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  


Clark Equipment Company in World War Two
Buchanan, MI (Currently Lexington, KY)

This page updated 11-24-2018.

The Clark Equipment Company's true contribution to the winning of World War Two has been overshadowed and masked by one of its smaller production products, the Clark CA-1 Airborne Tractor.  At most, 2,555 of these C-1A tractors were built during the war, and Clark only built a small portion at its own plant.  This quantity is dwarfed by the 23,000 forklift trucks and Clarktor towing tractors built by Clark in 1945 alone.  Clark also kept the important production lines going at military truck manufacturers by supplying axles and transmissions for many of their vehicles.   During WWII these products were the primary volume for the US military, even though Clark is more well known for the CA-1 Airborne Tractor it designed and built.  Today the CA-1 can be found in military museums.  Its Clarktor four-wheeled aviation tractor is also found at museums; and is still a working tractor at airports and flying museums.  Forklifts are not found at any of these venues.  Yet after World War Two, the name Clark was synonymous with forklift trucks.  Clark forklifts were predominant in the factories the author worked in during the manufacturing portion of his career.

The Clark Equipment Plant in Buchanan, MI won the Army-Navy "E" Award two times during WWII.
The Clark Equipment Trucktractor Division Plant in Battle Creek, MI won the Army-Navy "E" Award five times during WWII.

The raising of the E Flag at the Clark Battle Creek plant after it received its second star.  The plant would go on to win two more stars before the war was over.

Clark Equipment Company World War Two Production Statistics:  Clarkor 6 tractors, forklift trucks, axle housings for military trucks, transmissions for military trucks, and CA-1 Airborne Tractors.  See below for more information on the production of the CA-1.

The Clark Trucktractor Company was formed Battle Creek, MI in 1919 as a division of the Clark Equipment Company whose main products were tow tractors and forklift trucks.

Clark forklifts were important to the American World War Two world wide logistics effort.  The vast quantity of war material needed to execute the war were shipped from ports in the United States delivered to military bases, depots, and ports by ships.  Once there, the material needed to be off-loaded and moved.  Large Clark forklift trucks designed to work outside facilitated this movement; and were at work at military installations around the world, assisting in getting war material to the front lines.

Clarktor tractors await shipment to airfields around the world.

Two of the thirteen prototype C-1 Airborne Tractors undergo testing by Clark technicians.

The CA-1 Airborne Tractor:  The number of CA-1s, and which company actually built them during World War Two, is muddled and confusing.  Clark built thirteen C-1 prototypes.  It then went into production in late 1942 on the CA-1.  Delivery of the first of 162 units on the original contract began in March 1943.  In September 1943 the American Machine and Metals Company (AM&M) in Moline, IL was subcontracted for final assembly of the CA-1 from Clark provided parts.  By the time production of the CA-1 ended, AM&M was making all of the components except for the transmissions and final drive assemblies.  Clark subcontracted out the work because the CA-1 was a small production run, and it needed the production capacity for the thousands of forklifts and tractors needed by the military. 

Two numbers are given as the total number of CA-1s built during World War Two by Clark and its subcontractor, American Machine and Metals Company.

Clark and American Machine and Metals Company CA-1 World War Two Production

Contract Contract Date Number Built Version A Number Built Version B Serial Numbers Comments
Prototype C-1     10   The reason that that Version B adds ten C-1 prototypes is because ten were shipped to the 871st Airborne Engineer Battalion at Westover Field, MA.  These units then went with the 871st when it deployed to North Africa.
W-145A-ENG-511 11-10-1942 162 162 CA-1431 to CA143162 This contract was fulfilled by Clark.
W-145A-ENG-614 3-10-1943 30 30 CA143163 to CA143192 This contract may have been fulfilled by Clark.
W-1088-ENG-3460 ? 36 0 CA143193 to CA143228 This contract may have been fulfilled by Clark.
W-1088-ENG-2155 2-8-1943 787 787  CA143229 to CA1431015 This contract was probably fulfilled in part, if not completely, by AM&M.
W-145-ENG-2165 2-16-1943 106 106 CA1431016 to CA1431121 This contract was fulfilled by AM&M.
Three more unidentified contracts dated as shown. 5-12-1943, 8-2-1943, 5-25-1944 0 1,460 No known serial numbers. These contracts were fulfilled by AM&M if they actually existed.
Total Production   1,121 2,555   Several other production numbers have been found by the author.  They are 2,588 and 2,598. 

The Clark Equipment Company designed CA-1Airborne crawler tractor is on display at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN.  The CA-1 was designed by Clark for use by airborne engineering battalions, and to be airlifted in to a battle zone by glider or C-47 aircraft.  The CA-1 allowed army engineers to prepare landing strips behind enemy lines.  Author's photo.

The CA-1 mounted a bulldozer on the front of the tractor.  Author's photo.

 Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Author's photo.

This particular example is equipped with a Braden winch, which allowed the tractor to be extracted when stuck in mud.  Author's photo.

This example of a Clark CA-1 airborne tractor/bulldozer does not have the winch attached.  Author's photo from the National Museum of the USAF.

Author's photo from the National Museum of the USAF.

Author's photo from the National Museum of the USAF.

How important were bulldozers to the winning of WWII?  Below are the thoughts of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Admiral "Bull" Halsey.

Asked about the weapons used to win the war, Admiral Halsey offered:  "If I had to give credit to the instruments and machines that won us the war in the Pacific, I would rate them in this order:  Submarines first, radar second, planes third, bulldozers fourth."

A quote from "The Great Crusade" by General Dwight D. Eisenhower:  "Incidentally, four other  pieces of equipment that most senior officers came to regard as among the most vital to our success in Africa and Europe were the bulldozer, the jeep, the 2-1/2 - ton truck and the C-47 airplane."

Below is a prime example of why both General Eisenhower and Admiral Halsey both included the bulldozer in their list of important machines that helped win WWII.

On March 5, 1944, an airborne assault of thirty American GG-4A gliders landed behind enemy lines in Northern Burma, in a jungle clearing designated "Broadway."  Included in the landing were Clark designed CA-1 tractor/bulldozers.  Using the small bulldozers, army airborne engineers were able to prepare a 5,000 foot long runway within 24 hours, allowing more troops and supplies to come by C-47.  Note the CG-4A glider in the background.

The airstrip has been cleared out to allow the arrival of C-47 cargo aircraft.  This particular aircraft was also cited by General Eisenhower in his list of important pieces of equipment during WWII.

The largest contribution of the Clark Equipment Company during WWII besides forklift trucks was the Clarktor-6 towing tractor or tug.  Production of the Clarktor-6 began in 1942 and ended in 1966.  Author's photo from the National Museum of the USAF.

Author's photo from the National Museum of the USAF.

The Clark Buchanan, MI plant produced truck transmissions and axle housings during World War Two.  The plant won the won the Army-Navy "E" Award two times during WWII.

The Clark Battle Creek, MI Trucktractor Division plant produced forklift and Clarktor tractors during World War Two.  The plant won the won the Army-Navy "E" Award five times.  It was in this plant that at least 162 CA-1 Airborne Tractors were built.




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