WWII Aircraft Manufacturing
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Photos of WWII Manufacturing
Aeronca (Now part of
Magellan Aerospace) at Middletown, OH Airport (Hook Field)
These photos were taken in June of 2009.
During WWII Aeronca manufactured at Hook Airport its own L-3 and the Fairchild
PT-19 and PT-23 under license. It does not appear that any of the
original manufacturing plants still exist. All of the facilities
look to be new.
utilized by Inland Division of GM, Then
Delphi) at Vandalia, OH) - This plant was demolished in the spring
and summer of 2008 and no longer exists.
Wichita, Kansas Plant 1. (Now Hawker Beechcraft)
- Beechcraft had and still does have its
headquarters, engineering and manufacturing at its own airfield on the
east side of of Wichita, KS. The photo below taken in the rain is a
corner of its Plant 1 which would have been the center of its operation
during WWII. Now the Hawker Beechcraft operation is on all four
sides of the airport.
Bell at Marietta, GA B-29 Plant
(Lockheed since 1951) Air Force Plant #6 -
plant built at total of 668 B-29s during WWII. 357 B-29s (One
reference indicates these were B-29As. However, the B-29A was only
built at Boeing Renton, WA. See Below.) and 311 B-29Bs.
Marietta was the only plant that built the B model, which was stripped
of turrets, guns and armor except for the tail position and were
optimized for low level night bombing and were 7,0000 pounds lighter and
ten miles an hour faster than the normal B-29.
photo from WWII when Bell ran the plant. If my orientation is
correct the photo is looking east. Cobb Road is on the left and US
41 is at the top of the photo as it runs back to Atlanta. The
runways in the background are what during WWII was Rickenbacker Field
and in 1950 was renamed Dobbins AFB. The plant and airfield in
1942 where built in the middle of nowhere. Today it is completely
built up around both.
Looking south at the Plant from Cobb Street.
Wheatfield, NY P-39 and P-63 Plant -
This 600,000 square foot aircraft
manufacturing plant was built on the site of the current Niagara Falls, NY
Airport in 1941 produced the bulk of the P-39s and all of the P-63s,
along with the post war jet aircraft, rockets, and helicopters. In
1951 the helicopter division moved to Ft. Worth, TX. Today what is
known to the local residents as the former Bell Aerospace Building is
occupied by Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors. This
appears to be a continuation of work Bell did on hovercrafts did in the
1960's. Several other companies are also utilizing some of the
space, while some parts of the plant are falling down.
Aerospace Company doesn't exist anymore but the name still remains on
Boeing at Renton,
Washington B-29 Plant -
plant was originally built by the Navy to build Boeing XPBB-1 Sea Ranger
seaplanes. However, by the time the plant was built the Navy realized the
true value of aircraft carriers and land based aircraft like the B-24 for
patrol, and only one Sea Ranger was built, which became known as the Lone
Ranger. The Sea Rangers would have come out the plant doors and then
been launched down ramps into the lake. With the Navy not needing the Sea
Ranger the Army took over the plant for much needed B-29 production. (The
Renton B-29s were actually B-29A models due to the fact that their wings
attached differently to the aircraft than the ones built at Wichita,
Omaha, and Marietta. Due to this they had one less fuel cell and had
a shorter range than the others.) The world's only flying B-29, "Fifi",
operated by the Commemorative Air Force was built here and came out these doors.
There is now a
fishing and boat launch dock out in front of the plant today. This
is where I took the first four photos in this series.
behind the 737 on the left was not part of the original construction and
with its higher bay I would have to assume is the final assembly point for
was the original paint hangar as about the first fifty B-29As were painted
a dark green camouflage. Note the circular concrete pad in the lower
right corner. This leads to a bridge that
crosses the Cedar River to get to the runway.
However, the bridge was not there when first B-29s were completed
resulting in the early B-29As to be barged a couple of hundred yards
from the plant to the airport.
A seaplane ramp can be seen in the this photo. The three that were
originally constructed still exist.
is a municipal park squeezed in between the west side of the plant and the
east side of the river. One can park there and walk out to the dock.
