More on Ford

More on Ford
More on Ford Company in the 1940s
Published by: All Car Central Publishing
Date published: 05/04/2014

Geoff Wheatley

As I indicated in my last review of Henry Ford and his empire there was virtually nothing that this man would not tackle, from mass produced cars that left his factories at a rate of one every twenty minutes to military tanks that took a little longer! What most people do not know is that Ford built a special production plant at Willow Run... Michigan, the largest building in the world under one roof, to build the B 24 bomber.

The production started in June 1941 five months before America entered WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The B24 better known as the Liberator was a four engine aircraft capable of carrying a bomb load in excess of four thousand pounds and could cruise at around 250/300 MPH. The plane was 110 feet long, quite large for the time and featured a under belly gun turret, a rear tail and top gun placement n company with the front gun placement that also served as the "bombards: location.

Not quite as popular as the Famous Flying Fortress but quite a weapon to be reckoned with as both the Germans and Italians found out in the Mediterranean campaign where these bombers came into their own during the invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland.

They were also used by both the US Army Air Corp and the British RAF during raids over Germany and Norway.

Ford told the media of the day that if he could make cars in record time he could do the same thing with aircraft. His forecast was a plane every hour despite the fact that each aircraft required the assembly of over a million parts compared with the average motor vehicle with a modest 10 thousand. Just two months after the plant opened Ford had every reason to look at his promise of one aircraft an hour which was not correct, they were coming off the assembly line at the rate of one every fifty five minutes, ready to fly.

The production plant featured its own airfield where each aircraft could be flown and tested before being handed over to the Army. As the war progressed it became clear that allied bombers needed to increase their flying range especially in the Pacific theater of war where distance was a serious factor compared with the European bombing raids launched from Britain.

The B 24 was modified to increase its range but this reduced the pay load and as the war drew to a close they were slowly withdrawn from active service. After the war the Ford Plant was put in mothballs but was that was short term as the demand for vehicles increased in the post war years and the Korean War created a new demand for Ford products.

To my knowledge the only thing that Ford did not produce was boats but of course I could be wrong about that, as who would have ever associated the production of aircraft with the Ford Motor Company!!
Geoff Wheatley ©

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