The American Automobile Industry in World War Two
An American Auto Industry Heritage Tribute by David D Jackson

Overview      Lansing Michigan in World War Two   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   M36 Tank Destroyers of the American Auto Industry   Serial Numbers for WWII Tanks built by the American Auto Industry   Surviving LCVP Landing Craft    WWII Landing Craft Hull Numbers   Airborne Extra-Light Jeep Photos  The American Auto Industry vs. the German V-1 in WWII   American Auto Industry-Built Anti-Aircraft Guns in WWII   VT Proximity Manufacturers of WWII   World War One Era Motor Vehicles   National Museum of Military Vehicles  
Revisions   Links

 Automobile and Body Manufacturers:  American Bantam Car Company   Briggs Manufacturing Company   Checker Car Company   Chrysler Corporation   Crosley Corporation   Ford Motor Car Company   General Motors Corporation   Graham-Paige Motors Corporation   Hudson
Motor Car Company   Murray Corporation of America   Nash-Kelvinator   Packard Motor Car Company      Studebaker    Willys-Overland Motors

General Motors Divisions:  AC Spark Plug   Aeroproducts   Allison   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   Ternstedt Manufacturing Division   United Motors Service   Vauxhall Motors

 Indiana Companies:  Bailey Products Corporation   Chrysler Kokomo Plant   Continental Steel Corporation  Converto Manufacturing    Cummins Engine Company   Diamond Chain and Manufacturing Company   Delta Electric Company   Durham Manufacturing Company   Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation   General Electric Kokomo Plant   Haynes Stellite Company   Hercules Body Company   Horton Manufacturing Company   Howe Fire Apparatus   International Machine Tool Company   J.D. Adams Company   Kokomo Spring Company   Magnavox  
Muncie Gear Works   Pierce Governor Company   Portland Forge and Foundry   Reliance Manufacturing Company   Republic Aviation Corporation - Indiana Division   Ross Gear and Tool Company   S.F. Bowser & Co.   Sherrill Research Corporation   Tokheim Oil Tank and Pump Company   Warner Gear   Wayne Pump Company   Wayne Works

Commercial Truck and Fire Apparatus Manufacturers:  American LaFrance   Autocar  
Biederman Motors Corporation   Brockway Motor Company   Detroit General   Diamond T   Duplex Truck Company   Federal Motor Truck   Four Wheel Drive Auto Company(FWD)   International Harvester   John Bean   Mack Truck   Marmon-Herrington Company   Michigan Power Shovel Company   Oshkosh Motor Truck Corporation   Pacific Car and Foundry   "Quick-Way" Truck Shovel Company   Reo Motor Car Company  Seagrave Fire Apparatus   Sterling Motor Truck Company    Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Aviation Companies:  Abrams Instrument Corporation   Hughes Aircraft Company   Kellett Aviation Corporation   Laister-Kauffman Aircraft Corporation   Naval Aircraft Factory   P-V Engineering Forum, Inc.    Rudolf Wurlitzer Company-DeKalb Division  Schweizer Aircraft Corporation   Sikorsky Division of United Aircraft Corporation   St. Louis Aircraft Corporation   Timm Aircraft Corporation

Other World War Two Manufacturers: 
Air King Products   Allis-Chalmers   American Car and Foundry   American Locomotive   American Stove Company   Annapolis Yacht Yard  
Andover Motors Company   B.F. Goodrich   Baker War Industries   Baldwin Locomotive Works   Blood Brothers Machine Company   Boyertown Auto Body Works   Briggs & Stratton   Caterpillar   Cheney Bigelow Wire Works   Centrifugal Fusing   Chris-Craft   Clark Equipment Company   Cleaver-Brooks Company   Cleveland Tractor Company   Continental Motors   Cushman Motor Works   Crocker-Wheeler   Dail Steel Products   Detroit Wax Paper Company   Detrola   Engineering & Research Corporation   Farrand Optical Company   Federal Telephone and Radio Corp.   Firestone Tire and Rubber Company   Fruehauf Trailer Company   Fuller Manufacturing   Galvin Manufacturing   Gemmer Manufacturing Company   General Railway Signal Company   Gibson Guitar   Gibson Refrigerator Company   Goodyear   Hall-Scott   Hanson Clutch and Machinery Company   Harley-Davidson   Harris-Seybold-Potter   Herreshoff Manufacturing Company   Higgins Industries    Highway Trailer   Hill Diesel Company   Holland Hitch Company   Homelite Company   Horace E. Dodge Boat and Plane Corporation   Huffman Manufacturing   Indian Motorcycle   Ingersoll Steel and Disk   John Deere   Johnson Automatics Manufacturing Company   Kimberly-Clark   Kohler Company   Kold-Hold Company   Landers, Frary & Clark  Lima Locomotive Works   Lundberg Screw Products   MacKenzie Muffler Company   Massey-Harris   Matthews Company   McCord Radiator & Mfg. Company   Metal Mouldings Corporation   Miller Printing Machinery Company   Morse Instrument Company   Motor Products Corporation   Motor Wheel Corporation   National Cash Resgister Company   Novo Engine Company   O'Keefe & Merritt Company   Olofsson Tool and Die Company   Oneida Ltd   Otis Elevator   Owens Yacht   Pressed Steel Car Company   Queen City Manufacturing Company   R.G. LeTourneau   R.L. Drake Company   St. Clair Rubber Company   Samson United Corporation   Shakespeare Company   Sight Feed Generator Company   Simplex Manufacturing Company   Steel Products Engineering Company   St. Louis Car Company   Twin Disc Company   Victor Adding Machine Company   Vilter Manufacturing Company   Wells-Gardner   W.L. Maxson Corporation   W.W. Boes Company   Westfield Manufacturing Company   York-Hoover Body Company   Youngstown Steel Door Company  

