United Shoe Machinery Corporation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A vintage postcard with the United Shoe Machinery factory in Beverly, Massachusetts
Share of the United Shoe Machinery Corporation, issued 4. May 1916

United Shoe Machinery Corporation (sometimes abbreviated USMC) was a U.S.-based manufacturer of various industrial machinery, particularly for the shoe manufacturing industry (so is the corporate name,) which at one time monopolized the American shoe machinery business,[1] and an important federal government's defense contractor during the World War I, Interbellum years, World War II and the Cold war era, which developed and manufactured various land and aircraft armaments, as well as components for the military hardware made by other manufacturers. Founded in Beverly, Massachusetts, its corporate headquarters were eventually relocated to Boston, with key production facilities scattered around Massachusetts.


The Smithsonian National Museum of American History provides the following account of the history of the United Shoe Machinery Corporation.

The United Shoe Machinery Company was formed in 1899 by the consolidation of three shoe machinery firms in the industry: Goodyear Shoe Machinery Company; Consolidated McKay Lasting Machine Company; and McKay Shoe Machinery Company. The new company continued the practice previously followed by its constituent firms of renting machinery that it manufactured instead of selling it. After the 1899 merger, United grew quite rapidly. In 1903, it began construction of a new factory in Beverly, Massachusetts about thirty-five miles from Boston. At its peak, this company employed 9,000 workers and produced eighty-five percent of all shoemaking machines in the United States. By 1910, it had an eighty percent share of the shoe machinery market with assets reaching forty million dollars, and it had acquired control of branch companies in foreign countries. In 1917, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation, incorporated in 1905, absorbed the United Shoe Machinery Company. The United Shoe Machinery Corporation had its headquarters in Boston and its main manufacturing plant in Beverly, Massachusetts. In 1968, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation changed its name to USM Corporation. In 1976, United Shoe Machinery Company merged with Emhart Industries and produced the modern-day Emhart Corporation. In 1989, in order to resist a two billion dollar takeover attempt by a New York investment group (which included oil heir Gordon P. Getty), Emhart merged with Black & Decker Corporation. The merged company operates from Black & Decker's headquarters in Towson, Maryland. The company headquarters in Farmington, Connecticut, were closed in June 1989.[2]

Research and development[edit]

The corporation pioneered the development and production of a synthetic leather materials.[3]

During the Interbellum era corporate Research Division designed and developed gun mounts, gun turrets, fire control equipment, automatic guns, automatic fuse setting, bomb release equipment, automatic conveying equipment, and automatic rocket projectors, as well as many other things of military interest.[4]

During the postwar years, the corporate engineers experimented intensively with armoured fighting vehicles of modular design, kindred by common chassis, common armor elements, interchangeable armament, automatic loading for weapons, and low weight in order to attain high speeds, coupled with various comfort add-ons provided for the housed crew.[5]

Production items[edit]

