Carl Hansen was born 7 December 1896 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He attended the Danish Technical School earning a degree in Civil Engineering and immigrated to the United States in 1923 and found work as an Engineer. In 1940, he was offered a job with Pressed Steel Car Company as Chief Engineer, Armored Tank Division.
As Chief Engineer, he was responsible for the startup of armored vehicle production, acquisition of technical and production requirements and materials, coordination with U.S. Army and British Purchasing Commission officials, and supervision of the construction of a new plant for tank production. The plant began construction in January 1941 and turned out its first M3 medium tank for the British in July. Pressed Steel ended up building 501 M3 medium tanks. While at Pressed Steel, Hansen was also the Plant Manager being responsible for plant operations, purchase of materials, and the assembly line.
In October 1941, the U.S. Army began work on an improved medium tank, the M4 Sherman, and Pressed Steel was selected as one of the manufacturers due to its excellent reputation. Production of the M4 Medium Tank commenced in March 1942. Of all the tanks produced, the largest percentage was the model M4A1 Sherman. Hansen was a top contributor to many of the upgrades to the M4A1. These included better fire protection systems, appliqué armor and thicker castings. One of the major design changes was the redesign of ammunition stowage and the introduction of 'wet stowage' (glycerin-water filled) ammunition racks in 76mm-armed and late 75mm-armed models. Many other improvements were added including larger access hatches for the crews. In all, Pressed Steel built over 8600 M4 series tanks for the U.S and Allies.
Pressed Steel Car Company was the third largest producer of armored vehicles for the U.S. Army in World War II and made a significant contribution to the Allied war effort. They received an 'E' for Excellence award from the U.S. Government for their war production. Using the chassis of the M3 and M4, Pressed Steel produced 826 M7 105mm Gun Motor Carriages, known as the 'Priest' between 1944 and 1945. Additionally, it produced over 900 M32 Tank Recovery Vehicles based on the M4 chassis between 1943 and 1945.
In 1942, Hansen directed the design of the M12 155mm Gun Motor Carriage produced at the Pressed Steel Hegewisch plant in Chicago. Concurrently, 100 M30 Cargo Carriers for ammunition were manufactured. Subsequently, Pressed Steel produced over 400 of the M40 155mm Gun Motor Carriages based on the M4 Sherman chassis. It also built 48 of the M43 Howitzer Motor Carriages which mounted the 8-inch howitzer utilizing the same design.
In 1955 he went to work for the Universal Corporation in California which became Food Machinery Corporation. During his tenure at Food Machinery, he was involved in the design of the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. This design would go on to be one of the most successful military vehicles of all time. To date, over 80,000 M113s of all types have been produced and used by over 50 countries, making it one of the most widely used armored fighting vehicles of all time.
Carl Hansen died in San Jose, California on 25 September 1969.