 Continental Motors in World War Two
Muskegon, MI (Currently Mobile, AL)

This page updated 11-3-2020.

Continental Motors is most well-known for its production of the R-975 radial aircraft engine, used in M4 and M4A1 Sherman tanks during World War Two.  While the Continental Motors-produced R-975 was used in a myriad of other American armored vehicles during the war, it is the Sherman tank engine for which the company is most associated.  There is good reason for this in that the M4 and M4A1 Sherman tanks served throughout the war and was with the American Army on every battle front.  The Continental Motors-powered Shermans were with the U.S. Army in North Africa, Italy, Normandy and all the way to through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and Germany until V-E Day.  In the Pacific, the M4 and M4A1 Sherman tanks were such places as New Guinea, the Philippines, the Marianas, Peleliu and Okinawa.  U.S. Marines used them at Cape Gloucester, Bougainville and the Admiralty Islands.  The M4/M4A1 Sherman tanks with their Continental-built engines were found worldwide with the American Armed Forces throughout World War Two.

The first Sherman tank ever produced was a M4A1(75)VVSS, assembled by the Lima Locomotive Works in February 1942.  It came with a Continental R-975 engine.  Production of the Continental Motors R-975 powered Sherman tanks continued until August 1945 with the  M4A1(76)HVSS.  The Continental-powered M4A1 Sherman tank had the longest production run of the different Sherman tanks during World War Two.

Continental Motors produced more than just Sherman tank engines during World War Two.  Its engines were used in self-propelled artillery, tank destroyers, trucks and aircraft.  Continental was a very important supplier of power plants to the U.S. Military in World War Two.

One of the most interesting things about Continental Motors during World War Two is the fact that it built four engines under license from other manufacturers.  There was the Wright R-975 that was used in the M4 and M4A1 Sherman tank and several other tracked vehicles.  It also built the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 that powered the T-6 and SNJ Texan trainer aircraft.  Towards the end of the war, it built the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine that was used in the P-51 Mustang.  Late in the war Continental also started producing the Ford GAA engine for the M4A3 Sherman tank.  While other companies in the auto industry built at most one aircraft engine under license, only Continental had the honor of building four in this manner.  At the same, time it also built several engines of its own design for the war effort.

The story of Continental Motors started in 1902 and continues today, with production facilities at Mobile, AL.  The company has built many engines for all sorts of products from tanks and military aircraft to garden tractors.  In 1933-34 Continental came out with its own line of automobiles which was to employ 4,000 workers in Muskegon, MI, and another 1,000 in Detroit.  It appears that it only sold 6,500 cars in 1934 which was just not enough to keep the project going.  Continental has many engines for many different applications over its lifetime.  This webpage will focus on its important contribution to winning World War Two.  But first, this page will look at some early Continental engines.  Next will be the pre-World War Two tanks it powered that led to its success in World War Two.

In 2015 this World War One Liberty truck chassis and drive train were undergoing restoration at the First Division Museum in Wheaton, IL.
Continental Motors was one of five companies that provided engines for the standardized Liberty Truck built by fifteen manufacturers to U.S. Army Quartermaster specifications.  The engine shown here is a Continental.  Author's photo added 11-3-2020.

Continental produced 50% of the Liberty truck engines during World War One.  It also provided the standardized drawings used by the other four manufacturers.   Author's photo added 11-3-2020.

This is what the Liberty truck looked like after it was restored.  This is June 2019.  Author's photo added 11-3-2020.

