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  
   

 Homelite Company During World War Two
Port Chester, NY

1921-Current

This page added 12-14-2023.

Homelite's most well-known product is the chainsaw.  However, the company, which began in 1921, did not get into the chainsaw business until after World War Two.  The company was originally formed to provide portable electric generators to persons in rural areas who were without electrical utility service.

The readers of this page who own a Homelite chainsaw or another of its yard care products are most likely unaware of the company's importance to winning World War Two.  I own a Homelite chainsaw but was unaware of the company's significant contribution to the war effort until I researched the products it produced.

Both the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) and United States Army Ordnance picked the Homelite Company to provide auxiliary power units (APU) for their most important weapons.  Homelite APUs were installed in USAAF B-17s and B-24 heavy bombers.  The complete line of Army Ordnance M4 Sherman tanks was equipped with Homelite auxiliary power units.  These two aircraft and the medium tans are three of the American military's most iconic World War Two weapons.  Homelite generators were used on a worldwide basis and participated in all of the most important air and ground battles of World War Two.  The Homelite Company was a very busy place during World War Two, keeping these and other weapons supplied with its auxiliary power units.


The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is the most well known of the World War Two four-engine bombers due to its extensive use in the bombing of the Third Reich.  Its fame was cemented by such post-World War Two movies as "Twelve O'Clock High" starring Gregory Peck.  The B-17 was the definitive American heavy bomber of World War Two.  B-17s carried a Homelite model HRU-28 auxiliary power unit.

Shown above is the B-17F Memphis Belle on May 17, 2018, 74 years to the day from when she completed 25 combat missions over Europe.  This photo was taken several hours after the dedication of the Memphis Belle at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  A Homelite HRU-28 provided the power to start the engines on the Memphis Belle on her twenty-five missions over Europe.  Author's photo.


Homelite generators were at the very first American battle of World War Two!  They were in the war from Day One.
Where the B-17s went, so went the Homelite HRU-28, including the twelve B-17s that arrived at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack. 

How cool is the above photo?  Or maybe, how scary was this for the B-17 flight crew?  It was taken by Sgt. Lee Embree in the B-17E piloted by Lt. Karl T. Barthelmess over Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  Sgt. Embree photographed two Japanese Aichi D3A “Val” dive bombers on their way to attack American military installations.  Sgt. Embree took this photo from the B-17's port side waist position.  Located not far behind him was a Homelite HRU-28 auxiliary power unit. 


The M4 Sherman tank was used not only by the United States Army and USMC, but American allies as well.  The British, French, and Russians were also equipped with the Sherman via Lend-Lease.  The Sherman tank served around the world and was the Army's ground units' equivalent of the USAAF's B-17.  The 49,234 Sherman tanks that were built were all equipped with a Homelite APU.  Author's photo.


Before the M4 Sherman entered production American industry produced the M3 Lee/Grant series of tanks.  The M3 series of tanks were the first American medium tanks to see combat with the U.S. Army in North Africa.  However, even before the U.S. Army landed in North Africa, the British were already using them to successfully fight German General Erwin Rommel's Desert Forces.  The M3 tanks were equipped with Homelite auxiliary power units.  Author's photo.


 The United States Army also fielded three types of fully tracked tank destroyers during World War Two.  All came equipped with a Homelite APU.  The three types of tank destroyers are shown on display at the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles at Nokesville, VA.  On the left is an M10 Wolverine.  In the center is an M18 Hellcat.  On the right is an M36.  Author's photo.

The Homelite Company History:  In 1921, entrepreneur Charles H. Ferguson of Port Chester, New York, invented a lightweight, portable, gasoline-powered electrical generator. His newly founded company, the Home Electric Lighting Company (later abbreviated to Homelite), made it possible for thousands of rural farms and households to enjoy the convenience of electricity, where it would be years before land lines would reach many of these remote areas. In addition, many of Mr. Ferguson's generators played a significant role in the war effort, providing portable electricity on demand for the troops during World War Two.

Although the company is now known for the quality lawn equipment and chainsaws it manufactures, it didn’t start that way. The first invention that Ferguson created for his company was a generator. The generator model that Ferguson invented was lightweight and portable compared to other options at the time, and it was gasoline-powered. Although he intended to help provide electricity to farms and households, his generators played a huge role in the World War Two war effort by providing portable electricity for the troops on demand. This was important because electricity was difficult to obtain on the battlefield, but with the company’s generators, this was no longer an issue.

