Buick built M18 Tank
Motor Division of General
Motors Corporation in World War Two / WWII
This page added 12-5-2017.
The first races at the Indianapolis Speedway
were held in August of 1909 and included both 10 mile and 250 mile
events. Buick entered three cars, including this one. Indianapolis
Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Author's Photo.
In the 1909 races a driver by the name of
Louis Chevrolet was the driver that won the ten mile race and led for 52
miles in the main 250 mile race, which was won by one of the other Buick
vehicles. Author's Photo.
Buick Motor Division of GM
World War Two / WWII Production Numbers / Statistics: (74,198) Pratt & Whitney R-1830
and R-2000 radial aircraft
engines; Final assembly of the Buick R-1830, which was used exclusively
in the Consolidated B-24 bomber up through April 1944, was done at the its plant in Melrose Park, IL,
the machining and fabrication of components being shared between Melrose
Park and Flint operations. In April of 1944 Buick signed a
contract to continue building the R-1830 for the not only the B-24 but
also the C-47, and take on production of the
related R-2000 engine for use in the Douglas C-54. Production and
assembly of the R-2000 was undertaken at the Buick home plant in Flint.
It is unknown how of each type engine was completed by the end of the
war, although the vast majority would have been the R-1830. In
reality, probably only a few hundred or a thousand or so of the R-2000s
were built, due to the low number of C-54s built, and the late start in
the war on the production of the engine by Buick.
Note: Several sources indicate erroneously that the C-54 was
powered by R-2800 engine instead of the R-2000, which then leads to the
wrong assumption that Buick built R-2800 engines. Page 136 of the
1950 Pratt & Whitney published book entitled "The Pratt & Whitney Story"
clearly indicates that Buick built the R-2000, not the R-2800.
Only the C-54 used the R-2000 during World War Two.
M18 Tank Destroyers, ( 640) M39 Armored Tractors (M18 chassis converted,
not new production. All of the conversion work was subcontracted
to Fisher Body Grand Blanc, which did all of the work.), (19,928) M4, M10 and M26 transmissions and final
drive assemblies, (2,952) 90mm and 4.7 Anti-Aircraft Gun Mounts,
(148,196) Diesel Engine Crankshafts, (2,424,000) 75mm steel cartridge
cases, (1,149,300) 57mm shell bodies, (9,719,000) 20mm Shell Bodies,
(3,120,000) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Aluminum Cylinder Heads, (52,200) Aluminum Cylinder Blocks
for the Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine, (54,714) V-1650 Merlins
were built by Packard.), 204,500 Cylinder blocks and heads for Hercules
engines and (3,120,000) cylinder heads for the Pratt & Whitney aircraft
Buick Flint, MI won the Army-Navy "E" Award three times during World War Two.
Buick Melrose, IL won the Army-Navy "E" Award five times during World War Two.
The Pratt & Whitney R-1830 1,200 hp radial
aircraft engine as on display at the National World War Two Museum in
New Orleans, LA. Out the total 173,618 R-1830s that were built
during the war, Buick made close to 74,198 of them in the government
owned plant in Melrose Park, IL, west of Chicago. This was 43% of
the total. The engines built by Buick were used exclusively on the 18,190 Consolidated B-24s
until April 1944 when it was contracted to build R-1830s for the C-47. It should be noted that Chevrolet was built
R-1830s for the B-24 and C-47 also. Author's photo.
This shows a close-up of one of the fourteen
cylinders on the R-1830 with its cooling fins. Buick during the
course of the Second World War built 3.2 million plus cylinder heads for
Pratt & Whitney radial aircraft engines. What is not known but is
assumed is that they were all for the R-1830 engine. Only
1,038,772 of the cylinder heads would be needed for Buick's own engine production.
However, after sparkplugs, which were changed sometimes after every
combat mission, cylinder heads are next on the list of components
replaced on a radial engine. So an adequate amount of spares would
be required. See pages 2-3 and 12-13 below in "Buick at its Battle
Stations" for more information on this. Note how labor intensive
it was to make the fins on the castings.
Here a couple of Buick built engines are
running on B-24J Witchcraft. Author's photo from the 2011 Wings of
Freedom tour stop at Indianapolis Regional Airport.
Here Witchcraft powered by the Buick
built R-1830 engines does a fly-by. Author's photo.
Many C-47s built in the last year of the war
were powered by Buick built R-1830 engines. Author's photo.
This WWII era photo gives an aerial view of
the Melrose Park, IL, plant looking northwest. The photo below was
taken from the parking lot on looking in the same direction from the
parking lot on the east side. The complex covered 126 acres.
