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  


New Departure Division of General Motors in World War Two / WWII
Bristol, CT
1889- 1965
Rest in Peace

New Departure Bearings was started in 1889, making it the oldest division in General Motors when it was purchased by GM in 1916. During WWII New Departure manufactured bearings for the war effort.  In 1965 it was combined with the Hyatt Bearing Division of GM and became the New Departure-Hyatt Bearing Division located in a new plant in Sandusky, OH.

New Departure was one of seventeen GM Divisions that was involved and supplied parts for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress during the Second World War. The B-29 was the most expensive of the wartime projects taken on by the US, and combined with the second most expensive Manhattan Project, ended the war with the dropping of the atomic bombs.  At a minimum New Departure supplied roller bearings for the sophisticated remote control gun control system and the Norden bombsight.

New Departure Division World War Two / WWII Production Numbers / Statistics:  New Departure continued to make the same product line during the Second World War as it did previously which was roller bearings.  Available data shows that in 1942 it made 67,376,111 bearings and in 1943 it made 85,321,043 bearings for the war effort.  Estimating that it made another 85 million in 1944 and then 50 million in 1945 as the war contracts were cancelled in August of 1945 New Departure probably made on the order of 287 million bearings for thousands of different uses in World War Two.  More can be learned about those military applications and its very interesting early history by reading the 1943 pamphlet below.

Bearing are ubiquitous.  They are used everywhere but we don't really think about them as they are invisible in rotating and oscillating a machinery.

New Departure Division, Plant A, Bristol, CT won the Army-Navy "E" award four times.
New Departure Division, Plant D, Meriden, CT won the Army-Navy "E" award four times.

New Departure Roller Bearing Applications - A sample General Categories

Application Number of ND Bearings Comments  
Allison V-1710 Aircraft Engine (74) Bearings and related parts A-36, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-51A, P-63 Page 4 below.
Pratt &Whitney Radial Aircraft Engines (28) Bearings Buick and Chevrolet  license built Pratt & Whitney engines were used on the B-24, C-47, C-53, P-47, and P-61 Page 4 below. 
Nine Aircraft engine builders Unknown but a significant amount. There were 21 manufacturers of aircraft engines in the US during WWII. Page 4 below.
Aircraft Propellers Unknown but a significant amount. Supplied to Aeroproducts, Curtiss-Wright, Nash-Kelvinator, Frigidaire, Delco-Remy and Remington Rand (Delco-Remy did not make aircraft propellers but did marine propeller pitch control systems.) Page 5 below.
Rocker Arm Bearings Unknown but a significant amount.   Page 5 below.
Aircraft Instruments Unknown but a significant amount. For 54 instrument builders. Page 6 below.
Autosyn or Slowsyn Motors Unknown but a significant amount.   Page 6 below.
Instrument Bearings (210) different sizes and types. For 54 instrument builders to include Sperry, Bendix, Kollsman, Norden, and the Ternstedt, AC Sparkplug and Delco-Remy Divisions of GM. Page 7 below.
Pivot Bearings Unknown but a significant amount.   Page 7 below.
Tanks (92) in a light tank (M3 and M5).  (62) ball bearings used in the M4 and 150 steel balls in the M4 turret. For 7 builders of light tanks (M3A1, M5, M22 and M24), 14 builders of medium tanks (M3 and M5), and 2 builders of heavy tanks(M26). Page 7 below.


A Sample of New Departure Roller Bearing Applications
Application Number of Roller Bearings Comments Photos
Aircraft Artificial Horizon 8    
Norden Bombsight 61   See Photo(s) Below
Mark 14 Ship's  Compass 11    
Mark XI Compass 52    
M-1 Seacoast Computer 3,469    
T-5 Seacoast Computer 1,951    
M-3 Gun Director 42    
M-7 Gun Director 480    
Allison V-1710 Aircraft Engine 74    
Jacobs Radial Aircraft Engine 9    
Pratt 7 Whitney R-1830 Radial Aircraft Engine 38    
B-29 Fire Control System 1,417    
B-32 Fire Control System 1,432    
Aircraft Directional Gyro 9    
Marine Gyro Sight 10    
Half Track 33    
M-1 Control System Indicator 88    
A-3 Pilot 38    
A-5 Pilot 45    
Two unit Pilot 19    
S-1 Unit Pilot 76    
90mm Anti Aircraft Gun Power Control 12    
4.7 inch Anti-Aircraft Gun Remote Control 26    
Searchlights 70    
Sound Locator 22    
Superchargers 8    
M4 Medium Tank 66    
M5 Light Tank 92    
Torpedo 9    
.50 caliber Bomber Lower Turret 100    


The Norden bombsight used by the US four engine bombers of WWII to include the B-17, B-24, B-29 and B-32 along with the twin engine types.  As seen at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, NC.

New Departure supplied 29 bearings for the 72,000 Norden M-9 bombsights manufactured during the Second World War.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the first aircraft to use remote sighting for the defensive guns.  For each remote gun system on the B-29 New Departure supplied 1,417 bearings.

This is what the remote gunner's position looks like looking into the gunner's bubble of a B-29 at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum in Pueblo, CO.  Unfortunately glare for the overhead lighting on the Plexiglas blocks some of the view.

This torpedo had nine New Departure bearings in it.

"New Departure Keeps 'Em Rolling, Flying, Fighting"
"Victory is our Business"

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All of us when we learned how to ride a bicycle no doubt used one that had a coaster brake on it, invented by New Departure.  In 1908 the company was making Taxi Cabs which were painted yellow, beginning the American tradition of yellow taxis.  In my professional life I had employees using Rockwell Hardness Testers but was unaware the device used by all metallurgical labs was invented by New Departure.  By the time World War Two arrived the company only made roller bearings.

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Pictured above are more equipment used by the US military in WWII that used ND roller bearings.  From the upper left there is

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