are Mighty Fine Things"
Detroit 31, Michigan
This book, by Wesley W. Stout,
former editor of the Saturday Eve-
ning Post, is an interesting example
of what people, who try to understand
each other's problems and work as
a team, can accomplish.
This story deals with the volume
production of many different kinds
of tanks during the war, and with
the development of newer and heavier
armored vehicles which may be the
forerunners of some of the weapons
of the future.
I thought you would like to have
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation
are Mighty Fine Things
First and last; the tank the ar-
senal first made, the M-3 Gen-
eral Grant and (below) the 45-
ton Pershing with 90 mm gun.
are Mighty Fine Things
Wesley W. Stout
Detroit, Michigan 1946
X.HE tanks discussed in this book and the
other weapons with which this war was won
were the products of the intelligent coopera-
tion of those who designed them, those who
used them and those who made them. Ord-
nance approached industry as a recognized
The Chrysler tank arsenal as seen from the p>
partner in the development as well as the
making of new weapons and found industry
eager to pool its experience and ingenuity
with the Army's own skills.
K. T. KELLER
U. S. A.
ing lot. It now is a permanent Army arsenal.
The tank which whipped Rommel, the M-3. Note the two can-
non, the larger in a sponson on the lower right hand side.
(Below) How Plant Engineering plans a factory. Every
machine tool of the arsenal layout was spotted in this factory.
From the Pacific in 1944, Pfc. Frank Upton of the
Marine Corps sent this message to his old sergeant,
William Hendricks, then on recruiting duty in Detroit :
"If you should go to the Chrysler tank arsenal, I
want you to find the head man and kiss him on the
forehead for me."
Private Upton went on to explain: "I love tanks
and everybody connected with them. When I was
hit on Tinian we were on patrol and the Nips had
pinned us down in a field of sugar cane. They were in
caves in the cliffs and while we could see exactly
nothing of them, they were really giving us the busi-
ness. A machine gun slug went through my hip early
and I had visions of being in the field until dark,
when one of those Chrysler jobs rolled up. The driver
told me what he was going to do and after I had
crawled out on harder ground, he drove the tank
over me and pulled me through the escape hatch in
the belly of the tank. Those treads looked plenty big
as they straddled me, but we drove back to the lines
slick as a whistle.
"Tanks are mighty fine things — mighty fine!"
% ♦ 4 s
First and biggest of America's defense plants was
the Chrysler tank arsenal in 1941. Bigger were built
later, but the arsenal continued to be the nation's
most spectacular war plant, its best production show,
the first every distinguished visitor asked to see.
History was made there.
From it came 25,059 medium and heavy tanks of
twelve different types, including the tanks which first
turned the tide of the war, in North Africa for the
Of these, 22,234 were new, 2,825 were rebuilt. This
was twice the number of all B-l 7 Flying Fortresses
built for the Air Force.
The size of the tanks built there grew from 23
tons to 65 tons.
The Chrysler tank contract approached the two
billion dollar mark at its peak. The estimated total
after cutbacks due to the defeat of the Axis was
$1,350,000,000. This figure included 3,126 car lots of
m -■ %
Chrysler's first tank snaps a telephone pole at 19UTs
Presentation Day ceremony. Note employees on the roof.
service replacement parts shipped from the arsenal,
the equivalent of a freight train more than 31 miles
The Corporation returned to the Government in
voluntary cash refunds and price reductions more
than $50,000,000. How much more it is not possible
to say because costs fluctuated constantly due to
volume and to engineering changes.
For planning and directing the building and equip-
ment of the arsenal, Chrysler was paid a fee of $4.
The Chrysler Engineering Ordnance Division,
under the direction of 0. R. Skelton, carried out more
than 1,150 engineering projects for Army Ordnance,
including the design and building of 38 pilot tanks
of new types, and the operation of an Ordnance
The original arsenal was expanded more than half
again in 1942 to 1,248,321 square feet, yet the con-
tract overflowed into twelve other Chrysler plants
and at its peak came to employ close to 25,000
Chrysler workers and 3,200,000 feet of Chrysler
space, this exclusive of thousands of sub-contractors
scattered over the nation.
Many war-built plants ended as surplus to the
Government. Due to advance planning by Ordnance
and Chrysler, the Corporation was able to turn over
to the Army in 1945, a modern, self-contained factory
for the peacetime design, repair, building and testing
of armored vehicles, a permanent addition to the
Maj. General C. M. Wesson, then Chief of Ordnance, and
Chrysler Corporation s President K. T. Keller at the
microphone when tank No. 1 was delivered to the Army.
In a critical shortage of tank engines, Chrysler
Engineering put five standard automobile motors
on a common shaft to power 7,600 tanks. In the un-
precedented time of nine months from the first
discussion, the Corporation was making tanks with
this multibank engine.
Arsenal test track drivers, driving 24 hours a day
in all weather throughout the war, logged a mileage
of more than fifty times around the earth, this not
including the Tank Arsenal Proving Grounds' test
The Chrysler tank contract began with an order
dated August 15, 1940, for 1,000 M2A1 23-ton tanks
to be delivered by August, 1942, at the rate of 100 a
month. It specified that the arsenal was to be com-
pleted by September, 1941.
Thirteen days after the contract was placed, Ord-
nance scrapped the M2A1 design and substituted the
28-ton M3, as yet undesigned. Yet Chrysler made
Shipping and heavy repairs were crowded into
one bay before the arsenal was expanded.
the first two M3 pilot tanks in April, 1941, made its
first production tank in July, had delivered more than
500 before Pearl Harbor and all of the first 1,000 by
January 26, 1942, eight months ahead of schedule.
But before it could build the first production M3's,
the Army was asking Chrysler by June, 1941, to
double its schedule for that first year. By September
the Army was asking the Corporation to expand tank
output to 750 monthly, seven and a half times the
goal set in the original contract, and to change over
to the 32-ton Sherman M4 model. By January of
1942, Chrysler was tooling to build 1,000 tanks
monthly at the Army's urgent request. This produc-
tion never was reached only because it no longer was
needed after 1942.
Chrysler had delivered 3,100 M3 tanks on July 10,
1942, first anniversary of the first production tank.
Twelve days later the arsenal made its first M4 and
in another twelve days this Sherman type had en-
tirely replaced the M3 on the assembly lines.
The changeover from the M3 to the M4 was accom-
plished in the midst of the expansion of the arsenal
by 50% in size and the removal of 776 large machine
tools from the arsenal to nine other Chrysler plants,
without an interruption of production.
The Sherman was replaced in 1945 by the 43-ton
Pershing tank and had the war continued into 1946
the arsenal would have been making still later types
weighing up to 65 tons.
The arsenal rebuilt into first line fighters 2,825
tanks that had been used in the training of our
armored divisions, replacing all worn parts and
installing all late engineering changes, a job turned
over in 1944 to the Evansville Chrysler plant for
lack of space and labor in Detroit. The British got
1,610 of these and they formed the greater part of the
British armored strength in Italy.
Chrysler sold S41.000.000 of tank parts to some 95
other contractors building tanks and tank com-
ponents, largely in the first two years of operation.
"We have upped the ante on you time and again
and you have met every demand." Lt. Gen. Levin H.
Campbell, Jr.. Chief of Ordnance, told the arsenal
force in 1942 in presenting them with the first Army-
Navy E flag awarded in Detroit, the first to any tank
"Surely, when the history of the war is written,
this job will rank without a peer." General Campbell
wrote Air. Keller in April. 1943.
"Your plant is the most outstanding example of
big, bold, imaginative planning I have ever seen,"
a British Purchasing Commission officer said.
"This is the most amazing production job I have
ever seen." Donald Nelson said after touring the
plant with President Roosevelt.
Lt. Col. Joseph M. Colby, as chief of the Develop-
ment section of the Detroit Ordnance District, was
the man through whom new tank design came. Speak-
ing of the men who translated these drawings into
tanks, he said. "All engaged to make something they
never had seen. They were frustrated and exasperated
by late drawings and changes of design, shortages of
everything they needed, late deliveries and engi-
neering bugs, yet we never heard a bitter word from
them. For such men I have, as a soldier and a citizen,
the highest respect."
The Nazis were rolling relentlessly down upon
Paris on June 7, 1940 when Lieutenant General
Knudsen, recently drafted from General Motors to
command the national defense program, phoned Mr.
General Grant (M-3) tanks and crews training for
Africa in California s Mojave desert in 1942.
Keller from Washington. The General said he would
be in Detroit over the week-end and wished urgently
to see Chrysler's president.
They met Sunday morning on Grosse He. "How
would Chrysler like to build some tanks for the
Army?" asked Knudsen.
Keller said yes. This is a decision which he ordi-
narily would have referred to the directors. But three
months earlier it had been apparent that America
must rearm and he had then advised the directors
that such a program demanded Chrysler's active
participation. They had authorized management to
take any job which it could do with satisfaction to
Horizontal volute suspension arms moving by
convevor belt down the arsenal machine line.
s<wf tour of war plants and " r ?}~ * D Van Wagoner, Mrs.
Assembling tank tracks. Tanks began with rubber
shoes, were forced to shift to steel for lack of rubber.
the Government and with credit to the Corporation.
Keller asked where his men could see a tank and
Knudsen proposed that Chrysler send a group to
Washington Tuesday to talk with Army Ordnance.
The next morning Keller put the Corporation to work
looking for possible tank arsenal sites, and on Tues-
day morning he and other Chrysler executives were
in Washington conferring with General Wesson, then
Chief of Ordnance.
Washington had no tank to show the Detroiters.
They would have to go to the Rock Island, Illinois,
arsenal to see one. Rock Island was building three
pilot models of the new M2A1 tank of which the
Army said it wanted 1,500 as quickly as it could get
them. General Wesson estimated that it would take
practically two years to complete such an order.
On Wednesday the Chrysler party was in Rock
Island and first saw a tank, an M2A1 without armor.
They had hoped to take back to Detroit a set of blue-
prints, weighing 186 pounds. They could get only a
few, however, the balance reaching Detroit by express
in a packing case on Monday, June 17th.
That night a specially chosen group of men, the
nucleus of the tank arsenal organization, went to
work in secrecy on the bare top floor of the Dodge
Conant Avenue building. Their job was to produce
an estimate, in four and a half weeks, of the cost of
making this monster in quantities, land, buildings
and machinery included. They worked seven days a
week from 8:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. for five days,
knocked off at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and at 5:30 on
Such tanks as Rock Island had produced Avere
made by tool room methods
necessarily, and these were
Rock Islandblueprints, some
in 3^th scale. To insure
that automobile men would
grasp the size of every
tank piece, to insure that
Sir John Dill, British Field Marshal,
signing the arsenal visitors' book.
A Fifth Army tank unit poised in the Pie-
iramala area, Italy, and ready to strike.
;%|I?P^ ? w^
production parts would assemble as designed, the
Corporation ordered an exact reproduction or "mock-
up" as the engineers call it of an M2A1 tank made
in Avood. The pattern shops were instructed to drill
all holes and to shellac the finished model.
There was a dual purpose in the shellac; one for
protection of the wood, and two if it should be
scraped away at any point when the pieces were
joined, this would advertise the fact that some part
had not been accurately designed and had not fitted
without adjustment. But this wooden model pieced
together precisely; there was no scratch on any part.
The United States still was a long way from war, but
Herringbone final drive reduction gears
passing down a line of gear shapers.
the model was guarded zealously, and only a few
knew what the men on the 8th. floor were up to.
Where were the tanks to be built? No available
buildings existed in the Detroit area which would
house the job. The Army had at that time been given
only a third of the money it wanted for tanks and it
wished naturally to put these dollars, not into build-
ings, but into tanks, of which it had built just
eighteen, no two alike, between 1919 and 1938.
There was no Defense Plant Corporation, no 5-year
amortization as yet.
Mr. Keller's mind went back to the previous war in
which Dodge Brothers had made recoil mechanisms
for the 155-mm cannon in a building put up by the
Government on Lynch Road. When the war ended,
the Army had asked the Dodges to take the building
off its hands.
John Dodge said that they did not want the build-
ing, but the Government pressed it on them at some-
thing like 30 cents on the dollar, crating the machinery
and sending it to the Rock Island arsenal for storage.
The Dodge Brothers estimated that the cost of
crating and shipping was more than the Army had
got for the property.
On that June, 1940, trip to Rock Island to see a
tank, Fred Lamborn had noted there a large pile of
the 155-mm recoil mechanisms which he had helped
to make at Lynch Road in 1917-18. For 22 years
these big gun parts had been stacked there like cord
wood, laid down in heavy grease. Through all these
years a detail of men had "exercised" the mecha-
nisms methodically, starting at one end of the stack
and working through it, then doing it again. The
visit of the Chrysler party coincided with Dunkirk.
England feared imminent invasion and was tragi-
cally short of weapons. A few days after Lamborn saw
them, most of these recoils were rushed to Britain to
bolster her coastal defenses.