Armoured fighting vehicles
  • T54E1 medium tank
  • Turtle-series, IVI prototype gun motor carriages (33 tons, tracked, turreted, 4-man crew situated below the upper hull line, 600-hp engine, armor thickness 3 to 6​12 inches, dimensions: 18'7" long, 9'4" wide, 7' tall, carrying various promptly interchangeable turrets, different main armament with automatic feed system; plus twin 30 mm driver's coaxial machine gun, one .30 caliber commander's machinegun, and one .50 caliber AA machinegun each; weapon stabilization in addition to driver stabilization, internal air cleaning and air conditioning systems)[5]
  • IVI Gun Motor Carriage, quadruple .50 caliber machine gun (main)[5]
  • IVI-C Gun Motor Carriage, twin 37 mm guns[6]
  • IVI-D Gun Motor Carriage, single-barrel 75 mm tank gun (gunner's compartment separated from the crew compartment, allowing the gunner to move with the weapon in elevation and in azimuth)[6]
Gun turrets and armament
  • tank turrets
  • T20E1 (Fisher Body Div. of General Motors)[7] Medium Tank turret mounting the 76 mm M1 gun with an autoloader[8]
  • T22E1 (Chrysler's DTA)[9] Medium Tank turret mounting the 75 mm M3 gun equipped with an autoloader[8]
  • T77 Gun Motor Carriage multibarrel .50 caliber machine gun mount T89[10]
  • High Speed Harmonic Drive Speed Reducer for slow and stabilized rotation of shipboard or tank heavy gun turrets
  • 37 mm tank gun M5[11]
T54E1 medium tank, designed and constructed by the United Shoe
T20-series of tanks carried a gun turret, developed by the corporation
T20-series of tanks carried a gun turret, developed by the corporation
T77 gun motor carriage housed T89 multibarreled gun mount
T77 gun motor carriage housed T89 multibarreled gun mount
37 mm tank gun M5 installed at a turret of M5A1 light tank
37 mm tank gun M5 installed at a turret of M5A1 light tank
Infantry weapons and artillery pieces
M3 antitank gun and carriage, both manufactured by the United Shoe
Weapon systems
B-17 Flying Fortress ball turret developed together with Lockheed Aircraft
XSB2A Buccaneer featured a power turret developed together with W. L. Maxson Corp.
YA-14 Shrike and XP-71 were to have pressurized turrets with twin 37 mm cannons, similar to those developed by Bell Aircraft
XB-40 and XB-41 featured a power-operated M5 waist gun mounts
Several thousand corporate employees, the entire workforce gathered at a greenlawn in front of the factory buildings for a group photo, 1911
Aerospace equipment
Industrial machinery
  • electronic component assembly machines
  • automatic assembly machines for assembling military radar sets


The corporation had several divisions, subsidiaries and affiliates, which were located mainly in the Massachusetts.


  1. ^ United Shoe Machinery Co., Information: A Monthly Digest of Current Events and World Progress Covering Jan. 1915-May 1917, v. 3, p. 307.
  2. ^ United Shoe Machinery Corporation Records, 1898-1987 by Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  3. ^ Ward, A. G. Substitutes for Leather, New Scientist, 5 September 1963, no. 355, p. 502.
  4. ^ His Brogue Livens Field Test of Gun, The Exponent, January 1949, v. 61, no. 1, p. 29.
  5. ^ a b c Icks 1965, p. 26.
  6. ^ a b Icks 1965, pp. 26-27.
  7. ^ Hunnicutt 1996, p. 52.
  8. ^ a b Hunnicutt 1996, p. 68.
  9. ^ Hunnicutt 1996, p. 62.
  10. ^ Hunnicutt 1992, p. 348.
  11. ^ a b United Shoe Builds Guns For and Against Tanks, Iron Age, October 30, 1941, v. 148, no. 18, p. 95.
  12. ^ Thomson & Mayo 1960, pp. 81, 87.
  13. ^ Thomson & Mayo 1960, p. 81.
  14. ^ a b Contracts, Iron Age, October 9, 1941, v. 148, no. 15, p. 95.
  15. ^ Veronico 2014, p. 13.
  16. ^ Holley, Irving B. Development of Aircraft Turrets in the AAF, 1917-1944, Defense Technical Information Center, 1947, p. 128.
  17. ^ Veronico 2014, p. 15.
  18. ^ Veronico 2014, p. 14.


  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (1996). Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series (2nd ed.). Spearville, KS: Feist Publications.
  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (1992). Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank (1st ed.). Novato, CA: Presidio Press.
  • Icks, Robert J. (1965). "WW II "Turtle series" of armored vehicles". Armor. 74 (1, January–February).
  • Thomson, Harry C.; Mayo, Lida (1960). The Ordnance Department: Procurement and Supply. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Army, Office of the Chief of Military History.
  • Veronico, Nick (2014). Bloody Skies: U.S. Eighth Air Force Battle Damage in World War II. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.

See also[edit]