Amazing Film: The Story Of B-24 Bomber Production At Ford’s Willow Run Factory

Amazing Film: The Story Of B-24 Bomber Production At Ford’s Willow Run Factory

Of the million and one stories that emerged from WWII, it was America’s industrial capacity that likely loomed the largest. There was nervousness among the allies at the start of the war and a smugness among the bad guys that America was like than ungainly kid who had not quite figured out how to use his arms and legs properly yet. It did not take long for that “kid” to become a beast and start producing so much stuff that the enemies refused to believe the numbers were real or sustainable.

Here’s the rub.

They weren’t just sustainable, they were growing and growing by leaps and bounds each year. Among all the stories of production, one stands particularly tall. We’re talking about the Willow Run, Michigan factory that at its peak would push one B-24 bomber out the doors EVERY 55 MINUTES. The plant was far more the project of Edsel Ford than Henry (the old man had some real weird views) and it became one of the most impressive industrial operations in the world.

This was not just some assembly point, either. There were two halves to the 80 acre (under one roof!) building. Yes there was an assembly side but there was also a manufacturing side and that’s where stuff as small as the rivets that hold the plane together got made. Yes, they made the rivets in the same plant as the airplanes.

This film is amazing and it’s a bit of a well earned victory lap for Ford and the whole plant. Fantastic!

Press play to see this amazing video that tells the story of Willow Run and B-24 production –

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2 thoughts on “Amazing Film: The Story Of B-24 Bomber Production At Ford’s Willow Run Factory

  1. Loren

    How we won the war by getting our guys the hardware to do it with, and the Liberator was good hardware. Side story, Consolidated pres Reuben H. Fleet was highly annoyed at Ford for making automotive-type steel tooling and jigs to build his aluminum airplane, and blamed hot/cold weather expansion differences between the two materials for fuel tank leakage issues etc. But car-company Ford still built a lot more B-24s than airplane-company Consolidated did (although to be fair they had plenty else going on), and getting that factory put up and in operation was the U.S. at its’ best.

  2. Nitrohemi

    I once talked to a guy who had flown both B-24s and B-17s in WW2. He didn’t particularly like the B-24. It flew OK, he said, but the high wing made it nearly impossible to belly-land a damaged B-24. The pilot couldn’t keep the plane balanced on bottom of the narrow fuselage and one wing tip would dip and dig in to the ground. That frequently caused the bomber to pivot around the dug in wing tip, or in worst cases, cartwheel. The B-17 could easily be landed on its belly. Another problem with the B-24, he said, was that it had a backup fuel gauge consisting of a vertical glass tube in the bomb bay that was connected to the tanks in both wings. If the main fuel gauges failed, a crewman could read the markings on the glass tube for an indication of how much fuel was left. The problem with this scheme was that if the glass tube broke the plane now had a high octane av gas leak in the bomb bay.


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