A contemporary photo the former Buick
aircraft engine plant in Melrose Park, IL where 74,198 Pratt & Whitney
R-1830 radial aircraft engines were assembled and tested before being
installed in B-24s and C-47 the last year of the war. Engines would have been shipped from this
location to B-24 assembly plants at Willow Run, MI, Tulsa, OK, Dallas,
TX, Fort Worth, TX and San Diego, CA. C-47s were built at Long
Beach, CA and Oklahoma City, OK. Author's photo.
When Buick operated the plant its name was
on the front. During WWII the plant had an employment of 10,000
With the landscaping that has been
added one can not get the same photo as above. Author's photo.
The Melrose Park plant was one of 19 plants
that General Motors operated during World War Two that were government
owned facilities built for the production of war material. After
the Second World War the 2,030,000 square foot plant was sold to
International Harvester by the War Assets Administration in 1946.
Since that time International Harvester, now Navistar has manufactured
six cylinder diesel engines in the facility. Author's photo.
The Douglas C-54. Buick at the end of
World War Two built an unknown number of Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engines
for this type aircraft. Author's photo added 1-24-2015 from the
2014 St. Louis Airshow.
This pristine example of a Buick built M18
"Hellcat" tank destroyer can be seen at the National Military Historical
Center in Auburn, IN. This vehicle is no longer at this location.
It is in Florida as of 2017. Author's photo.
Buick built 2,507 of these at its plant in Flint, MI. Author's photo.
Buick M18 Hellcat Production
Hellcat in Europe 1944-1945 - Strength and Losses
Here a Buick built M18 Hellcat is in action
This M18 can be seen at the Buick Museum in Flint, MI, just a couple of
miles away from where it was built. The factory that built it no
longer stands. This particular "Hellcat" was found in a junk yard
in Europe after having serving in conflicts in the Balkans at the end of
the 20th century. Author's photo.
See pages 3-7 below in "Buick at its Battle Stations" for more
information on the M18.
This M18 Hellcat tank destroyer is on
display at the AAF Tank Museum in Danville, VA and came to the museum
after also serving in Bosnia. Author's photo.
Buick built 2,952 mounts for 90mm anti-aircraft cannon like this.
See page 14 below in "Buick at its Battle Stations" for more
This is a photo of a Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine that Buick supplied
148,196 crankshafts for the approximately 190,000 engines built.
See page 15 below in "Buick at its Battle Stations" for more information
on the diesel crankshaft production.
Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines were installed in 19,353 LCVP landing craft like this
one seen at the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, IL. Buick built crankshafts
for the 6-71 engines which were instrumental in many American amphibious landings, especially
the famous one at Normandy. Author's photo added 10-12-2015.
Buick built148,196 crankshafts for the 6-71 so
this engine has a Buick crankshaft in it. Author's photo added
Detroit Diesel can be seen stamped on the
valve cover. Author's photo added 10-12-2015.
Not only did Buick manufactured crankshafts end up in landing craft but
M4A2 Sherman tanks that also had Detroit Diesel engines. Buick also
supplied 19,928 transmissions that not only powered the Fisher Body
built M4A2 and M4A3, but the M10 tank destroyer and M26 Pershing tank as
well. Author's photo.
On the M4A2s, M4A3s, M10s and M26s the
engines were in the rear with a driveshaft coming up through the center
of the tank to drive the treads from the front axle. Buick built
transmissions that transferred the power from the driveshaft to the
front axle like on this M20 tank destroyer. See page 9 below in
"Buick at its Battle Stations" for more information on the diesel
crankshaft production. Author's photo.
Buick produced 204,500 cylinder heads and
engine blocks for Hercules truck engines. One application of the
Hercules engine was this six cylinder JXD model that was used in the
Studebaker 2 &1/2 ton truck. Studebaker obviously had its name on
the intake manifold. The 320 cu. in. engine could produce 86 hp.
Author's photo from the National Military Historical Center, Auburn, IN
The Studebaker 2-1/2 ton truck on display at
the National Military Historical Center. This vehicle is no longer
at this location as of December 2017. Author's
This Packard Rolls-Royce V-1650 Merlin in front of a P-51 Mustang was
one of 54,714 engines that Packard built at its Detroit plant during the
Second World War. Buick supplied 52,200 aluminum cylinder blocks
of the 109,428 needed for the engines. Each engine had two blocks
of six cylinders that mounted on the crankcase. Author's photo at
the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH.
With still around 150 Mustangs still flying in the US, most likely many
of them have Buick built cylinder heads in their engines. The
Merlin was the best inline aircraft engine of WWII. Author's photo
Buick at its Battle Stations
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Find out more about Buick in WWII by visiting
my links page.