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  


The Power to Win
Detroit Diesel Division of General Motors in World War Two / WWII
Detroit, MI
1938-1988 as part of GM. 
Currently it is the Detroit Diesel Corporation.

This page updated 1-8-2017.

Detroit Diesel World War Two / WWII Production Numbers / Statistics:  Detroit Diesel built an estimated 193,000 engines during the Second World War.  These included one, two, three, four and six cylinder two stroke in-line diesel engines for military use in four types of tanks and tank destroyers, eleven different types of landing craft, and unknown number of applications providing auxiliary ship's power, engines for stationary generators, tugboat propulsion, and earth moving equipment.  

The only reliable World War Two production numbers available are from the current Detroit Diesel Corporation website, which states that 57,892 engines were built in 1943. General Motors data indicates the Corporation as a whole built 198,000 diesel engines during the war.  My research indicates that Electro-Motive and Cleveland Diesel combined built 5,000 diesel engines which gives the 193,000 estimated for Detroit Diesel.  My research also indicates that the six cylinder 6-71 engine was the major model produced of the five sizes for military use.  Below are tables that show the usage in tanks in which 43,060 6-71 engines used and another 54,033 6-71 engines were utilized in landing craft for both propulsion and ship's power.  This leaves another estimated 95,907 Detroit Diesel engines built during the Second World War where I have not been able to identify the application.  Note number of engines provided for landing craft just about equaled a year's production at the rate obtained in 1943.

Detroit Diesel engines were in high demand and in some cases as is shown in the table below gasoline powered engines had to be substituted by landing craft builders.  Even in far away Australia the Detroit Diesel was in demand by the Army and Air Force for their 40 foot utility boats.  Only when Detroit Diesel engines became available out of scrapped tanks in the country could they get some.

Detroit Diesel employed around 4,300 employees during the war.

Detroit Diesel Division of General Motors won the Army-Navy "E" Award one time during WWII.

Nomenclature Confusion:  Sometimes in the current literature the Detroit Diesel will be referred to as a GM or GMC diesel.  The GMC Truck and Coach Division (Previously Yellow Truck and Coach until mid-1943 was a company in which GM had majority stock holdings.) did not make diesel engines.  Before and after WWII Yellow Truck and Coach / GMC used Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines in the Silversides Greyhound buses it was making.  GMC or previously Yellow only built gasoline powered engines.  If just identified as a GM diesel engine it would still be a Detroit Diesel.

General Motors Diesel Power:  GM had four diesel divisions during the Second World War.  Detroit Diesel that built 15 to 250 hp diesels, Cleveland Diesel that built 150 to 2,000 hp diesels, Electro-Motive that built locomotive some ship diesels, and the Diesel Equipment Division that supplied components for the other three divisions.  As can be seen in the ads below, GM combined the marketing of the engine producing divisions together, although the one ad is all about Detroit Diesel producing its 100,000th engine for the war effort.

Detroit Diesel World War Two Engines

Model Displacement (Cubic Inches) Cylinders Maximum Horsepower Comments
1-71 71 1 10  
2-71 142 2 68 Inline Engine
3-71 213 3 113 Inline Engine
4-71 284 4 160 Inline Engine
6-71 426 6 238 Inline Engine

The basic Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine.  35,351 of these provided the basis for powering 20,855 tanks and tank destroyers as singles or in pairs.  It also supplied the basic building block for 33,549 landing craft as singles and quads with 54,033 6-71s.

Detroit Diesel 6046 engines coming down the assembly line.  They would be used in the M3, M4A2 and M10.

This M4A2(76)HVSS is Fisher Body Grand Blanc Tank Arsenal serial number 69192 and registration number 30129671, was built in April 1945 and was powered by the Detroit Diesel 6046 engine.  It can be seen outside the Beatty Street Drill Hall in Vancouver, BC.  It was one of 7,508 M4A2s built by Fisher Body.  Photo courtesy of David Jackson, Jr.

