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

    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   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 Manufacturers:   American LaFrance   Autocar  Diamond T   International Harvester    Mack Truck
   Marmon-Herrington Company   Pacific Car and Foundry  Reo Motor Car Company   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Automotive Tire
Manufacturers:
   B.F. Goodrich    Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
 Updates and Additions  
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 Saginaw Malleable Iron Division of General Motors Corporation in World War Two / WWII
Saginaw, MI
1917-1946
Rest in Peace

This page updated 10-5-2017.

Saginaw Malleable Iron Division (SMI) was formed in 1917 and became part of General Motors in 1919, at which point there were three plants in the Division, Saginaw Malleable Iron, a grey iron Foundry, which became part of Chevrolet and Saginaw Steering Gear, which became its own division in 1921.  In 1946 Saginaw Malleable Iron Division was folded into the new Central Foundry Division of General Motors.


This Browning Automatic Rifle is on display at the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Museum in Colorado Springs, CO.  Author's photo added 10-5-2017.


 This BAR has the ArmaSteel receiver is well marked as such.  The ArmaSteel cast receiver saved over 15 pounds of material over the machined steel part.  Saginaw Malleable Iron was the only auto company to make parts for this important weapon which brought automatic weapons fire down to the squad level.  See page 15 below.  Author's photo added 10-5-2017.


Saginaw Malleable Iron made parts for the Hydra-Matic transmission built by the Detroit Transmission Division of GM.  Author's photo added 1-25-2017.


Saginaw Malleable Iron produced parts for the 90mm anti-aircraft gun mounts.  Author's photo added 1-25-2017.
 

The story of Saginaw Malleable Iron in World War Two as outlined in the 48 page book published 1944 after the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944 (Page 4 mentions the Normandy Invasion) is not only a storehouse of information on the products it produced to help win the war, but is also an insight into the state of not only the iron and steel casting technology of the era, but gives a comparison to the technology the company used in the First World War some 20 years earlier.  In 1944 the Division had 3,500 workers.

The book is divided into several distinct sections:

Pages 1-19 give an excellent overview of the many different parts that went into a large variety of weapons, from the small M1 Carbine to the diesel engines that powered many of US Navy's submarines and LST landing ships. 

Pages 20-23 cover the Division's sponsored employee's recreational activities, suggestion program, medical facilities.  This information was included in all of the GM Divisional books produced in the late 1943-early 1944 time frame.

Pages 24-29 is another boiler plate section, this one includes the name of all of the men and women that used to work at the Division and were serving in the various US armed forces during the conflict, including photos of those that had been killed while in the service.

Pages 30 and 31 show the plant expansions at the Division in Saginaw as of early 1944.

Pages 32-43 are unique in all of the GM World War Two booklets that were published during the war in that they show the process improvement made in producing castings between World War 1 and World War Two.  This section is not only for the person interested in WWII but the history casting technology.  A great bonus section.

Pages 44-45 explain the expansion of the Saginaw facility to meet the demands of the increased war production.

Pages 46-47 describe the new Danville, IL plant that was owned by the government and managed by SMI for producing axle differential castings for General Motors produced military trucks.  Chevrolet and GMC produced a total of 854,000trucks for the war effort and Danville was needed to keep up with the supply of castings to Chevrolet, which then assembled them  and used them for their own trucks and also supplied them to GMC.

Page 48.  The traditional last page of the GM WWII booklets end in stating war production would not stop until final victory.




Page 1.


Page 2.  Pictured here is the GMC 2-1/2 ton 6x6 cargo which SMI produced many casting for this truck which was the backbone of US Army ground transport during WWII.  Also pictured is an M3 halftrack tank destroyer of the type mentioned on page 4.


Page 3.


Page 4.


Page 5.  Noted on this page is that SMI provided castings for sub chasers, which would not be expected in the same sentence with parts made for military ground vehicles.  General Motors had three Divisions building diesel engines for military applications, one of which, Electromotive Division supplied the engines for (243) 110 foot sub chasers.


Page 6.


