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

    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   Guide Lamp   Harrison Radiator   Hyatt Bearings   Inland   Moraine Products   New Departure   Oldsmobile   Packard Electric   Pontiac   Saginaw Malleable Iron   Southern California Division   Rochester Products   United Motors Service

Truck Manufacturers:   American LaFrance   Autocar  Diamond T   International Harvester    Mack Truck
   Pacific Car and Foundry  Reo Motor Car Company   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Automotive Tire
Manufacturers:  Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
 Updates and Additions  
Links

 

Chrysler built M4 Sherman Tank Photos   Chrysler built M4A3 Sherman Tank Photos    Chrysler built M4A4 Sherman Tank Photos  Fisher Body built M4A2 Sherman Tank Photos    Fisher Body built M4A3 Sherman Tank Photos   Ford built M4A3 Sherman Tank Photos 

Sherman Tanks of the American Auto Industry

This page added 11-16-2016.

The M4 series Sherman tank is the most well known and recognizable American tank built during World War Two.  It is also the most documented of the all of that era.  There are a multitude of excellent publications and websites available, providing information on just about everything one would want to know about the Sherman.  Everything but the importance of the contribution of the number and types of Sherman tanks built and developed by the US Automotive Industry.

From the table below it can be seen that Chrysler, Fisher Body, and Ford combined to produce 30,996 Sherman tanks.  This was 62.95% of the 49,234 built.  At the beginning of WWII the preferred Sherman tank of the US military was the M4 and M4A1, powered by a Continental built Wright R-975 air cooled radial aircraft engine.  If  Army Ordnance could have had its way, all 49,234 Sherman tanks would have been powered by the R-975.  However, there were not nearly enough to meet all of the demand,  To fill the gap, Chrysler, Fisher Body and Ford all developed alternate engines to power the Sherman tanks.

Total US Auto Industry Sherman Tank Production during World War Two

Company by Start of Production Number built Dates Location
Fisher Body 11,358 4-1942 to 5-1945 Grand Blanc, MI.  It still exists but is set for future demolition
Ford 1,690 6-1942 to 9-1943 Highland Park, MI.  Parts of it still exist with multiple tenants.
Chrysler 17,947 7-1942 to 6-1945 Warren, MI.  It still exists with multiple tenants.
Total M4 Series Tanks 30,996   This was 62.95% of all of the 49,234 M4 Sherman tanks produced during the war.

Chrysler met the challenge with the A57 multibank engine, which was five six cylinder automobile engines driving a common output shaft.  Chrysler was the only manufacturer of 7,499 M4A4 that were powered by the A57 engine.  Most of the M4A4s were provided to the British through Lend-Lease to rebuild its stock of tanks after losing most of them at Dunkirk.  The M4A4 was the Sherman used by the British in North Africa, Italy and Europe.  Photos of British Sherman tanks at Normandy and in the European Theatre of Operations are the Chrysler built M4A4.  They provided an important role in liberating Europe during 1944 and 1945.  The M4A4 was utilized by the US Army for training at the California Desert Training Site, and also in limited combat in China and Burma.

Fisher Body was the first of the auto makers to go into production on the M4 series tank in April 1942.  It chose to power what was designated as the M4A2 with two Detroit Diesel 6046 six cylinder diesel engines.  Fisher Body built 7,608 M4A2s at its Grand Blanc, MI tank plant.  Another 3,460  M4A2 were built by Pullman Standard, American Locomotive, Baldwin Locomotive Works, Pressed Steel, and Federal Machine and Welder.  A total of 11,068 of the Fisher Body designed M4A2 Sherman tanks were produced.  This is 22.4% of all Shermans built.  Most M4A2 Sherman tanks were provided to the Russians through Lend-Lease.  The M4A2 was the standard Sherman tank of the US Marines in the Pacific until it could not get any more, and started acquiring large hatch M4A3s.  The Canadians also received the M4A2 and used them extensively in combat in Europe.