This is a 1920 Westcott five-passenger touring car, model B-38.  It was built in Springfield, OH and is on display at the Clark County Heritage Center Museum, Springfield, OH.  It was powered by a Continental Model 105-7R six-cylinder inline engine.  Author's photo added 2-7-2020.

This is one of the oldest Continental engines on display in a museum.  Author's photo added 2-7-2020.

Author's photo added 2-7-2020.

The serial number for the Continental 105-7R is 6056.  Author's photo added 2-7-2020.

Pre-World War Two Tanks:  Tank development was sparse during the 1920s and 1930s due to indifference on the part of army management.  After the depression started, there was a lack of funding.  The Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois was the Army's arsenal for building what few tanks were funded before the start of World War Two.  Production stopped at Rock Island in 1941and shifted to commercial companies in order to build the huge number of tanks needed for the war effort. 

Continental approached the U.S. Army Ordnance in 1931 about converting its R-670 radial aircraft for use in tanks.  The company had developed over several years from its A-70 seven-cylinder radial aircraft engine with 165 hp.  Army Ordnance was in agreement with this, so Continental was tasked with converting the aircraft engine for use in tanks.  Continental referred to this modified tank version of the engine as the W-670, but in today's literature it is normally known as the R-670.  The first application of the Continental W-670 engine was in the M1 Combat Car built by Rock Island Arsenal in 1932.  With the installation of the W-670 engine into the M1 Combat Car, Continental became the only supplier of the preferred radial tank engine for both light and medium American tanks until engines produced by the American auto industry superseded it in the middle of World War Two.  Continental Motors W-670 and R-975 engines would see worldwide service throughout World War Two. 

The M2A2 light tank was powered by a Continental W-670 engine.  Seventy-three were built.  This one is on display at the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby, MS.  Author's photo.

The M2A3 was a M2A2 that was converted to an infantry tank in 1935 and retained the W-670 engine.  Several tanks at the end of the M2A2 production run were converted.  Author's photo from the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.

This T5E1 was the only one produced by Rock Island and was the first of what became the M2 series medium tanks.  It weighed 15 tons and was armed with two 37mm main guns and four .30 caliber machine guns.  Built in 1937, it was powered by the Continental R-975 radial engine.  Note the similarities between this tank and the M2A1 below.  They look very much alike, but the M2A1 is six tons heavier.  Author's photo.

Note the machine gun reflectors over the rear of the tracks.  The idea behind these was that after the tank rolled over an enemy's trench work or foxhole, the rear gunners could fire the machine guns at the reflector plates which would deflect the bullets down  and into any enemy soldiers in the trenches.  This was all based on World War One trench warfare.  The German invasion of France showed that the tanks were fighting a different war.  Author's photo.

Author's photo.

This is a 1939 M2A1 Medium tank, forerunner of the M3 and M4 medium tanks.  It was photographed in the restoration area of the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.  The M2A1, weighing in at almost 21 tons, needed a larger engine than the smaller previous light tanks.  Continental was responsible for modifying the larger Wright R-975 aircraft engine for use in tanks.  This was the first of over 54,000 Continental-built R-975 engines that would be used in over 34,000 tanks and other armored vehicles during World War Two.  Author's photo.

The 37mm main gun and .30 caliber machine gun in the turret have been removed during the restoration.  Author's photo.
Author's note:  This was the medium tank with which the U.S. Army originally planned to go to war with.  After 94 of them were produced by Rock Island Arsenal, production was passed on to Chrysler to build at the new Detroit Tank Plant in what was then Centerline, MI, and now Warren, MI.  Within a short time, cooler heads prevailed.  The M2A1 was cancelled, and the M3 Lee/Grant tank took its place.  No M2A1 medium tanks were ever produced at the Detroit Tank Plant.  The M2A1 was armed with one 37mm main gun and eight .30 caliber machine guns.  Lessons learned from the tank warfare going on in Europe made the 37mm gun inadequate for modern warfare.  The M3 Lee/Grant had the more effective 75mm cannon for its main armament.

Besides the Army's Rock Island Arsenal, several companies attempted to get into the tanks business in the 1930s.  One of the most prominent was Walter Christie.  He had several tanks of various design which were evaluated by the U.S. Army in the early 1930s. This 1932 T4 convertible medium tank was built by the Rock Island Arsenal using Christie suspension.  It  was powered by the Continental W-640 engine and is one of 16 produced in 1932.  Author's photo from the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.

The term "convertible" is used in the tank's description because the tracks could be removed, and the vehicle converted to an armored car that ran on the large rubber-coated road wheels.  Author's photo.

