America's manufacturers in World War II were engaged in the greatest military industrial effort in history. Aircraft companies went from building a handful of planes at a time to building them by the thousands on assembly lines. Aircraft manufacturing went from a distant 41st place among American industries to first place in less than five years. 7–10:
In 1939, total aircraft production for the US military was less than 3,000 planes. By the end of the war, America produced 300,000 planes. No war was more industrialized than World War II. It was a war won as much by machine shops as by machine guns. 5, 7–10, 13, 59, 131–2:
In January 1939, Roosevelt appealed to Congress for $300 million to be spent on procuring aircraft for the Army Air Corps. At the time the Corps had approximately 1,700 aircraft in total. Congress responded and authorized the procurement of 3,251 aircraft.
The American aircraft industry was given impetus at the early part of the war by the demand from the British and French for aircraft to supplement their own domestic production. The 1939 Neutrality Act permitted belligerents to acquire armaments from US manufacturers provided they paid in cash and used their own transportation. The British Purchasing Commission had been set up prior to the war to arrange purchase of aircraft and the British and French dealt directly with manufacturers paying from their financial reserves. After France fell to Germany, many of the orders for aircraft were taken over by the British. By 1940, the British had ordered $1,200,000,000 worth of aircraft.This led to some aircraft, such as the P-51 Mustang, being produced to meet European requirements and then being adopted by the US. In their need for aircraft the Anglo-French commission also ordered designs from manufacturers that had failed to win US Army contracts - e.g. the Martin Model 167.
The American aircraft industry was able to adapt to the demands of war. In 1939 contracts assumed single-shift production, but as the number of trained workers increased, the factories moved to first two- and then a three-shift schedules. The government aided development of capacity and skills by placing "Educational orders" with manufacturers, and new government-built plants for the private firms to use.
Aircraft companies built other manufacturer's designs; the B-17 was built by Boeing (the designer), Lockheed Vega, and Douglas Aircraft. Automotive companies joined schemes to produce aircraft components and also complete aircraft. Ford set up the Willow Run production facility and built complete Consolidated B-24 Liberators as well as sections to be assembled at other plants.
|Type of aircraft||Total||1940¹||1941||1942||1943||1944||1945²|
|Very heavy bomber||3,740||—||—||4||91||1,147||2,498|
|Type of airplane||Total||Army Air Forces||US Navy-US Marines||Other U.S.||British Empire||Soviet Union||Other nations|
|Very heavy bombers||3,740||3,740||—||—||—||—||—|
William S. Knudsen, an automotive industry executive who was made Chairman of the Office of Production Management and member of the National Defense Advisory Commission by the Roosevelt administration to organize war production, said, "We won because we smothered the enemy in an avalanche of production, the like of which he had never seen, nor dreamed possible." 5:
The Douglas Aircraft Company was an American aerospace manufacturer based in Southern California. It was founded in 1921 by Donald Wills Douglas Sr. and later merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas, when it then operated as a division of McDonnell Douglas. McDonnell Douglas later merged with Boeing in 1997.
The Republic Aviation Corporation was an American aircraft manufacturer based in Farmingdale, New York, on Long Island. Originally known as the Seversky Aircraft Company, the company was responsible for the design and production of many important military aircraft, including its most famous products: World War II's P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, the F-84 Thunderjet and F-105 Thunderchief jet fighters, as well as the A-10 Thunderbolt II close-support aircraft.
The Armée de l'Air is the name used for the French Air Force in its native language since it was made independent of the Army in 1933. This article deals exclusively with the history of the French air force from its earliest beginnings until its destruction after the occupation of France. French naval aviation, the Aéronautique Navale is covered elsewhere.
The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, is an American-designed and built fighter aircraft of the 1930s and 40s. A contemporary of both the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft—a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful radial engine.
The Douglas A-20 Havoc is an American medium bomber, attack aircraft, night intruder, night fighter, and reconnaissance aircraft of World War II.
The United States Army Air Service (USAAS) was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army between 1918 and 1926 and a forerunner of the United States Air Force. It was established as an independent but temporary branch of the U.S. War Department during World War I by two executive orders of President Woodrow Wilson: on May 24, 1918, replacing the Aviation Section, Signal Corps as the nation's air force; and March 19, 1919, establishing a military Director of Air Service to control all aviation activities. Its life was extended for another year in July 1919, during which time Congress passed the legislation necessary to make it a permanent establishment. The National Defense Act of 1920 assigned the Air Service the status of "combatant arm of the line" of the United States Army with a major general in command.
Military production during World War II was the arms, ammunition, personnel and financing which were produced or mobilized by the belligerents of the war from the occupation of Austria in early 1938 to the surrender and occupation of Japan in late 1945.
William Signius Knudsen was a leading Danish-American automotive industry executive and an American general during World War II. His experience and success as a key senior manager in the operations sides of Ford Motor Company and later General Motors led the Franklin Roosevelt Administration to directly commission him as a lieutenant general in the United States Army to help lead the United States' war materiel production efforts for World War II.