This experience suggested an idea which Mr. Keller
carried to Washington. "Why don't you have a tank
arsenal?" he proposed to General Wesson. "With the
increasing role of tanks in war, you are going to need
a place where you can design, build, test and repair
tanks. A good place for this piece of permanent
apparatus would be in Detroit alongside such a pool
of labor as we have at Chrysler. Have the arsenal set
up and ready to run. When you want tanks, we move
in and make tanks for you ; when you no longer want
tanks, we move back and, pray God, make auto-
"That's exactly what we want — a self-contained,
permanent tank arsenal machining even its own
armor plate," said General Wesson, "and maybe the
Army can find the money for it."
On July 17, 1940, just a month from the receipt of
the blueprints, the estimate was complete. It was
based upon an output of ten tanks a day. When the
Army reviewed the cost, it counted the money in its
purse and cut the capacity to five daily. Also for
economy's sake, it threw out the armor plate machin-
ing equipment as a detail which could be left to
The estimate now had to be refigured. This was
done and shortly Chrysler had a letter of intent to
make 1,000 tanks by August, 1942. The Government
would pay for the land and plant, leasing it to
Chrysler which would superintend construction and
equipment. The price of the tank would be $33,500, a
fixed price bid in which the Corporation was pro-
tected by an escalator clause against rising labor and
materials costs. The plant was to be ready by Sep-
tember 15, 1941, production to rise from three tanks
in the twelfth month to 100 in the 15th. month and
thereafter through 23 months.
Ordnance and Chrysler had agreed upon a site of
113 acres some 17 miles from downtown Detroit, a
farm occupied by renters. The farmhouse and barn
Receiving dock crowded with parts for the new Pershing tank early in 1945.
stood where the administration building was to rise.
The land was in corn, buckwheat and onions. There
was no public transportation, but in 1940 any
Detroiter who owned a pair of shoes owned a car.
Warren township had been purely agricultural, its
boast that it was the Winter rhubarb capital of
Michigan. It still is a rural countryside. The tank
arsenal offices looked out upon a wheat field through-
out the war, and the roar of tanks never drow ned the
Abruptly on August 28, 1940, the General Staff
concluded that the M2A1 was not good enough and
an improved and larger tank to be know n as the M3
should be designed at once. Reports from Europe
indicated that the M2A1 would be obsolete before it
was built. Too, the War Department had made up
its mind to reorganize our mechanized cavalry and
infantry into an armored force
on the Panzer pattern. A new
and then large appropriation
by the Congress had made this
This need not hold up Chrys-
ler, Ordnance said ; the contract
would be altered later. But the
arsenal staff were stopped in
their tracks, for they now were
about to build something which
Mrs. Henry Morgenthau pre-
senting the arsenal with a Min-
ute Man flag for bond sales.
Brig. Gen. G. F. Doriot, Chrysler's Vice President
and Vice Chairman of the Board Fred M. Zeder. Lt.
Col. J. M. Colby. Detroit Ordnance Research Chief
and Chrysler's Director of Engineering 0. R. Skelton.
had not yet begun to take shape in outline on the
drawing board. Complete prints would not be ready
before Thanksgiving at the earliest. Until they had
their prints, the staff could not know, of course, what
kind and how many tools they needed.
The buildings could be put up, anyway, and ground
was broken September 9, 1940. How big should it be?
Here had been a question for a fortune teller. Would
we be dragged into the Avar or not? Tanks never had
been built on a production basis. There were no past
performance charts to go by. If the plant should turn
out to be too small, that would be awkward; if too
large, Chrysler would look foolish.
Ed Hunt was given the job of getting the arsenal
tooled. Tooling it well, he then was given the job of
running it. As his chief engineer, Elmer Dodt was
sent at once to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds where
the M3 was being designed. It was his job to snatch
the layout drawings from the boards and shoot van-
dykes or copies to Detroit, or to phone any informa-
tion he could pick up.
The Army welcomed Dodt's suggestions and liter-
ally hundreds of drawings were revised in their first
state to provide for cheaper, faster, easier manufac-
ture on a production line. There being no place to
live in Aberdeen, Dodt stayed at a hotel in Havre de
Grace. Once a week he would fly back to Detroit to
report. On the six other days he would airmail his
Vandykes or phone his data to Detroit, and the
Three British veterans of El Alamein, Generals
Briggs, Davidson and Gatehcuse, and Brigadier Ross,
commanding the British war office in Detroit.
arsenal was tooled on such fragmentary information.
Late at night a tourist putting in at the Havre de
Grace inn might be startled to find the lobby floor
covered with prints, and a man, phone in hand,
walking among them and barking dimensions and
other technical jabberwocky into the mouthpiece.
It would be Dodt talking to Conant Avenue. The
Ordnance design engineers worked nightly, often past
midnight, and their hours were Dodt's.
The Autumn was wet, the early Winter abnormally
cold, but the buildings rose to schedule, the founda-
tions emerging from a morass of mud and shivering
cornstalks. As late as December 20th., the design of
the M3 was only 90% complete and final prints
and parts lists were not promised before January 30,
1941. There were worse worries. The reader who
supposes that there were no delays, shortages and
bottlenecks before Pearl Harbor has forgotten that
American industry already was manufacturing at a
great rate for the British and Russians under private
agreement, and that the tank program was one detail
only of a vast American rearmament authorized that
summer by the Congress.
Machine tools were tighter in 1940 than they were
in the midst of the war, both because of demand and
the fact that the machine tool industry had not yet
expanded to its swollen later size. So the equipment
of the arsenal was a long and ceaseless battle. Before
mid-October, about 60% of this equipment was on
order despite incomplete engineering information.
Ordering it was easy, getting it was hard.
Late in January the steel of the main building was
up. The roof and side walls of one-third of it were
hurried into place and the first little group of fore-
men and superintendents moved in. As the power
house was unfinished, a passenger locomotive was
rented and run into this section. Its steam, plus
salamanders and canvas curtains, made the space
barely habitable. The men worked in overcoats and
wore gloves much of the time.
As the days grew longer, Mr. Keller began to press
for an estimated date for the pilot tank. The arsenal
named Easter Sunday. Late in March, the monster
began to take shape, the floor plates the first to be
joined. There were no cranes as yet, so two plant
jitneys lifted the great plates onto steel "horses.*' The
armor plates being unchecked, it was necessary to
bolt the tank together to see if the plates fitted. To
his delight, Keller one day saw what looked like a
completed job, only to find his baby scattered over
the shop floor when he returned the next day.
But on Good Friday, April 11, 1941, the pilot tank
was driven gingerly 20 feet forward and backward in
the shop. Growing bolder, the staff maneuvered it
outside on the concrete apron. The shop looked like
no-man's land, the floor pitted with foundation holes
for machines, and there was one door only which
could be used, but chalk lines were laid out for the
driver to follow.
The next day, a day ahead of the promise, the pilot
Tank transmission case machine line. Only heavy
machining remained at the arsenal after expansion
plans put many operations in other Chrysler plants.
tank was brought outside officially with the late Ray
Clark at the helm and K. T. Keller alongside him.
Clark had come from Rock Island where he had
driven light tanks.
After the test run and the departure of Mr. Keller
and his party, the boys took their tank out for
another spin. The watchman's temporary shack still
stood at the front gate, a sort of sentry box. In the
door and filling it stood a big Plant Protection guard
munching a sandwich and looking on interestedly.
Either unprepared for the dash and power of the M3
or intending to scare the watchman and misjudging
his distance, Clark brushed the sentry box with the
tank, overturning the box and guard.
The unfinished Chrysler arsenal had only 230
hourly Avorkers on the payroll that April 12th.
The first pilot was presented to the Government by
Chrysler dealers as a gift at a show attended by
Generals Wesson, Campbell, Barnes, Knudsen and
Chaffee, the Mayor and Governor Van Wagoner.
The 2,000 guests and employees watched No. 1 snap
telephone poles in three pieces, smash through a
small woods, plunge through a pond and pierce a
2-story frame building so much like a bullet that this
stunt was unsatisfying. But on a return trip, the tank
made matchwood of the house.
Unknown to the Ordnance chiefs present, the
arsenal had completed a second pilot tank. As No. 1
was taking its bows, No. 2 came out shooting, its
75-mm and 37-mm rifles barking, its machine guns
chattering, to join its twin, and the crowd broke into
spontaneous yells. It was smart showmanship. The
second tank, like the first, was complete to the last
The first tank was shipped to Aberdeen May 3rd.
At Mr. Keller's suggestion, the second was held at
the arsenal. There would be many late engineering
changes and Chrysler wished to incorporate these in
Chrysler-built Sherman tank slugging
its way through Northern France.
a pilot tank before production should begin. Pilot
No. 1 remained at Aberdeen throughout the Avar, but
it led a rugged life there. By January of 1943 when
it had logged 7.000 miles in the testing of M3 com-
ponents, it was made a target for new armor-piercing
anti-tank guns and projectiles. One of its major
wounds still is visible on its lower left flank. Next it
was turned over to the Ordnance school for the train-
ing of tank-recovery companies. These lads gaily
rolled it over cliffs and into ditches in order to pull
it out and patch it up again.
It had been tagged for the scrap heap when Elmer
Dodt spied it one day in the Spring of 1945 and got
General Harris' approval for its return to Chrysler as
a permanent exhibit. It rolled into the arsenal again
The compensating gears of the tank were machined at Dodge Main,
in June, 1945, honorably discharged. When the tank
contract was terminated, it was sent to Highland
Park where, during reconversion, it stood in the yard
almost hidden among stacks of axle housings.
By early June of 1941 the Government was urging
that the arsenal be put to work 24 hours a day
quickly, by January 1, 1942, at the latest. To under-
stand Washington's pressure, remember that the
Selective Service Act now had been passed. The
Another machine operation performed at Dodge, the suspension wheels.
Army's equipment needs had leaped and it had more
money to spend than it had dreamed of a year earlier.
A month later Chrysler was given a letter contract
for 1,600 additional tanks and sixteen sets of spare
parts, the latter a big order in itself. So before the
Sherman M-b tank posed for action. Chrysler
built nearly 18,000 Sherman type tanks alone.
One of De Soto's jobs was machining the piston rods of the gun recoils.
arsenal could get into production, it was outgrowing
its clothing. The first production tank came off the
assembly line July 8th. Six more were shipped that
month as scheduled.
The Army now wanted another 1,200 M3 tanks
before January. Though the M3 was just entering
production, everyone knew that a new medium tank,
the M4, had been designed and would replace the
M3. A Chrysler group headed by Vice President
B. E. Hutchinson carried the Corporation's revised
M3 schedule to Washington, however, August 15,
1941. This called for 7 tanks in July, 50 in August,
100 in October, 125 in November and 150 by Decem-
ber. Mr. Hutchinson also presented a 7-day, 24-hour
schedule, but recommended a 6-day week as allowing
a safety margin, to which General Lewis agreed.
The next day the arsenal went to a 6-day around-
the-clock schedule and three assembly lines were
working. Figuring on an orderly operation to build
1,000 tanks under pre-war conditions by August of
1942, the arsenal had planned to add a second shift
around Thanksgiving, a third in February. But under
the new schedule new labor began to flood in on the
plant at the rate of 100 a day, or as fast as Personnel
could clear them. The working force which had been
2,107 on July 24th., passed 4,000 on August 9th. and
5,000 on the 25th.
This was not a construction job where a new man
could be handed a shovel and told to dig. Each had
to be trained. The only solution was to assign two
men to every existing machine, an old one to teach,
a new one to learn.
General Campbell told Mr. Keller on September
8th. that the using arms were enthusiastic about the
M4 (Sherman) design and wanted it put into produc-
tion just as quickly as might be done without slowing
M3 output. Chrysler was asked to build two pilot
Sherman tanks. A week later, Generals Christmas and
Lewis were asking Mr. Keller to submit a proposal
to manufacture M4 tanks, reaching 750 monthly at
the earliest possible moment.
In order to build 750 tanks monthly, Chrysler
would have to move all but final assembly and the
heavier machining into twelve other Corporation
plants, and to find many new sub-contractors.
Though the arsenal would be extended 450-feet in
length, with another 100-foot bay added along the
whole 1,850-foot length, less than a quarter of the
tank job, by cost, would remain there, exclusive of
armor plate and motors, which had been purchased
all along. Thenceforth the arsenal was one of thirteen
Chrysler tank plants, so to speak. Though no one
then foresaw that all automobile production would
cease in four months, production already had been
cut pro rata and there would be room in Chrysler
As a tank engine, Ordnance was using an adapted
Curtiss-Wright radial air-cooled aircraft motor. In
June when Knudsen had paid a visit to Chrysler
Engineering, he had warned Keller that aircraft
engine manufacturing capacity was very tight and
would be increasingly so, what with the ballooning
Army and Navy air forces programs. Training planes
would eat up as many motors as service planes. More-
over, the M4 would be five tons heavier than the M3
and the 9-cylinder Wright was not quite powerful
enough for the added load.
