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  


Packard Plant Pictures and Photos   1944 Packard Annual Report
The Packard Motor Car Company in World War Two / WWII
 Detroit, MI

Rest in Peace

Updated 6-22-2016.

During the Second World War Packard built both marine and aircraft engines in its huge plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit, which was a legacy of its WWI job of building the famous Liberty engine.  Packard introduced American mass manufacturing techniques in to the British Rolls-Royce 1650 Merlin inline aircraft engine.  Rolls-Royce built engines were hand built and parts hand fitted, making each one different and the parts not interchangeable.  Packard using the techniques the US auto industry had been using for years of standardized components that were interchangeable from engine to engine, started cranking out the engines that were desperately needed for the US war effort.  These went into the P-40, P-51, Lancaster, Mosquito, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.

The other engine built was for marine purposes and three each of them went into the famous American PT boats of which Elco, Higgins, Huckins, Vosper and Scott-Paine all built. Vosper built PT boats built in the United Kingdom.  IN the US  85 foot and 104 foot US Army Rescue boats and US Navy Rescue Boats were also built using the 4M-2500 engine.

This 1905 Packard Model N Touring car is on display at the Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan.  The Packard Brothers started building cars in 1900 after previously starting the Packard Electric Company in Warren, OH, which later became a division of General Motors.  Author's photo.

The Packard Marine Engine Division won the Army-Navy "E" Award four times during WWII.

Packard Motor Car Company World War Two / WWII Production Numbers:  (12,700) 4M-2500 Marine Engines; (54,714) V-1650 Packard Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engines;  (?) Military Staff Cars (until 1943)

All civilian production of automobiles ceased by government order in February of 1942.  However, Packard was allowed to continue the manufacture of a limited amount cars for use by the military as staff cars until early 1943.  From the collection at the National Military Historical Center, Auburn, IN.  Author's Photo.

One of 54,714 Packard Rolls-Royce Merlin Engines built on display at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH.  The success of the Merlin was because of its high altitude performance that resulted from the super charger that can be seen here at the rear of the engine.  Author's photo.

This photo shows the Packard built Merlin on display next to its most famous American application, the North American P-51 Mustang.  Author's photo at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Packard World War Two Merlin Aircraft Engine Production
Unfortunately I have not been able to obtain the numbers of each type of Merlin built by Packard.  One can see that the Packard built Merlin engine went into several of the Commonwealth aircraft besides the American Mustang.

Packard Designation RR Equivalent Application Comments
Merlin 28 Merlin XX Lancaster III, Canadian Lancaster X R.M. 3 S.M. Single Stage 2 Speed Blower
Merlin 29 Merlin XX Canadian Hurricane  
Merlin 31 Merlin 21 Canadian Mosquito Reversed Coolant Flow
Merlin 33 Merlin 23 Canadian and Australian Mosquito  
Merlin 38 Merlin 22 Lancaster III, Canadian Lancaster X  
Merlin T38 Merlin 22 Lancaster III, Canadian Lancaster X Modified Packard 38
Merlin 68 Merlin 85 Lincoln II R.M. 10 S.M. Two Stage 2 Speed Blower Merlin 67 which was similar to the V-1650-7
Merlin 69 Merlin 67 Canadian and Australian Mosquito  
Merlin 224 Merlin 24 Lancaster III, Canadian Lancaster X R.M. 3 S.M. Single Stage 2 Speed Blower
Merlin 225 Merlin 25 Canadian and Australian Mosquito  
Merlin 266-P Merlin 66 Spitfire16LF R.M. 10 S.M. Two Stage 2 Speed Blower
Merlin 300 Merlin 100 Lincoln R.M. 14 S.M.
Merlin 301 Merlin 100 Lincoln R.M. 14 S.M. Reversed Coolant Flow
V-1650-1 Merlin XX P-40F Warhawk Single Stage 2 Speed Blower
V-1650-3 Merlin 61 P-51B/C, CA-17 MK 20 Mustang Also served as replacement for P-51D and V-1650-7
V-1650-5   P-63 Kingcobra Not produced.  (Now this would have been on high performing aircraft!!)
V-1650-7   P-51D/K, CA-18 MK 21 Mustang R.M. 10 S.M.
V-1650-9   P-51H R.M. 16 S.M.
V-1650-9A   P-51M(1), P-51D R.M. 16 S.M.  Also served as replacement for P-51D and V-1650-7
V-1650-11   P-51L (Cancelled), XP-82 R.M. 16 S.M.
V-1650-13     Not produced.  Modification of V-1650-3 to use Simmonds boost control.
V-1650-15     Not produced.  Modification of V-1650-3 to use Simmonds boost control.
V-1650-17     Not produced.  Modification of V-1650-3 to use Simmonds boost control.
V-1650-19     Not produced.
V-1650-21   XP-82 Same as V-1650-11 but with left hand prop rotation
V-1650-23   P-82B/C/D Same as V-1650-11
V-1650-25     Same as V-1650-23 but with left hand prop rotation but with left hand prop rotation

The P-51 Mustang with the Packard built Merlin engine.  The mating of the Merlin engine to the Mustang airframe produced what is considered to be the best US Army Air Force fighter of WWII.  Author's Photo.