The company expanded just more than a mile away and across the state line to Greenwich, CT, in 1929, and became a division of Textron Inc. in 1955.  The Gastonia, NC plant opened in 1957 and a sister manufacturing facility in Greer, SC opened two years later. They moved from Greenwich CT, to a new headquarters in Charlotte, NC  in 1975. Beginning in the late 1970s, Homelite gradually expanded its power equipment line to include string trimmers, leaf blowers, push mowers, and hedge trimmers.  John Deere acquired the brand in 1994.  However,  in less than 10 years, John Deere sold Homelite to Techtronic Industries in 2001, and this is where the company has remained. Homelite's parent company, Ryobi LTD. Division of Techtronic Industries,  is currently headquartered in Hong Kong.


The Homelite Port Chester, NY plant won the Army-Navy "E" Award four times during World War Two.
The company received its first award on October 8,1942.

The Homelite Company's World War Two Production:  Table 1 shows that the Homelite Company produced at a minimum 99,738 auxiliary power units for use in military aircraft and armored vehicles.  The aircraft and armored vehicles were all part of the spearhead of the American military's in winning World War Two.  Table 3 shows that the company had 70 major contracts worth $34,525,000 during the war.  The United States Army Air Corps was its biggest customer.

Homelite Company showed a dramatic increase in employees as the war progressed.  In November 1940, the company had 100 employees.  Two years later at the "E" Award presentation the company had 850 workers.  With the end of the war in August 1945, 1,000 workers were laid off with the cancellation of military contracts.  Homelite had to have had an excellent management team to be able absorb the tenfold increase in workers to meet the military's insatiable demand for auxiliary power units.

Table 1 - Homelite Company's World War Two Auxiliary Power Plant Production by Application
Application Number Built Homelite Auxiliary Power Unit
Aircraft    
B-17 12,731 HRU-28/HRU-28A
B-24 18,188 HRU-28/HRU-28A
PB4Y-2 736 HRU-28/HRU-28A
C-46 3,181 HRU-28/HRU-28A
Total Aircraft 34,836  
     
Armored Vehicles    
M3 Medium Tank 6,258 HRH-28/HRUH-28
M4 Medium Tank 49,234 HRH-28/HRUH-28
M10 Tank Destroyer 4,993 HRH-28/HRUH-28
M10A1 Tank Destroyer 1,413 HRH-28/HRUH-28
M18 Tank Destroyer 2,507 HRH-28/HRUH-28
M36 Tank Destroyer 487 HRH-28/HRUH-28
Total Armored Vehicles 64,892  
Grand Total 99,728  

 

Table 2 - Homelite Company's Major World War Two Contracts - Greenwich, CT Plant
The information below comes from the "Alphabetical Listing of Major War Supply Contracts, June 1940 through September 1945."  This was published by the Civilian Production Administration, Industrial Statistics Division, Requirements and Progress Branch January 21, 1946. 

Product Contract Amount Contract Awarded Completion Date
Tank Parts - Army Ordnance $107,000 7-1943 3-1944
Power Plant Parts - Navy $134,000 11-1943 7-1944
Elec Generators HRUH - Army Ordnance $61,000 1-1945 8-1945
Engine Cylinders - USAAF $79,000 1-1945 5-1945
Engine Cylinders - USAAF $88,000 2-1945 6-1945
Cylinder Piston Assys - USAAF $199,000 3-1945 10-1945
Power Plant Parts - USAAF $151,000 3-1945 11-1945
Elec Generators - Army Ordnance $62,000 4-1945 10-1945
Power Plant Equipment - USAAF $331,000 5-1945 12-1946
Power Plant Equipment - USAAF $110,000 5-1945 2-1946
Power Plant Equipment - USAAF $322,000 6-1945 2-1946
Power Plant Equipment - USAAF $411,000 6-1945 1-1946
Total $2,055,000    

 

Table 3 - Homelite Company's Major World War Two Contracts - Port Chester, NY Plant
The information below comes from the "Alphabetical Listing of Major War Supply Contracts, June 1940 through September 1945."  This was published by the Civilian Production Administration, Industrial Statistics Division, Requirements and Progress Branch January 21, 1946. 

