Motors of Canada in World War Two / WWII
This page updated
General Motors of Canada, during WWII to
present, is still an assembly operation for vehicles designed by the GM car and
truck divisions located within the United States. During World War Two the
Canadian automobile industry supplied over 800,000 trucks for Great
Britain. The Canadians not only built vehciles and armaments in GM plants, but
also in Ford and Chrysler plants located in the country. GM of Canada had plants
and Oshawa Ontario, and Regina Saskatchewan. The Division included Canadian Modified Conventional Pattern
Trucks, which were basically civilian trucks for military use, and
Canadian Military Pattern Trucks that were designed and manufactured
specifically for military use.
This October 1942 photo shows the street
behind the GM of Canada office building in Oshawa, ONT lined with Otter
light reconnaissance cars and Canadian Pattern Military Trucks.
Oshawa built 1,781 of the Otters used by the British in
North Africa and Europe.
General Motors of Canada
World War Two / WWII Production Numbers
/ Statistics: (1,506) Mark 1 "Fox" Armored Cars, (1,781)
"Otter" Light Reconnaissance Cars, (3,961) GM CT15A Armored Trucks, Modified
Canadian Military Pattern Trucks, (201,000) Canadian
Military Pattern Trucks (CMPT), (1,032) De Havilland Mosquito aircraft
fuselages, machine guns, gun sights, anti-tank gun carriages, and
tooling for naval gun mounts and 3.7 cm anti-aircraft gun carriages.
Oshawa, ONT - All of the vehicles were built
in this plant. A close read of page 16 of "The Motor Car Business
makes Victory its Business" below indicates that the Oshawa tool room
made the tooling and fixtures for the 3.7 cm anti-aircraft gun carriages
which were then supplied to another company. It also states that
Oshawa supplied tooling and fixtures to an un-named Montreal which was first to
make mounts for naval guns.
Border Cities plant in Windsor, ONT - This was a Canadian government
owned plant managed by GM of Canada. Built in 1942, the plant
produced Browning machine guns. The caliber of the weapons is not
clear. Only one source states that the weapons were .50 caliber;
other sources say do not give a caliber. Photos shown below in the
"The Motor Car Industry Makes Victory its Business" also do not reveal
the caliber, claiming it is a government secret. There are no
photos showing the actual finished product allowing the weapon to be identified as either a .50
or .303 caliber machine gun. The plant built 25,000 of the machine guns.
Walkerville plant in Windsor, ONT - This plant was adjacent to the Border
Cities plant and was first used by GM of Canada in 1919. During
WWII it produced naval gun mounts.
Regina, Saskatchewan - Normally a car
assembly plant this location produced gun carriages for anti-tank guns.
The gun carriage for the 6 pounder was one of them. More
information can be found in the "The Motor Car Industry Makes Victory
its Business" below.
GM of Canada built the Chevrolet 3 ton 4x2
trucks used by the famous Long Range Desert Group in North Africa.
This particular model is a radio truck with a Boys 20mm anti-tank gun
De Havilland Mosquito KA 114 is one of 1,032
of this type built by De Havilland during the Second World Warat its Downsview plant in Toronto,
Ontario. The aircraft was constructed mostly of wood, including
the fuselages made by
General Motors of Canada. The only flying Mosquito in the world, KA114, is seen here at the 2013 Hamilton,
This Mosquito all wood fuselage built by the
Mosquito Bomber Group was on display at the 2006 Selfridge Air National
Guard Base Airshow. GM of Canada made 1,032 wooden fuselages like
this during WWII. Author's photo added 12-24-2015.
This GM of Canada advertisement states that it
is the builder of the all wooden fuselages for the Canadian built
Mosquitoes. It is unknown which plant built the fuselages.