Another of the
ramps can be seen here. After WWII when production of B-29s had
ceased this ramp area that is now filled with construction equipment was
filled with surplus Martin PBM Mariners that the Navy stored on the ramp
and inside the plant. In 1947-1949 24 Mariners were stored on this
This is the
second bridge that was built 30 years ago across the Cedar River over to the runway that in
WWII was used exclusively for launching B-29A's. This is a permanent
structure whereas the original built during WWII was a pontoon bridge
that could be removed to allow for boats to navigate in and out of the
Cedar River. Permanent may be somewhat the wrong term as the
bridge pictured here is going to be replaced by a new one in the
2013-2014 time frame. On December 30, 1943 the B-29A '"Renton
Girl" was the first Superfortress to take off from the newly extended
runway which had not yet been paved. The original Bryn Mawr
airport at this location was small grass field that was established in
park trail to the dock, which can be seen in the left side of this photo,
takes one past two gates. One opens to Boeing on the east and the
airport on the west. This is looking through the Boeing fence into
the plant area. One can see the yellow painted line that guides the
tug driver where to put the 737 nose wheel when pulling it over to the
airport. Until the bridge was built B-29A's would be loaded on a
barge for the short couple of hundred yard journey over the lake to be
is looking through the west gate towards the airport. On the shore
line on the other side of the bridge the B-29A's would be off loaded
from the barge to be able to use the just completed runway extension to
Located about a hundred yards from shore in 80 feet of water is a sunken
It sank after hitting debris in the lake.
Boeing at Wichita,
Kansas B-29 Plant (Now Boeing Integrated Defense Systems-Wichita Programs
and Spirit Aero Systems)
- The first photo was taken from the tower at the Kansas
Aviation Building which was the original terminal at Wichita Airport which
during WWII became a huge complex of B-29 manufacturing and air base.
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems at Wichita now works on such projects as
Air Force One, Airborne Laser Lab, B-52 Fleet and E-4BSupport, and the
KC-135 re-engine program. It appears to occupy the complex on the south
west apron and a new engineering building SW of that . Spirit Aero Systems
now has the main manufacturing plant that built B-29s during WWII where it currently builds subassemblies for
Boeing. No finished aircraft are made at this location
During WWII 1,644 B-29s came out of this location at a rate of 4.2 per day
after production started in 1943 along with the Stearman Kaydet for both
the Navy and Army Air Corps after Boeing purchased Stearman in 1938.
In 1951 the production of over 1,300 B-47s began at this plant and starting in
1970 it began building forward fuselage section for Boeing commercial
aircraft and 90% of the 737 was built here. This is located on the
SW side of the airfield. On the east side is McConnell AFB and to
the north on the west side is the Kansas Air National Guard.
The old Boeing complex looking South
West that is now Spirit Aerosystems. With additions added over the
years it is difficult to determine what is original and what is not for
someone like me not familiar with the facility. However, the
buildings in the background with the triangular shaped natural light
window boxes are part of the original complex.
The original Administration Building. The windows have been replaced
making it look newer than it is.
natural light windows can be seen in this photo.
More of the
original with the Administration Building at the far end. This is a
Brewster (Became the
Naval Air Development Center and then the Naval Air Warfare Center) at
Johnsville (Warminster), PA
http://www.navairdevcen.org/Pix/aerial.html - Brewster Plant is
left center of the photo. All of this has now been developed and
looks to be condominiums, apartments and some light industrial.
Buick Engine Plant
at Melrose Park, IL Buick built this
plant during WWII for the manufacture and assembly of Pratt and Whitney
R-1830 engines for the Consolidated B-24s. After the war
International Harvester (Now Navistar) purchased the plant for engine
manufacture. It is still operating in that mode.
Looking more to
the north the camera can not capture the entire structure. 74,198
R-1830 engines were built by Buick in this facility during the war.
The circle drive is original.
During the war
instead of Navistar Engine Group chiseled into the concrete it read:
"Aviation Engine Plant
Buick Motor Division
General Motors Corporation"
at Nashville, TN (This is now
Triumph Aerostructures - Vought Integrated Program Division)
It was obviously a rainy day when I took
these photos, all from inside the vehicle. I will at some point get
better photos on another trip. I was there in July 2010 and the sign
had not yet been changed to reflect the purchase by Triumph Aerostructures
in June of 2010.
at Ft. Worth, TX (This is now an Air Force Plant operated by
Lockheed-Martin) This was the main
manufacturing plant for B-24's by Consolidated during WWII. Later
when Convair was purchased by General Dynamics the F-111 and F-16 were
built here. Now it is the focal point for the manufacture of the new
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The next series
of photos attempts to capture the current Lockheed Martin complex from
north to south as seen from the NAS Fort Worth JRB during an air show.
There is some
overlap in these photos.