Product Contract Amount Contract Awarded Completion Date

Plant Electric Power - USAAF

$165,000 10-1940 4-1941
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $550,000 11-1940 11-1941
Generators - Army Ordnance $61,000 1-1941 5-1941
Generators - Army Ordnance $81,000 6-1941 1-1942
Generators - USAAF $5,635,000 8-1941 4-1943
Electrical Equipment - USAAF $1,350,000 9-1941 4-1943
Blowers - USAAF $106,000 1-1942 5-1942
Generator Parts - USAAF $236,000 7-1942 4-1943
Blowers - Army Engineering Corps $114,000 7-1942 1-1943
Generators - Army Ordnance $88,000 8-1942 4-1943
Plants Power - USAAF $88,000 9-1942 11-1942
Generators - Army Ordnance $150,000 9-1942 7-1943
Engines Gasoline - Army Ordnance $1,626,000 10-1942 10-1943
Power Plants - USAAF $523,000 10-1942 11-1942
Blowers - Army Engineering Corps $110,000 10-1942 6-1943
Generators - Army Ordnance $454,000 10-1942 1-1943
Engines Gasoline - USAAF $1,346,000 11-1942 6-1943
Power Units - USAAF $148,000 12-1942 8-1943
Power Plants - USAAF $132,000 12-1942 8-1943
Power Plants - USAAF $2,376,000 12-1942 2-1944
Tank Generators  - Army Ordnance $80,000 2-1943 7-1943
Generators - Army Ordnance $222,000 2-1943 5-1943
Power Plants - USAAF $3,255,000 2-1943 2-1944
Generators - Army Ordnance $479,000 5-1943 4-1944
Generators - Army Engineering Corps $54,000 5-1943 10-1943
Portable Power Plants - Army Engineering Corps $136,000 6-1943 5-1944
Power Units - Army Signal Corps $2,687,000 6-1943 10-1945
Tank Parts  - Army Ordnance $107,000 7-1943 2-1944
Electric Generators  - Army Ordnance $51,000 8-1943 10-1943
Electric Generators  - Navy $68,000 8-1943 10-1943
Electric Generators  - Navy $70,000 8-1943 11-1943
Generators  - Navy $110,000 9-1943 1-1944
Power Plant Parts - USAAF $87,000 10-1943 4-1944
Power Plant Parts - USAAF $56,000 10-1943 5-1944
Generator Sets - Army Engineering Corps $254,000 11-1943 10-1944
Power Plant Parts - USAAF $167,000 11-1943 6-1944
Electric Power Plants - Navy $158,000 12-1943 11-1944
Electric Power Plants - Navy $82,000 12-1943 4-1944
Professional Services - USAAF $71,000 12-1943 12-1944
Portable Generators  - Navy $97,000 1-1944 7-1944
Auxiliary Power Plants - Navy $138,000 1-1944 9-1944
Electric Power Plants - USAAF $178,000 1-1944 12-1944
Generator Sets - Army Engineering Corps $57,000 4-1944 5-1945
Motor Generators PU33 - Army Signal Corps $186,000 6-1944 2-1945
Motor Generators - Army Signal Corps $139,000 6-1944 8-1945
Auxiliary Power Units - Navy $323,000 10-1944 9-1945
Elec Generator Sets - Army Engineering Corps $1,200,000 10-1944 5-1945
Electric Power Plants - USAAF $585,000 10-1944 3-1945
Power Plant Parts - USAAF $252,000 11-1944 10-1945
Power Units PU6 - Army Signal Corps $287,000 12-1944 12-1945
Electric Power Units - Navy $341,000 1-1945 9-1945
Elec Generator Sets - Army Engineering Corps $688,000 2-1945 2-1946
Electric Generators  - Navy $1,355,000 4-1945 12-1945
Motor Generators - Army Signal Corps $345,000 4-1945 12-1945
Power Plant Assys - USAAF $2,291,000 4-1945 5-1946
Power Unit Parts - Navy $27,000 5-1945 1-1946
Power Unit Parts - Navy $135,000 6-1945 2-1946
Power Units PU6 - Army Signal Corps $163,000 6-1945 12-1945
Total $32,470,000    

 

