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   Serial Numbers for WWII Tanks built by 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   GMC   GMI   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 and Implement Manufacturers:   American LaFrance   Autocar  Diamond T   Caterpillar   Clark Equipment Company   Cleveland Tractor Company   Federal Motor Truck   International Harvester    Mack Truck
   Marmon-Herrington Company   Massey-Harris   Pacific Car and Foundry  Reo Motor Car Company   R.G. LeTourneau   Seagrave Fire Apparatus   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Automotive Tire
   B.F. Goodrich    Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
 Updates and Additions  


Buick built M18 Tank Destroyer Photos
Buick Motor Division of General Motors Corporation in World War Two / WWII
Flint, MI

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.

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, with  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.

(2,507) 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 engines.

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 persons.

 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.

   Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Buick M18 Hellcat Production
1943 Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 1944 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
  6 83 112 150 267 194   250 218 170 150 150 150 150 150 150 157


Buick M18 Hellcat in Europe 1944-1945 - Strength and Losses

  Jun44 Jul44 Aug44 Sept44 Oct44 Nov44 Dec44 Jan45 Feb45 Mar45 Apr45  May45 Total
Strength 146 141 176 170 189 252 306 312 448 540 427 427 Losses
Losses 0 0 6 6 14 7 44 27 16 21 55 21 217


Here a Buick built M18 Hellcat is in action in Europe.

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.

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 information.

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 10-12-2015.

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

Author's photo.

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 photo.

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
November 1944

Front Cover.

Inside Front Cover.

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Inside of Back Cover.

Back Cover.

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