Could Chrysler, he asked, work out a tank engine
which could be made on machines and tools existing
in its plants?
Two years is par for a new motor. The only possible
quick solution would be to use an existing automobile
engine in multiple, one with a long background of
successful use and already tooled. In the Chrysler
division, the Corporation had just such a motor and
a tool-up. Engineering combined five Chrysler
6-cylinder motors on a common crankshaft. The
design began with the premise of making a minimum
number of changes in a standard car engine, this for
greater speed of production. With such limitations,
it would not be an ideal tank engine, the Corporation
warned the Army, yet it turned out to be a fine motor
for the Sherman tank.
Affectionately known to the armored forces as
"The Egg Beater" or as "The Dionne Quints," this
multibank engine drove 7,500 Sherman tanks. Five
Ambassador Averill Harriman, Donald Nelson and British
Minister of Supply, Oliver Lyttleton, with Mr. Keller.
thousand additional motors were built as spares. In a
competitive test at Aberdeen which began October
11, 1943, and continued until February 10, 1944, four
M4A4 tanks with Chrysler multibank engines were
entered against four tanks of each of three other
engine types. Three of the four Chrysler-powered
tanks completed the 4,000 mile marathon. Of the
other twelve, only one finished. Ordnance reported
that the Chrysler motor gave the most reliable per-
formance, that its maintenance requirement was
lowest, its power loss after 400 miles negligible. Its
oil consumption was bettered only by a Diesel tank
The first experimental multibank motor was in-
stalled in a tank November 15, 1941, and ran all
Winter in a test of 4,000 miles. It was well that the
engineers had moved swiftly, for by September 19th.,
H. L. Weckler was phoning Brigadier General Jack
K. Christmas, deputy commander and Chief of Indus-
trial operations of the Detroit office of the Chief of
Ordnance, that the motor shortage was disturbing.
In nineteen days the arsenal had received only four
Wright engines. Though the motor shortage never
actually halted the assembly lines, it was touch and
go until the multibank motor was in production the
These were the days when the national spotlight
seldom lifted from the arsenal. As the first and still
Infantry cautiously moving into action
behind the cover of a Sherman tank.
the only big defense plant, it was the apple of Uncle
Sam's eye. Everyone promoted it like a 4-ring circus.
A year earlier it had been a cornfield and now it was
the Arsenal of Democracy. Train loads of writers,
Maj. Gen. A. C. Gillem signing the arsenal regis-
ter, Major General Levin H. Campbell, Jr., Chief of
Ordnance, succeeding General Wesson, with glasses.
editors and radio commentators on conducted tours
came, saw and exclaimed.
Seeking the superlative, they liked to dwell upon
the 750 tanks monthly the plant would be making in
1942. Chrysler sometimes was made uneasy by such
publicity. The Corporation would have preferred it to
have followed rather than preceded the performance.
But when reporters were asked: "Why don't you wait
until we have done it? That's the time to talk about
it", they would reply : "But it wouldn't be news then."
Tank No. 500 was shipped from the arsenal Decem-
ber first. The country still was at peace. Then came
Pearl Harbor. Now Washington began to talk about
1,000 tanks monthly from Chrysler. Two days after
New Years, Mr. Weckler was in the capital to attend
an OPM meeting to stress the necessity of all-out
tank production. It was feared then that thousands of
tanks might be needed to repel invasion. The chair-
man of the meeting gave Chrysler a new schedule
calling for 275 tanks in January, rising to 480 in April
and 800 by September, or almost as many monthly as
the arsenal originally had been asked to make in two
As Vice President responsible for all manufacturing,
Weckler could not accept so irrational a schedule.
The designed capacity of the plant was 133^ tanks a
day, working 24 hours, and all tools for this output
were not yet in. Machinery was on order to bring this
capacity to 750 monthly plus spare parts, but under
OPM allocations the Corporation would not get this
added machinery in time to reach 750 before Decem-
ber. Of course, if OPM could give him all the tools he
wanted by September, Chrysler could be making
1,000 tanks a month by January, 1943, but this was
The chairman said that he realized that the schedule
was not practicable, but that it was vital to set a high
objective to shoot at. Chrysler was asked to figure its
barest machine requirements for 1,000 tanks monthly,
also to see what it could do toward finding equipment
to make 250 additional final-drives, volute suspen-
sions, rear idlers and sprockets each, or, better still,
500 more of each for other tank contractors. General
Christmas asked Weckler to shift from the M3 to the
Sherman M4 tank at M3 No. 3,352.
In early January Mr. Weckler carried to Washing-
ton an estimate of some $26,000,000 for the added
facilities with which to reach 1,000 tanks monthly,
plus extra components for other tank builders; and
$3,500,000 for the additional tools needed to produce
1,000 Chrysler 5 -bank motors a month. General
Campbell said that he was under constant pressure to
expand no more plants in areas as susceptible to air
attack as Detroit was believed to be. W eckler demon-
strated that this expansion really would decentralize
the tank contract to Chrysler plants as far removed
as Kokomo and Newcastle, Indiana, and to many
other points outside the Detroit region.
OPM phoned its approval of both estimates on
February 18, 1942, and now the struggle for tools
began all over.
Tank No. 1,100 was one of a load shipped February
9th. to Boston for Russia where it helped to stem the
Nazi onslaught that summer.
When the arsenal had produced 300 tanks in March
by the 25th., 75 better than any previous month,
General Campbell wired: "This is especially grati-
fying to me as it is always nice to back a winner." In
the remaining six days of March, 66 more tanks were
built. By April 22nd., one year after the presentation
of the first pilot M3 to the Army, Chrysler had built
more than 2,000 tanks, twice the goal set by the
Government originally for the following August.
July 10th. was the first anniversary of the first
Machining the 75 mm gun mounts at the arsenal.
production M3 tank. On that day Tank No. 3,100
was christened. The first production M4 was com-
pleted July 22nd., and on August 3rd. the last M3
rang down the curtain on the first act of the tank
drama. News photographers snapped the last of the
Old Guard alongside the first of the bigger, tougher
Maj. Gen. A. W. Richardson of the Lucas Mission
(Briiish) lowering himself into a tank hatch.
M4's, which had been held at the arsenal for the
Oddly, the M3's firepower was greater than that of
its bigger, heavier-armored successor. It was the most
heavily armed vehicle for its weight ever known to
war. But it had the drawback of carrying its knock-
out weapon, the 75-mm rifle, well down on the right
hand side where its angle of fire was restricted. The
place for the gun was in the turret from where it
could fire in any direction. As there was no room
there for it and the 37-mm cannon too, the 37-mm
was sacrificed in the M4.
The changeover was made without "losing a tank."
The Detroit Times commented: "One of the most
remarkable achievements of the automobile manu-
facturers has been in the tank field. It was a product
of which they knew nothing. Chrysler took over this
job. It is seven months ahead of schedule on its first
order and its present capacity was not even considered
possible when it was given its first contract. Since
then it has changed over to the new all-welded hull
(this was only one of many changes) without
interrupting output. If ever the ingenuity of the in-
dustry met its test it has been on this job."
Chrysler- Jefferson put five automobile engines
on a common crankshaft to power 7,600 tanks.
I' * J
The ultimate accolade came August 10, 1942, when
General Campbell awarded the arsenal the first of the
E flags. The general spoke from a flat car beneath the
guns of a battery of Shermans to the assembled em-
ployees. "We have upped the ante on you time and
again and you have met every demand," said he.
How was it done? Between February 7th. and Sep-
tember 5th. 776 large machine tools were transferred
to nine other Chrysler plants. Moving 776 machine
tools over a period of a few months is just another job
if nothing else is involved. The trick was so to move
them as never to interfere with either the old M3 or
Welding the front hull section of the Pershing tank at the Plymouth plant.
Close-up of an electric-arc welder at ivork.
the new A 14 production. This took a timetable as
adroit as that for moving an army over a single-track
railroad. Except for the heaviest machines and those
shifted out of Detroit, no tool missed a day's work.
None could be moved until an adequate bank of
parts had been built up at the arsenal to protect the
assembly lines. One part might involve 60 machines.
In such a case, machines representing, say, the first
ten operations would be worked overtime to produce
a surplus of partly machined pieces, then trucked to
another plant while the machines for the remaining
operations were held at the arsenal until the stock
board listed a safe reserve of finished parts. The volute
suspension job was two months in making its way
some eight miles to Lynch Road.
The first whittling down of the 1,000-a-month
program came in September, 1942, when tank sched-
ules for 1942 were cut 40% across the board for lack
of steel, needed for ships. Then, on November 18th.
Gen. A. G. Quint on wired the Corporation to suspend
all further expansion of the arsenal due to "changes in
military requirements." Chrysler then lacked 177
machines of its needs for 800-a-month, plus spares and
extra final-drives and transmissions. Ordnance al-
lowed the arsenal 31 of these machines with which to
balance out the lines.
Despite this curtailment, the arsenal in December
broke all production records and at Ordnance's
urging, turning out 896 tanks, more than its total for
1941, almost double any previous month and an all-
time record. Ordnance had seen in November that it
was not going to get 15,000 tanks in 1942, the goal it
had set after the 40% cut. As Chrysler alone had met
its schedule, this over-all deficit could be overcome in
the six weeks remaining only by the arsenal, which
was beseeched to make 1,380 tanks in November and
December. The 15,000 goal was met with four to
The tank plant was awarded a white star in
February, 1943, for its Army-Navy E flag for "con-
Tanks ranged in line for massed artillery fire,
seldom done by our Army, often by the Germans.
tinuous meritorious services on the production
front," the first large war plant so honored. "You
have continued to maintain the high standard you
have set for yourselves," said Under Secretary of War
Patterson. "You may well be proud of your achieve-
And in April General Campbell wrote Mr. Keller:
"Words, of course, are totally inadequate to describe
how we in Ordnance feel about the accomplishments
of the Chrysler tank arsenal."
Despite this praise, tank orders were falling in the
Spring of 1943 ; production had overtaken the Army's
needs. Dwindling schedules were tempered, however,
by the return from various depots for modification
General Jacob L. Devers, who was Commanding General U. S.
Seventh Army in France, with Mr. Zeder and Mr. Keller.
of 809 Sherman tanks. These were going to the
British, who wanted many changes made. The re-
builds enabled the arsenal to set a new one day
record on May 12th. with 87 tanks shipped, but 56
of these were modifications. The last of this group
were reshipped June 14, 1943, and shortly the first
1,423 Shermans on which many of our armored forces
had been trained began to return home for a complete
reconditioning job before being sent into battle.
In May, 1942, the Corporation voluntarily had cut
the tank price $1,000 each, though it was making tanks
on a fixed price contract. A year later Chrysler drop-
ped a check for $7,876,000 unannounced into the Gov-
ernment's lap, a rebate made possible by December's
record output. Paradoxically, the Corporation some-
times increased the tank price on new orders while
cutting it on past business. This was due less to con-
stantly changing design than to changing quantities.
The more a plant makes, the cheaper the unit cost
should be whether the product is automobiles, lawn
mowers or tanks.
New Sherman orders and a number of new tank
types soon reversed the Spring's declining schedules.
The new types included an order for 250 T23 electric-
drive tanks, the direct progenitor of the Pershing.
Ordnance and General Electric had been collaborat-
ing on the electric-drive for two years. It gave a high
mobility, a speed of 35 miles an hour forward or in
reverse, and the ability to pivot on a nickel. It also
would have a bigger, harder-hitting gun. Ordnance
regarded its two tons of additional weight over the
Sherman as its only disadvantage.
The using arms did not agree. They held that the
T23's electric propulsion demanded crews of skilled
electricians and so no T23 ever left this country and
no second order was placed. An order for Shermans
with a radial Diesel engine had a similar fate. The
using arms wished to limit the supply problem to one
grade of fuel, 80-octane gasoline. Only 75 of these
Another new type mounted a 105-mm howitzer,
then the heaviest gun ever carried by any medium
Pre-baitle check of equipment by a British tank
unit in Italy. The tank was Chrvsler-built.
U. S. SIGNAL CORPS PHOTO
1 If V
J ... B
Forge shop of the Chrysler Newcastle, In-
diana plant, which made many tank parts.
tank. It first was tested in September of 1942 and
ordered into production in March, 1943. Weighing
little more than the 75-mm gun, it threw a wicked,
high-explosive shell at a high angle and was deadly
for many uses where a cannon was impotent.
The difference between a howitzer and a gun is that
between your rifle and your shotgun. To knock out
another tank, the Army needed a gun with its armor-
penetrating shell, but such a shell is like a rifle bullet
— its miss is as good as a mile. There is no use in
throwing it at infantry or at a battery of artillery.
