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   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

    Automobile Manufacturers:  American Bantam Car Company   Checker Car Company   Chrysler Corporation   Crosley Corporation   Ford Motor Car Company   General Motors Corporation   Graham-Paige Motors Corporation   Hudson
Motor Car Company  Nash-Kelvinator   Packard Motor Car Company      Studebaker    Willys-Overland Motors

General Motors Divisions
(Undergoing development)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   United Motors Service   Vauxhall Motors

Other World War Two Manufacturers:   Allis-Chalmers   American Car and Foundry   American Locomotive   American LaFrance   Annapolis Yacht Yard   Autocar  
B.F. Goodrich   Baldwin Locomotive Works    Boyertown Auto Body Works   Brockway Motor Company    Caterpillar   Chris-Craft   Clark Equipment Company   Cleveland Tractor Company   Continental Motors   Converto Manufacturing    Cummins Engine Company   Cushman Motor Works   Delta Electric Company   Diamond T   Federal Motor Truck   Firestone Tire and Rubber Company   Fruehauf Trailer Company   Galvin Manufacturing   Hall-Scott   Harley-Davidson   Herreshoff Manufacturing Company   Higgins Industries   Howe Fire Apparatus   Indian Motorcycle   International Harvester   J.D. Adams Company   John Deere   Kohler Company   Lima Locomotive Works   Mack Truck   Marmon-Herrington Company    Massey-Harris   Muncie Gear Works   Owens Yacht   Pacific Car and Foundry   Pressed Steel Car Company   Reo Motor Car Company   R.G. LeTourneau   Seagrave Fire Apparatus   Sterling Motor Truck Company   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company   York-Hoover Body Company
      
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 Pressed Steel Car Company in World War Two
Armored Tank Division
Chicago, IL
1884-1956

This page added 8-17-2020.

An American Auto Industry in World War Two Special Edition

The Armored Tank Division of the Pressed Steel Car Company, located in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, was part of a larger company headquartered in Pittsburg, PA.  The main product of the Pressed Steel Car Company was railroad train cars, which were produced in several locations in the United States.  The historical record provides little information on what war products were produced at the company plants other than Hegewisch, but rail cars were in demand by both the U.S. Army and the American railroad industry to keep war products moving.  It can be assumed that the plants manufactured this product for the war effort.  The historical record shows the Pittsburgh plant forged artillery shells for the war effort.

The Armored Tank Division of the Pressed Steel Car Company had its beginnings with the U.S. Rolling Stock Company, which was established in 1871 in New York as a manufacturer of railroad equipment.

The company moved to the Chicago area in 1883, when the company's president, Adolph Hegewisch, picked the area for his railroad car plant.  This created a need for housing in the area.  The U.S. Rolling Stock Company did not own the housing, but they were providing it through what was called the Hegewisch Land Co.  Hegewisch was subsequently established as a town in 1884 but would later become part of Chicago in 1889. There is no documented history of Adolph Hegewisch after 1892.  So, local historians have assumed that he died, and the U.S. Rolling Stock Company was purchased by Pressed Steel.

 The British were in dire need of tanks after losing the majority of their tanks on the Continent during the German invasion of The Netherlands, Belgium, and France in May 1940.  In June 1940, the British Purchasing Commission began visiting various companies in the United States to find prospective suppliers for the M3 medium tank.  Pressed Steel Car Company was one of several companies selected and was issued a purchase order on October 25,1940 for the production of 501 M3 tanks.  The order was worth $28,455,000.00.

All of the negotiations were conducted at the Pressed Car Company's headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA.  It was there that the original offices of the Armored Tank Division of Pressed Steel were first housed.  The Hegewisch plant had been idle since 1932 due to lack of orders during The Depression.  The plant had not been maintained and needed a concentrated effort to make it production-worthy.  Even parts of the roof were missing.  On February 20, 1941, work began to make the plant ready to produce M3 medium tanks.  By April 9, 1941, this work was complete.  On July 13, 1941, Pressed Steel completed the first of 11,501 tanks and motorized gun carriages.  It was an M3 Grant.

Pressed Steel Car Company went out of business in 1956 and US Steel purchased the former tank plant in Hegewisch for use as a steel warehouse.  This building on the site have since been razed.


This Google Map satellite photo shows the triangular area bounded by South Torrence on the west and South Brainard on the northeast where Pressed Steel in Hegewisch was located.  The former plant site is now a loading point for vehicles built at the Ford Motor Company plant to the northwest of this location.