World War Two:  In 1902, 20-year old Ross Judson started a small machine shop on South Clinton Street in Chicago to build small combustion engines. The small company grew and expanded and moved several times while in the Chicago area.  In 1905, the company, as Continental Motors, moved to Muskegon, MI where it was able to obtain favorable conditions from the Chamber of Commerce to continue its business.  A new 16,000 square foot factory was built at the corner of Market and Water Streets in downtown Muskegon near Lake Michigan. During World War Two, the company had three plants in Michigan and one in Texas.  These four plants would produce over 131,000 tank and aircraft engines of ten different types during the war.  This is comparable to amount of aircraft engines Curtiss-Wright and Pratt & Whitney produced during the war.  Continental was in the big three of World War Two engine production in the United States.

The Continental Motors Detroit, MI plant won the Army-Navy "E" Award two times.
The Continental Motors Muskegon Plant won the Army-Navy "E" Award one time.

Continental Production World War Two Production Plants

Plant Location Products Comments
Downtown Muskegon, MI W-670 parts and final assembly, R-670 220 hp radial aircraft engine parts and final assembly, O-170/A65 four-cylinder aircraft engine parts and final assembly, R-600 six- cylinder 230 hp Inline engine parts and final assembly  
Getty Street Plant Muskegon, MI R-1340 aircraft engine parts and final assembly, V-1650-7 Merlin V12 aircraft engine parts and final assembly, I-1430 parts and final assembly Construction on this $5 million Government-built plant to produce  aircraft engines began in July 1941.  One of the main products was to be the I-1430 twelve-cylinder, 1,000 hp engine for Army Air Forces fighter aircraft.  This engine project never came to fruition.
Detroit, MI R-975 parts and final assembly, GAA parts and final assembly In November 1940 this plant underwent a $8 million renovation and retooling project to produce the R-975 engine.  By the fall of 1944, only one third of the plant was necessary to produce the needed R-975 engines and spare parts.  At that time, retooling began for production of the GAA engine.  At its peak, this plant employed 5,000 persons.
Garland, TX R-975 parts and final assembly, GAA pistons, cylinder sleeves and connecting rods This government-owned plant was originally built to produce the Guiberson diesel medium tank engine.  This project was cancelled February 1942.  Continental then leased the building from the government in September of the same year, and re-tooling began for production of the R-975.  In late 1944 it began tooling-up for producing parts for the GAA engine.


Continental Engines Built during World War Two
Engine type Number Built  Plant Location Applications Comments
Ground Vehicle Engines
R-975 Nine Cylinder 420 hp Radial Tank Engine 54,104 Detroit, MI Plant and Garland, TX (4,424) M3 Lee/Grant Tanks, (300) M3A1 Lee/Grant Tanks, (12) M3A2 Lee/Grant Tanks, (8,389) M4 Sherman Tanks, (9,707) M4A1 Sherman Tanks, (188) M4A1 Grizzly Tanks, (6) T7E2 Medium Tank Prototypes, (7) M7 Medium Tanks, (50) Ram I Tanks, (1,815) Ram II Tanks, (84) Ram II Observation Posts, (2,507) M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyers, (3,490 ) M7 Priest Gun Motor Carriages, (2,150) Sexton Gun Motor Carriages, (100) M12 Motor Gun Carriages, (418) M40 Motor Gun Carriages, (100) M30 Cargo Carriers, (40) M39s, (24) M43 Motor Gun Carriages The total usage was of the Continental R-975 was 33,811  engines.  This allowed for 20,293 engines for spares.  The R-975 was produced from 1941 through 1945.   By the fall of 1944, only one third of the plant was necessary to produce the needed R-975 engines and spare parts.  At that time, retooling began for production of the GAA engine.  At its peak, this plant employed 5,000 persons.

Note:  The first 500 production M3 Lee/Grant tanks had Wright-built R-975 engines.  See the note below this table.*
W-670 Seven Cylinder 250 hp Radial Tank Engine 30,000 Downtown Muskegon, MI (365) M2A4 Light Tanks, (4,526) M3 Light Tanks, (4,410) M3A1 Light Tanks, (3,427) M3A3 Light Tanks, (2,962) LVT-2s, (510) LVT(A)-1s, (450) LVT(A)-2s, (1,890) LVT(A)-4s, (8,351) LVT-4s The total usage was of the Continental W-670 was 26,891 engines.  The history of Continental only shows 15,000 W-670 engines being built.  My analysis based on the known applications is more than 11,500 more than the 15,000.  This does not include any spare engines.  The build must have been at least 30,000 engines. 
R-600 Six Cylinder 230 hp Inline Engine 12,000 Downtown Muskegon, MI (5,290) M5 High Speed Tractors, (582) M5A1 High Speed Tractors, (1) M5A3 High Speed Tractors,     (5,765) M1 and M1A1 10-Ton Wreckers, (?)Fire Trucks   The total usage was of the Continental R-600 was 11,628  engines.  I will estimate the company built 12,000 to include spares.
GAA 1000 500 hp V8 Tank Engine ~20 Final assembly was at the Detroit plant.

