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The Arsenal of Democracy:
Pullman Products During World War II

In 1952, under the direction of then governor Adlai E. Stevenson, the state of Illinois set about documenting its contributions and efforts made during World War II. The report is entitled, Illinois in the Second World War, and its primary author is Mary Watters. Volume II of that work concerns the production front. There are numerous references to the war materials that the Pullman company made for U.S., British, and Allied soldiers.


"Pullman continued to build cars for war transportation as well as tanks and guns and ships." p. 96

By far the most important war materials that Pullman produced were the passenger, troop transport, and freight cars that moved troops, civilian war workers, and war materials in Allied countries around the world.

Pullman ad-- Every Two Minutes and Forty-Eight Seconds!


"A Pullman aircraft worker, for example, devised a method for turning a C-47 [Skytrain] bomber [sic] wing for the next operation with two men, instead of the 30 currently used." p. 290 tnc47skytrain.jpg (13471 bytes)
"The Douglas plant made parts for and assembled the C-54 Skymaster. Seven hundred subcontractors, many of them in the Chicago area, contributed parts for these 'flying boxcars.' Pullman assembled wings and tails for the Douglas plane." p. 95 Douglas C-54 Skymaster, whose wings a tail were assembled by Pullman


M3 Grant/Lee Tank
The British Tank Commission had arrived in the U.S. in June,1940, with the intention of contracting with U.S. firms to build British-designed tanks. Since U.S. law prohibited this from happening, the British chose the next best thing: the M3, a stop-gap American design. The M3s purchased from Pullman and Pressed Steel had a British-designed turret.  

M3s were primarily used by the British, but were also sent to the Soviet Union, Australia, and Canada. The type was most famously used in the desert campaigns in North Africa in 1941-1942; it was declared obsolete in 1943.

A news article about Pullman making M3 tanks, Sept. 1942

M3s roll of the assembly line in Pullman
"Unused to the manufacture of combat vehicles, engineers and executives of  Pressed Steel Car Company awaited nervously the verdict of the British commission sent out to accept the tank it made in 1941. One company official declared [that] he almost swallowed his cigarette when the head of the commission, after an inspection lasting several hours, pronouced the work well done." p. 61

A British M3 tank crew in action in the Libyan desert, 1942.

British M3 in action, Libyan desert, 1942
M4 Sherman Tank
The M4 Medium Tank, or Sherman tank, as the British promptly christened it, was in service from 1942 through the end of World War II. It is the most famous and numerous U.S. tank ever made. It has fought in many wars and battles: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Arab-Israeli conflicts, to name a few. It has also served with almost every army in the world in some manner.

An M4 tank in western Germany, Winter, 1945

The M4 General Sherman tank
"Tanks -- the General Grant (M-3), the General Sherman (M-4), and later models-- were produced in quantity by Pullman Standard Car Company, Pressed Steel, and International Harvester, assisted by hundreds of subcontractors." p. 98 tnm4tnk.jpg (18777 bytes)


PCE (Patrol Craft Escort)
"Largest manufacturer was the Pullman Standard Car Company, which became the outstanding producer in the United States for the large type patrol boat (submarine chaser). These boats were assembled in 14 sections in its Calumet yard without the laying of a keel. On the George M. Pullman, escort vessel, servicemen could travel 'Pullman' to the Pacific battlegrounds. " p. 91

Harriet Lowden Madlener and Florence Lowden Miller are shown here with the commissioning party of Navy patrol craft number 851 on February 22, 1944. George Willis, the last principal of the Pullman Free School for Manual Training, is at the far right on the stairway.

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PCE(R) (Patrol Craft Escort -- Rescue)
"The PCE(R) -- patrol craft escort, rescue-- built by Pullman was a floating hospital equipped with X-Ray machines, operating tables, and beds for 57 patients." Ibid.

Click here to learn more about PCE(R) 851,852, and 853.

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LSM (Landing Ship -- Medium)
"Pullman Standard Car Company later made LSMs-- landing ship (medium)." Ibid

LSMs were used in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, primarily by the Marines, to land up to 5 medium tanks or their equivalent weight and size of material, ammunition, or troops on amphibious beach assaults. Many LSMs soldier on to this day-- LSM 310 is owned by Tidewater Barge Line and acts as a Columbia River tug boat.

Click here to find out more about LSMs.

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LSM 206 and 264 at Iwo Jima

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Hull diagram of an LSM


"When Pullman began the manufacture of trench mortars it found tools available with the exception of three lathes. To wait for new ones would have delayed work for months. Obsolete models were rescued from the scrap heap with parts to put them in place." p. 30

A World War One vintage Stokes trench mortar, an obsolete design that Pullman nevertheless had to continue out of necessity.

Stokes Mortar
"Big companies such as Pullman, International Harvester, and Caterpillar Tractor, and dozens of middle-sized and small metal-working plants made shells of all sizes from the 22mms to blockbusters, which, when loaded, weighed several tons." p. 100

Pullman-made British 3 inch mortar shells.

British 3 inch mortar shells made by Pullman
"Pullman-Standard Car Company, which undertook in 1939 to make shells for the British (as well as mortars and tanks), found the job exacting even for an industrial giant." p. 61


25 Pounder, of the type made for the British by Pullman


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