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Detroit Arsenal Patton Tank

Early tank production at the Army Tank Aresenal
Early tank production at the Army Tank Arsenal (from Library of Congress)

In 1940 the United States realized that they needed a armored division separate from the infantry so they decided to build the Detroit Tank Arsenal Plant in the winter of 1940 to 1941. This gigantic structure was 5 city blocks long, 2 blocks wide, and was built on 113 acres in warren Michigan north of Detroit. This Arsenal was built for the soul purpose of mass producing american tanks. The Detroit Arsenal was owned by the government and it was run by Chrysler. The government received the first M3 tank on April 24, 1941 while the plant was still under construction When this happened there was a lot of celebrating like stated in the “Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant” article , ” The delivery was marked by a festive occasion, broadcast over a nationwide radio hook-up. VIPs and plant workers cheered as the tank fired its guns, smashed telephone poles, and destroyed a mock-up house”.  In 1967 the Detroit Arsenal was renamed the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command and took over almost all of the army’s tank-automotive system. Over the years Chrysler and General Dynamics have worked together to produce over 44,000 vehicles in the Detroit Arsenal tank plant. In the 1990’s the plant its self had been shut down.

The M47 Patton Tank

M47-patton-medium-tank (from

When the Korean War Started the tank plant was modified so that they could build the M47 Patton Tank. The M47 Patton Tank was basically a modification version of the M46 Patton Tank with the turret of the T-42 tank. By the time this tank was ready for action it weighed 48 and a half tons. The tank was 28 feet long, 11 and a half feet wide, and 10 feet high. This new medium size tank was able to carry a five man crew and also carried a 90 millimeter gun, two 50 caliber machine guns, one 30 caliber machine gun, and radio receiving and transmitting equipment. This tank was seen to be superior because it had a increased probability of a first round hit. The M47 Patton tank was widely used by the U.S. allies in the cold war but it is the only tank that never saw any combat while in the U.S. service like it says in “American tank development during the cold war” article “After a short trial and test period, the tank entered quantity production in 1952, but a series of teething troubles prevented it from entering active service until after the Korean War”. It was also the last U.S. tank that had a bow mounted machine gun in its hull. The Detroit Arsenal produced 3,443 M47 Patton tanks over the time from 1952 to 1954.

During WWII the U.S. built 89,568 tanks, out of all of those tanks the Detroit Arsenal built a quarter of them. So the Detroit arsenal alone nearly matched the production of Germany’s tanks or Great Britain’s Tanks. ” Production of the M47 reached 9,100 by November 1953 of which 8,500 were exported, many going to NATO countries” as said in the “American tank development during the cold war” article. The M47 Patton Tank was a tank that was mostly used by NATO and SEATO countries.  Overall without the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant WWII  would have gone on for longer because the German tanks were a lot better and the only reason we could beat them was because we could put out a lot more tanks than they could.

This article “Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant” was very helpful when trying to find out information about the Detroit Arsenal Tank plant. It gives a lot of background on the plant such as when it was built and some details on what it produced. It also talked about how it was run by Chrysler and how it got its first contract to build M3 tanks in 1940. The plant was fully operational during World War Two and it basically built a quarter of the tanks that were needed for World War Two. During the Korean war the plant was modified so it could build M47 Patton tanks. The plant produced these kind of tanks during 1952-1954. This article talked about how the plant was very diverse and how it was one of the best plants in the country when it came to making tanks. The article “American Tank Development During the Cold War” by Dr. Robert Cameron talked about the different tanks involved in the Cold War such as the M47 Patton. This article mainly talks about the development of the different tanks in the war. For instance, it talks about how the M47 tank was developed by putting a turret onto the M46 tanks hull. In 1953 the tank hit it’s peak of production and may of the tanks went to NATO countries. It also explains how the M47 also had a lot of problems since it turret would malfunction some of the time. Overall, this article gave a lot of good details about the tank that were good and bad. The article “50 years ago in Machine Design, February 1954”  is mainly talking about the people that fought in the cold war with the the M47 Patton tanks. The article also touches upon some of the cool characteristics of the tanks that helped the soldiers in battle during the war. A characteristics that was particularly helpful to the soldiers was that the tank could shoot a lot of bullets by just the twist of their wrists. Shooting the bullets out of the tank was so easy because of the hydraulic system that powered the turret.

Primary Sources

1. “New Medium Tank”. “New Medium Tank”. The Science News-Letter 61.17 (1952): 269–269.
2. Fletcher, S. H. (1954). ARMS FOR THE ASSAULT. Marine Corps Gazette (Pre-1994), 38(7), 22-28.
3. Cameron, R. (1998). American tank development during the cold war. Armor, 107(4), 30-36. Retrieved from

Secondary Sources

4. “50 years ago in Machine Design, February 1954.” Machine Design 5 Feb. 2004: 94. Academic OneFile.
5. “Human Rights in Europe during the Cold War.” (2014): n. pag.
6. “Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant.” Michigan: (Local Legacies: Celebrating Community Roots. N.p., n.d.
7. “Military.” Detroit / Detroit Army Tank Plant (DATP). N.p., n.d.