Table 4 - Homelite Company's Major World War Two Contracts by Customer Both Plants
Customer  Contract Value Number of Contracts Percentage
USAAF $20,738,000 28 60%
Army Signal Corps $4,357,000 7 12.6%
Army Ordnance $3,629,000 14 10.5%
Navy $3,038,000 13 7.9%
Army Engineering Corps $2,613,000 8 7.6%
Total $34,525,000 70 ~100%

The Homelite auxiliary power unit has been overlooked by historians and military book authors in its contribution to winning World War Two.  An examination of several books on the B-17, B-24, and the Sherman tank will not find any mention of the Homelite HRU-28 nor the HRH-28.  There are all sorts of information on types of weapons, engines, and changes to the weapons as the war progressed.  But there is not any reference to the Homelite auxiliary power units.  This is a vast oversight by the authors of these books, as the auxiliary power units were essential components of these weapons.  For the bombers and cargo aircraft, the APUs provided starting power to save the batteries.  They could also be used as emergency backup power at low attitudes to supply power if an engine generator failed.  For the armored vehicles, they also could be used to start the vehicle, especially when it was cold.  The APU supplied power to the armored vehicle in lieu of the main engine as a way to save fuel.  When the armored vehicles were not moving the APU supplied power to keep the radios and other equipment running.  Homelite auxiliary power units were important to the crews of the American bombers, cargo aircraft, medium tanks, and fully tracked tank destroyers.

HRU-28A for B-24, C-46 and B-17 Walk Around:  The unit shown below is the only one I have found in my ten years of investigating how American companies helped win World War Two.  This unit was on display at the 2023 TBM Reunion/Salute to Veterans at the Peru, IL airport.  The discovery of this APU then prompted me to write this page on the Homelite Company.


Author's photo. 


This Model HRU-28A is serial number 258824.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This image from a B-17 pilot training manual shows the location of the auxiliary power plant being located in rear port side of the fuselage near the tail section.


On the B-24, the Homelite HRU-28 was located under the flight deck.  It is item number 24 on this drawing taken from the pilot training manual for the B-24.


 From the pilot training manual for the B-24.


The Curtiss C-46 Commando was the largest twin engine transport used by the US in World War Two and used a Homelite HRU-28 APU.  Author's Photo.


 From pilot training manual for the C-46.

M3 Medium Tanks:


Not all technical manuals from World War Two still exist.  I was able to find the TM 9-1752 for the auxiliary generator for the M3 medium tank. This and the next five pages are from that manual.  Note that the title page specifically names the Homelite HRH-28 as the specified unit. 


Paragraph 2a describes all of the functions the Homelite HRH-28 performed in the M3 medium tank.  These included charging the batteries, pre-heating the engine, and heating the crew compartment.  It was a very important piece of equipment in the M3 tank.

I was not able to find any auxiliary generator manuals for the M4 Sherman series of tanks nor for the M10/M10A, M18, and M36 tank destroyers.  However, the manuals would have been very similar to the one shown here.  The Homelite HRH-28 served the same functions in these armored vehicles as in the M3 medium tank.


The name "Homelite" is visible on this generator in the manual

Table 5 - M3 Type Medium Tanks with Homelite HRH-28 Auxiliary Generator

Manufacturer Type Number Built
American Locomotive Company  (ALCO) M3 385
Baldwin Locomotive Works M3 295
Chrysler (Detroit Tank Arsenal) M3 3,243
Pressed Steel Company M3 501
Pullman M3 500
Total M3 Medium Tanks   4,924
     
American Locomotive Company  (ALCO)  M3A1 300
Baldwin Locomotive Works M3A2 12
Baldwin Locomotive Works M3A3 322
Chrysler (Detroit Tank Arsenal) M3A4

109

Baldwin Locomotive Works M3A5 591
Grand Total All M3 Type Medium Tanks  

6,258


This is M3 Lee tank Serial Number 1054 with a Grant turret.  It was built by Baldwin in November 1941.  Author's photo from the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection, Fort Benning, GA.


This M3A3 Lee Serial Number 1099 was manufactured by Baldwin in May 1942.  Author's photo from the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA. 

M4 Series Sherman Tanks:  There were 49,234 Sherman tanks built during World War Two in six different main categories depending on the engine type.  Homelite produced the HRH-28 or HRUH-28 auxiliary power plants for the 49,234 Sherman tanks.