The howitzer with its demolition and fragmentation
shell is powerless against tanks, but murderous to
infantry and artillery and to such targets as buildings,
through which a gun shell will simply rip a hole.
A fourth new type was a Sherman with a 76-mm
gun and "wet stowage." The greatest single hazard in
tank warfare is the explosion of a tank's own shells
from enemy fire. Ordnance therefore decided to lay
these shells down in ethylene glycol, the stuff you
put in your car radiator in Winter. But the design
necessary to liquid stowage reduced the amount of
ammunition a tank could carry and, in the long run,
the armored forces concluded that fewer shells was
the greater evil.
Machining tank road wheel shafts at the Newcastle, Indiana, plant.
Wet stowage was abandoned, but the 76-mm gun
was a much longer advance over the 75-mm than the
one millimeter of caliber suggests. It had a much
higher muzzle velocity, greater armor penetration
and a fabulous accuracy.
Ordnance began to talk in the Summer of 1943 about
introducing a high muzzle velocity 90-mm cannon
on the electric-drive T23. As this long-barrelled gun
would further increase the tank's weight, the De-
velopment section ordered the introduction of a new
horizontal volute suspension and a wide (23-inch)
track for a better ride and better flotation in mud.
The reader may remember that Ordnance was
denounced by some critics in the latter stages of the
war for the narrow (163/2-inch) tracks of our tanks and
our lack of high caliber ed, high velocity tank guns.
Note that Ordnance had introduced both more than
a year before. Chrysler Engineering had been given
a project October 1, 1941, before Pearl Harbor, to
develop this horizontal suspension which became
standard on all medium tanks by August, 1944.
Again in 1943 the arsenal ended the year in a
sprint. It was meeting its schedules, but in late No-
vember Ordnance again found that the Army was
likely to miss its over-all tank quota, and appealed
to Chrysler for an extra push in December. The
Corporation promised to build 55 tanks beyond its
schedule. Though schedules had fallen sharply after
the first quarter, 1943 was the plant's peak year. It
built 5,111 Shermans with the multibank motor,
1,528 with the aircraft motor, 16 Diesel-powered
tanks and rebuilt 1,306 tanks for a total of 7,708
shipped in one year.
Except for 148 M4's, all of the plant's 1944 produc-
tion was new in type, with all the unforeseen manufac-
turing difficulties always present in varying degrees
on new models. This was the lesser part of it, how-
ever. When Chrysler had taken over the M4A3 tank
the previous September from Ford, which was drop-
ping out of tanks, it was on the understanding that
it was to build this model as Ford had built it. But on
reports from the field, Ordnance began to introduce a
series of drastic changes, including dropping the 75-
mm gun for the 76-mm and the 105-mm howitzer,
wet stowage and a new front end.
Wet stowage alone affected 2,500 items, many of
long-time procurement, and eventually enforced a
complete tear-up of the turret interior. To change the
gun is to change the turret. The new 2-piece rolled
and cast armor combination front was a major
change, and all foundries were chronically overloaded.
The Pershing tank appeared in the Spring of 1944
when Ordnance asked the Corporation to estimate its
requirements for building 200 of these monthly as
soon as possible, with the expectation that they
would supersede the Sherman types in 1945 pro-
The Pershing was a revolutionary design, a tank
greater in armor and firepower than anything with-
in 20 tons of its weight. It was to carry either a 90-mm
Maj. Gen. Sir L. H. Williams, British Chief Ordnance Services
and Stores, with Mr. Keller and Staff Executive L. D. Cosart.
gun or the 105-mm howitzer, the former throwing an
armor-piercing shell with a core of cemented carbide,
the ultra hard material used almost universally now-
adays for the machining of tough metals.
A new type of springing, twelve heavy steel torsion
bars running the width of the tank and protected by
its armor, replaced the horizontal volute suspension.
The independently sprung wheels were demountable
like an automobile wheel, where the wheels of the
Sherman types could be changed only after the
suspension brackets had been removed.
Though it was intended that the Pershing should
replace the Sherman in production in 1945, Ordnance
in mid-May of 1944 asked for increased schedules on
Hundreds of thousands of track end connectors ivere made at Newcastle.
all Sherman types for the balance of the year, this in
anticipation of the invasion of France, coming on
June 6th. Test mileage was lowered temporarily to
30 miles and Chrysler was permitted to bring in ad-
vance procurements of materials for 1945 if need be.
Four days after D Day there was an Ordnance-
Industry meeting in Detroit. Colonel Cummings,
just back from a Washington meeting of the com-
bined chiefs of staff to decide on the 1945 tank
program, reported that tank types had been reduced
from 13 to 8, would be cut further to 6. By now all
of the Services had been converted to the need of
heavier armor and guns and wider tracks and had
dropped their insistence on a 35-ton maximum
weight. They would prefer all Pershing tanks if they
could get them, he said.
They were asking for more Pershing 105-mm tanks
than had been scheduled. Ordnance had intended
that Grand Blanc should build the 105-mm version,
Chrysler the 90-mm, but in view of the demand for
the latter, Chrysler would be asked to build both
By June 6th. Ordnance was asking the Corporation
what facilities it would need to double Pershing OUt-
Ma/. Gen. Urico Caspar Dutra (center), now President of
Brazil, then Minister of War, watches the machining of a
turret. With him are his two aides and R. T. Keller,
Works Manager of the Arsenal at left and C. B. Thomas,
President of the Company's Export Die is ion, in the rear.
put to 400 a month, this in addition to increased
Sherman schedules. At the same time, it wished
another 1,000 tanks rebuilt. In view of the overload
on the arsenal, it was decided to convert the Chrysler
plant at Evansville, Indiana, just released from car-
tridge manufacture, to the rebuilding job.
When von Rundstedt found a hole in our line in
December and came boring through, the Army
appealed to Chrysler to better its December quota
and to raise its sights on the Pershing tank from 400
to 500 monthly. The arsenal shipped 834 tanks that
month, a mark exceeded only by December of 1942
when production was limited to one model.
This was a triumph over two new shortages —
105-mm guns and flat cars. On Christmas day 75
tanks were ready to ship with only 18 flat cars on
hand. The basic trouble was that the arsenal was
competing with the Army itself for cars. Troop move-
ments were eating up more and more of the railroads'
overworked rolling stock. Ordnance ruled out 36, 37
and 38-foot flat cars for medium tanks. For Sherman
types, 40 and 42-foot cars were specified. Two M3
tanks had been loaded on a 42-foot car, but every
Sherma. claimed a car to itself except when an infre-
quent 50-fooc car turned up.
The Pershing, just around the corner now, would
take a car with a minimum load limit of 118,000
pounds, eliminating many more. As for the T29
tank and the T92 and T93 mobile guns, coming up in
1946, they would weigh up to 68 tons with dunnage,
.4 Chrysler-built Sherman tank helps to stim-
ulate war bund sales at Detroit's Air Show.
demanding a car 9-feet, 2-inches wide with a mini-
mum capacity of 160,000 pounds. These dimensions
would necessitate that the cars be moved only by
certain designated rail routes.
By the summer of 1945 when the Army was being
deployed from Europe to the Pacific and new tanks
were moving westward with them, the congestion
would have been truly serious if tank production had
not fallen greatly by then. Flat cars which had made
Maj. Gen. Marie Bethouart, French, at I he arsenal with Major
Robert J. Bedell, then commanding the arsenal. C. B. Thomas at
jar left and Matt Leonard. Tank Arsenal General Superintendent.
the round trip from Detroit to an Atlantic port in
eight days normally were 26 to 30 days in reaching the
'W est Coast and returning.
The drive to tool up for new and bigger tanks
while straining to better Sherman schedules brought
the total of Chrysler workers employed on tank work
to 25,000 in December, 1944. Arsenal employment
rose to 5.481, highest since the summer of 1942 before
the contract had been scattered out. Another index
of the pressure on the arsenal was its December
electric and telephone bills. The electricity bill at the
arsenal alone in December, 1942, when a record 813
tanks had been built, was $27,000. It was $32,351 in
December, 1944. The phone bill which had been $6,095
two years earlier now was $9,071.
In September the Corporation had notified the
Government that it would reduce the price of various
tanks to be made after June 30, 1944, by a total of
$10,926,879, due to economies and efficiencies.
Ordnance moved the Pershing goal up another
notch in January, 1945, to 850 monthly. In the midst of
this push for production on the new and much bigger
tank, the Army introduced a new gun mount shield,
front end casting and turret, final-drive and gear re-
duction on the Pershing, all major changes. These
were no engineer's whims, but a military necessity.
Ballistic tests had demonstrated that a gun shield and
heavier frontal armor would be essential to the
driver's protection, and the ratio of the final-drive
gears was insufficient to handle this added weight.
The tank contract crossed the billion and a half dol-
lar mark February 7th. A week later the Army Supply
Program set a new mark for Chrysler in 1945 of 8,832
tanks. This would have been 2,176 more than the
total of the biggest previous year. Even though Ger-
many quit in May and Japan in August, 4,251 new
tanks came off these assembly lines in 1945.
The new T80 track now was in production but could
not be used on the earlier Sherman and Grant tanks
without formidable altering of the tanks. This was
out of the question, yet all our tanks needed wider
tracks. As an answer, Chrysler Engineering designed
were five assembly lines running at I
peak of arsenal production in June *
All in the photograph are Shermans
the grouser, a sort of steel overshoe. It came in two
sizes and, fitted over the 163^-inch tread, it widened
the tank track to 32 or to 37-inches, thereby reducing
ground pressures by 30%. The grousers were made at
Evansville for lack of room in any Chrysler Detroit
Yon Rundstedt had been thrown back and we were
on the Rhine, but the war still was serious in mid-
March, and General Quinton was appealing to the
Corporation to exceed its March schedule of 735
tanks, with emphasis on the Pershing.
April 13th. was the fourth birthday of the original
M3 pilot tank. The previous night the arsenal had
built Tank No. 20,572. General Campbell wired his
"The more than 20,000 tanks you have turned out
in four years have played a key part in shifting the
tide of war," the telegram read. "Today our armies
are advancing along the road to victory and that
advance is spear-headed by your tanks. The assembly
lines of Chrysler have been basically instrumental in
breaking the battle lines of the Axis. All Chrysler em-
ployees should take a personal pride in the victories
of our troops, for you have played a personal part in
No more had he sent this wire, than he was can-
celling the two supplements which were to have
brought tank output to 850 monthly. Though still
resisting, Germany now was unmistakably whipped.
Due to this and critical material shortages, the arse-
Sherman hulls, iurrels and front end drive housings
stored in tlie open at the arsenal, November, 1943.
nal quota for 1945 was cut back from 8,881 to the still
robust figure of 7,816 tanks.
Ordnance called a meeting on the 18th. of its re-
maining medium and heavy tank builders, Chrysler,
Fisher Body and Pressed Steel Car, to fix upon the
kind and numbers to be built during the rest of 1945
and in 1946. The arsenal was assigned two types of
Shermans, both types of Pershings, the T92 and T93
mobile guns and the new supertank, the T29.
This latter was to weigh 57 tons net, 64 tons in
battle, some 15 tons more than the Pershing. Most of
this added weight would go into still thicker armor
and bigger guns, either a 105-mm gun — not a how-
itzer — or a 155-mm howitzer. Pressed Steel Car would
build a pilot model. All the arsenal ever saw of this
whopper were rough layout drawings, but after VJ
Day and the end of tank production, Chrysler Engi-
neering completed the T29 design and built several
of these huge tanks for the Army.
The T92 and T93 were huge self-propelled guns,
the former a 240-mm howitzer on a tank chassis, the
latter an 8-inch rifled cannon, about as heavy as
artillery goes except in coast defense forts. The arse-
nal was to see these in the flesh. Chrysler Engineering
designed and built four pilot models of each, the first
of which reached the arsenal test track in June, 1945,
before shipment to Aberdeen.
No pilot model ever had been translated from blue-
prints so swiftly. In a glowing letter to the Corporation
on July 4, 1945, Colonel Colby wrote: "The long hours
of overtime and extra manpower assigned to this task
are particularly noted and appreciated. The pride of
product which Chrysler, including every employee
concerned, showed in finishing and perfecting this
first model was exceptional and worthy of particular
commendation. This office appreciated this unique
cooperation. Our success in accomplishing our mis-
sion is due in no small part to such effort on your part.
Ordnance wanted that self-propelled gun in a hurry
for a special purpose. The Colby letter was followed
July 20th., by one from his chief, General Barnes.
"I congratulate you and your organization on this
DRAWING FROM U. S. SIGNAL CORPS PHOTO
Sherman tanks for General Paffon com-
ing ashore at a French port in 1944.