Page 7.  Show in this water color rendering of a Pacific beach land is a Landing Ship Tank (LST), M4 Sherman tanks, a Jeep, a DUKW (Duck), which was a GMC 2-1/2 ton 6x6 amphibious truck, and a 90mm anti-aircraft gun, all of which used Saginaw Malleable Iron castings.  Electro-Motive Division supplied half of the diesel engines for the LSTs which utilized SMI ArmaSteel cast pistons.  Steel cast tank tracks supplied by the Division were used on the M4 Sherman tank.  (642,295) Jeeps were produced by the combined effort of Ford Motor Company and Willys-Overland during WWII utilizing components cast in Saginaw by SMI and as noted on pages 4-5, and shown on page 6 gun mount castings were produced for the 90mm anti-aircraft gun.


Page 8.


Page 9. 


Page 10.  While AC Sparkplug is mentioned specifically mentioned in building .50 machine guns, it was one of three GM Divisions that built the weapon during the war.  Frigidaire and Brown-Lipe-Chapin Divisions shared in this technology, as well as other companies outside the Corporation building the weapon.  More can be learned of this endeavor by going to the General Motors page above and reading "One Million Browning Machine Guns".


Page 11.


Page 12.


Page 13.  Using what is known as "near net shape" castings on the Browning .50 caliber machine gun Saginaw Malleable Iron was able to save 37 pounds of steel that would have ended up on the shop floor as metal shavings in the machining process.


Page 14.  Three machined or stamped parts replaced by one casting.  In researching the US Auto Industry during WWII, this type of process was done by all of the industry and led to numerous costs savings and reduced material usage of critical materials during the war.  The persons that designed the weapons did not consider during design the most efficient manufacturing methods.  But the US auto industry did this before the war on a daily basis to make cars and trucks cost effective for consumers to purchase, so the practice was natural for them when it came to war production.  It sill does it today.

 Brown-Lipe-Chapin also built the the .30 caliber machine gun at the beginning of WWII and then converted to the .50 caliber weapon.  Saginaw Steering Gear built .30 caliber machine guns throughout the war.


Page 15. Both the Inland and Saginaw, along with other companies made the M1 carbine in WWII.  Armasteel castings would have been used in the over 3million carbines they produced.

During the Second World War the US Auto Industry built all sorts of guns; carbines, submachine guns, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns and cannon.  But Saginaw Malleable Iron's reference to making net shape Armasteel castings for the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) is unique within the industry.  Saginaw Malleable Iron was the only auto company to make parts for this important weapon which brought automatic weapons fire down to the squad level.


Page 16.


Page 17.


Page 18.


Page 19.  The 1.7 million track blocks produced from steel castings were enough to outfit 20% of the 49,234 M4 Shermans produced during WWII.  Production my have stopped at SMI as its sister Inland Division had made 4 million track blocks (Inland called them shoes.) during the same time period


Page 20.


Page 21.


Page 22.


Page 23.


Page 24.


Page 25.


Page 26.


Page 27.


Page 28.


Page 29.


Page 30.


Page 31.

The next twelve pages are unique among the WWII booklets produced by GM Divisions during that conflict in that Saginaw Malleable Iron compares the casting technologies it used in WWI to that of WWII.  The following pages are well worth the time reading.


Page 32.


Page 33.


Page 34.


Page 35.


Page 36.


Page 37.


Page 38.


Page 39.


Page 40.


Page 41.


Page 42.


Page 43.


Page 44.


Page 45.

The Saginaw Malleable Iron Division Plant in Danville, IL.  This plant was owned by the US Government and managed by SMI for the production of truck axle castings.  With the end of the conflict SMI vacated the facility and it was put up for sale by the government.  With the creation by General Motors in 1946 of the Central Foundry Division, the Danville plant was purchased by the company for the new Division.  In 1996 the plant was closed by GM and parts of it were razed.  Today the remnants that still stand can be seen by travelers on the north side of I-74 just east of Danville, IL.


Page 46.  The heavy truck castings described here were used in both the Chevrolet 4x4 1-1/2 ton trucks and the GMC 2-1/2 ton 6x6 trucks produced during WWII.  The castings were shipped to Chevrolet which not only produced axles for its trucks, but was the main supplier of axles for the GMC 6x6 truck.  GMC did not produce its own axles for its trucks during WWII and relied on Chevrolet and others for the components.


Page 47. The photo directly above is an excellent example of a 25 ton heat treat oven being lowered down over truck axles and differential housings. 


Page 48.

 

 

 

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