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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 
a copy. 


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 


Chrysler Corporation 

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 

Copyright, Chrysl 

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. 



irporation, 1946 
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 
proving grounds. 

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 
Army's arsenals. 

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^ 





- M 




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 mills. 

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 
barnyard sounds. 

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 
next Spring. 

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 
idle dreaming. 

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. 

.MM flJIfLLgl- 

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 
were built. 

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. 





W l: 

Wm>? xiM 

rrf. -^-^JlfaJ^ 


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 
congratulations : 

"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 
every triumph." 

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 


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 



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 
Administration building, 
and the Office of Chief of 
Ordnance, Detroit, began 
moving in from its scat- 
tered downtown offices. 

Inventory-taking began 
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. 



A GOm 


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 
District postwar. 

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* 



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 
were negligible. 

"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. 


f * 

. - ■*,-■ ..'"'■. 

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 
up well. 

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 
of 818,380,000. 

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 


Km urn 


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. 

mmm m 

1* , 

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 
fell to. 

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- 

l i 


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 
the gulley. 

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 
training maintained." 

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 
well kept. 

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. 




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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. 







7 ^ 

^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 
it wanted. 

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. 


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 
VHIth. Army. 

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 
men,E.J.Reis,E.C. Dodt 
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 
this manner. 

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 

A- 1 

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- 
rate operation." 

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." 


*A- * 







:i 7 

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 
same breed. 

Burning German tank.