General Brehon H. Somervell Chief of Army Service Forces,
and Brig. Gen. A. B. Quit don, Jr.. commanding Detroit
Ordnance District, with President Keller at the arsenal.
splendid 240-mm gun motor carriage," he wrote
Mr. Keller. "We demonstrated this unit before
officers of the 1st. Army last week, throwing direct
fire against Japanese-type caves. All were most im-
pressed with the demonstration and the functioning
of this splendid unit. In fact, the test was so success-
ful that plans are under way to send the pilot units
to the Pacific as soon as all are completed. Anything
you can do to speed up delivery of the rest of these
pilots will be a direct contribution to the war in the
To dispatch pilot models to the front for active
service was unheard of in Ordnance, but the Jap was
a burrower and we had not yet found just the right
answer to his cave defenses, and only his early surren-
der balked these 240-mm howitzers of this distinction.
There had hung on the Works Manager's office
wall since early in the war a framed poster showing a
tank in action and captioned: "Help Britain Finish
the Job." On the morning after VE Day, he was
conferring with two lieutenants when the poster
caught his eye. Snatching the May 9 sheet of his
desk calendar pad, he wrote on it: "Finished," pasted
this sheet on the glass of the framed poster and called
for a photographer. That afternoon he sent a print of
the photograph to Brigadier G. M. Ross who headed
the British Army Staff office in Detroit.
The next day Ordnance slashed the arsenal's 1945
quota by 3,845 units. Before May ended, the Army
wiped out what remained of the Sherman contract.
Beginning June first, the working day went back to
two 8-hour shifts for the first time in thirteen
months. By June 15th., hourly-rate employment had
fallen below 3,500 and the Corporation was moving
all Government-owned tank machine tools out of
Dodge, Plymouth, Jefferson and Kokomo and half of
Newcastle's tank facilities.
The last 375 Sherman tanks moved out that month.
Though this left the arsenal with only Pershing
105-mm models to build after August, the Army still
was planning heavy tank runs in 1946 as insurance
against a prolonged war in the Pacific. The Corpora-
tion had a schedule for 1946 calling for five different
DEP'T HINGES, 5PR0CKI 1
models of which the Pershing would be the smallest.
The war ended August 14th. The next morning
Chrysler had its contract termination wire from DOD
— but with exceptions. The arsenal was to build 16
each of the T92 and T93, 62 more Persuings and 70
T29 supertanks. And on the second day Ordnance
restored 473 cancelled Pershing tanks, plus spare
parts. As of that week, the Army still intended to
keep the arsenal producing under Chrysler manage-
ment in 1946.
It had changed its think-
ing by the following week.
The contract was cancelled
without exceptions August
27th. The curtain was
down, the rest no more
than striking the scenery.
Chrysler at once vacated
the two top floors of the
and the Office of Chief of
Ordnance, Detroit, began
moving in from its scat-
tered downtown offices.
September 5th. with ma-
terials and facilities di-
vided into three categories
Tojo was hung in effigy by the arse-
nal workers during a bond drive.
Attaching the bogie wheels to a Sher-
man tank on the arsenal assembly line.
to be scrapped, to be shipped to other Government
arsenals or to storage, or to be held at the arsenal.
The plant which had built tanks enough to equip
more than 100 armored divisions, plus 3,126 car loads
of replacement parts, was turned back to Ordnance
October 29th. and formally accepted by Brig. Gen.
Gordon Wells, commanding the Detroit Ordnance
There was a time early in 1945 when the American
people wondered about their tanks. Though we were
winning decisively, newspaper and radio military
critics denounced the Sherman as abjectly inferior in
firepower and armor to the German Tiger and Pan-
ther tanks, quoting letters from our Armored Forces.
Only our superior quantities had checked the Nazis'
superior quality, they said.
And it was true that the Sherman had little chance
in a slugging match with the burly German heavies.
It was true that our 75-mm shells often had bounced
off the thick German armor. It was true that we had
no heavy tanks, nor had the British, though the
Russians used them. Here was the Works Manager's
own boy writing him from Germany in the Spring of
1945: "The turret of a Tiger is as big as our whole
tank, and I'm not exaggerating."'
But military critics should have known the an-
swers. We were making 62-ton heavy tanks before
Pearl Harbor and this AI6 then, and for a consider-
able time after, was the world's most powerful. Our
Army abandoned the type after we were at war. It
did so for excellent reasons.
Our tanks had to be shipped from Detroit to the
seaboard and then across an ocean and landed am-
phibiously on hostile shores. Here was the first limi-
tation on size and weight. With U-boat sinkings
increasing, there were not enough ships, and the
bigger a tank the fewer a ship could carry. The Ger-
man heavies never could have been put ashore from
landing craft. Most American flat cars have a load
limit of 40 tons; European flat cars are much smaller.
Our Air Force would try to destroy the enemy's
bridges, and such bridges as they missed the enemy
would blow up as he retreated. This meant that our
armor would have to cross innumerable streams on
temporary bridges. Sixty and 75-ton tanks could not
have crossed such bridges.
For Germany, by then on the defensive and fight-
ing a delaying war from interior lines, the heavy tank
could be justified, though our tacticians thought that
the Nazis had sacrificed most of the inherent advan-
tages of the tank. Having many fewer tanks than us,
the enemy made theirs bigger and more powerful and
therefore slow and ponderous. The Tiger and the
Tank hull moving through an olive
drab paint bath on the assembly line.
Installing Chrysler-built final drive and transmission. These two
assemblies represented more than half the mechanical work in a tank.
Panther really were roving pill-boxes or outsize tank-
destroyers rather than tanks. Two and a half hours
was the maximum cruising time of some Tigers on a
full load of gas.
Our armor was designed as a weapon of ex-
ploitation. We planned to and did use it in long-range
thrusts deep into the enemy's rear, where it would
chew up his supply installations and communications,
just as Hitler's Panzers, using only light and medium
tanks, had done originally in Poland, France and the
Low Countries. This demanded great endurance and
low gas and oil consumption at no loss in speed.
After serving for weeks in training in England, our
Shermans were landed in Normandy and fought their
way across France, still at full strength when they
reached the Meuse in September. In exploiting a
break-through, they could roll at 25 miles an hour for
several hours at a time. In the Battle of the Bulge, 53
Sherman tanks of the IVth. Armored Division roared
from Fenetrange in the Saar 151 miles to the Bastogne
area in a day and a night.
The Germans had gone back to old-style, line-
smashing, pile-up football; we were playing an open,
razzle-dazzle, forward-passing tank game. Only in
occasional stagnant prepared-line fighting were the
Shermans unable to dodge tank-to-tank battles with
the Nazi heavyweights.
Nothing but praise was heard of the Sherman until
the Winter rains set in in October, 1944. By this time
we had pushed the Germans back to the rough coun-
try to the south of the Rhine valley. The mud and
the terrain were ideal for the Tiger and Panther. The
Nazis could pick the dominating spots and post their
heavy tanks there. The mud and the lay of the land
prevented us from outflanking them. Our 75-mm gun
was ineffective against heavy armor beyond 1,500
yards, and this was dangerously close to get to a
German tank. Nevertheless, we went on winning,
and with the arrival of the wide track and the long-
tubed 76-min gun with its carbide center armor-
piercing shell, Ave recovered our original advantages
over the enemy armor.
We Americans like to think of ourselves as leaders
in scientific discovery. Many basic discoveries have
come from Europe, however. It is in the practical
application of such discoveries that we are supreme.
Only Ave, so far, have mastered the tricks of mass
production and fool-proof mechanism. Europe had a
long lead with the automobile, made excellent cars
for the time, but only the rich could buy them and
only a mechanic could keep them running.
W e began to make cars so cheaply that everyone
could own one. Everyone was not a mechanic, how-
ever, nor could he afford to hire a chauffeur. And being
an American, he couldn't be bothered. He demanded
and got a car which would pretty well take care of
The German is a master mechanic. German in-
dustry maintained its 4-year apprenticeship for
every mechanic down to the last year of the Avar,
reduced it to three years grudgingly under heavy
pressure from the Army. Skilled mechanics, tool-
makers and tool engineers Avere exempt from military
service throughout. The highest quality of gauges
and precision measuring devices, usually limited in
this country to the tool room, Avere freely used
everywhere in German factories.
American members of the Reparations Commission
Avere dumbfounded after the Avar's end to find that
Germany had more good and new machine tools in
proportion to output, population or the size and
scope of its plants than we ourselves had, such a
wealth of the latest tools, indeed, that they ran them
only one shift a day even in the shadow of disaster.
The explanation lay in a Nazi law allowing a manu-
facturer to write off the cost of new equipment in one
year, a law deliberately intended to penalize ob-
solescent tools. The average depreciation write-off
permitted under our tax laws is twenty years.
The Germans had the highest skills, great ingenu-
ity, the best of tools and no lack of materials and they
hid some of their most important factories under-
Adding the front drive sprockets which drive
the tracks. The tank nears completion.
1 **~" ~~ *f*
X-RAY STUDY OF THE INTERIOR OF
HERMAN TANK WITH 90 MM GUN
ground from our bombers. They sometimes antici-
pated us on fundamental improvements and they are
telling themselves that they were beaten only be-
cause we overwhelmed them with sheer masses of
men and materials.
They were not, however, whipped by quantities
alone. Our tanks were better and we used them more
intelligently. Our tanks were better because the Ger-
mans never learned to think in terms of reliability,
as we use the word, e.g.: maximum performance and
minimum care and replacement. Just as the European
pursues science for science's sake, so is he prone to
design and make machines for machinery's sake. A
captured Panzer commander grumbled that his tanks
Tanks were rolled onto their tracks at
the end of the arsenal assembly lines.
(Above) Lowering the 30-cylinder Chrysler multibank
engine info a Sherman tank. (Below) Dropping on the
5-ton turret and its gun, one of the last operations.
Dr. Man uelPrado, Presi-
dent of Peru, one of many
Latin- American visitors.
appeared to have been built
by watchmakers. A character-
istic expression in France,
ijjpfNK heard many times every day
4| before this war, was "Ca ne
marche pas", which might be
translated: "It doesn't work"
or "It won'trun." It expressed
a French if not a European
philosophy. This weakness for
technical prowess at the ex-
pense of dependability, sim-
plicity and cost is shared by many American
engineers, but in this practical nation the engineer is
disciplined by the production man and the salesman.
No one was more outraged by the critics of the
Sherman tank than was the late George Patton and
no one was better qualified to reply. "In mechanical
endurance and ease of maintenance our tanks are
infinitely superior to any other," General Patton
declared March 19, 1945.
Explaining Avhat this meant in military effective-
ness, he pointed out that the Illrd. Army had lost
1,136 tanks between August 1, 1944, and mid-March
of 1945. In the same period it had knocked out
2,287 German tanks, of which 808 were Tiger or
Panther heavies. "As we always have attacked," he
went on, "70% of our casualties have been from dug-
in anti-tank guns, whereas most of the enemy's tanks
have been put out of action by our tanks."
In a break-through the Tigers and Panthers were so
slow that they were quickly overrun, soon out of gas
and helpless. They had to be followed by corps of
mechanical nursemaids and all their heavy armor
being on the front slope plate and the turret, they
Sherman tanks on new test traek in October, 1943. Over-
pass in center was part of the destroyed concrete track.
were so vulnerable on their flanks and rear that they
carried into battle fourteen or fifteen infantrymen
clinging to their sides. It was the duty of these foot
soldiers to drop off, fan out and screen the tank from
our bazooka fire. Lacking our full circle power tra-
verse which permitted our tanks to fire in any direc-
tion, they often threw onl\ one shell to a Sherman's
three or four.
"The great mobility of the fleet-footed Sherman,"
General Patton continued, "usually enables it to
evade the slow and unwieldly Tiger. With their adop-
tion of this cumbersome tank, the German, in my
judgment, lost much of his ability in armored combat.
These tanks are so heavy and their road life so short
that the German is driven to use them as guns rather
than as tanks. That is, he is forced on the defensive
against our armor, whereas we invariably try and
generally succeed in using our armor on the offensive
against his infantry, communications and supply
lines, the proper use of armor.
"Had the armored division which accompanied the
Illrd. Army across France been equipped with Tigers,
the road losses would have been 100% by the time we
reached the Moselle river. As it was, our road losses
"In current operations, had the IVtli. Armored
Division been equipped with Tiger or Panther tanks
and been required to make the move from Saar-
guemines to Arlon, thence through Bastogne, from
Bastogne to the Rhine and now to Mainz, it would
have been necessary to rearmor it twice, and we
should have had serious trouble in crossing the rivers."
When von Rundstedt broke through on a 40-mile
When the money was down; inte-
rior of a Sherman tank in action.
■rfll. - : ' : '&.
front in the Ardennes December 16, 1944, he had
eight Panzer divisions. Patton, with only Sherman
tanks stopped him and was attacking by December
22nd., before our overwhelming air superiority,
which had been grounded by bad weather, could
intervene. Anyone who still believes the German had
better tanks has this crucially decisive battle to ex-
plain away. The Nazis lost so much armor and other
equipment in order to gain a brief tactical success
that they were fatally crippled when the Russians
launched their powerful January offensive.
