Thursday, March 8, 2012

Factory #12 War Work.

This "well known" advertisement shows that almost anything was possible for Buick. The conversion of many factories, including factory #12, where these shell casings were manufactured, were up and running in record time. The last Flint built Buick off the end of the line was on February 3, 1942. Harlow Curtice (manager of Buick) was given advance notice from the government about many important projects to aid the war effort. This steel shell casing was considered one of the most important projects. The work of changing over the factories for the duration of the war, therefore, started as soon as the last car part was out of the building. After many failures the first successful test firing of these shells was done on May 1, 1943.  News article  

This postcard shows the location of the factory shown below. This view is facing north.

This is factory #12 showing little change since this 1920's photo. This view from Industrial Avenue is facing north-east. In my time this was the "Oak Park" entrance.

This photo from the Sloan Museum shows different examples of the 75mm shell, including the steel version. My father brought one of these empty casings home after the war. His duty on an LST (landing ship tank #1155) was that of a cook. His gun station was up on deck at a 75mm gun. He was wounded at Okinawa in "Operation Iceberg" by shrapnel caused from a Kamikaze attack.

This is a photo I took in 2011 at the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan. It shows all the different pressings from the billet to the finished shell casing. The billet was described in a book from that period as: "The size of a Parker House roll". The book that best describes the work done at Buick during the war is "The City Of Flint Grows Up" by: Carl Crow.

This is one of the advertisements showing Buick and General Motors "pride" in achieving this task of making a steel shell when copper supplies were needed elsewhere during world war II. Copper is a main ingredient for making brass, the usual shell casing material.

This photo of 20mm shells (cut in half) shows the wall thicknesses during the die stamping process. Buick also made these 20mm shells in factory #11.
These are the different steps taken to make a shell casing of the right height and thickness.

Creating the first "shallow cup" in a steel billet. "Notice the kiln next to the press".

You will see many different heat treatments during the creation of the shell casing.

The billets used for making the steel 75mm shell casing seen "many alloy compositions", before Buick finally found the correct formula. The basic formula was: PLAIN - CARBON STEEL - with a minimum amount of - MANGANESE.

These billets are just getting a little heat here. The temperature range during the whole process is 2,000 to 360 degrees.
Steel cups being drawn for 37mm. shell.

Heating the billet to 2,000 degrees.

This billet is probably at it's 2,000 degree temperature.
"Slowly but surely" the billet will expand.These early pressings are called "cupping".

These old presses used for making fenders, hoods and other automobile parts, are now, hard at work forming the steel billets of the 75mm shell casing.

A nice "pulled back" view of the old fender presses in action shaping the steel billets.

The billet is steadily getting a longer and thinner shape.

The billet is looking more like a shell casing.

Between every pressing is another heat treat.

Same as below.

One of many pressings to achieve the final dimension.

Rolling on the "Rim".

Inspection after the rollers have placed the "rim" on these casings.

Nearing the final shape.

This method was sometimes used for moving to and from the numerous operations.

This may be the phenolic varnish area but I'm not sure.

One of many heat treating areas. The range of heat, from start to finish was 2,000 degrees to 360.

Drilling for fuse placement.

Not sure what is taking place here.

This looks to be the area that bakes the phenolic varnish on. The heat was 360 degrees.

Always inspecting.

Looks like precision drilling for the fuse placement. The complete shells were not assembled at Buick.

Add caption
Plenty of inspection takes place during the numerous pressings, before you get to this point. This is before the finished taper has been rolled in.

Final inspection of the 75mm shell casing in factory #12.

Final inspection.

Final inspection.

Final inspection.

Final inspection.

Final inspection. I do not know why these particular shell casings are darker colored.  John Roks says: Hi Gerry,
I read your article about the shell cases at Buick.
The last picture you don’t know why the cases are dark?
They are lacquered steel cases. The lacquer is either a darkish green, but most likely a dark brown reddish.
(if it helps you i can get you a picture)
all very best,
John Roks (Netherlands)

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1 comment:

Jay Jalaram Extrusions said...

we are also manufacturing brass billets, and are among top companies in India.