*** World War II Ford and Willow Run

World War II: Ford and Willow Run (United States)

Willow Run
Figure 1.--Here we see Ford's B-24 assembly line at Willow Run in full profuction. Just ;oo down that line. This was in sharp contrast to how the Luftwaffe built their aircraft. Photographer: Ken Hedrich. He ws widely considered to be one of the finest architectural photographers in the world. His celebrity was propelled by a relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright. And he certainly captured the immensity of the assembly line. Just look down the line as it receeds into the distance. Click on the imasge to see how the NAZIs were building bombers--a real insight into why the Germans lost the air war. .

Henry Ford was an admirer of Adolf Hitler who reciprocated Ford's admiration. Ford was also a determined pacifist which may seem a contraduiction, but we have the advantage of history from which to base our assessment. After Hiler asnd Stalin launched the War (1939), the Allies as in World War I turned to American, for food, raw materials and manufctured goods. And President Rooseveltv turned to GM Chairman Willian Knudsen, a fierce New Deal critic, to begin preparing American industry for war--the Arsenal of Democracy. It was not an easy task. American industry was emerging from the Depressio and reoporting real profits for the first time in years. Many did not want to prepare for war. And Ford was the greatest holdout. Hard pressed Britain was in desperate need for more of the phenomely imprtnt Merlin engines that powered the Spitfire and would power mny other asircraft. They offered Ford a contract. Edsel was interested, but his father turned the British down flat. America would build Merlins for Britain, but it would be Packard, not Ford. (The Ford subsidiary in Britain would be a major producer of Merlins.) The Japanese carrier attack on Pearl Harbor would change everything (1941). Ford was a pacifist, but he was also a patriot. When America went to war, so did Ford. In addition by this time, Ford was approching his 80s and Edsel was increasingly running the company. To design the plant, Ford turned to fanmed industruat archtect--Albert Kahn. The result was Willow Run (Air Force Plant 31),--the largest war factiory in the World, it originally was to span two Michigan counties. Ford insisited on an L-shape to keep it out of the Democratic county. It would also be designd of course by Albrt Kahn, although he died before the factiry was comopleted. Willow Run (Air Force Plant 31), produced Consolidated's B-24 Liberator bomber which along with the B-17 would turn the NAZI Reich into piles of smoldering rubble. We suspect that the Führer may have reassessed his judgement on Ford. America produced over 18,000 B-24s, half of which were built at Willow Run.


Dominguez, Henry L. Edsel: The Story of Henry Ford's Forgotten Son (SAE), 425p.

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Created: 3:01 PM 7/9/2023
Last updated: 3:01 PM 7/9/2023