Pontiac’s Contribution to Word War II

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 15, 2017 • views: 582

In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked GM’s chief William S. Knudsen to head the new National Defense Advisory Commission. His job was to lead the mobilization of the American industry to build the nation’s defense arsenal.

Meanwhile back in Detroit the new GM president C.E. Wilson began shepherding the corporation into its “guns and butter” phase – the period where GM made its first moves towards manufacturing military hardware while maintaining a steady level of civilian-focused automobile production.

The 10 months of GM’s “guns and butter” period ended abruptly with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The nation forgot about peacetime products and clamored for war supplies. What had been defense production became war production. And in early 1942 GM completely dropped its commercial automobile business and turned entirely to the manufacture of military trucks, planes, engines, weapons, and ammunition. At the same time, 114,000 of the company’s employees left to fight the war.

As American industry rushed to create what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “the arsenal of democracy,” General Motors rose to the occasion in a big way.

Pontiac At War:

Pontiac, as one ad at the time put it, “was at war nine months before Pearl Harbor,” Pontiac’s first war job was building 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons for the US Navy. Pontiac built 20mm Oerlicon anti-aircraft cannons were used extensively throughout the fleet on just about every type of ship. Below is a photo of a 20mm Oerlikon on the deck of LST-325 in Evansville, IN. LST-325 is a decommissioned tank landing ship of the United States Navy, and participated in the invasion of Normandy.

Stone Mountain MG Shoot 20mm Oerlikon YouTube play

Pontiac began work on the 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun in January 1942. Pontiac cleared 217,000 square feet in its sheet metal plant to install the precision equipment needed to make the Swedish-designed 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns for the U.S. Army. The Bofors could fire 130 rounds per minute, and the two pound projectiles had a range of 5,420 yards (3.07 miles).

On March 12, 1942 Pontiac began work on the Mark XIII aircraft torpedo. The thirteen foot long weapon contained 5,222 parts and 1,225 assemblies. The gyro, which guided the weapon to its target, turned at 9,000 rpms. It had a diameter of 22.5 inches and weighed 2,216 pounds, of which 600 pounds was the Torpex explosive. The internal steam turbine propelled the Mark 13 at 33 knots for a maximum range of 6,300 yards.

The primary aircraft to carry the Pontiac Mark 13 torpedo was the TBM Avenger, but it was also carried on U.S. PT boats.

Pontiac built the front differential and axle for the Cadillac built M5 Stewart, and M24 Chaffee light tanks.

(M5 Stewart Light Tank)

(M24 Chaffee light tank)

Pontiac cast all of the engine blocks for 528,829 GMC 6×8 and 24,910 6×4 trucks. This was the 270 cubic inch, six-cylinder engine. Pontiac also disassembled and crated GMC trucks for overseas shipment. This saved valuable shipping space on transport ships.

Pontiac at War – A Special Report to Employees of Pontiac Motor Division – November 1943:

This booklet has a wealth of information about Pontiac’s contribution to the war effort, starting in March 1941 up through its publication in 1943. CLICK on the photo to see all of its pages, or CLICK HERE.

More Photos:

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Resources:

The American Automobile Industry in World War II

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