After WWII the
plant built B-36s, which could be brought across the runways to what was
then Carswell AFB for operational service.
The mile long
original B-24 plant can be seen behind the hangars in the foreground.
The entire complex today is over a mile long.
F-16s along with F-22 components were later made in the plant.
According to a Lockheed Martin PR representative I talked with at the
Tyndall AFB show earlier in the year, around 250 F-16s remain to be built
for foreign customers and are still being constructed somewhere in this
complex. However, the mile long original plant is being reconfigured
for high production F-35 production.
2016 one F-35 a day will start rolling off the assembly lines in the mile
long building (This is the same rate at which the F-16 was built at peak
production). They will then come out to these hangars for final
flight preparations for flight tests and final delivery to the US Air
Force (F-35A), Marines (F-35B) and Navy (F-35C). Current flight test
operations use these hangars for pre-flighting of the F-35s currently
Columbus International Airport Business Park) Plant at Port Columbus
Airport, OH - Curtiss built SB2C
Helldivers, S03C's, SC-1's and SC-2's for the US Navy during WWII. The business park is occupied
by multiple businesses and aviation companies and Columbus has put to
good use this asset left over from WWII which was built by the Navy. After WWII North
American used the facility to built Furies, Vigilantes, Buckeyes, and
indicating the building was built in 1941.
R-3350 Engine Plant at Chicago, IL - This
plant produced 18,349 Wright Radial Engines for the B-29 program in WWII
and consisted of 19 total buildings that covered 82 acres and contained
9,000 machines. In other words, this was a huge complex. After
WWII Dodge did not need the facility and it was turned back over to the
government. Later Ford Motor Company used it which is why the
current shopping mall located in some of the original buildings has been named Ford City Mall. Other
parts of the complex are owned by Tootsie Roll and other miscellaneous
This is assumed
to be the SW corner of the original building. One can not recognize
that this was once a part of an 82 acre complex that produced over 18,000
engines in just over two years. The mall is actually two separate
buildings as apparently some of the original structure has been torn down
to make way for a parking lot.
On the east
side this looks like some of the original truck docks.
One of two
powerhouses at the complex. This one is on the NE corner.
on east side shows the reinforced arched rib concrete construction that
was developed by the architectural firm Albert Kahn and Chrysler
Engineers. It cut the amount of steel used by half during a time
when it was in short supply. Our understanding that all of the
original construction would have had this roof structure.
This is over on
the north side which is now owned by Tootsie Roll. This was the
live engine test area and the stacks are for the exhaust and noise
abatement. Each and every one of the
was tested for four hours. Then they completely torn down and
inspected. If good, the engine was rebuilt and shipped. If
defective, it was rebuilt, retested and re-inspected all over again.
This was standard procedure for all aircraft engines built during WWII.
Douglas A-26, A-24
and B-24 Plant at Tulsa, OK - This is
all that remains of the original plant that was 7/8 of a mile long and was
originally built to assemble B-24s with parts from the Ford Willow Run
Plant. Photos were taken late in the day with the sun going down
behind the plant.
Douglas C-47 Plant at
Oklahoma City, OK - The building
is still there and now located on the east side of Tinker AFB which is South East of OK City.
The series of photos below were taken from an outside display board at the
Air Park located at Tinker. The displays are covered by Plexiglas so
the photos are somewhat blurred.
Fairchild Plant at Hagerstown, MD -
This is now an Air Park with commercial
This photo is
taken looking east from the parking lot of the aircraft terminal.
This part of the plant has been given a modernized facelift.
Here we are
looking at the SW corner of the plant and then down the west side as seen
in the previous photo.
On the right
side of the photo which is south one can just make out that this is the
the south side to the east.
This is the
backside looking west. Note the difference in from the other sides
of the complex. To get to this area one has to take a back road
along the airport's east perimeter.
Cleveland Plant Aircraft Division Plant 2 (Now the International Exposition Center) at the
Cleveland Airport, OH - This plant was
built in 1942 to build 200 B-29 bombers. While under construction
the US Army Air Force changed plans and moved the B-29 production to the
Martin Omaha, NB plant which had been making the B-26. Instead
Cleveland Plant 2 became a primary parts supplier for not only the B-29
project. Construction of the eight XP-78 and six P-78A
Eagles did take place here along with special conversions such as the
B-39 which was a B-29 with Allison V-3420 engines and converting the
Douglas B-19 to the Allisons.
Several historical sources have
misinterpreted history and claim that Cleveland Plant 2 built B-29s.