This is one of 4,993 M10 Tank Destroyers that was powered by two 6-71 225 hp diesel engines driving one driveshaft designated the 6046 that was built by the Fisher Body Division of GM at its Tank Arsenal in Grand Blanc, MI.  Fisher Body built M10s were deployed overseas while the Ford built M10A with a gasoline engines stayed in the US during the war.  Consequently, any M10 seen in a photo in combat in Europe or the Pacific was powered by Detroit Diesel.  This is one of 1,648 that was provided to the British during 1944 and 1945 and is also one of 1,017 that was converted to an M10C with a British 17 pounder main gun to replace the original 3 inch gun.  The 17 pounder can be identified by the long barrel and the distinctive muzzle brake.  As this was a British operated M10C the US stars on the vehicle are incorrect.  Author's photo from the Bastogne Historical Center in Belgium added 10-12-2015.

The Free French army in Europe operated 255 Detroit Diesel powered M10s and the USSR received fifty-two of them in 1943. Author's photo added 10-12-2015.

This is one of 3.981 Valentine tanks built in both Canada and Great Britain that used a Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine.   Author's Photo from the Canadian War Museum added 1-8-2017.

Detroit Diesel Engine World War Two Tank Applications

Armored Vehicle Number built Type Engine Engines per tank Total Engines 6-71 Engines per tank  Total 6-71 Engines Comments
British  and Canadian Valentine 3,981 6-71 1 3,981 1 3,981  
M3 Grant/Lee 913 6046 1 913 2 1,826 The  6046 was two 6-71 engine blocks working together as on power plant,
M4A2 Sherman Tank 10,968 6046 1 10,968 2 21,936 This was about 20% of the total M4 Sherman production in WWII.  Due to the fact the US Army preferred gasoline powered tanks that was the fuel it normally used in its vehicles.  The Detroit Diesel powered M4A2 Shermans served either with the USMC, which had access to US Navy diesel fuel, or were sent overseas as part of Lend Lease.
M10 Tank Destroyer 4,993 6046 1 5,368 2 10,736 The M10 Tank Destroyer was a US Automobile Industry product being built by the GM Fisher Body Division at Grand Blanc, MI.
Totals 20,855     20,855   38,479 This does not include any spares.

The Landing Craft, Vehicle Personal (LCVP)

The LCVP, or the Higgins Boat, named after its inventor, Andrew Jackson Higgins was considered by Dwight D Eisenhower to be one of the most important weapons of World War Two.  This is because its low draft which allowed it to come right up on to the beach and then with it innovative drop ramp at the front let the assault troops to exit forward right on to the beach.  With previous type landing craft the troops had to climb up over the sides, which with with heavy combat packs was difficult and then the jumping on to the beach or into the water near the beach could bring broken bones or drowning.  While it concept seems obvious, in retrospect it was truly a game changer for allied forces.  (Actually it was based on Japanese landing craft that already had the ramps in the front of the craft.) 

23,353 LCVPs were built in the United States during WWII by Higgins Industries, Chris-Craft and this one shown here constructed by Owens Yacht, which is one of only eighteen original LCVPS still in existence.  And what makes this LCVP significant, owned by the Roberts Armory in Rochelle, IL, is that it was one of the 19,353 that came equipped with a Gray Marine/Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine.  Charles Roberts, owner of Roberts Armory, which is a private museum, has done a remarkable job of restoring this all wooden vessel to the way it looked when it was built in 1945.  This was one of 2,000 built by Owens.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

The LVCP was 36 feet long, made of plywood and could transport a 32 man infantry platoon directly to the beach.  The engine was at the rear of the craft.  Charles Roberts allowed me to photograph the engine bay with its Gray Marine/Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine when I visited the museum on Memorial Day, 2015.  Due to high winds he did not take the tarp completely off as he normally does to let the public look at the landing craft.  I thank Charles for taking the time to show me and let me photogragh the engine.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

