From an email.
Subject: B-24 built by FORD in 55 minutes.
Bet you didn't know that Ford had its own pilots to test the B-24 Liberators it was building for the ARMY at the rate of one every 55 MINUTES!!
A little bit of history for aviation buffs.
This was BEFORE Pearl Harbor ! Ford's B-24 Bomber Plant at Willow Run, Mich. Henry Ford was determined that he could mass produce bombers just as he had done with cars.
He built the Willow Run assembly plant and proved it. It was the world's largest building under one roof.
This film will absolutely blow you away - one B-24 every 55 minutes.
ADOLF HITLER HAD NO IDEA THE U.S. WAS CAPABLE OF THIS KIND OF THING.
I think you will find that the Pilots were Army personnel. My Father was in the first class of Instructor Pilots the Army trained for Helicopters at Freeman Field. After he graduated, he was sent to the Nash- Kelvinator plant in Detroit where he was Chief Test pilot for the R6 program. Each plant had a bunch of Army personnel assigned to them. He saw Willow run. Dan
Herb – great video thank you for posting the link. From the book “The Aviation Legacy of Henry Ford” on pages 166-170 it discussed how Ford was requested by the US Government to visit the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. The initial idea was to have Ford produce the wings for the B-24 and ship them to Consolidated Aircraft for assembly onto the airplanes being build there. But when Sorenson visited the California plant in Jan 1941, he noted that the construction of the airplanes was very similar to the way the Model N Fords had been built. They were basically hand built. And he was sure that the precision built wings Ford would produce would not fit the Consolidated airframes as each airframe was a little different in size in different places. That is when Sorensen for Ford countered with “We’ll make the complete plane or nothing at all.” Consolidated estimated building 350 bombers per year while Ford estimated 540 bombers per month.
The plant was dedicated Jun 16, 1941 and it initially produced sub assemblies and other military parts that were shipped to other locations for final assembly. From page 169 it shares that the building was fully finished until Nov 1941 and that the first complete B-24 was not produced there for another 10 months.
It was interesting that one of the items that slowed the production was Ford’s request for up to date detailed plans for constructing the bombers. It turned out that Consolidated had made numerous “running changes” that were not recorded. Ford had to send their own team to document and develop accurate detailed plans of how the bomber was constructed. (ref Page 167).
Below is part of an advertisement used by Ford during WWII. A copy of the complete advertisement can be seen on the The Henry Ford web site at: http://collections.thehenryford.org/Collection.aspx?start=140&keywords=%22Automobile+Advertisements+series%22
And that slogan was also used on the 1909 sales brochure shown below:
Hap l9l5 cut off
A few years ago I went to the 8th AF museum at Barksdale AFB. They had then what they said was the last known Ford made B24 on display. If you are ever there, Take a look. It is worth the stop. Dan.
Herb There is a WW 2 museum there that has a front nose to a b24 on display . It was missing one of the fifty cal's . With all my years of making parts for Model t's and back to my Model C . I made a copy of the one they had . I don't thank anyone can tell which is the real one . I will try and put some pic's on here if you would like to see it . They gave me a poster of Ford's contribution to the war effort . It has the plan's jeep's on it .
Hitler may have had no clue but admiral Yamamoto and Hermann Goehring knew that the war would be won with air power and that the U.S.A. had immense industrial capacity that could not be touched by their forces. Willow Run was an important part of the war effort. I am thankful for not only those who took up weapons against the enemy but those who produced those weapons and supplies. My great grandmother worked at Mare Island shipyard during the war, a real "Rosie The Riveter".
My Dad and Mother both worked at Ford Willow Run on the B-24's. My Dad was a Illustrator and my Mom was a riveter. I also have some of the drawings my Dad did for the B-24 and my Mom's Ford Willow Run tool tags.
That is cool Perry.
Let's see the photo.
My mother also worked on the B-24s. She helped string the control cables & wires from the pilot's console back through the plane. She told me of the "small people" that continued stringing the wires and cables out through the wings. She said employees were offered rides on the test flights but not many did.
My Father-in-Law was a quality control guy for a plant in Southern California that built spotter planes. He would talk about going up in a new plane with the test pilot; they would fly out to the desert where two roads crossed, dive-bomb the "target" rolling the plane first to the right, then to the left. if it recovered in the same number of turns, the plane was balanced!
Couldn't picture him doing that! He was a tile setter before the war & went right back to it afterwards.
Funny story about how he got the job. Tile jobs were becoming non-existant, so someone suggested he go to the plane plant. They asked him if he could read blueprints, Yep! OK, take these home tonight & come back tomorrow & we'll ask you some questions. He came back the next day and said, "First, I have a question--do you want this plane to fly straight or in circles?" "What???!!!" "Well the plans for the fuselage say, at each section weld, + or - 1/4". If the guy on the right side is welding + and the guy on the left is welding -, the fuselage will be curved." "Oh my g--! We forgot the datum point! You're hired, and we'll give you an immediate raise!" Seems to me he said he was getting $1.25 an hour, pretty good wages for that time!
BTW, this was one of his favorite stories when he was older. I have his Kennedy chest from the plane factory; he was going to throw it out when he started losing it (did throw out some family pics though, rats). Still has some ration stickers in it & I don't know what else, as it's in storage here somewhere. . . .
