Car Company in World War II
Rest in Peace
This page last updated 8-16-2018.
Checker was known for its taxi
cabs. I remember growing up seeing them on the streets in Lansing,
MI. I always thought they looked a lot like a mid 50's
Chevrolet. The company stopped making taxicabs in 1981,
but was still a supplier to the auto industry until 2009 when it went
Checker Car Company World War Two Products:
Truck cabs for Ford Motor Company,
(46,759) of various types of trailers, and Army Signal
Corps bodies. Checker had about 800 employees on the payroll during
World War Two.
AS shown in the table below, Checker built
46,749 trailers of various types under direction of the Detroit Ordnance
Department of the U.S. Army. Not shown are trailers ordered by the
U.S. Army Signal Corps. One is shown below.
Checker Car Company World War Two Trailers Accepted by Detroit Ordnance, US Army
The information below comes from "Summary Report of
Acceptances, Tank-Automotive Material, 1940-1945."
Published by Army Services Forces, Office, Chief of
Ordnance-Detroit, Production Division, Requirements and
January 21, 1946.
3-ton two wheel Van
Trailer, 3 1/2-ton two Wheel 16 foot Stake and Platform
6-ton Two Wheel Van
Two Wheel Cargo
Two wheel Cargo
Two wheel 250 gallon Water Tanker
|45 ton 12 Wheel
and Disclaimer: The Detroit Office
of Ordnance of the U.S. Army was the primary purchasing entity for vehicles for the U.S. Army during WWII. It also purchased
vehicles for the USMC, US Navy, and for Lend-Lease. However,
there were other organizations that also purchased vehicles
including the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Air Force, U.S.
Army Signal Corps, Navy Bureau of Ordnance, Navy
Bureau of Aeronautics, and foreign countries making direct
purchases. In this case it is known that the Signal Corps
ordered its own trailers from Checker, and they are not comprehended in
the numbers above.
Checker made three prototype Jeeps for
the original competition. It was a four wheel steering design.
When tested, the military considered to be unsafe. The body design was then sold to Willys-Overland, which mated it
with its four-wheel drive truck chassis to became the basis for the famous Willys
World War Two jeep. This is still made for the civilian
market today. One of the remaining Checker Car Company jeeps still
This is a 1923 Checker H-2 taxicab, probably the oldest one still in existence. This can be seen at
the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. Author's photo.
The M9, 45-ton trailer, pictured here,
was designed to
transport tanks over the road to the combat zone while being pulled by
Diamond T M20 truck. Checker produced 344 of the 6,143 produced by
five different manufacturers. This particular example, was built by
one of the other companies. Author's photo added 10-22-2014.
Author's photo added 10-22-2014.
This is only one of two photos found to date depicting a Checker World War Two product. This
is a CC-5 one-ton trailer.
This may be a post WWII photo of one-ton
trailers being shipped out. Checker also apparently made these
during the Korean conflict. Author's photo from the Gilmore
This former WWII US Army Signal Corps K-35
trailer was delivered to the US Army on 9-23-1942. As of July 2014,
it is now the property of Mark Speir in New Mexico. Mark was able
to purchase the trailer before it was scrapped out. Previously it
had been used by the Forest Service as a command trailer. The
kerosene tank and the chimney for the furnace inside were not part of the
original Signal Corps trailer. Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and
Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and added
Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and added
According to the above data plate, the
maximum towing speed for the trailer was 45 mph. Photo
courtesy of Mark Speir and added 7-28-2014.
The next three photos, provided by Ian Maddock, show a well used and now dilapidated Checker one-ton CC-5A
trailer. The date on the tag indicates it was built during WWII on
12-2-1943. Photo courtesy of Ian Maddock.
The trailer is located in the village of
Achenkirch in the Austrian Tyrol, where it apparently was used to deliver
cut lumber from the sawmill where it is located. Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of Ian Maddock.
Below are WWII technical drawings and
information on the various trailers Checker built.
Checker had no designation for the
1/4-ton, 2-wheel trailer. It was normally pulled by a jeep. Photo added 4-30-2017.
Checker built this 250-gallon tanker trailer in various models; CC1,
CC1A, CC1B, and CC1C. Photo added 4-30-2017.
Checker's designation for the one-ton,
two-wheel trailer was CC5. Photo added 4-30-2017.
Checker designated the three-ton, two-wheel
semitrailer as a Model CC3. Photo added 4-30-2017.
Checker designated its version of the 3.5-ton, two-wheel stake and
platform trailer as a CC4. Photo added 4-30-2017.
Photo added 4-30-2017.
Checker built 344 M9 45-ton, 2-wheel
trailers, and internally designated them D45LF1. Photo added
The end of the line! This is the last
Checker taxicab built and was produced on July 12, 1982.
Author's photo from the Gilmore Car
Here is an aerial photo of part of the
Checker manufacturing complex on North Pitcher Street in Kalamazoo, MI after
WWII. While most of the complex has been razed, a couple of the
buildings were still standing when I visited on December 1, 2013.
The stand-alone building at the bottom of the photo was still there as
of that date, along with the one just to the northwest, and a small part
of the building in the upper right. This photo is looking north.
The photo above shows the south end of the
long manufacturing plant that ran north just east of Pitcher Street.
It is no longer there. It is the same building in front of which
the Korean War trailers were parked, as shown above.
The next four photos were taken during the author's
trip to Kalamazoo, MI on December 1, 2013. All photos are looking
east from Pitcher Street. This was the biggest building still
standing at the time, and can be identified from the aerial shot above by
the brown brick tower that rises above the rest.
Gate 1 is at the south
end of the aerial photo above, although it is not
shown itself in the photo. From looking at current satellite
images, it appears there may have been more buildings to the south of
this gate as part of the complex, but were also razed.
There is the stand-alone building pictured
at the bottom and the one to the NW of it from the aerial photo.
Starting in 1958, Checker started producing
cars for the civilian market. This is a rare 1966 Marathon station
wagon with a GM 350 V-8 engine and GM 400 transmission. As seen at
the National Automotive and Truck Museum in Auburn, IN. Author's
Natmus has an excellent collection of
Checker cars and cabs, including this 1964 Marathon. Next to it is
a diesel powered Checker cab. Author's photo.