The Arsenal of Democracy
The American Automobile Industry in World War II
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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...this book grew indirectly out of my earlier work in automotive industry history, including the histories of the Chrysler Corporation, the Dodge Brothers, Nash Motors, and the Hudson Motor Car Company. In the course of my research on those automakers, I encountered several “snapshots” or “glimpses” of the contribu-tions made by American automobile manufacturers to the astounding production of weapons and materials during World War II. Much has been written about the conversion of American civilian industry into the “arsenal of democracy,” which to ...
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...the story of America’s monumental production achievements during World War II, sometimes expressed as the “arsenal of democracy,” is a complex, multilay-ered story that ideally should also include everything that comprised the home front. This book is not intended to be a comprehensive reexamination of all of the economic, social, and political changes that transpired in the United States from the late 1930s through the end of the war and beyond. There is already an extensive historical literature that examines various elements of this larger tale....
One Preparing for War before Pearl Harbor
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As war clouds gathered over Europe and Asia in the late 1930s, U.S. military leaders and President Franklin D. Roosevelt began preparations for war, but only haltingly and quietly at first. Nazi Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, and in September of the same year Germany took control of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. Hitler swallowed the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and, along with the Soviet Union, overran Poland in September. Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, marking the onset of World War II. After a ...
Two Planning Defense Production after Pearl Harbor
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...within five weeks after Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelt administration established a new government agency, the War Production Board (WPB), to control and coordinate defense production, as well as the Supply, Priorities and Alloca-tion Board (SPAB). With the outbreak of war, the automobile industry fundamen-tally changed its attitude toward war production. The industry soon worked effec-tively with the WPB by creating a coordinating body to serve as a liaison between the industry and the government. The board of directors of the AMA reconstituted the ...
Three Aircraft Engines and Propellers
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...this chapter will highlight the work of a half-dozen automakers in producing two significant aircraft components: engines and propellers. The history of the production of these key components is largely unknown, although vital to the aircraft industry. Because they are not very sexy, aircraft engines and propellers have not generated the interest that fighter and bomber aircraft have. Because no single company manufactured these components, their production is barely mentioned in aircraft histories. American industry produced approximately 300,000 military ...
Four Aircraft and Aircraft Components
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...the production of military aircraft was the archetypical example of the “produc-tion miracle” achieved by American industry during World War II. American aircraft production, a paltry 5,856 units in 1939, peaked at 96,318 aircraft in 1944 before falling off to 49,761 aircraft in the final year of the war.This chapter will examine the operation of the procurement system as it applied to aircraft. The aircraft production system and its accomplishments will also be consid-ered in some depth. The chapter will focus on the auto industry’s production of air-...
Five Tanks and Other Armored vehicles
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At first glance, the automobile manufacturers would appear well positioned to fabricate and assemble tanks and other armored vehicles for the war effort. Tanks, after all, have a mechanical drivetrain much like that of a car or truck, with an engine, transmission, driveshaft, and the like. However, the differences between tanks and standard motor vehicles are in fact more significant than their similarities. They are all-terrain vehicles driven by moving tracks rather than by wheels and thus often referred to as “track-laying vehicles.” They are covered by ...
Six Jeeps, Trucks, and Amphibious vehicles
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...in stark contrast to the Ordnance Department’s decision to use five different engines in Sherman tanks, the Quartermaster Corps, which was responsible for providing the military with trucks, moved decisively toward standardization of truck designs before the onset of World War II, and for good reason. During World War I, American troops in France had more than two hundred different makes of trucks, including many from British, French, Italian, and Spanish manufacturers, along with captured German trucks. Maintaining and repairing this fleet of trucks ...
Seven Guns, Shells, Bullets, and Other War Goods
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...the automobile industry’s production of aircraft engines, aircraft components, complete airplanes, tanks and other armored vehicles, and trucks of all types was the industry’s major contribution to the war effort. Automobile manufactur-ers did not make long-range artillery for the army or navy but did produce a substan-tial quantity of anti-aircraft guns and machine guns. The industry also manufactured a bewildering variety of war goods ranging from submarine nets to searchlights to gyroscopes to radar units to U-235 gaseous diffusers for the Manhattan Project. The ...
Eight The New Workers
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...rapidly expanding defense production, especially in 1942 and 1943, created the need for an expanded workforce for the automobile and parts makers engaged in war production. Industries outside the automobile industry, especially those engaged in building aircraft, ships, and munitions of all types, also developed an enormous appetite for more workers to staff their plants. Simultaneously, the grow-ing manpower needs of the expanding military forces, satisfied through enlistments and the draft, siphoned off millions of workers from the labor pool. Toward the end ...
Nine The Achievement
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...when the United States officially entered World War II following Pearl Har-bor, a powerful alliance between the military services and the automobile industry was already in place, resulting in a system for procuring and pro-ducing military equipment in significant quantities. President Franklin Roosevelt developed and nurtured this system with the cooperation and assistance of key lead-ers in the military services, the private sector, and allies within his administration and Congress. He devised a series of innovative strategies to equip America’s rapidly ...
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Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Great Lakes Books