A great-grandson of the founder of Deere & Company decided the company could manufacture a tractor tank for the Army by adding heavy armor and machine gun turrets to the John Deere Model A tractor, which was already in production.
By early 1941, two prototypes were built in secret at the Waterloo plant and shipped to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland for testing. They were designed to carry a three-man crew–a driver and two gunners.
Alas, the tractor tanks proved to be under-powered, slow, and top-heavy, with even more flaws.
Even so, Deere received more than 1000 government contracts during the war, producing mobile laundry units, ammo, aircraft parts, tank transmissions, and more.
Decades later, two Iowa men decided to replicate the John Deere A-I and A-II tank prototypes, with compelling outcomes.
Also see the “Country Characters” story, “Iowa Farm Kids Re-Created WWII History,” in the October/November 2023 Our Iowa magazine.