The original tank track was rubber. One set of
tracks, spares included, ate up 1,734 lbs. of rubber.
This forced the Army to return to steel in the Spring
of 1942. A number of track patterns were then sub-
mitted to Ordnance with Chrysler liking best a rolled
section originated by Mr. Weckler, and another that
it called the "cuff" design.
A decision had to be reached quickly for rubber
tracked shoes soon would be exhausted. It was going
to be hard enough to get steel. The Works Manager
5 was sent to Washington to explain to
General Christmas that the Corpo-
ration had these two types of track
in mind. He said he believed Ord-
nance would adopt Mr. Weckler's
suggestion eventually, but Chrysler
Assistant Secretary of State, G. How-
land Shau\ hitchhikes a tank ride.
. - ■*,-■ ..'"'■.
j v ******
Testing was cruel after the original con-
crete track went to pieces in May, 19 U3.
could not get into production on it before the follow-
ing February so it wished to tool to make the cuff
type as the only steel shoe which could be made fast
enough to replace rubber in the Fall after the first
1,000 Sherman tanks.
General Christmas approved this and within a
comparatively short time the Corporation was in
volume production of the cuff type tracks.
On December 15, the tank track committee wired
Chrysler that it wanted from the arsenal, not only
enough tracks for its 710 monthly tank quota plus
200% spares — this requirement had been doubled—
Before production all tank types were tested gruellingly
at the arsenal proving grounds near I tica, Michigan.
but also 1,000 or more extra sets for other tank manu-
In the interval Ordnance had adopted the Weckler
rolled track and Chrysler now had verbal authoriza-
tion for the facilities to make the new design, which
replaced the cuff track in the Spring of 1943.
The Corporation was given a citation for the part
The late Edsel Ford studying a cutaway of the tank trans-
mission at the arsenal Matt Leonard does the explain-
ing while B. E. Hutchinson, Chrysler Vice President and
Chairman of the Finance Committee (in homburg), watches.
it played in this track emergency. "This is to certify
that the Chrysler Corporation during the period from
August 3, 1912, to March 31, 1913, when tank track
production was very critical, made an outstanding
contribution and attained unusual efficiency of pro-
duction, making it possible to attain required tank
schedules within the allotted time," it read.
In forwarding this citation, C. M. Burgess, as
chairman of the Track Committee, wrote: "The em-
ployees of Chrysler as well as management are to be
congratulated on having actually been a part of the
program which contributed so largely to the success
of the African and Sicilian campaigns. If the track as
scheduled by Ordnance had not been produced within
the allotted time, these campaigns might not have been
In three months steel tracks destroyed the arsenal
test track that had shown no appreciable wear in one
year from the rubber soles of 4,281 tanks. The test
track was a concrete figure 8 with an overpass, its
purpose to give each tank a 75-mile shakedown cruise
at 10 miles an hour. It took so many hours to drive
75 miles at this speed that the testing slowed de-
liveries. The service record of Chrysler tanks having
demonstrated that this test mileage safely could be
reduced, Ordnance shortly lowered the mileage and
increased the permissible speeds. Still the track bore
Then the first steel-shod tanks moved out of the
factory October 1, 1942, onto the track. This M4 was
several tons heavier than the M3 and there were
many more of them, and the raised chevron bars of
steel clawed and chiselled at the roadway. A cloud of
cement dust hung over the track. The bridge wore
through so quickly that it was closed to traffic Octo-
ber 16; repaAed with granite blocks set in concrete.
In another week, many holes began developing in the
pavement on the curves and, once started, they en-
larged by the hour.
Despite constant repairs, it was necessary to shut
the track down New Year's Eve, an hour before the
whistles blew. In 75 days' time the concrete had
worn down 43^ inches on the curves.
In the infantry any ride is better than walking — even a tank.
When the frost came out of the ground in the
Spring the patched-up cement track went to pieces
utterly and Ordnance specified a new track of 6 inches
of asphalt laid over 24 inches of gravel and macadam,
asphalt being partly self-healing and easily mended.
Between October, 1943, and the war's end, some
14,000 tanks, nearlv all steel-shod, roared over the
Archbishop, since Cardinal Francis J. Spell-
man with K. T. and R. T. Keller at the arsenal
asphalt. It was resurfaced twice, but the sub-struc-
ture never deteriorated.
From April until mid- July of 1943, however, the
tanks leapt and bounced like so many chamois out of
cavernous chuckholes in the old figure 8 track. The
testing grew so cruel that the track was closed finally
July 15th. and the tanks took their exercise around
and around the big factory building on the concrete
apron while awaiting the asphalt track.
Both at the arsenal and the Utica proving grounds
tanks were test-driven 24 hours a day throughout the
war. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of
night stayed the swift completion of their appointed
rounds." For lack of enough drivers, some had to
drive ten, even twelve hours a day when engineering
changes or materials shortages had backed up the
arsenal assembly lines.
Ordnance's experimental facilities were limited to
its arsenals and the 43.000-acre Aberdeen proving
grounds, all overloaded, so it farmed out many hun-
dreds of engineering projects to the Chrysler Engi-
neering Ordnance division for a total authorization
This experimental work on tanks and other military
vehicles was the principal wartime activity of the
division. When the Avar ended, 620 projects had been
completed at its big Oakland Avenue plant, 525 at
its proving grounds, and a few carried over into 1946.
There is hardly a detail of the tank and its equip-
ment that was not explored in these projects, all to
the end of increasing the fighting efficiency of the
weapon. The studies ranged from small laboratory
investigations such as "Strength Test of Track End
Testing the Chrysler Engineering-designed horizontal vo-
lute suspension at the proving grounds before production .
U.S.S.R.'s Lt. Gen. L. G. Rudenko lunches with Vice Presi-
dent Hutchinson and President Keller before an arsenal tour.
Connections" at $25 to $2,291,000 for the design and
building of eight pilot mobile guns. These and the
pilot model of the 65-ton T32 heavy tank with its
7^-inch frontal and 5-inch side armor, which was
not completed at the Tank Laboratory until Janu-
ary, 1946, were the biggest, heaviest vehicles ever
constructed in Detroit.
Ordnance made fifteen separate contracts with
Engineering. These were unique in that no specific
charge was made for the facilities; the Corporation
was paid a flat $5 an hour for the services of any
employee from the Zeders down. The cost of laboratory
facilities, electric power, supervision and all else
except materials was absorbed into this rate, to
which was added a flat fixed fee of $45,000 for the
Needing additional proving ground facilities, Ord-
nance had asked Chrysler in January, 1942, to lease
the Packard automobile proving grounds near Utica,
Michigan, for the testing of new types of tanks and
military vehicles. The 130 Chrysler Engineering em-
ployees at Utica won their own Army-Navy E flag
and a white star for a second citation. The property
was returned to Packard October 27, 1945, after the
exhaustive testing of 65 different types of Ordnance
vehicles which logged more than 500,000 miles.
Engineering designed and built 38 different pilot
tanks, many of them wholly new in type, in its Tank
Laboratory. Drawings for all models after the M3,
and for the innumerable changes made in these mod-
els, were released through Engineering. Dust cham-
bers were designed and built for the Army for testing
instruments. Two dynamometers capable of absorb-
ing the whole output of a tank were
built. A hot room for vapor lock and
power plant cooling tests was part of the
arsenal dynamometer installation. An-
other detail was a soundproof room into
Maj. Gen. W. W. Richards, British
Army staff, garbed for a tank ride.
yy/ / a/ mb
wza 1 1 K^jjf
1 '**? ~^^H Hi
ft *0*4i l HH
Assembling the long 90 mm guns into the turrets of tanks at the arsenal.
which decibel readings of all final-drive and trans-
mission assemblies were piped and checked before
assembly. Ordnance had the use of Chrysler Engi-
neering's cold rooms, producing temperatures as
low as minus 40 ; of its mechanical, chemical, metal-
lurgical, structures, suspension, stress, fabrics, plas-
tics and rubber laboratories in which the Corporation
had invested many millions of dollars prior to the war.
The vertical volute suspension of the M3 tank had
a short spring life, low tire mileage and insufficient
flotation. The design of a better suspension was as-
signed to Chrysler by the Army in 1941. The result
was a horizontal volute suspension used on nearly
10,000 tanks. Engineering also designed a special
V-12 supercharged 1,250-horsepower tank motor
which was available for Ordnance when Japan quit.
Harry Woolson of Engineering designed a new
disc-type land mine exploder adopted by Ordnance.
Like a disc plow, the mine exploder clears a path
through mine fields, exploding the mines at no damage
to itself. In the design it replaced, the discs were
mounted on a common shaft and when an obstruc-
tion raised one disc it raised all. Woolson's discs were
independently sprung and so overlooked no mines.
In the earlier design the discs were pushed ahead of
the tank and could not be steered; the Woolson
exploder was steered from the tank.
Engineering designed and Utica tested the rocket
Pershing hulls starling their trip down
the assembly lines in June, 19k5.
launcher with which some Pershing tanks were
equipped. Forty -four 4^-inch rockets were dis-
charged in seven seconds and the cumbersome launch-
ing clusters then instantly blown off the tank and out
of its path by cartridges fired from electrical controls
within the tank.
One Engineering project called for the complete
waterproofing of all electrical installations of the
Sherman tank. A pilot tank so equipped, was re-
turned to the Tank Laboratory in 1945 after 1,500
hours of testing in the Florida surf. Though breakers
often had spilled through the open hatch, the wiring
never had faltered.
Electricity and water are sworn enemies. Can you
conceive of waterproofing all the complex electrical
apparatus of a tank? Among the unprecedented prob-
lems were electric cable design, development of air
and moisture-tight fittings for cable entrances to
junction boxes, water-tight switches, junction box
and cover seals, sealing of generators and motors,
water-proofing of the auxiliary power plant, water-
proofing instruments and panels, finding materials
which would resist salt corrosion and molds.
Now back to the tank arsenal. The last productive
work done there was the canning of a tank. Imagine
a can weighing nearly 7 tons! This was part of an
Army experimental program for the 50-year storage
of guns and other weapons. If much of this mass of
The end of the arsenal assembly lines as the war approached
its end. these are Pershing tanks. Below is a line of com-
pleted Pershings awaiting their turns on the test track.
v, -4" - «?»<*£..,
The Duke of Windsor, former King of Eng-
land, was an early visitor to the arsenal.
equipment could be stored in the open, the cost
would be greatly less. Storage in the open, however,
would require hermetical sealing in a protective at-
The arsenal built a huge container of steel plates
welded hermetically, placing inside all the parts of a
partly disassembled M4A3 105-mm tank "in such
condition as to enable reconstruction of an operating
tank from the store material." All parts were protec-
tively treated. When the container had been sealed,
it was exhausted through a valve and then filled with
inert nitrogen gas. The pack is designed to resist
temperatures from minus 60 degrees to plus 170.
The Army was exploring the possibility of storing
ten million tons of equipment in this fashion. So pro-
tected, tanks and guns might be left at strategic
points on our remoter frontiers, enough to hold the
line or to fight a delaying action until more modern
equipment could reach these outposts.
Though a tank hardly was fragile, Ordnance re-
quired during the war that it be packed as tenderly
for overseas shipment as an airplane. Rust can
damage, not the tank itself, but its innumerable
working parts and accessories. After grease and oils,
the best rust-preventive is Silica-Gel, a chemical
dehydrant. The arsenal used 15,000 little bags of
Silica-Gel monthly to absorb moisture in tank and
tank parts packaging.
There was no mention of spare or replacement
Tanks came back from the test track to "heavy repairs'' for final
adjustment. These are Sherman 90 mm and 105 mm howitzer types.
A Chrysler training school at the arsenal
graduated 3,700 Army tank technicians.
parts in the original tank contract or the first supple-
ment. The size of a set of spares is best suggested by
the unit price, upwards of half a million dollars. In
effect, parts increased a tank order by one-fourth.
Making the parts was only one aspect of the problem.
Chrysler set up a force of liaison engineers and sent
them into the field to protect the Corporation product
and aid the armored forces. These men began to
report back insufficient supply and distribution of
When the Vlth. Armored Division moved from
Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, to Louisiana and then to
the California Desert Training Center to join
other armored divisions on maneuvers, three Chrysler
engineers went along, living with the troops. They
The late Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy,
with an aide and Mr. Keller at the arsenal.
felt that Mr. Keller should see the situation for him-
self, and so the Corporation president arrived at
Indio in the Mojave Desert in February, 1943, slept
that night on an army cot and set out the next morn-
ing in an army car, trailing one of the armored divi-
The Chrysler party reached the headquarters of
General Lewis, commanding the Vlth., around noon.