The world's only flying De Havilland Mosquito.  This particular model was built during WWII in Canada and would been equipped with the Packard built Merlins.  As in interesting side note the all wooden fuselages for the 1,032 Canadian built Mosquitoes were built by GM of Canada.  Author's Photo.

Another application of the Packard Rolls-Merlin 1650 was the British Lancaster bomber.  Here its Merlins pull it down the runway at Windsor, Ontario in 2010.  This is one of only two Lancasters still flying in the world.  Author's Photo.

This once in a lifetime fly-over at Hamilton, Ontario in June of 2013 has all of the aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce 1650 Merlin engines, most probably being the Packard built version.  Author's Photo.

This North American P-82B was one of 20 P-82Bs produced late in World War Two as long range escort fighters that were equipped with Packard built 1650-11 engines.  From this angle the aircraft looks like a P-51.  Author's photo at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

From this angle it can be seen that there are actually two fuselages to the P-82B which while looking like P-51 fuselages were actually a new design.  Author's photo at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

US Built PT Boats with Packard 4M-2500 Marine Engines
Manufacturer US UK USSR Total Number of Engines
Elco 335 10 30 375 1,125
Higgins 148 46 7 201 603
Huckins 19 0 0 19 57
Vosper 0 90 56 146 438
Scott-Paine (Canada) 4     4 4
Totals 506 146 93 745 2,235
British Built PT Boats with Packard 4M-2500 Marine Engines
Manufacturer   UK      
Vosper   44     132
The UK and Canada received 4,686 Packard engines during the war through either direct purchase or through Lend-Lease, of which 438 can be accounted for by those built by US manufacturers as Lend-Lease above.  There were also some Motor Gun Boats built by the British but those would not use up another 4,116 4M-2500 Marine Engines and it has to be assumed most of these were spare engines. 
With 12,700 total engines built this leaves 6,787 for spares for US and USSR applications in PT boats and for OEM engines in the various rescue boats built for both the Army Air Corps and the US Navy.

The next photos were graciously provided by Bill Maloney that he took at Battleship Cove Naval Museum in Fall River, MA of the Higgins PT-796 and Elco PT-617.

This is the bow of the Higgins built PT-796.  Bill Maloney Photo.

Looking down into the engine room of PT-796 and the Packard 4M-2500 marine engine.  The white handle is the transmission lever that allowed the boat to go forward, reverse or be in neutral.  Bill Maloney Photo.

This photo shows how the crew members in the engine room sat on a small seat on top of the engine to control the direction of the PT boat.  This had to be hot, noisy and in general an unpleasant activity.  Bill Maloney Photo.

A Packard 4M-2500 in PT-796.  Bill Maloney Photo.

Elco PT-617.  Bill Maloney Photo.

A Packard engine in PT-617.  Bill Maloney Photo.

 This is a very nicely restored Packard 4M2500 Marine Engine on display at Battleship Cove Naval Museum.  Bill Maloney Photo.

Pictured here is a 72 foot Vosper PT boat built by the Annapolis Yacht Yard at Annapolis, MD in 1945 under license from Vosper and which was intended for the USSR under Lead-Lease.  With the end of the war it was sold to a private owner in the US and was just recently purchased by the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, OH, which has been restoring it.  When complete, PT-728 will be available for giving paid rides to the public on Lake Erie.  However, due to US Coast Guard safety regulations, it will be diesel powered.  Author's photo added 10-8-2015.

This photo shows the relative size compared to the persons standing in front of it.  When built it came with Packard 4M-2500 engines just as all of the other 145 US built Vosper PT boats did.  Author's photo added 10-8-2015.

This 4M-2500 is in storage at the Liberty Aviation Museum and is being saved for the second Vosper boat the museum is going to purchase and restore.  It will be powered by the Packard marine engines as it will not be giving rides for public sale and therefore will not fall under USCG regulations.  Author's photo added 10-8-2015.

This Packard  4M-2500 Marine Engine is at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX.  The lever at the left end of the engine is the reversing control.  Author's Photo.

The Packard Name on the valve cover.  Author's Photo.

Delco-Remy Division of General Motors in Anderson, IN built the generator and starter seen here for Packard Marine Engines.  Author's Photo.

A Packard 4M-2500 Marine Engine at the Packard Museum in Dayton, OH.  Author's Photo.

As noted above the Packard Marine Engine also went into US Army Air Force Rescue boats that were used to rescue downed aircrew in the ocean.  I have not been able to find and there may not be any left of theses boats but here is a model of the 104 foot Crash Rescue Boat as found at the Air Force Museum.  Author's photo. 

Here is an exploded view of the 85 foot Crash Rescue Boat that was powered by two Packard Marine Engines.  Author's photo at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

This photo of the model shows the engine room with the drive shaft oriented towards the front of the boat and then being directed towards the propeller at the stern through a gear box.  There are two engines in the display but my photo only captured one.  Author's photo at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. 




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