Air Transport Command (ATC) was a United States Air Force unit that was created during World War II as the strategic airlift component of the United States Army Air Forces.
The military history of Canada during World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. While the Canadian Armed Forces were eventually active in nearly every theatre of war, most combat was centred in Italy, Northwestern Europe, and the North Atlantic. In all, some 1.1 million Canadians served in the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, and in forces across the Commonwealth, with approximately 42,000 killed and another 55,000 wounded. During the war, Canada was subject to direct attack in the Battle of the St. Lawrence, and in the shelling of a lighthouse at Estevan Point in British Columbia.
Military gliders have been used by the militaries of various countries for carrying troops and heavy equipment to a combat zone, mainly during the Second World War. These engineless aircraft were towed into the air and most of the way to their target by military transport planes, e.g., C-47 Skytrain or Dakota, or bombers relegated to secondary activities, e.g., Short Stirling. Most military gliders do not soar, although there were attempts to build military sailplanes as well, such as the DFS 228.
The military history of the United States in World War II covers the war against the Axis Powers, starting with the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. During the first two years of World War II, the United States had maintained formal neutrality as made official in the Quarantine Speech delivered by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, while supplying Britain, the Soviet Union, and China with war material through the Lend-Lease Act which was signed into law on 11 March 1941, as well as deploying the US military to replace the British forces stationed in Iceland. Following the "Greer incident" Roosevelt publicly confirmed the "shoot on sight" order on 11 September 1941, effectively declaring naval war on Germany and Italy in the Battle of the Atlantic. In the Pacific Theater, there was unofficial early US combat activity such as the Flying Tigers.
During the Second World War (1939–1945), "Arsenal of Democracy" was the slogan used by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a radio broadcast delivered on 29 December 1940. Roosevelt promised to help the United Kingdom fight Nazi Germany by selling them military supplies while the United States stayed out of the actual fighting. The president announced that intent a year before the Attack on Pearl Harbor, at a time when Germany had occupied much of Europe and threatened Britain.
Howard Aircraft Corporation was a small United States aircraft manufacturer in the 1930s and 1940s. The factory was initially on the south side of Chicago Municipal Airport at 5301 W. 65th Street; during World War II a second plant was opened at DuPage Airport west of Chicago.
The Engineering Division was a division of the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps in the United States Department of War. It was formed on 31 August 1918, under the direction of Lt Col Jesse G. Vincent, to study and design American versions of foreign aircraft. It was later renamed Engineering Division, Air Service and then in 1926 Material Division Air Corps. It was based at McCook Field, and in October 1927 moved to Wright Field.
Oliver Patton Echols was an American military officer who brought success in World War II to the United States Army Air Forces by expanding the inventory of America's air arm to meet the needs of the coming war. More than any other man under Chief of the Army Air Forces, General Henry H. Arnold, Echols was responsible for the development, procurement and supply of aircraft and aeronautical equipment. Fighter projects officer Benjamin S. Kelsey, directly subordinate to Echols from 1934 to 1945, called him "The Man Who Won World War II."
The United States Army Air Forces was the major land-based aerial warfare service component of the United States Army and de facto aerial warfare service branch of the United States during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945). It was created on 20 June 1941 as successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and is the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force, today one of the six armed forces of the United States. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which on 2 March 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army between 1926 and 1941. After World War I, as early aviation became an increasingly important part of modern warfare, a philosophical rift developed between more traditional ground-based army personnel and those who felt that aircraft were being underutilized and that air operations were being stifled for political reasons unrelated to their effectiveness. The USAAC was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, and was part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps became the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941, giving it greater autonomy from the Army's middle-level command structure. During World War II, although not an administrative echelon, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.
The air warfare of World War II was a major component in all theaters of the war and, together with anti-aircraft warfare, consumed a large fraction of the industrial output of the major powers. Germany and Japan depended on air forces that were closely integrated with land and naval forces; the Axis powers downplayed the advantage of fleets of strategic bombers, and were late in appreciating the need to defend against Allied strategic bombing. By contrast, Britain and the United States took an approach that greatly emphasised strategic bombing, and tactical control of the battlefield by air, as well as adequate air defences. Both Britain and the U.S. built a substantially larger strategic forces of large, long-range bombers. Simultaneously, they built tactical air forces that could win air superiority over the battlefields, thereby giving vital assistance to ground troops. The U.S. and Royal Navy also built a powerful naval-air component based on aircraft carriers, as did the Japanese; these played the central role in the war at sea.
Air Force Plant 4 is a government-owned, contractor-operated aerospace facility in Fort Worth, Texas, currently owned by the U.S. Air Force and operated by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. It is home of the F-16 and F-35 fighter aircraft. Military aircraft have been manufactured here since 1942. Plant 4 is adjacent to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, formerly Carswell Air Force Base.