Garland, TX supplied pistons, cylinder sleeves and connecting rods.

Muskegon, MI built the camshafts and crankshafts for the GAA engine.

M4A3 Sherman Tank Tooling began in fall 1944.  A very small number were built starting February 1945.  First deliveries occurred in July 1945 and the war ended a month later.  The few that were completed by war's end were insignificant compared to all of the other engines the company delivered during World War Two. 
Y112 Four Cylinder Gasoline Engine 567 Downtown Muskegon, MI  LeTourneau D4 Airborne Turnapull scraper There may have been more uses for this engine during the war.  It is unknown.
Aircraft Engines
R-1340 5,100 Getty Street Plant, Muskegon, MI T-6, SNJ The R-1340 was produced from April 1943 through November 1944.  A resumption of this contract was restarting when the war ended.
V-1650-7 Merlin V12 Aircraft engine 797 Getty Street Plant, Muskegon, MI P-51 A contract was signing in February 1944 to produce 8,500 V-1650 Merlin aircraft engines.  Fifteen Million dollars were needed to tool up the Getty Street plant for the engine.  The V-1650 was produced from July 1944 through May 1945.  The contract was cancelled at the end of May 1945.  Continental history indicates that a third or 2,800 engines had been delivered.  Army Air Force records show only 797 being accepted.
 O-170/A65 four cylinder engines 16,977 Downtown Muskegon, MI (5,611) Piper L-4s and (230) NE-1s, (1,439) Aeronca L-3s, (1,942) Taylorcraft L-2s 16,977 O-170/A65 engines are credited to Continental by Army Air Forces.  9,222 are known to have been used in the four aircraft described to the left. 
R-670 220 hp Radial Aircraft Engine 11,828 Downtown Muskegon, MI (3,519 ) PT-17s 11,828 R-670 aircraft engines are credited to Continental by Army Air Forces.  3,519 are known to have been used in the PT-17 aircraft described to the left. There were several other versions of this type aircraft, but they used engines from different manufacturers.
I-1430 1000 hp twelve cylinder Aircraft Engine 23 Getty Street Plant, Muskegon, MI (2) McDonnell XP-67 twin-engine interceptors.  This aircraft was known as the "Bat" or "Moonbat."  It probably sounded like a good idea at the time, but it never worked out.
Total 131,416     This is an estimate total based on the known information.  This was a lot of engines. 

*Note:  On September 9, 1940, Continental Motors signed a contract with Army Ordnance to build R-975 engines at a rate of 200 per month by October 1941.  Several days later the company was asked to pull that schedule forward to meet the production of M3 medium tanks that would be coming off several assembly lines in early 1941.  No doubt there were several other requests to start production earlier than October 1941 and at higher run rates.  Continental actually started production in a record seven months in May 1941 which would have been in time for the first M3s coming off the assembly lines a month later.  The ramp-up of the M3 tank build was aggressive and impressive.  In order to meet the production schedules for the combined M3 and M4 series medium tanks shown below, Army Ordnance obtained 500 Wright-built R-975s to fill the gap as Continental came up to full production.  Continental did develop enough capacity to supply all of the engines needed for M4/M4A1 production.

The table below shows the number of R-975s needed from June 1941 to September 1942.  In October 1941 Continental Motors took over supplying the R-975 engine for the M3.  It supplied 4,736 engines for the M3 Lee/Grant tanks and all of the R-975 applications after this.  Note that in May 1942 a total of 689 R-975 engines were needed to keep both the M3 series and M4 series production lines operating.  By this time Continental was able to supply engines for both types of tanks in the quantities needed.

Demand for R-975 Engines for the M3 Medium tank series and early M4/M4A1 production
  6-1941 7-1941 8-1941 9-1941 10-1941 11-1941 12-1941 1-1942 2-1942 3-1942 4-1942 5-1942 6-1942 7-1942 8-1942 9-1942 Total
M3, M3A1, M3A2 10 26 80 193 249 309 475 537 522 609 587 578 596 387 78 0 5,236
M4, M4A1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 11 59 111 23 174 323 340 1,042
Total 10 26 80 193 249 309 475 537 523 620 646 689 619 561 401 340 6,278

An estimate of Continental's average rate of production can be made.  In the fall of 1944 the Detroit plant was running at one third capacity to fulfill its orders for the Pressed Steel-built M4A1(76)s of around 200 per month and M18 production of 150 per month.  This totals 350 per month.  Multiplying by three gives an approximate full capacity of 1,050 R-975 engines per month. 