Table 6 - M4 Series Medium Tanks with Homelite HRH-28 Auxliary Generator
Type Number Built Manufacturers Engine Type
M4 8,389 Alco, Baldwin, Chrysler, Pressed Steel Company, Pullman Standard Continental R-975 Radial - Welded Hull
M4A1 9,707 Lima Locomotive, Pacific Car and Foundry, Pressed Steel Company Continental R-975 Radial - Cast Hull
M4A2 10,968 Alco, Baldwin, Federal Machine, Fisher Body, Pressed Steel Company, Pullman Standard Detroit Diesel 6-71 Diesel
M4A3 12,596 Chrysler, Ford, Fisher Body Ford Motor Company GAA V-8
M4A4 7,499 Chrysler Chrysler A57 Multibank
M4A6 75 Chrysler Caterpillar RD-1820 Radial Diesel
Total 49,234    


While I was not able to find the technical manuals for the auxiliary generator used in the M4 series of medium tanks, I was able to find the parts manual for the M4/M4A1 that specify Homelite generators.  Note that the HRH-28 was used on early models of the M4 and M4A1 and the HRUH-28 on later models.  


This Alco-built M4E9(75) is on display in front of the Am Vets 35 in Crestview, FL.  This is serial number 1765 and was built in April 1943.  It is the oldest surviving Alco M4 and is typical of all models of the early M4 Sherman series tank.  Author's photo.


Pacific Car and Foundry built 926 M4A1(75) VVSS Sherman tanks like this one on display at the Fort Leonard Wood, MO Museum outside tank park.  It is the only one in the United States, and one of six remaining in the world.  Production of the M4A1 started in May 1942 and finished in November 1943.  The main difference between this M4A1 and the M4 above is that the M4A1 has a cast hull.  Author's photo.

M4 Series Tanks Operator's Manuals:  For the M4A2 and M4A4, I was able to find these manuals.  The photos below show the same photos as the ones above for the M4/M4A1.

M4A2 Sherman Tank: 


The name "Homelite" appears to no long be on the control box.  As the war progressed, manufacturers were no longer allowed to put their names on the product. 

M4A4 Sherman Tank: 


In this manual, the heat duct is no longer shown, only the generator.

Tank Destroyers:

M10 Hellcat Tank Destroyer:  I was able to find both the technical and supplier manuals for the M18 Hellcat tank destroyer. 


Author's photo.


While Technical Manual TM 9-755 does not specify the model number, it does show that the APU is a Homelite. 


This image from TM 9-755 shows a Homelite HRH-28 series APU.

M10 Tank Destroyer:  The M10 was built on the same chassis and with the same engine as the M4A2 Sherman tank.  The Homelite APU was universal across this product line.


This M10 is on display at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.  Author's photo. 

M36 Tank Destroyer:  The M36 was a conversion from M10A1 type tank destroyers which were built on the same chassis and engine as the M4A3 Sherman tanks.  The original 75mm main guns and turrets were replaced with a new turret and 90mm main gun.  The hull with the existing Homelite generator remained the same.


This M36 is on display at the U.S. Cavalry Museum, Fort Riley, KS, and was converted from a Ford-built M10A1.  In the background is an M4A3 Sherman tank.  Author's photo.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Power Units:  Homelite also built other types of portable generators for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.


The Evansville Wartime Museum in Evansville, IN has what appears to be the non-military model HTR version of the PE-75 on display.  It has been painted.  Author's photo.


The brass tags are non-military.  These are too shiny for military use.  The data plate does not show a contract number, specification, nor note that it is property of the U.S. Signal Corps.  Otherwise, military PE-75s would be just like this civilian version.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.

 

The Bottom Line:  The Homelite Company and its HRH-28 and HRU-28 series of auxiliary power units have not been given the credit they deserve in helping to win World War Two.  By being used in all B-17s, B-24s, and C-46s the Homelite APUs served on many of the most famous and important aerial missions around the world.  The same can be said for the Homelite APUs that were important equipment in the M3 and M4 series of medium tanks and the M10/M10A1, M18, and M36 tank destroyers.  These weapons also served around the globe during World War Two.

The Homelite Company was an important piece of each of these types of equipment, as they helped U.S. military push back the forces of tyranny and made the world safe for democracy.

 

 

 

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