Standing in the right rear of the engine bay first photographed was the coxswain's station with steering wheel, the throttle and a few gauges.  Note that there is a simple throttle linkage that runs across the front of the engine, in front of the water to water to water/alcohol heat exchanger.  Then it connects to the governor on the side of the engine.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

The governor has two settings, "Normal" at the right top, and then "Battle" which is partially obscured by the shadow of the set screw shadow.   Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

The front of the LCVP and engine are to the right.  At the bottom of the photo is the air intake and filter, then the Roots supercharger with a Delco-Remy Plant Five rotor, the engine block and then on far side in the exhaust.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

Looking from front to back one can see the name Gray Marine on the front.  While Detroit Diesel provided the operating engine, Gray provided the water to water/alcohol heat exchanger with its name on it.  Over 95% of the content of the engine was provided by Detroit Diesel.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

Looking down at the rear of the engine with the fuel system on the left and the exhaust on the right.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

This photo looks down at the back of the engine from the right or starboard side of the LCVP.  Author's photo added 9-18-2015.

Surprisingly there are three Detroit Diesel powered LCVPs in the state of Illinois.  This one is thought to be the oldest surviving of its type and is located at the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, IL.  Author's photo added 10-9-2015.

Here is the Detroit Diesel engine from the rear of the engine bay.  Author's photo added 10-9-2015.

Author's photo added 10-9-2015.

The third original LCVP in Illinois is located at the Russell Military Museum in Zion, IL.  Note the armor plate on the craft.  This was built late in WWII and was used once for a landing in the Korean War.  After the war it was rebuilt and much of the original wood was replaced by fiberglass.  In was kept in the inventory until after WWII and then sold as surplus.  Even thought much if it is now fiberglass the engine is still a Detroit Diesel 6-71.  Author's photo added 10-9-2015.

Both the engine and the boat itself are in rough condition due to being out in the elements but the name Detroit Diesel still stands out.  Author's photo added 10-9-2015.

This LCVP is on display during the summer months at the Mott Military Museum in Groveport, OH.  It also has a Detroit Diesel 6-17 marine engine as the power plant.  Author's photo added 12-24-2015.

This replica of a World War Two LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle Personal) seen at the National World War Two Museum in downtown New Orleans represents the single most prolific application of Detroit Diesel engines in that conflict. Author's photo.

The National World War Two Museum used World War Two drawings to re-create this LCVP of which most were built by Higgins Industries in New Orleans during the WWII.  The Detroit Diesel engine would go in the engine bay right behind the fire extinguisher. Author's photo.

The Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 Marine Engine:  In looking at the literature that describes the type engines used in many of the landing craft of the Second World War, they are described as a Gray Marine 225 hp diesel engine.  The LCVP pictured above on display at the National World War Two Museum on its information placard states the engine is a Gray Marine.  However, further investigation into the limited information available 70 years after the fact indicates that Gray Marine modified Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines for marine use on landing craft.  In reading the December of 1943 "Detroit Diesel Fights" booklet below one can see that the Division takes ownership of the diesel engines being used during the Second World War.  My opinion is that because that Gray was the last one to "touch" the modified Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine purchased by the military from Gray, it was identified as such.  However, Detroit Diesel built up the engines in its plant and probably had 95% of the content in the final product.  Therefore in the information on this page I have designated it as the Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 to show that Gray modified the Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine.  They both get credit for their portion of the final product. 

Also the current literature shows the Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as a 225 hp engine rather than the 238 maximum hp shown in the table above.  The 225 hp was a net hp rating.