In the late 1970's one of my co-workers was working on an antique airplane in his garage.
One evening an older lady walking her dog stopped in his driveway and called into the open garage, "Young man, is that an airplane fuselage you're working on ?"
"Yes, it is", he said.
"May I look at your airplane ? I worked for Douglas Company during the war years. I was a welder on engine mounts and landing gears for C-47's."
Of course he invited her to take a closer look. He was doing a repair to the steel tube fuselage at the time, so she was most interested in the welding. Finally she said, "I haven't welded anything since I was laid off at the end of the war. Do you have a piece of scrap that I could try to see if I can still weld ?"
Of course he immediately clamped up a couple pieces of tubing in his vise and handed her the torch and goggles. She proceeded to run a bead around the joint. When she had finished the bead she shut down the torch and gave her work a close examination.
"Tsk, tsk. I suppose you just can't go back, can you ?"
She thanked him graciously and resumed walking her dog.
My friend said the weld was the best he had ever seen. He felt like saying, "Wait, wait. Don't go. Come back and finish welding my fuselage for me !"
Guess that's one of the reasons that we call them The Greatest Generation.
Wow! what a great story Dick. Thanks for sharing.
Dad served as an AOM, Aviation Ordinance Man, on the cousin to this plane, the P4Y2, Privateer.
Most folks have never heard of it.
Oops, forgot to include the link:
https://www.eaa.org/en/airventure/eaa-airventure-news-and-multimedia/eaa-airvent ure-news/2015-eaa-airventure-oshkosh/03-05-15-worlds-only-flying-privateer-final ly-heading-for-oshkosh
My father-in-law enlisted in the navy early in WWII. He was trained and flew left seat in B-24's. He ferried them to England, flew missions from England into Europe, Germany etc. Next he was trained in flying PBY's and did rescue missions for a while. Towards the end of the war he was in Pensacola as a flight instructor.
He continued flying G.A. for the rest of his life, even so he probably ended up with more multi-engine hours than single engine. If you got him started he would talk about anything in aviation for hours non-stop, but he never talked about the military flights.
I guess these machines were beautiful and magnificent... if you got the opportunity to arrive at that opinion in retrospect!
Kevin, after my previous post you got me thinking. Bill did say he was in B-24's and PBY's, I wonder if he was in PB4Y's. I was not familiar with that one, but his Navy experience and expertise in the 24 would make the PB4Y a natural for him.
A few months ago we found his log book from the 40's. I'll have to re-read the entries looking for any hint of a PB4Y. I'm not sure how that plane would be listed, however.
I am by no means a Navy Historian, but I believe the PB2Y Catalina, most folks called the PBY.
The Privateer was the modified B-24, designated the PB4Y.
When I tell people about dad's service and say he served in a PB4Y, they all say "oh a Catalina?" and then I have to explain no the Privateer, and most have no clue it was even built.
If you find out any clues from the log books, I know there is a web site that will tell you what planes were assigned to each unit.
My dad started out being stationed at Hawaii in 1942 flying on Navy PBY Catalinas. By late 1943 the Catalinas were replaced with Privateers, and he was moved to Wakde Atoll (too small to be classified as an island) off the coast of New Guinea, what we call Indonesia today.
At that base they had US Army Air Corps B-24 and USN PB4y flying night and day. The remains of many of the aircraft are still on the atoll, abandoned when the war ended. Most aircraft casualties during WWII were caused by pilot error, nearly always during takeoff and landing. We have dad's log book, and there is a registry of aircraft disposition that can be viewed on the Shipmates web site here:
Young, inexperienced, and fearless guys doing their best to preserve our right to life, liberty and the free ownership of property.
You are so right about these fearless young guys. My Father was a gunner on a B-26 Marauder. His plane was hit by flack over Lille France and exploded. Badly wounded he was wrapped in his parachute by the French Underground and turned over to the German forces and spent 2 years as a POW. The underground had no choice, he was too badly hurt to try to sneak out of the area. Flack and shrapnel were embedded in him his entire life. He had so much metal in him he would set off the detectors in airports.
Kevin, Just talked to my sister-in-law. She always said dad flew B-24 and PBY. Tonight she said that the B-24 had a single tail and the PBY was the boat. So it turns out he flew the PB4Y for bombing runs and the PB2Y on his submarine patrols. I will be re-reading the log book to see if he listed equipment in each entry.
So the planes I pictured were correct. I believe that his craft were built by Consolidated in San Diego not Ford.
To make designations even more complicated, note that the Navy flew both twin tail and single tail versions of the "B-24".
The PB4Y-1 was a twin tailed version, just like the Army Air Force B-24. The Navy called their PB4Y-1 's Liberator, just like the AAF did.
The PB4Y-2 was the single tailed version. The Navy called it "Privateer". This is a later development, offering greater directional control with engines out on one wing and overall better handling. An additional benefit in the single tail was enhanced field of fire for waist, turret and tail gunners.
Prototype single tail versions were also evaluated by the Army Air Force. These aircraft were designated B-24K and B-24N. Records seem to indicated that AAF single tail B-24's came late in the war, few were actually produced, and none saw any action. The B-24N, which would have been the production model if the war had continued, was built by Ford.