Manufacturing

Focus/Interest Group

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto is claimed to have said, "We have awakened a sleeping giant".  He did not say that, but he knew that Japan had done precisely that.  As much as Hitler loathed the American mongrels and believed they had no fighting spirit, he recognized the potential of the US industrial base and was rather careful to not antagonize the US until after Pearl Harbor.  The British and the Russians knew that without American aid, they would lose (the British admitted it, the Russians did not).  It is clear that the US military won the war in the Pacific; it is not clear how significant the US military was in the European War where the Russians bled the Germans for 3 years before Overlord.  What is very clear is that the US economy provided the aircraft, vehicles, arms, food, fuel and other material by which the Allies won WW II.

In the late 1939s, the US was still in the throes of a depression.  Six years later the US was the undisputed superpower.  What happened in that 6 years is more than a military story; it is also about the most amazing economic ramp-up in the history of this planet.

"Orators, columnists, professors, preachers, and propagandists performed magnificently with the theme that World War II was a war between two ideologies. But whatever inflamed people's minds in warring countries, victory was on the side of the heaviest armed battalions. The conflict became one of two systems of production.

The Axis powers turned out more human robots than war machines. Although Hitler's armament was formidable and fearsome, it would have been more so had it come from mass production Henry Ford-Detroit style. The seeds of United Nations victory in 1945 were sown in 1908 in the Piquette Avenue plant of Ford Motor Company when we experimented with a moving assembly line. Thirty-five years later every­thing from artillery shells to giant four-engine bombers came off assembly lines in the same method that we first developed when turning out Model Ts."   (from "My Forty Years With Ford", Charles Sorensen)

The Manufacturing Focus/Interest Group (MAF/IG) will broadly look at manufacturing during WW II and several specific industries including aircraft, vehicles and munitions.  Discussion of the US war industries will likely predominate, but production in other countries, notably Britain, Japan and Russia will be included.

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