There were no tanks there, so borrowing a Dodge
carryall from the Army, with a Chrysler liaison engi-
neer at tlie wheel, Keller went deeper into the desert
in search of Colonel Baker, the Vlth's maintenance
man. From him he learned that some of the parts
difficulties were intentional. The Army was deliber-
ately simulating the conditions the armored forces
might expect in North Africa.
The desert forces were divided into Red and Blue
armies. Suppose that the Blues had cut off the Red
army's gas supply. How would an army get gas under
battle conditions if its supply line were cut? The gas
would be dropped by parachutes from planes. Para-
chute drops do not all come down neatly in one con-
venient spot, however, so the Red's gasoline drums
had been left here and there over the desert by trucks
Pershing 90 mm tank alongside a Sherman 76 mm. The Per-
shing would hare been succeeded in 1946 by a 65-fon tank.
President Benes of Czechoslocakia
emerging from a tank at the arsenal.
just as if they had been
pushed out of planes,
and it was up to the
Reds to find them.
There were no more
tanks at Baker's post
than there had been at headquarters. The tanks were
returning, the Chrysler men learned, from a 300-mile
sortie and would be passing this vicinity around mid-
night, but Baker and his men were pulling stakes at
9 p.m. to go on ahead. This would leave the Chrysler
group marooned in the desert, so they hauled out at
once for the command post they had left earlier in the
day. Straying off the trail, they did not stumble into
headquarters until 11 p.m., to be told that the whole
outfit would be moving out at 12:30 a.m. on a night
General Lewis and nearly everyone was asleep. The
Detroiters shook out their bedrolls and lay down in
the nearest empty spots, looking up at the desert
stars. Before they could fall off, a soldier appeared
with a pencil-like flashlight with a red lens. He sinned
this in the face of the sleeping soldiers who awoke and
In their carryall, the Chrysler men slipped into a
line of 1 ,600 tanks and army vehicles, toward the head
end, which moved out in blackout order. The head-
lights of each vehicle were pinpoints of green, the
taillights two pinpoints of red. When the Chrysler
driver saw the two glints of red ahead leap into the
air as that car lurched through an invisible arroyo,
he slowed down and felt his way cautiously through
When he emerged on the other side, the lights had
vanished. The civilians doubted that they ever
should have found the column again if it had not
stopped for a 5 -minute rest period. From there on,
the Chrysler driver set his teeth and hung grimly on
the bumper of the car ahead. This went on until dawn,
when the column halted for breakfast, only to resume
the march at 9 a.m.
The Red and Blue armies met eventually in the
concluding battle of these long and gruelling maneu-
vers, the clash of the tanks preceded by Red sappers
clearing simulated mine fields and actual barbed
wire. The Chrysler party were guests of the com-
manding officers in a reviewing stand run up in the
mountain pass defended by the
Blues. After five days and nights
in the desert, the Detroiters slept
that night at Palm Springs and
slept and slept.
Soldier students built 292 tanks
under simulated field conditions in
Oliver Lucas, chairman of the Lucas
(British) Commission, leaving the arsenal.
Lowering a Pershing onto a flat car for shipment. Each de-
manded a car with a minimum load limit of 118,000 pounds.
a Chrysler-operated Ordnance tank school housed in
a small army post erected on the arsenal grounds
in July, 1942. Mr. Keller had persuaded Ordnance
of the value of training maintenance crews in the
actual construction and assembly of tanks without
the aid of power tools or cranes that they might better
cannibalize tanks disabled in battle.
Twelve tanks were in course of assembly at all
times, each class building two. Beginning on a Mon-
day morning, a class would have completed both by
the second Thursday. Student drivers and student
inspectors drove them and checked them on Friday,
the tanks returning to the shop Saturday for Govern-
ment inspection and acceptance.
Wlien the school was closed in 1944 for lack of
further need, Brig. Gen. H. R. Kutz wrote Mr. Keller:
"We shall always remember with deep gratitude how
ably and effectively you and the entire Chrysler
organization came to our aid in an hour of great need.
With your whole-hearted cooperation and invaluable
technical assistance, the line facilities at your dis-
posal were generously made available to the end that
badly needed skilled Ordnance technicians could be
promptly despatched to the various theaters of opera-
tion. The Ordnance training program benefitted
immediately from the experience and techniques you
and your staff so generously provided. The highly
commendatory reports which have come back from
overseas regarding the performance of the skilled
technicians you trained is a sincere tribute to the
Trainload of tarpaulin-shrouded tanks moving
away from the arsenal on New York Central fraeks.
King Peter of Yugoslavia, since deposed, with Governor
Van Wagoner and Chrysler Vice President ./. E. Fields.
excellence of your product and the high standards of
The arsenal Visitors' Book was a long and distin-
guished roster headed by a President and a Vice
President of the United States. Easily the most spec-
tacular of the guests were his Royal Highness, Amir
Feisal, and his Saudi-Arabian entourage who stopped
by on their return from the San Francisco UNO con-
ference, but the most notable day was, of course, Sep-
tember 18, 1942, with the visit of President Roosevelt
on a secret tour of Army camps and war plants.
Forty-five tons of Pershing tank on the arsenal test track.
Only a few Pershings reached Europe in time to fight.
None at the arsenal knew and very few could have
guessed who was coming until the special train backed
into the plant. Later in that tour, word-of-mouth
reports of his coming often spread through a city
despite press and radio silence, but Detroit was his
first stop, the arsenal his first visit, so the secret was
It ay as not necessary to stage a special show for
him. The test track was roaring with tanks, the plant
humming normally. Except to put one tank through
its paces directly in front of the Presidential automo-
bile, there were no circus stunts and no need of them.
The President, Mrs. Roosevelt and Donald Nelson
rode through the arsenal aisles by car with Mr. Keller
as their guide.
/?. T. Keller, Chrysler Corporation Comptroller L. A. Moehring,
Tank Plant Operating Manager E. J. Hunt and Chrysler Corpora-
tion Vice President and General Manager Herman L. ]\'eckler.
Chrysler Engineering designed and built this
65-ton T-92 mobile gun for Army Ordnance.
As the secret was kept until the last day of the
tour, Mr. Roosevelt made no public comment until
he was back in the White House. Then he told his
press conference that the arsenal "provides an amaz-
ing demonstration of what can be done by the right
organization, spirit and planning."
Chrysler-built and Chrysler-motored Sherman
tanks spear-headed the British recovery of Burma,
moving 850 miles in 20 days through the jungle from
Assam to the Irawaddy river. The British testify that
the tanks and components stood up as dependably in
this forbidding region as in dry and temperate climates.
The late Premier Sikorsky of Poland
was an arsenal visitor in December, 19^2.
In this advance, tanks carried the infantry, foot
soldiers being unable to cut their way through the
jungle except at a crawl. When the enemy was met,
the infantry attacked as a company, leaving the tanks
unguarded against Jap suicide squads.
A letter from Burma dated May 31, 1945, said:
"In a recent action, a Jap officer climbed on the back
of a tank and struck the tank commander with his
sword, killing him instantly. He then entered the
tank and killed the gunner with his sword. The wire-
less operator fired his revolver but managed only to
wound the Jap. The two fell to the floor of the turret
Chrysler Engineering also designed and built this T-93
8-inch rolling gun for the Army on a tank chassis.
r r • I
-»- — ,
■1 1 -fta
11 ^E »i
if 1 *
Moisture-proof packing of spare parts. The arsenal
shipped 3.126 car loads of lank service parts.
in hand-to-hand combat. The wireless operator man-
aged to grab the revolver of the dead gunner and
finally killed the enemy officer."
Such instances became so common that three rifle-
men ay ere carried on or in each tank at all times in the
later stages of this campaign.
On the bulletin board at the proving grounds there
was posted a letter from Sgt. Douglas Voigt who had
been a test driver there. It was dated at Jena, Ger-
many, May 29, 1945.
"I had three tanks knocked out from under me," he
wrote. "That is no record, but three is too many for
my heart. You may think your tanks are big, heavy,
thick chunks of iron, but an 88 sure makes quick work
of them. They go through them just like they were a
piece of paper. Twice we all managed to escape okay,
but one time it got one of the boys.
"All you fellows know what a tank is like, but you
never have spent 27 days and nights riding in one
without relief. I did it in January and sometimes I
wished we could get hit and take my chance on just
getting hurt a little bit. It was during that time at
Bastogne that I lost my first tank. I thought then
that I would get a break, but what happened? They
General Henri Giraud between his American aide, Brig.
Gen. L. J. Fortier, Chrysler Vice President and Gen-
eral Manager Herman L. Weckler and Brig. Gen.
W. P. Boatwright, chief of the Tank-Automotive Center.
had a brand new one waiting for me when I returned
to the company area. I sure cussed the production
line at the arsenal for producing that one so fast."
H. G. Wells claims in his autobiography that he
first imagined the tank in a story, "Land Ironclads,"
published in 1903, but steam-driven ironclads on
wheels had been dreamed-up ten or fifteen years be-
fore this by writers of the American dime novel for
The late Wendell Willkie rode in a tank on a muddy day.
boys. None was made until 1916, however, and they
were forced upon the British army then by Winston
Churchill. Kitchener rejected them as "mechanical
toys"; and when they were put into action, it was
done so timidly and with so little understanding of
Grouser-equipped tank at proving grounds. These tank over-
shoes were made at Chrysler's Evansville, Indiana, plant.
^MteA^ilfe- : ">
their possibilities that their immense value as a major
tactical surprise was thrown away.
Early in World War I, Col. E. D. Swinton and
others in England perceived that though the soldier
could not carry bullet-proof armor, he could be car-
ried, as the sailor was, in an armored vehicle, and
that as this vehicle would have to travel across coun-
try it must move on caterpillar treads instead of
wheels. So the British borrowed the American Cater-
pillar Tractor track, built an armored carriage which
they called a "tank" in order to deceive the enemy's
spies, and began September 15, 1916, at the Somme,
an attempt to break the stranglehold of pill boxes and
other machine gun nests in that war of fixed positions.
Tanks first were used skillfully in the Cambrai
attack of November 20, 1917. Instead of the usual
preliminary artillery barrage, tanks were grouped in
threes as a chain of mobile armored batteries slightly
in advance of the infantry. Earlier that year British
casualties had risen to 8,222 per square mile gained,
but from then until the end of that war casualties
came down to 86 per square mile of advance.
The tank's moral effect was greater than the physi-
cal damage it did, because in the face of its assault the
German soldier felt himself to be impotent, and w as.
Ludendorf was right when he spoke of the great tank
victory at Amiens August 18, 1918, as "the black day
of the German army."
But as so often in the case of great wars, it was the
losing side which learned the most. Maj. Gen. J. F. C.
$^»Mi-.? : ,',.ii% m
The Hon. C. D. Howe, Canadian Minister of
Munitions, with R. T. Keller and C. B.
Thomas, President of Chrysler Export.
Fuller designed a plan for the 1919 campaign, ap-
proved by Foch, suddenly to pass powerful tank
forces covered by aircraft through the enemy's front
to attack his supply system. As soon as the German
rear should be disorganized, a strong tank-infantry
frontal attack was to follow. This was the essence of
the Blitz which the Nazis were to use with dismaying
effect on the French nearly a generation later.
In World War I the United States had a 6-ton
tank with a speed of from 3 to 6 miles an hour, closely
copied from the British Mark V. Few reached France.
After 1918, the Westervliet Board stressed the need
of high-powered, high-speed tanks, gun mounts,
personnel carriers and other military vehicles that
would be independent of good roads and far more
rugged and simplified in service than existing com-
mercial vehicles. For lack of money, these recom-
mendations came to nothing. One year Ordnance was
allotted just $60,000 for tank development.
It was a private American citizen. J. Walter Christie,
who developed in the early 20 "s the first high-speed
tank. It was faster than any today, 40 to 45 miles an
hour, and rode easily, but it was mechanically unde-
pendable. Perhaps if the Army had had money then
it could have developed the Christie tank into what
As late as 1931, the Aberdeen Proving Ground
people were crying in the Wilderness: "Why aren't
we making fast, dependable tanks and armored vehi-
cles?" A first reason, other than lack of money, was
that no engine existed which could supply the power
within the weight and bulk limitations imposed. Ex-
perimental tank designs in those days were all engine,
with room only for the driver and a standing gunner.
When Ordnance wished to use the new Wright
radial-cooled aircraft engine, with its low weight to
power ratio, the engineering profession, many air-
craft engineers included, asked them how they ex-
pected to cool this motor inside a steel box. One
aircraft company insisted upon designing for Ord-
This is a Sherman tank with a bulldozer earth-moving attachment.
Chrysler-designed rocket launching installation be-
ing tested on tanks at the arsenal proving grounds.
nance a liquid-cooled tank motor. They produced one
of reasonable weight to power ratio, but it steamed
like a locomotive; it took 70 of its horsepower to cool
it. When Ordnance pointed this out, the engine
builders said: "Very well, we'll give you an air-
cooled motor, but you'll burn it up."