This photo shows the plant looking northwest with South Brainard and the railroad tracks along the right hand side of the image.  The main assembly rail car plant that was rebuilt to manufacture armored vehicles is the long dark building.  North of it is the test track where every armored vehicle had to be tested prior to being accepted by Army Ordnance.  Up in the right hand corner of the photo is the Ford plant that built M8 and M20 armored cars.  This area of Chicago built a significant number of armored vehicles for the war effort.  Photo courtesy of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society. 


Pressed Steel won the Army-Navy "E" Award three times during World War Two.
It won the first award on September 10, 1942.

Pressed Steel World War Two Armored Vehicles 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 Progress Branch
January 21, 1946.
Type 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
Tank, Medium, M3   104 397       501
Tank, Medium, M4(75)     475 525     1,000
Tank, Medium, M4A1(75)     699 3,001     3,700
Tank, Medium, M4A1(76)         2,171 1,255 3,426
Tank, Medium, M4A2(76)           21 21
Tank, Recovery, M32 (Conversion)         163   163
Tank, Recovery, M32B1(New)       31 60   91
Tank, Recovery, M32B1(Conversion)       6 378   384
Tank, Recovery, M32B3(Conversion)         298   298
Carrier, Cargo, M30 (T14)     60 40     100
Carriage, Motor, 105mm Howitzer, M7B1         664 162 826
Carriage, Motor,155mm Gun,  M12     60 40     100
Carriage, Motor, 155mm Gun, M40 (T83)           418 418
Carriage, Motor, 8 inch Howitzer, M43 (T89)           24 24
Total   104 1,691 3,643 3,734 1,880 11,052

Author's Note 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.

Other Tanks and equipment built by the Armored Tank Division of Pressed Steel:

  • Two T29 Heavy Tank Prototypes

  • One T12 Heavy Tank Recovery Vehicle - This was built on the chassis of an M26 Pershing Heavy Tank.

  • 41 M4 "Scorpion" Mine Exploders - This was based on a British design and was mounted out in front of a tank.  It consisted of chains spinning at 100 rpms to explode mines before the tank rolled over them.


Here a tank crew trains on a mine exploder. 


This Pressed Steel-built small hatch M4A1(75) is serial number 192, built in July 1942.  It is USA number 3014948.  It is the oldest Pressed Steel M4A1(75) known to exist and is owned by the Virginia Military Museum of Military Vehicles.  Note that this tank has the direct vision ports for the driver and assistant driver.  Author's photo.


Pressed Steel originally built this tank as an M4A1 with serial number 415 in August 1942.  Note that it does not have the direct vision ports.  This was converted to the M42B1 flame thrower configuration in 1945.  It is USA number 3015171.  It was photographed by the author in June 2019 at the former International World War Two Museum in Natick, MA, which closed early August 2019.  The tank is now owned by the Museum of American Armor on Long Island, NY.


This M4E9(75) was built by Pressed Steel and is on display at the USS Alabama in Mobile, AL.  Note that it has two different types of tracks on it.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This M32B1 Tank Retriever Vehicle was converted to this configuration by Pressed Steel from one its own M4A1(75) small hatch tanks.  This vehicle was photographed by the author at Sam Winer Motors in Akron, OH.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This M32B3, serial number 560, was converted by the Pressed Steel Car Company in August 1944.  It was converted from Ford serial number 11903, which was an M4A3(75) built in March 1943.  This tank is located at the American Legion Post 134 in Circleville, OH and has white tent pole going up through the bottom of the tank and the turret.  Author's photo.


This Pressed Steel M4A1(76) HVSS was converted to an M32A1B1 by Baldwin.  This is part of the National Armor and Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, GA.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


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Author's photo.


This Pressed Steel M4A1(76) is on display at the Hartford City, IN Army National Guard Armory.  It is one of several Pressed Steel M4A1(76)s on display at Indiana Army National Guard armories.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


Author's photo.


This 1944 Pressed Steel M7B1, serial number 758, was on display at the 2019 MVPA National Convention at York, PA.  The following photos show the high degree of restoration on this vehicle.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


The strip of brightly colored material laid across the top of the engine bay was used to identity the vehicle as friendly to Allied aircraft.  Author's photo.


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Author's photo.


This M43 is located in Wyoming, MI.  Pressed Steel built 24 of them.  The Lima Tank Depot operated by the United Motors Division of General Motors converted 24 others from Pressed Steel-built M40s.  It is unknown which of the two this is.  In either case, Pressed Steel built the chassis.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


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Author's photo.


The Pressed Steel Car Company built two T29 prototype heavy tanks.  Development began March 1944 and the first one was completed in September 1945.  Chrysler also built eight T29s.  It is unknown which company built this one.  Author's photo.


Author's photo.


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