It was built for that purpose, but never did do to the changing demands
of the war. What it did produce was 13,772 B-29 engine nacelles.
the 1950s the plant became a Cadillac tank plant.
Today the former B-29 parts plant and tank arsenal is the international
Some of the huge amount of space available for use in the center.
The day I
stopped by to photograph the plant it was being used to hand out
credentials for an upcoming marathon in the area. I was able walk
in and see the insides of the facility.
hangars are part of the original facility and is where the experimental
V-3420 Allison engines were added to the B-19 and B-29.
Ford B-24 Plant at Willow Run, MI -
With the exception of the paint hangar at
the end of the line, this plant has been razed. Photos will be
left on this site for historical purposes.
The following photos are from a model display
at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, WI.
footage is 3.5 million.
This is the
west end of the plant looking south.
view of the upper right hand corner of the previous photo shows what
functions took place in the SW corner of the plant.
This is looking
from west to east at this same section. Aircraft assembly will be on
the left or north side and manufacturing of components on the right or
south side. Willow Run also supplied components for B-24 aircraft
assembly at other locations.
We are now
looking south again as we move east. To the right of the photo is
the location of the previous photos. Note that assembly of control
surfaces and wings are taking place. Again on the south side of the
plant are the manufacturing operations supplying the assembly line.
assembly and then the paint shop in the upper left hand corner or the SE
corner of the plant. The reason the plant makes a left hand is that
this keeps the plant totally in Washtenaw County, MI. If it extended
further east it would have been in Wayne County, MI, which had higher
Lockheed-Martin) Airdock at Akron, OH - The
red area on the end of the Airdock caught fire in August of 2006.
The photo was taken in July of 2007.
Updated photos taken in June of 2008. Fire damage has been repaired.
Airdock on the left and the building to the far left is the Corsair
assembly building. Williams Aviation is an FBO that now uses the old FG-1
assembly building at Fulton Field in Akron.
Hangar at Wingfoot Lake, OH - Most of the
WWII airships were built at this location. There were other
buildings but this one still remains and is the current home of the
Goodyear Airship "Spirit of Akron".
Martin Plant at Omaha, NE -
The photos below were taken at the
Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, NE which is located right off
of I-80 about 20 miles west of Omaha. This is an excellent museum
and should be a stopping point of all aviation enthusiasts traveling
across the country on I-80. Included among all the aircraft displays
are models of the Martin Bomber Plant in Omaha that was originally built
to produce B-26s but then was converted to one of the five plants to build
the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. The Omaha plant went on to build 515
B-29s, including The Enola Gay and Bockscar, after completing construction
of 1,585 B-26s for the war effort. The Omaha Plant was a reverse
image of the plant built by Martin in Middle River, MD to also produce the
B-26. Below are photos of this great display at the museum.
Today the plant still exists and is located at Offutt AFB in Omaha.
from the floor. Installation of would obviously have been labor
intensive. This construction was typical of the era and was also
designed to absorb oil spilled on it.
Nash-Kelvinator (Mt. Hope Ave Plant)
in Lansing, MI
- This building is located at the corner of
Washington Street and Mt. Hope Avenue. Originally built by REO,
which was about a half a mile north on Washington, it was used by
Nash-Kelvinator during WWII to produce 158,134 Hamilton-Standard
propellers. I grew up a mile away and walked by this plant for three
years going to Junior High School, and then drove by it for 5 and a half
years when I went to college. I was unaware of this building's
historical or family significance until early 2011. My grandfather
worked here during WWII and was foreman in the propeller balancing
department. The location of the plant allowed him to walk to work
and save valuable rationed gasoline.
WWII Motor Wheel Corp. occupied the building for a while until it moved
out to the north end of Lansing. Around 1960-61 this was the
location of the first discount / big box store in Lansing. I do not
remember the name of store but it was the predecessor of the K-Marts and
others we have today. That lasted for a short time and then the
plant I believe was occupied by a drop forge, of which we had several in
Lansing supporting Oldsmobile. It now is multiple companies in what
is called the Mid-Michigan Industrial Center.
Nash-Kelvinator (South Cedar St.
Plant) in Lansing, MI
- This is where the original
Hamilton-Standard propellers where made before the operation expanded out
to the larger facility on Mt. Hope Ave. It was then used for the
manufacture of the propeller hubs. After WWII it was purchased and
operated by John Bean making fire apparatus until the 1970's. Now it
is a home to several different businesses. It may also have
originally been built by REO which was located on the other side of Cedar
North American in Dallas/Grand Prairie, TX
- This government built and owned plant was
used by North American starting in 1941 to build AT-6's and later then
built P-51's and B-24's under license from Consolidated. After WWII
North American left the facility and Vought moved in from Connecticut.