Aberdeen didn't burn it up. It solved the engine
problem with it, got the cooling horsepower down to
18 out of the rated 260.
By 1934 the Rock Island arsenal was producing a
few M2 light tanks powered with a 7-cy Under air-
craft motor and modern for their day. Wanting more
firepower and armor, Ordnance designed in 1936 the
M2 medium tank, a blown-up version of the M2
light, using a 9-cylinder aircraft engine. In 1939 Ord-
nance introduced a 37-mm gun and six machine guns
into the M2 medium and sent it to Fort Bragg to be
tried out by the using arms. This was the M2A1
which Chrysler set out in 1940 to make, but which
was replaced within a few days by the M3, still basi-
cally the M2 and a hurried answer to the lessons of
the Nazi Blitzkrieg.
The American M3 tank did not reach Africa until
the British had been driven back into Egypt, but
before the British turned on the Axis it had arrived
in numbers via the Cape of Good Hope and the Red
Sea. Let Winston Churchill testify to the decisive
part it played. Speaking to Parliament after Rommel's
Afrika Korps was in full retreat to Tunisia, the Prime
Minister said: "The Grants and the Lees stopped
Maj. Gen. G. M. Barnes,
Ordnance Research Chief
in Washington, and Col.
William H. McCarthy,
Deputy Chief of Staff
Sixth Service Command,
with Chrysler's Director
of Research, Carl Breer.
Part of 940 tanks returned to the arsenal for rebuild-
ing after hard usage in training in California and Texas.
■3k. V *•
Rommel at El Alamein; the Shermans defeated him."
When Field Marshal Sir John Dill, senior British
member of the combined Chiefs of Staff of the United
Nations, visited the Chrysler arsenal he said: "Had
it not been for the tremendous aid given by the
United States, and especially the great city of De-
troit, the battle of El Alamein might never have been
won — or even fought."
Wavell had driven the Italians out of Cyrenaica
between December, 1940, and February, 1941. Then
the British halted in order to go to the aid of the
Greeks. In that interval, Hitler sent Rommel with
two armored divisions to the aid of his Italian ally,
and the weakened British forces were swept back
into Egypt, leaving a force to hold Tobruk under
Churchill ordered the British VHIth. Army to
drive back to the relief of Tobruk. Lt. Gen. Sir Alan
Cunningham questioned the order. Rommel had
more, faster, more dependable, heavier armored and
heavier gunned tanks than he. (Only 50 tanks of
varying types were left in England after Dunkirk.)
Having learned this at heavy cost, Cunningham
recommended that the plan of campaign drawn up
by his superior, General Auchinleck, Chief of the
Middle Eastern Forces, be abandoned and the VHIth.
Army withdrawn for regrouping.
This led to Cunningham's removal and replace-
ment by his deputy, Maj. Gen. Neil M. Ritchie who
launched an offensive November 18, 1941, which
pushed the Axis back to El Agheila. But a quick
counter-attack by Rommel drove the British back
to the line Gazala-Bir-Hacheim.
A four months lull followed while both sides pre-
pared to renew the battle for Egypt. Rommel logically
believed that he was bound to win the race of supply
and reinforcement. His supply line was short. Having
lost control of the Mediterranean, British reinforce-
ments had to move 12,000 miles around the southern
tip of Africa. Troops and munitions were four to five
months in transit.
Another type of tank rocket launcher. A cartridge
blew it to one side after it had fired its rockets.
U.S. SIGNAL CORPS PHOTO
So when Rommel attacked May 26, 1942, Auchin-
leck lost 23,000 prisoners and was hurled back to
El Alamein, the last and best defensive position to
keep the enemy out of the Nile valley, only 60 miles
away. British tank losses were disproportionately
heavy. And then besieged Tobruk surrendered.
El Alamein commanded a gap of only 40 miles
between the sea and the Qattara Depression, a near-
ly impassable salt marsh. It was a position impossible
to turn and when Rommel tried on June 30th. to
pierce it by frontal attack, his armor was repulsed.
The next day his infantry was thrown back bloodily
by the South Africans, but when the assault was re-
newed that night a battle-worn Indian division
Rommel thought he had burst through and the
German High Command so announced July 2, 1942,
but when he tried to push on he was counter-attacked
furiously and after a week he realized that he was
held. At this point, Auchinleck was replaced by
General Alexander, last man to leave Dunkirk and
who had brought a British army safely out of Burma.
Montgomery replaced Ritchie in command of the
Alexander had been training the Xth. Army, de-
signed as the spearhead of the reinforced British
armor, far behind the lines and waiting on material.
Chrysler Engineering designed and built this im-
proved tank mine exploder adopted by Ordnance.
When the news of Tobruk's fall reached Churchill, he
was at the White House. President Roosevelt at once
ordered the despatch of American M3 tanks to Egypt,
withdrawing many from our own armored forces in
It was touch and go to get these tanks to the
British in time. One of the first lots went out in a
convoy of six ships. A U-boat ambush off Bermuda
sank the new cargo ship Fairport with 52 tanks.
Within three days the Army Transportation Corps
had loaded a duplicate shipment plus much ammuni-
tion aboard the chartered Sea Train Texas.
This car ferry built for the Key West-Havana
service, a 90-mile hop, skip and jump, made its way
without escort around the tip of Africa and reached
Alexandria while the five surviving ships of the con-
voy still were discharging.
Within three months of the opening of Mont-
gomery's and Alexander's campaign in the Fall of
1942, Tripoli fell and Rommel was routed. There is
no proof that they were better, bolder commanders
than Cunningham, Ritchie or Auchinleck. The differ-
ence lay in Montgomery's American tanks which did
to the Panzers what the Panzers had done to the
British tanks — plus British recovery of control of the
air, which hacked away at Rommel's supply lines.
The battle of El Alamein began in brilliant moon-
light October 23. 1942, the time chosen that the in-
Tenth Armored Division tank entering
the burning German town of Rosswalden.
f / * /
fantry might see where it was going. It opened with
an old-fashioned intensive artillery barrage such as
had been discredited in World War I. In the earlier
Avar this form of attack had been found to mean
heavy casualties and a short advance against an
easily reinforceable line, but Egyptian sand Avas not
Passchendaele mud, and Rommel's line, in the short
run, was not easily reinforceable, so it worked well.
Montgomery outfoxed Rommel by attacking where
Rommel was strongest. Expecting the attack in his
center, Rommel had concentrated his strength to one
side in anticipation of hurling it against the British
flank once Montgomery was well engaged.
The British infantry went first in order to clear the
deadly mine fields before the tanks could move. Mines
are buried just below the surface in staggered groups
and are to tanks what barbed wire is to infantry.
They are detected by an electrical instrument looking
something like a vacuum cleaner. As each side must
mark its own mine fields in order that its own forces
may not stumble into them, it was customary to
surround a field with a strand or two of barbed wire.
This, of course, made their whereabouts as obvious
to the enemy as to themselves, so many other strands
were strung around pretended mine fields. The real
and the false had to be felt out gingerly.
The British armor, American Grants and Lees and
some Shermans, and new British Crusaders, still was
practically intact while the enemy's had begun to
suffer from abortive counter-attacks. The new Xth.
Brig. Gen. A. B. Quinton, Jr., who commanded Detroit
Ordnance District, speaking at the Chrysler Tank Arsenal
Army-Navy "E" award ceremony, Aug. 10, 1942.
Army, consisting of two armored divisions and a
New Zealand infantry division, had been encamped
in the Delta far behind the front. As far as enemy
reconnaisance could tell, it still was there on October
22nd., but it had left behind a dummy camp and
already was in position. The infantry had done its
work by November 2nd.
When the great tank battle of El Acqaquir fol-
lowed, it was won in nine hours. It ended with El
Acqaquir a cemetery of Axis armor. The Afrika Korps
left the Italians to take care of themselves and hardly
a man of six Italian infantry divisions escaped. The
Germans themselves lost 8.000 prisoners including a
high ranking general. The last of the enemy was out
of Egypt by November 12th.
Both the Grants and Lees were M3's, the Lee a
modification of the Grant. The Sherman was, of
course, the M4. It was the British who named them
for American generals and who first used them in
Many of these Grants. Lees and Shermans rolled
all the way across North Africa in the chase and still
were fighting in Tunisia when what was left of the
Axis armies surrendered. General Gatehouse, who
(Top) Three arsenal key
and A. C. Breitenbeck.
commanded the 10th. Ar-
mored division of Mont-
gomery's Army, visited the
Chrysler arsenal for the first
time the following June. He
told Ordnance and Chrysler
men that after ten days of
the El Alamein battle only
his American tanks survived .
Maj. Gen. R. Briggs,
speaking to the School of Tank Technology in 1943,
said: "After the Shermans were received it was ex-
pected that five enemy tanks would be knocked out for
one British. An analysis of the El Alamein battle
showed that 4.8 tanks were, in fact, knocked out
for one British. Until then we should have been
well content to have traded the enemy tank for
tank. During the battle of Knightsbridge the M3's,
which carried 100 rounds of 75-
mm shells, sometimes were re-
filled five times within 24 hours. ' '
"The Grants and the Lees
have proved to be the main-
stay of the fighting forces in the
Middle East ; their great relia-
bility, powerful armament and
sound armor have endeared
them to the troops," was the
(Bottom) Ecuador's Presi- statement of the Director of
Si C A tLS Armored Fighting Vehicles in
the Middle East Theater before the Sherman appeared.
The Germans, whose biggest tank gun had been a
50-mm until now, already were building heavier
armor, the Mark IV and the early Tiger, the MarkVI,
and they rushed what they had to Africa, but there
were never enough of them to influence the result.
German industry could not produce them fast enough.
By the time German armor was met up with again in
Italy, however, it had been beefed-up in all directions
and the Nazis seemed to have been convinced that
the bigger a tank the better it must be.
As far back as 1940, Ordnance had wished to
change the riveted hull of the M3 to a welded one, but
by then all riveting equipment was on order for the
arsenal and so major a change would have delayed
production. This change was introduced on the Sher-
man. The once widely-believed story was that a shell
making a direct hit on the M3 would drive the rivets
inward murderously. The truth was that the advan-
tages of the welded hull were greater strength and
easier fabrication. Ordnance officers say they know
of no instance of a tank crewman being wounded in
They believe this to have been German propa-
ganda. As the changeover to the Sherman was com-
pleted, General Campbell wrote Mr. Keller: "Our
M3 tanks have been so troublesome to the Germans
that the enemy has concentrated the full force of his
Kwajalein Atoll, January 31, 19bb. Sherman tank
in support of infantry moving in on the Japs.
: n i
propaganda upon them, the objective: to undermine
the faith of the American people in this weapon. It
has failed because the propaganda was false."
He enclosed a photograph from the London Illus-
trated News. The caption read: "Although they have
not been long in action on the Libyan front, the U.S.
General Grant tanks already have earned a brilliant
reputation. Our picture taken from the inside of one
of the 28-ton land ironclads as they advanced to give
battle to Rommel shows, on the right hand of the
driver's hatch, the barrel of the 75-mm gun which has
robbed Rommel's Panzers of their hitherto superior
firepower and smashed large numbers of PzIV tanks.
In previous battles, the PzIV 75-mm howitzer out-
ranged the tank guns of the VHIth. Army, but in an
early encounter eight Grants routed a force of about
fifty German Mark III and PzIV tanks, fourteen of
which were left on the field."
If the German military believed what German
propaganda had said about the M3, which is doubt-
ful, they changed their tune with the M4. "The
German Army," an official publication, spoke almost
lovingly in 1943 about the Sherman. One had been
captured in Tunisia and driven 350 kilometers in
4 J/2 days under its own power to Tunis from where
it was rushed to a proving grounds near Rerlin for
"The armor is turtle-shaped," said the German
army paper, "and is so curved and molded below the
mobile turret that it appears as though human hands
Returned from Japanese internment, Am-
bassador Joseph C. Grew visits the arsenal.
had dealt in nuances rather than with the hardest
type of steel . . . The mammoth rolls forward on a
track the links of which are faced with rubber and,
consequently, this makes for easy, noiseless and accu-
The publication went on in this lyrical mood, ad-
miring every detail of design and manufacture until,
in embarrassment, it w as forced to drop a crocodile
tear. It was too bad, the writer said, that Americans
should be so expert in production and so amateurish
as soldiers. "The American effort has laid emphasis
on the construction of weapons. What is lacking is
manpower to utilize such material masterfully and,
if need be, cold-bloodedly."
Jilr" - ? - :
The writer did not sign his name. Did he live to see
the ruins of his masterful and, "if need be," cold-
blooded Reich? Did he believe what he wrote, or only
wish it, suspecting even then that such a people
would fight as skillfully and irresistibly for the way
of life which had made such abundance possible?
If he lived, he learned that the men who fought
with these weapons and the men who designed and
made them, the armed and the armorers, w ere of the
Burning German tank.