Detroit Diesel Engine World War Two Landing Craft Applications

Type Landing Craft Number built Type Engine Engines per Landing Craft Landing Craft using Detroit Diesel Engines for propulsion Number of Detroit Diesel Engines for propulsion Number of 6-71  for ship's power 6-71 Engines Usage 2-71 Engine  Usage Comments
LCP(L) 2,193 Various including Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 1 1,097 1,097   1,097   Assumes 50% Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as that was the preferred engine.
LCP(R) 2,572 Various including Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 1 1,286 1,286    



  Assumes 50% Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as that was the preferred engine.
LCV 2,366 Various including Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 1 1,183 1,183    



  Assumes 50% Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as that was the preferred engine.
LCVP 23,353 Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 or Hudson built Hall-Scott 210 hp gasoline powered Invader 1 19,353 19,353   19,353   Some LCVPs received the Hudson built Hall-Scott 210 hp gasoline powered Invader engines due to the fact Detroit Diesel could not supply all of the engines the military was requesting.  Hudson built 4,000 of these so I have used that number to subtract from 23,353.
LCM(3) 8,631 Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 or
Kermanth 100 hp six cylinder gasoline engines
2 4,223 8,446   8,446   Assumes 50% Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as that was the preferred engine.
LCM(4) 2,718 Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 or
Kermanth 100 hp six cylinder gasoline engines
2 2,039 4,078   4,078   Assumes 75% Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as that was the preferred engine.
LCM(6) 2513 Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 or
Kermanth 100 hp six cylinder gasoline engines
2 1,885 3,770   3,770   Assumes 75% Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 as that was the preferred engine.
LCT(5) 470
Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71
3 470 1,410   1,410    



960 Gray Marine 64HN9/Detroit Diesel 6-71 3 960 2,880  



LCI(L) 923 Detroit Quad Diesels (6051) 2 923 1,846 1,846 9,230 1,846 The 6051 was the designation for four 6-71s tied together.  The ship's power on the LCI was provided by two 2-71 engines driving 20KW generators.
LCS(L) 130 Detroit Quad Diesels (6051) 2 130 260 260 1,300 260 The ship's power on the LCS(L) was provided by two 2-71 engines driving 20KW generators.  There is still on LCS(L) in existence at Mare Island in San Francisco, CA.  See the links page for more information.
LST 1,052 Detroit Diesel 6-71 3 1,052 0 3,156 3,156   The ship/s power on the LST was provided by three 6-71 engines driving 100KW generators.
Totals 47,881     34,601 45,609 5,316 57,189 2,106 This does not include any spares.  Also, this is almost a year's production for Detroit Diesel during the WWII.
Type Landing Craft Number built Type Engine Engines per Landing Craft Landing Craft using Detroit Diesel Engines Number of Detroit Diesel Engines Number of 6-71  for ship's power 6-71 Engines Usage 2-71 Engines Usage Comments

This is the original Quad Four of Engine that was originally developed by Electro-Motive Division in LaGrange, IL in February of 1942.  After it was proven feasible Detroit Diesel picked up the manufacturing for use in the LCI(L) and LCS.

An LCI(L) that used two 6051 Quads for eight 6-71s providing propulsion to two propellers and then two more Detroit Diesel 6-71s running generators to provide electrical power for the rest of the ship's power.  The LCI(L) could carry an entire army infantry company and deliver it to the beach, ready for combat as a unit.

Here an LCT unloads it cargo and a GMC 2-1/2 ton CCKW truck on the beach.  The LCT got to the beach powered by three Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines driving three propeller shafts.

1,052 Landing Ship Tanks (LST) utilized three 6-71 Detroit Diesel engines for ship's power.  Half of the LSTs had propulsion provided by GM's Electro-Motive Division as is this one, the only LST still operating.  LST-325 is seen here just a mile downstream from her berth along the Ohio River in Evansville in June of 2015.  Author's Photo added 10-12-2015.

This ad has an artist's rendition of one of the 1,052 LST's that were equipped with three Detroit Diesel 6-71s for ship's power landing an M10 Tank Destroyer that was powered by two Detroit Diesel 6-71s.  All M10s deployed overseas were powered by the 6-17 engine.

Detroit Diesel Fights
This 42 page booklet put out by Detroit Diesel in December of 1943 shows in its own words how it is contributing to the winning of World War Two.







Email us at:  Webmaster