Another way to figure this is to assume in October 1944 the production schedule was cut back to the one-third level.  There were another 1,879 Pressed Steel M4A1(76)s that were built through July 1945. 157 M18s needed engines in October 1944.  Therefore another 2,036 R-975 engines were needed.  Subtracting this from the total 54,104 R-975s built by Continental during the war equals 52,068.  Continental built 4,736 of the M3 medium tank engines.  Subtract this from 52,068 to give the number of engines Continental built from January 1942 through September 1944.  This is 47,332.  Divide this by 33 months to get the R-975 average monthly production between January 1942 through September 1944.  This gives an estimated average of 1,434 units per month.  Therefore, Continental was able to produce well in excess of 1,000 engines per month during World War Two when it was fully tooled up.

American Car and Foundry built 365 M4A2 light tanks and 12,263 M3 Stuart light tanks powered by the Continental Motors W-670 tank engines.  The photo above shows an M3 in road march between two M2A4s on the island of Guadalcanal.  Continental engines were in the thick of the fighting during World War Two.

Using a small Continental engine in the D4 Airborne Turnapull and Carryall Scraper is the opposite extreme to a Sherman tank.  The next three photos were taken at the National Construction Equipment Museum in Bowling Green, OH.  This excellent museum has a rare LeTourneau D4 Airborne Turnapull scraper on outside display.  It is rare in that only 567 of these units were built.  The entire unit consisted of a D4 Tournapull, a model Q Carryall, a model P cable power control unit, and on the front an AD Tiltdozer.  The unit shown below does not have the AD Tiltdozer on it.  This particular product was designed to be brought into a primitive landing zone by Waco CG-4A glider, C-47, or C-46.  The Carryall was carried in one aircraft or glider, and the scraper in another.  Once assembled in the field, Army Airborne Aviation Engineers used the D4 to enlarge the landing strip for normal flight operations. 

Author's photo.

The Continental Y112 engine was normally used in industrial applications such as fort lift trucks.  Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Continental R-975 Radial Tank Engine:  

These three Continental R-975 engines are on display at the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA.  Author's photo.

Inside the AAF Tank Museum in Danville, VA is this pristine restoration of one of the 54,104 R-975 radial tank engines that Continental built during World War Two.  Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Author's photo.

The M3 Lee/Grant series medium tanks were the first to utilize the R-975 engine.  The M3 served with both British and American Forces in North Africa until being superseded by the M4 Sherman medium tank series.  The M3 continued to give service with British forces in Burma until the end of the war.  The Continental R-975 engine was a world traveler during the war.  Author's photo from the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA.   

4,924 M3 Lee/Grant Tanks, 300 M3A1 Lee/Grant Tanks and 12 M3A2 Lee/Grant Tanks were built with Continental R-975 engines.  Author's photo.

Continental supplied the 9,707 engines for the M4A1.  Pressed Steel Company built this small hatch M4A1 in July 1942, just four months after the company began production of the M4A1.  Serial number 192 is the oldest known M4 series tank by serial number still in existence.  It is also the oldest Pressed Steel-built M4A1 survivor.  Author's photo taken at the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles. 

This M4A1(76)HVSS was built by Pressed Steel in January of 1945.  This has all the refinements of war experience in the tank.  It has wider tracks, a larger turret for the 76mm main gun, removal of the direct vision ports, the more pointed transmission housing, wet ammunition storage and the 76 mm main gun.  The Sherman tank had been a work in progress during World War Two.  This is Serial Number 67984 and it is on display at the National Guard Armory in Huntington, IN.  Author's photo.

This one of only nine M4A1s built by the Lima Locomotive Works during World War Two that survive today.  A total of 1,655 were built by the company.  Author's photo taken at the Fort Leonard Wood Museum complex. 

Montreal Locomotive Works built 188 M4A1 versions of the tank named Grizzly.  This one is owned by WW2 Armor in Osteen, FL.  Author's photo.

The back doors were open for inspection of the Continental R-975 engine in the Grizzly.  Author's photo.

8,389 M4 Sherman tanks were built by several companies for the war effort.  This Pressed Steel M4E9(75) with Continental R-975 engine is on display at the USS Alabama in Mobile, AL.  Author's photo.

M4 Alco Serial Number 3949 April 1943 was built in April 1943 with a Continental engine.  It is part of the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.  Author's photo.