Ford, which produced the smallest number of Sherman tanks during WWII, developed what became the preferred Sherman tank for the US Army in Europe by late 1944 .  The M4A3 Sherman tank was powered by a Ford GAA V-8 gasoline engine, which was a cut down version of a V-12 aircraft engine the company had been working on.  Because of the small number of small hatch M4A3s built by Ford, and the fact that the M4/M4A1 was the preferred tank in 1942 and 1943, the M4A3 was relegated to US training.  After Ford went out of production, the Ordnance Department gave both Chrysler and Fisher Body production contracts for large hatch versions of the M4A3.  These tanks were shipped to Europe where they then became the preferred Sherman of the US Army.  The Marines also started receiving the M4A3 for use in Europe.  After the Battle of the Bulge and the loss of many American tanks, some Ford built M4A3 tanks were rebuilt and then shipped to Europe to replace the losses.  After WWII, the Fisher Body and Chrysler built M4A3 Sherman tank with the Ford V-8 became the standard Sherman tank in the US arsenal. 

Today there are 1,300 Sherman tanks of all types left in the world.  In the US there are over 225 Shermans; and in Canada there are 60.  In the various Sherman tank photo pages above, I have images of the different types of M4 tanks produced by the US auto makers during WWII.  While there are many websites with Sherman photos, the ones linked above are the only ones categorized by car maker.  Included in the Fisher Body M4A2 page is the oldest M4A2 in North America.  This particular tank served with the Canadians starting at Normandy and made it all the way through the war and then back to Canada.  On the Ford M4A3 photo page is the world's oldest, located in South Boardman, MI.
 

Chrysler Warren, MI Sherman Tank Production during World War Two

Type Number built Dates Engines Hull
M4A4(75) 7,499 7-1942 to 9-1943 Chrysler A57multi bank.  Welded, hull lengthened for engine.  Most of 7,499 M4A4 tanks went to the British under Lend-Lease.  There are 86 of the M4A4s still in existence.
M4(75) 1,676 8-1943 to 1-1944 Continental built Wright R975 radial aircraft Composite.  Cast front, welded sides.  There are four of the composites still in existence. 
 M4A6 (75) 75 10-1943 to 3-1944 Caterpillar diesel radial Composite.  Cast front welded sides lengthened for engine
M4(105) 1,641  2-1944 to 3-1945 Continental built  Wright R975 radial aircraft Welded
M4A3(105) 3,039 5-1944 to 6-1945 Ford GAA V8 Welded
M4A3(76) 4,017 3-1944 to 4-1945 Ford GAA V8 Welded.
Total M4 Series Tanks 17,947     This was 36% of all of the M4 Sherman tanks produced during the war.

 

Fisher Body Grand Blanc, MI Sherman Tank Production during World War Two

Type Number built Dates Engines Comments
M4A2(75) 4,325 4-1942 to 2-1944 Twin 6046 Detroit Diesel Dry Storage for main gun ammunition. Small hatches for driver and assistant driver. 
M4A2(75) 289 2-1944 to 5-1944 Twin 6046 Detroit Diesel Dry Storage for main gun ammunition. Large hatches for driver and assistant driver.
M4A3(75) 3,071 2-1944 to 3-1945 Ford GAA V8 gasoline, 450500 hp  Wet storage for main gun ammunition. Large hatches for driver and assistant driver.  539 or 652 of these were HVSS suspensions.
M4A3E2(75) 254 5-1944 to 7- 1944 Ford GAA V8 gasoline, 450500 hp  Wet storage, large hatch.  This was known as the Jumbo due to the extra think armor plate.
M4A2(76) 2,894 5-1944 to 5-1945 Twin 6046 Detroit diesel Wet, Large hatch
M4A3(76) 525 9-1944 to 12-1944 Ford GAA V8 gasoline, 450500 hp  Wet storage, large hatch.
Total M4 Series Tanks 11,358     This was 23% of all of the M4 Sherman tanks produced during the war.

 

Ford Highland Park, MI Sherman Tank Production during World War Two

Type Number built Dates Engines Comments
M4A3(75) 1,690 6-1942 to 9-1943 Ford GAF V8 gasoline, 450500 hp  Small hatch.  The original version of the M4A3.
Total M4 Series Tanks 1,690     This was 3.4% of all of the M4 Sherman tanks produced during the war.

 

 

 

 

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