Learn the hidden story about the Dodge brothers tank that was being designed in 1918. Our curator Madelyn Rzadkowolski helped FCA’s Josh Welton search through Meadow Brook’s archives to uncover a previously undiscovered corner of history.
Arsenal of Democracy: The Mystery Tank
By Josh Weldon
Modern tanks are awesome. Take the M1 Abrams for instance: A hulking, tracked, weaponized vehicle made from 70 tons of hardened steel and armor yet is still agile like a cat, can spin like a top and is powered by a jet engine. Interestingly enough, the Abrams was developed by Chrysler in the 1970s and built at the Detroit Tank Arsenal until 1996. The same tank arsenal that former Chrysler president KT Keller was inspired to build in 1940 after Dodge Brothers machinist turned vice president Fred Lamborn visited Rock Island Arsenal to view a prototype tank for WWII and discovered a bunch of recoil mechanisms in hiding. The same recoil mechanisms that Lamborn helped build in Detroit during WWI, over two decades prior.
You’re probably wondering why I decided to connect the Chrysler-developed present-day Abrams all the way back to the cannons the Dodge Brothers built 100 years ago. It’s not just because of the lineage of the brand, or that it’s all military work; no, it’s because of four photos I uncovered while digging through the archives, hidden amongst other Dodge Brothers artifacts, at the Meadow Brook mansion. First, let’s give some context, starting in 1917.