A total of 3,490 M7 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriages were built by Alco and Federal Machine and Welder during World War Two.  This version of the M7 was powered by the R-795.  This one is owned the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles and was built by Alco in November 1942.  It is Serial Number 1364.  Author's photo.

The Sexton was the Canadian version of the American M7 but was armed with a 25-pounder gun.  The driver was located on the right side of the vehicle.  It too was powered by a Continental R-975.  This Sexton is part of the collection of the Wheels of Liberation located in New Oxford, PA.  The very nice restoration includes an all-weather tarp, which is a nice addition to the vehicle.  This was on display at the 2019 MVPA convention.  Montreal Locomotive Works produced 2,150 during the course of World War Two.  Author's photo.

The Buick-built M18 Hellcat was the fastest American armored track laying vehicle of World War Two, and it was powered the Continental R-975 engine.  The engines were built in Detroit and shipped to the near north side of Flint for installation on the Buick assembly line.  Author's photo taken at the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles. 

This M18 is one of 2,507 built and is part of the collection of theU.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.  When photographed by the author, it was undergoing restoration.  Author's photo.

Buick engineers designed the Hellcat so that the Continental R-975 engine could slide out of the back for easy maintenance.  Author's photo.

Fisher Body, under sub-contract to Buick, rebuilt 600 M18s into M39 cargo carriers.  Fisher Body also built forty brand-new M39s.  All had the Continental R-975 engine.  Author's photo from the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA. 

Twenty-four M43 203mm Howitzer Motor Gun Carriages were produced by Pressed Steel at the end of World War Two.  The Continental R-975 engine was the power plant for the vehicle.  Author's photo.

Continental W-670 Radial Engine:  The W-670 radial engine built by Continental is most identified with the M3 light tank.  In fact, it had several other important applications that assisted in winning World War Two for the Allies.

The W-670 was used in both the LVT-2 and LVT-4.  This LVT-4, was on display at the Portland, IN MVPA gathering in September 2015.  8,351 LVT-4s were built during World War Two.  Author's photo. 

A total of 14,163 LVTs of all types were built with Continental engines.  Author's photo. 

The Continental W-670 engine was mounted right behind the driver's station.  This allowed for the ramp to be installed in the rear.  In the LVT-2 with the W-670 the engine was in the back of the vehicle.  Author's photo. 

The LVT(A)-4 was the fire support version of the LVT-4 and came armed with a 75mm howitzer.  Author's photo from the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA. 

Author's photo.

This LVT(4)-A is part of the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.  Author's photo.

This is M3 Stuart light tank Serial Number 1343 and is part of the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.  It was built in August 1941 by American Car and Foundry.  Author's photo. 

This is one of 12,363 Continental W-670 engines that the company provided for all models of the M3 light tank, and is on display behind the tank.  Author's photo.

 M3 Serial Number 156 is on display at the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville, AL.  It has an early riveted turret.  It was built in May 1941 by American Car and Foundry at its Berwick, PA  plant.  Author's photo.

This and the next photo show how the Continental W-670 engine was installed in the M3 Stuart.  Author's photo.

Author's photo.

R-600 Six Cylinder 230 hp Inline Engine:  The M1 series 10-ton wreckers and M5 series high speed tractors were powered by the Continental R-600 inline engine.

There were 5,765 M1 and M1A1wreckers built by Ward-LaFrance and Kenworth during World War Two.  Author's photo from the 2019 MVPA Convention.

This newly restored International-Harvester M5 High Speed Tractor was on display at the 2019 Thunder over Michigan Airshow.  5,872 of the M5 series high speed tractors were built with the Continental R-600 engine during World War Two.  Author's photo.

Continental history indicates the R-600 engine was used in landing craft.  Use of this engine in landing craft was limited, as there is only one other reference to its use for that purpose in the literature.  The R-600 may have been used very early in the landing craft program when there was an engine shortage, and limited to the LCP(L), as shown in this advertisement.

This is from a 1944 Technical Service Bulletin manual.  It is the only other source showing a Continental engine being used in landing craft.

 This is an LCP(L) similar to the one in the advertisement above.  Author's photo from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

Rolls-Royce V-1650-7 Merlin V12 Aircraft Engine:  Production started in late 1944 and continued through May 1945. 

This Continental-built Rolls-Royce V-1650-7 Merlin is on display at the Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Experience in Portage, MI.  Author's photo added 10-13-2020. 

The V-1650-7 was used in the P-51D/K Mustang.  This engine is serial number ZV-390242.  Author's photo added 10-13-2020. 

Author's photo added 10-13-2020. 

