, the USS LST-393 Preservation Association, took ownership of the LST in 2005 and has been working diligently to restore the ship to original configuration.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


This is serial number 2174.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


Just a few miles away from LST-393 another three inch naval gun with a Fisher Body Detroit Die and Machine Plant made breech is on display in front of the USS Silversides Museum.  The submarine USS Silversides is visible in the background.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


This is serial number 1914.  Author's photo added 8-17-2016.


Guarding the entrance to the parking lot of the Jeffersontown, KY Veterans Memorial Park are two three inch naval guns with Fisher Body Detroit Die and Machine Plant built breeches.  The weapon on the left, or west side of the entrance, is serial number 4803, and the one on the east side is serial number 2085  Author's photo added 3-10-2017.


Serial number 4803.  Author's photo added 3-10-2017.


Serial number 4803.  Author's photo added 3-10-2017.


Serial number 2085.  Author's photo added 3-10-2017.


Serial number 2085 was manufactured in 1942.  Author's photo added 3-10-2017.


Shown here is a three inch naval gun with a Fisher Body Die and Machine Plant breech, as seen at the Virginia War Museum.  Author's photo.


  This shows it weighs 511 lbs. and is serial number 13686.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This particular three inch Naval gun with a Die and Machine Plant breech housing is on display at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN.  Author's photo.


The serial number on the housing is 2728.  Author's photo.


Two three inch naval guns with Fisher Body breech assemblies flank an M60 tank at the American Legion in Shelburn, IN.  Author's photo. 


Author's photo.


This one is serial number 6008 and also weighs 511 pounds.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This is the weapon on the opposite side of the M60 in the first photo.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This three inch gun produced by Fisher Body Die and Machine is serial number 913, made in 1942.  Author's photo.


This ad shows the prominently marked Fisher Body three inch breech in action.


This ad shows the larger five inch 38 caliber gun Fisher Body breech housing.

The Fisher Body Die and Machine Plant was a busy place during World War Two.  Besides making nearly 15,000 naval gun breech housings, it made tooling for Army aircraft, parts for tanks, diesel engines and Torqmatic transmissions.

Aircraft tooling and fixturesB-25, B-29, P-80


Tooling and fixtures for the North American B-25 went to many Fisher Body plants, with Memphis being the main producer of B-25 structural components for the division.  Author's photo.


Fisher Body supplied several components to the Martin B-29 assembly plant in Omaha, NE.  The most famous B-29 to come off the assembly line at Omaha was the "Enola Gay."  The Die and Machine plant supplied tooling and fixtures that made components used in the  "Enola Gay."  Author's photo.


At the end of World War Two the US Air Force was starting to tool up for the production of the new Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star.  The Die and Machine Division of Fisher Body was contracted to make tooling for the engine intakes and wing tips.  Some sources indicate Fisher Body built or was going to build the entire aircraft.  This is incorrect.  In any event, the tooling was not finished when the war ended.  Author's photo.

M4, M10, M36, M26, M18 tank and tank destroyer parts:  Fisher Body in Grand Blanc, MI had a tank arsenal that built M4A2 and M4A3 Sherman tanks, the M10 and M36 Wolverine tank destroyers, and the M26 Pershing heavy tank.  The Die and Machine Plant in Detroit, MI supported this production with parts for these vehicles along with the Buick assembled M18 Hellcat.  However, Grand Blanc was the main supplier of hulls and turrets for the M18, and no doubt the Die and Machine plant supplied components for their construction.  Fisher Body supplied the majority of the turret assemblies for the M36 Jackson.  The Die and Machine plant supplied components for the M36 turret which was assembled at the Grand Blanc plant.

The Fisher Body Die and Machine Plant in Detroit supplied parts for the type tanks and tank destroyer show below.


This M4A2(76)HVSS is Grand Blanc serial number 69192 and registration number 30129671, built in April 1945.  It can be seen outside the Beatty Street Drill Hall in Vancouver, BC.  It was one of 7,508 M4A2s built in the plant.  Photo courtesy of David Jackson, Jr.


Of all of the Sherman tanks built during WWII, it is noteworthy that one built by Fisher Body in Grand Blanc, MI in March of 1944 has the honor of representing all of the M4s that participated in the Battle of the Bulge.  Registration Number 3081532 was one of 339 M4A3 Sherman tanks built in the Fisher Body Tank Arsenal in Grand Blanc, MI in March 1944.  Author's photo.


This is one of 5,368 M10 Tank Destroyers built at Grand Blanc, MI.  This late model, with no attachment "knobs" welded on the hull and turret for added armor plate, is located at the General George Patton Museum at Fort Knox, KY.  Author's Photo.


A rare national treasure!!!  This Fisher Body T26E3 built in Grand Blanc, MI was one of the five Pershings at the Remagen Bridge.  It is on display at the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, NH.  This excellent photograph was provided by Bill Malone. 


This M18 Hellcat is on display at the Buick Museum in Flint, MI, only a mile or two from where it was assembled.  Author's Photo.


  An M36 Jackson.  The M36 was built on the chassis of the Ford M10A1 Wolverine.  Fisher Body supplied the turrets to companies contracted with the conversions.  Author's photo added 12-27-2016.


 The Fisher Body built turret.  Author's photo added 12-27-2016.

155mm and 8 inch Gun parts, Diesel Engine parts and Torqmatic Transmission parts:  The Die and Machine plant was well diversified in the parts it built and the products or weapons in which they were utilized. 


Seen here is an M115 8 inch howitzer at the Camp Atterbury outside museum in Edinburgh, IN.  Author's Photo.


  This M114 155mm howitzer is also at the museum. In the background is a 1950's era Honest John missile and mobile launcher.  Author's photo.


The Detroit Diesel Division of General Motors built 193,000 diesel engines for many applications, including this one photographed in the engine bay of an LCVP landing craft.  Author's photo.


The Detroit Transmission Division of GM built the 950-T Torqmatic transmission used in the Buick M18 Hellcat tank destroyer.  It also built the Torqmatic transmission for the M26 Pershing built by both the Fisher Grand Blanc and Chrysler Tank Arsenals. 


This M18 Hellcat is on display at the Ropkey Armor Museum in Crawfordsville, IN.  Author's photo added 12-27-2016. .


Here is the Torqmatic transmission.  Author's photo added 12-27-2016.

"A Friendly Welcome to the Fisher Body Division Die and Machine Plant"

The following six page pamphlet was distributed to visitors for an open house held in the mid to late 1950s.  After the title page there is a three page history of Fisher Body, a page on employee benefits, and then the last page stating some facts and figures.

 

 

 

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