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  


 Detroit Diesel Division of General Motors Corporation in World War Two / WWII
Detroit, MI

This page added 1-3-2016.

"The Power to Win"
Detroit Diesel Division
This World War Two publication, published by the Detroit Diesel Division of General Motors, tells the important story of service after the engines left the manufacturing plant.  All engines, at one time or another, need to be repaired due to normal wear of the engine's parts.  In wartime, engine service is even more important, as the engines are used beyond their expected usage rates while performing in combat zones.

The description of the service organizations required and education provided for the service of the engines by military personnel was repeated not only by other GM Divisions, but many other companies providing technical products during WWII. 

The cover of the "Power to Win" emphasizes the importance of Detroit Diesel in powering various landing craft using its diesel engines during WWII.  Detroit Diesel engines were installed in 47,881 landing craft during the conflict.  All eleven different types of landing craft used by the US military in World War Two utilized the 6-71 engine.  The basic 6-71 engine was the the US Navy's engine of choice for powering landing craft; and the most important engine of its type for naval usage in WWII.

Author's note:  In a couple of the photos below, several types of landing craft are incorrectly described as "amphibians".  Amphibians were able to operate on both land and water, while landing craft could not.  In the Navy, the landing craft were part of an amphibious task force, which is where the confusion may lie.

Before going to Detroit and eventually becoming President of General Motors,  C.E. Wilson was the General Manager of the Delco-Remy Division in Anderson, IN.

Note that while the Division is identified as Detroit Diesel in the description above, the plant is actually identified as GM Diesel, as is the cover of this booklet.  While the Division was trying to assert its individual identity, the Corporation was working to have its entire three diesel producing divisions lumped under the Corporate banner.

In GM, everyone had to have a meeting.  At times myself and others went to so many meetings that it was difficult to get our assigned work completed.  Then, there had to be meetings to determine why nothing was getting done!

It is interesting that there is such a large number of Army mechanics trained on the twin Diesel tank engine, which was used in the M4A2 Sherman tank and the M10 Wolverine tank destroyer. With the exception of a few M4A2s that served with the US Army in Burma, and a small number with the US Marines in the Pacific, the rest of the diesel powered M4A2s were given to US allies under Lend-Lease.  There were only the 5,368 M10 tank destroyers for the Army mechanics to work on.

Detroit Diesel technical representatives serviced over 60 US Army forts and camps, over 80 Navy and Coast Guard bases and three Marine camps in the United States during WWII.

Most of the work by US Army mechanics, as noted above, would have been on the M10 tank destroyers.  The photo of the engine shows the two 6-71 engines joined together into what was designated the 4046 twin diesel engine.

This is the first of many photos showing military personnel working on Detroit Diesel engines.  In this and other photos below one can see many parts of the 6-71 engine in disassembly.

The Marines here are working on an M4A2 Detroit Diesel powered tank.

This is not an amphibian, but a small watercraft designed to unload its cargo at the waterline.  The US Army actually had its own Navy during WWII which included Landing Craft, Mechanized, or LCM as seen here.

The Landing Craft Infantry, or LCI, was powered by four 6-71 engines joined together in what was called the Quad.  Two powered each LCI.  The LCI could carry an infantry company and deliver it directly to the beach.

The US Coast Guard operated the famous Higgins boats, or Landing Craft, Personnel Vehicles, or LCVPs.  These were the assault boats that made the initial landings under fire on many beaches during WWII.  Each was powered by one Detroit Diesel 6-71 marine engine.

The Navy Engineers are being landed from LCIs, powered by two Detroit Diesel Quad engines.  Obviously this is a non-combat area, if the one sailor can land with a guitar rather than a rifle!

The term "officer" is misused here as these are enlisted men working on the engines, not officers.  Unlike officers, enlisted men have to work for a living!

This is a Quad in the engine room of an LCI and gives an excellent view of the rockers and valve springs on the 6-71.

During WWII 923 LCIs were built.  Each one had two of the Detroit Diesel Quads for providing power to the ship's two propellers.  The Quad engine was designated the 6051 in Detroit Diesel nomenclature.  To provide electrical service to the ship, two Detroit Diesel 2-71 two cylinder engines ran 20 kw generators.

Fourteen Landing Ship Tanks, or LSTs, along with three Landing Craft Tanks, or LCTs, can be seen loading for the next combat landing at a supply base.  The LSTs were powered by GM Electro-Motive diesel engines. But each LST had three Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines coupled to generators to supply ship's electrical power.  Each LCT was powered by three Detroit Diesel 6-71s; each one driving a propeller.

More great photos of Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines under going maintenance in the field.

For every combat soldier on the front line, there are ten others behind the line supporting his effort.  Many were mechanics keeping the Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines in top running order for tanks, tank destroyers and landing craft.

Return to Detroit Diesel Main page.




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