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
   Marmon-Herrington Company   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  
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 Studebaker Main Page   Studebaker South Bend Plant Photos   Studebaker in World War One   Studebaker World War Two Vehicle Photos   Studebaker Built R-1820 Aircraft Engines on the B-17 "Yankee Lady" 
The Studebaker Proving Ground in World War Two
South Bend, IN
1852-1963
Rest in Peace

This page added 1-25-2015.
Updated 2-12-2015.

The former Studebaker Proving Ground is located eight miles west of South Bend, IN on Indiana State Road 2, or Western Avenue on 850 acres.  Built in 1926, during the last two years of World War Two, it was a contracted test track for the US Army Ordnance Department and many non Studebaker military trucks and halftracks were tested at this location. 

The US Army Ordnance Department signed a contract with Studebaker on March 29, 1943 for the use of the facility as a military vehicle test ground.  The US Army Corps of Engineers immediately came in and converted the grounds for the military testing which began on June 20,1945.  As the war started to wind down, the contract was terminated on June 30,1945, and the Proving Ground returned to Studebaker for civilian testing.

 Bendix, another company based in South Bend, took possession of the Proving Grounds on June 1, 1966 after Studebaker went out of business.   Not long afterwards Bendix donated 175 acres of the original 850 acres to St. Joseph County, which is now known as Bendix Woods.  Today the proving grounds are still in operation, but owned by Bosch.  


The Studebaker Proving Ground looking south, southwest.  At the center bottom are the garages, which are still there and retain the "S" for Studebaker on them.  Just to the right is what is known as the Clubhouse.  The "S-t-u-d-e-b-a-k-e-r" sign was originally spelt out by 20,000 pine trees and was done in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Each letter is 250 feet tall and the sign extends for a half a mile.  The intent, when conceived in 1937, was to make it the world's largest sign.  Today, if one looks at a satellite photo of the Proving Ground, the tress still spell out "Studebaker".  SR 2 is at the bottom of the photo.


This early photo appears to be an open house, with tents and cars parked on the grounds.  In this case one is looking northeast with SR 2 being at the top of the photo.  The garages are on the right and the clubhouse on the left.


The Clubhouse today, looking south, southwest.  Behind the building are the trees that spell out "Studebaker".  The Clubhouse was originally built to house employees of the Proving Ground that did not want to make the long trip back to South Bend each evening after work, especially in the winter when SR 2 was not plowed by the state highway department.  In reality, the employees made the trip and the clubhouse was under utilized for its original purpose.   Author's photo.

During WWII, it served as a barracks for the US Army officers that were stationed at the Proving Ground.  Today the building is a Nature Center for the park and can be visited.


Looking east through an opening in the fence that divides the park and the Proving Ground, one can see the garages Studebaker built with the "S" for Studebaker on them.   Author's photo.


Looking northwest.


This Bendix era drawing shows the layout of the Proving Ground.  SR 2 and north is along the right. 


 This photo, taken from the park, shows a semi undergoing testing.  Author's photo.




This sign in the park gives directions where one can look at the different grove of trees that spell out "Studebaker".   Author's photo.


To the left is the letter "K", with "A" on the far right.   Author's photo.


 Author's photo.


"A" is on the left and "B" to the far right.  Author's photo.

The Proving Ground when operated under contract from the Army tested trucks, halftracks, tank recovery vehicles, cargo carriers, scout cars, armored cars and experimental vehicles. 

Known vehicles tested:  Autocar M3 and M16 halftracks, Dodge WC-52, Chevrolet 1-1/2 ton trucks, Reo 2-1/2 ton 6x6, International M426 5-ton truck, Mack NM-6 6-ton truck, Mack NO-6 7-1/2 ton truck, Diamond T 981 12 ton truck, and Bantam 1/4 ton trailer.


Here is a WWII era photo of a South Bend Studebaker built US6 6x6 2-1/2 ton truck undergoing testing at the Proving Ground.  Photo added 2-12-2015.


Here US6 trucks undergo oil consumption testing at the Proving Ground in 1943.  Photo added 2-12-2015.

Below are a few contemporary photos of vehicles tested at the Studebaker Proving Ground during WWII.


An Autocar M16 halftrack like one tested at the Proving Ground.  Author's photo.


A Dodge WC-52.  Author's photo.


Chevrolet 1-1/2 ton bomb trucks were specifically one of the several types of Chevy trucks tested by the military at the Proving Ground.  Author's photo.


Diamond T 12 ton trucks were tested at the Proving Ground also.  Author's photo.


American Bantam 1/4 ton trailers like this one were tested at the Proving Ground between 1943 and 1945.  Author's photo.
 

 

 

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