400 a month! Detroit, Willow Run and Henry Ford

Posted by on April 30, 2008

I was doing some reading last night about the B-24 Liberator and kept running across information on Willow Run.  Well, I knew in general that was where the bomber was produced, but in doing research, I found out some amazing facts about the place you might be interested in.

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Born in ’41, the brand-new factory at Willow Run was and is a symbol both of American technology as well as business. With over millions of square feet, Henry Ford’s new factory was quite impressive.  In the article, Willow Run and the Arsenal of Democracy, Jenny Nolan said:

“…By September, the Ford Willow Run B-24 Liberty Bomber plant had been completed, with 3.5 million square feet of factory space, the largest in the world. Charles Lindbergh called it the Grand Canyon of the mechanized world….”

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However, during the war, there were problems to work through, including worker shortages, housing as well the pace of production, which was less than originally thought.  Some of these were fixed, while others remained issues for the duration.

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Even with this, there were over 40,000 workers employed at the site during the conflict and production roared.  By 1944, more than 300 bombers were being produced every month.  By 1945, the totals were quite impressive, with over 8,000 bombers having been produced.

The end of the war saw a drawing down in needed military equipment, and this was felt at Willow Run as well.  In April of 1945, a loss in contracts for aircraft resulted in massive layoffs, however the workers were quickly snapped up by other industries, which still needed them.

If you have a minute, try the links below, there are great images as well as some additional facts about this great factory and symbol of America!

Have a great day, see you tomorrow!

Links:

With Courage: The U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II

Wikipedia: Willow Run

Yankee Air Museum

Time Archive

Detroit News: Willow Run

Michigan History Magazine: Willow Run

Sources:

(1-2) Nara

(3)LOC Flickr Stream

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