Author's photo added 10-13-2020. 

The North American P-51was the fighter of choice for the Army Air Force in the last year of World War Two.  Continental was added as an engine supplier to make sure there were enough engines to finish the end of the war.  Author's photo.

I-1430 1000 hp Twelve Cylinder Aircraft Engine:

The McDonnell XP-67 "Bat" was the only know application for the I-1430 engine.  One burned from an engine fire and work on the second one stopped when it was realized the aircraft had no advantages for the current fighters already in service with the Army Air Force.

R-1340 Radial Aircraft Engine:  The T-6/SNJ series advanced trainers were an important part of flight training for both the U.S. Army and Navy during the war.  Continental was brought on as a supplier to make sure there were enough engines to keep up with production of the aircraft. 

 Author's photo.

O-170/A65 Four Cylinder Opposed Cylinder Aircraft Engines:  Three different types of Liaison aircraft used 9,222 of these versatile little engines during the war. 

 1,439 Aeronca L-3s were powered by the Continental O-170/A65 engine.  Author's photo.

1,942 Taylorcraft L-2s were powered by the Continental O-170/A65 engine.  Author's photo.

 5,611 Piper L4s were powered by the Continental O-170/A65 engine.  Author's photo.

Author's photo.

R-670 220 hp Radial Aircraft Engine:  3,519 Boeing PT-17s were built with this engine.

Author's photo.

Post-World War Two:  After the war, Continental Motors would continue to supply a variety of of tank and aircraft engines until the end of the Vietnam War.  It also built engines for helicopters, civilian aircraft, and jet engines for the USAF T-37 trainer. This is in itself a huge topic, but is beyond the scope of this webpage.  However, we will look at the most important post-war tank engine that Continental produced for the U.S. Armed Forces.

"What goes around comes around," as the saying goes, and the Continental AV-1790-5B on display at the AAF Tank Museum in Danville, VA is a prime example of this.  During World War Two, the Ford GAA V-8 engine replaced the Continental R-975 as the preferred power plant in the Sherman tank.  At the end of the war, Ford produced a different version of the GAA for the M26 Pershing Heavy Tank.  This was the GAF engine which was still a V-8 producing 500 hp.  It had a lower profile than the GAA so it would fit into the engine compartment of the M26.  While the 500 hp was adequate for the 32-ton Sherman, it was underpowered for the 46-ton M26 Pershing. 

The U.S. Army had never really had an engine designed specifically for use in tanks.  It looked to Continental to develop such an engine.  The company responded with a series of air-cooled engines of various displacements and configurations, the AV-1790 at 810 hp being the one that would power many American tanks up to the introduction of the M1 Abrams.  Author's photo.

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The first application of the Continental AV-1790 was replacing the Ford GAF in the M26, resulting in the M46.  This M46 is on display at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA.  Author's photo.

This M47 on display at Camp Atterbury, IN was powered by the Continental AV-1790. It is one of 8,576 produced.  Author's photo.

The AV-1790 was the engine originally installed in the M48 Patton tank.  Continental developed a diesel version of the engine that was designated the AVDS-1790 and retrofitted it into M48A1s like this one on display at the Army Reserve Center in Jeffersonville, IN.  The new diesel-powered designation for the M48 was the M48A3.  It was this version that served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam.  There were 11,703 M48s built by Chrysler, Fisher Body and Ford.  Author's photo.

Chrysler built 300 M103 Heavy Tanks at its Newark, DE tank arsenal from 1950-1953.  They were powered by the Continental AV-1760 gasoline powered engine.  In 1964 153 of them were converted to the AVDS-1790 diesel engine.  This one at the Shively, KY public library is a diesel conversion.   Author's photo. 

The end of the line.  The M60 was the last tank that used a Continental engine, ending a long and important series of tanks that were used in the American arsenal dating from 1932.  The M60s were equipped with the AVDS-1790 diesel engine.  When the last of 15,000 came off the assembly line at the Detroit Tank Arsenal in 1983, an era ended.  There would be no more Continental-powered tanks built.  This M60A1 is on display at the Terre Haute, IN National Guard Armory.  Author's photo.

It wasn't that Continental didn't try to continue as the engine supplier for the M1 Abrams main battle tank.  It teamed up with General Motors with a proposed tank that would have been powered by a Continental ACVR-1360-2 supercharged 1,500 hp diesel engine.  In the end, the Chrysler/Lycoming entry with a turbine engine won the competition. 

This is the General Motors/Continental Motors entry for the new main battle tank.  The XM1 had an Allison X-1100 transmission.  Allison was the GM Division lead division for General Motors in the competition. 





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