Vought is still located there and it is it's world headquarters. This
plant is just one block south of the main street in Grand Prairie and
dominates the downtown area. Vought no longer manufactures aircraft
here or at its other locations but is a supplier of subassemblies to the
remaining aircraft manufacturers. The former NAS Dallas is adjacent
and to the east of Vought. With its closure and move to the former
Carswell AFB in FT. Worth there is no longer an active runway at this
location. The last flying aircraft built at this plant would have
been the A-7 Corsair.
Packard Auto Company in Detroit, MI.
- Manufacturing location of 54,714
Rolls-Royce Packard V-1650 Merlin Engines. The plant is located at
the corner of East Grand Boulevard and Concord Street. The plant is
on both north and south side of East Grand Boulevard and west Concord.
Unfortunately the facility is very dilapidated and is in a neighborhood
similar to those seen in the movie Gran Torino. Packard
went bankrupt in 1954. Apparently no one has the funding to raze the
buildings. It looks like various businesses and enterprises have utilized
the structure since Packard went out of business. There do not
appear to be any using it now.
an architectural and historic perspective, this is an important structure
as it was designed by Albert Kahn, a prominent industrial architect that
designed many factories, including several of the WWII aircraft plants,
until his death in 1942. This plant was built in 1907 and the design
by Kahn introduced the concept of replacing wood walls with reinforced
concrete that allowed more open space for manufacturing. Many of his
designs were used in Detroit and he is known as the "Architect of
Detroit". After designing this plant some of his other work in
Detroit included the Ford Highland Park Auto Assembly Plant, the massive
Ford River Rouge Complex, the Warren Tank Arsenal, and the Ford (Now GM)
Willow Run B-24 Plant.
This is the
looking east at the west end of the complex on the south side of East
Looking east at
the structure on the north side of East Grand Blvd. The overpass in
the right corner is just short of Concord St. and connects the north and
south buildings. So along this axis the plant is about 1.5 city
little more to the north in this photo shows another building that looks
to be six stories tall. The top of this building can be seen from
at the west end of the north building.
Looking east a
the cross over on East Grand Blvd.
on Concord St. from the most northerly section of this wing. Note
that a newer than original construction was added to the north end of the
plant. The doors on the right were all locked and may contain living
quarters or storage. From the evidence in the area they are
currently being used for something. This section is about 4 city
further south. Note that the roof is collapsing on some of this.
The corner of
East Grand Blvd looking south down Concord. The cross over looks
wide enough to have been used to transfer partially assembled vehicles
from on building to another along with forklift and shop truck traffic.
Before and after WWII this plant was used for the manufacture and assembly
of Packard automobiles.
down East Grand Blvd.
Looking SW from
East Grand Blvd from the east side of the complex.
Republic Aircraft facility in
Evansville, IN. - After WWII International
Harvester used this facility until 1955 when Whirlpool took ownership.
In 2010 Whirlpool closed the facility for production and moved the
operation and jobs to Mexico. When I was here in April 2011 there
were still a few persons working in the office area.
northeast from the deserted parking lot.
Stearman Aircraft facility in
Wichita, KS. - The hangar that
was the Lloyd Stearman initial production facility. It is now
located and preserved on the premises of the Kansas Air National Guard
These photos were taken from the control tower
of the old Wichita, KS airport terminal facing north east and the tower
has tinted windows so the photos have a green tint. In the
background across the runway is McConnell ARB.
Aircraft it reads "Division of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation".
Waco Aircraft facility in Troy, OH -
The plant is still there, east of I-75 at
the OH State Road 55 interchange on Archer Drive.
This is the
Waco Plant during WWII. The long building in the upper left is now
Waco Warehouse, Inc., the dual hangars center left are now Gokoh, and the
center section and the one story in front is now Goodrich. This is a
photo of a photo that is in the Waco Museum.
Inc. in September of 2008.
hangars today. This is an industrial wholesale supply company.
plant, which today makes aviation brake systems, including those for the
WWII Aircraft Manufacturing
Sites-Home Canada Aircraft
Propellers Plant Photos
US WWII Aircraft Costs
WWII Aircraft Manufacturers'
US Aircraft Assembly Plant Numbers
US Aircraft Modification Centers