This 1941 Chevrolet three ton truck
was built in Oshawa, Ontario as a service truck for the RAF . Due to
the loss of 75,000 of its 80,000 vehicles at Dunkirk, trucks like these
became very important to the British in rebuilding its national stock of
trucks. Manufacturing continued until 1943. Because the trucks
were not four-wheel-drive, many, like this one, were used by the RAF at
its airfields. As seen at the National Military History Center in
For some reason, when the truck axles were lifted off the floor for
display, the truck did not end up level.
Note that this has right hand steering.
This two page magazine advertisement from
shows all of the vehicles Oshawa produced at that time for the
Commonwealth military forces.
Above (L-R) are water color
renderings of a four wheel drive service truck, a gas tank truck, a
general transport truck, a water tank purifier truck, a staff car and an
aircraft gas truck.
Starting at the top and working across and
down is an army stores truck, wireless truck, collision
truck, RCAF ambulance, workshop on wheels, RCAF fire truck, dump truck,
broadcast and receiving truck and then 36 others on the "secret" list.
One of those is the armored ambulance pictured below.
This armored ambulance was built late in the
war and could carry four stretchers.
The Canadian War Museum in downtown Ottawa
has an armored ambulance on display. Author's Photo added
Author's Photo added 1-8-2017.
Author's Photo added 1-8-2017.
This Fox Armored Car seen at 2009 Windsor,
Ontario Airshow that was designated as a GM MK.1 was another product of
GM of Canada. Chevrolet designed the chassis, GMC Division supplied the
270 cubic inch gas powered engine from the US, and final assembly was done by GM of
The Fox armored car was built during 1943.
3,961 CT15A GM of Canada Armored Trucks like
this one were built in 1944 and 1945 for service with
British Empire armies. This would have been another of the 36
"secret" trucks referred to in the 1943 advertisement above.
"The Motor Car Industry
Victory its Business"
This short eighteen page
monograph, published by GM of Canada in December of 1942, gives an
excellent overview of what the Canadian auto industry was doing to
support the war effort. Canada had been
supporting Great Britain with desperately needed military vehicles and
weapons for several years by this time. The monograph is a reprint of an
article that appeared in the December 1942 issue of Canadian Geographic.
It generally describes the actions of the entire Canadian
auto industry; it uses GM as the prime example.
The pages below provide information
and photos of the Otter light reconnaissance car that was being built in
Oshawa during 1942. The article also notes that the GM plant in
Regina, Saskatchewan was producing gun carriages for six pounder
anti-tank guns. The Border Cities Industries plant of GM Canada is
identified as the producer of Browning machine guns. The caliber
of the weapons is not revealed as it is considered in 1942 to be a
military secret. While some sources indicate these were .50 caliber
machine guns, they may very well have been the .303 caliber Browning
used in great numbers by the Commonwealth militaries. McKinnon
Industries Limited, which was separate from GM of Canada as a subsidiary
of GM, is identified as producing fuses for the war effort
This photo shows the heavy duty front wheel
drive of the Otter.
Half of the items listed on this page were
built by GM of Canada. Those known to have been built by this
Division include armored vehicles, transport vehicles, Browning machine
guns, fuses, aircraft fuselages and gun carriages.
Coming down the assembly line are two of the
1,781 Otter light reconnaissance vehicles that were produced by GM of
Canada at its Oshawa plant.
Eleven of the Otters have been equipped
with their standard armament of a Bren gun. Others were also armed with a Boys 20mm
The Regina plant of GM of Canada during 1942
produced the carriages for the six pounder anti-tank gun. The photo
below implies that the plant also built carriages for types of anti-tank
gun, which could have been for the 17 pounder among others.
The machine is either boring
out the barrel or rifling the bore itself. Using multi-spindle
machines such as this one sped up production. The last paragraph of the text
introduces McKinnon Industries, which was separate from GM of Canada as
a subsidiary of GM as themanufacturer of fuses for the military.
This 1942 photo of the final assembly
line for fuses at McKinnon Industries. It had a run rate is 375 units per hour.
This is one of two conveyors producing fuses for the
military at a combined output of 750 per hour.
Truck chassis and Otters are seen here after
coming off the assembly line at Oshawa.