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Willow Run

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Whatever its flaws, the clunky, clumsy B-24 Liberator was the only bomber capable of crossing the vast distances between the Pacific Islands, especially after the ingenuity of Charles Lindbergh showed the aviators how to stretch their fuel.  The more the US planned to push the Japanese forces back from those many islands, the more they required the production of this aircraft.  It wasn’t long before assembly plants sprung up in San Diego, Dallas, Fort Worth and Tulsa.  But none would symbolize the rise of Liberator construction as the facility built near Detroit know as Willow Run.

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Managed by the Ford Motor Co., the factory itself was in some respects a greater engineering feat than the planes it produced.  It was the largest plant in the world, spread across 3.5 million square feet, with 28,855 windows and 152,000 fluorescent lights.  The assembly line traveled so far that, when it reached the edge of the county, designers built a 50-foot-diameter lazy-Susan to rotate the line and avoid paying extra taxes.

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As US forces drove into the Pacific, the pace of production at Willow Run doubled, then doubled again.  In January 1943, the factory produced 31 B-24s.  In February it rose to 75; March it went up to 104 and continued to grow.  To keep this process going, Ford hired massive numbers.  When there weren’t enough local men, he spread out.  They offered moving incentives to men as far away as California and the Deep South, building dormitories and a shopping mall.

Henry Ford quote.

Henry Ford quote.

Pilots and crews would go to the factory, wait for a plane to come off the line and then board her and fly the 18-ton aircraft into war.  No other multi-engine plane had ever been manufactured in such numbers, nor have any since then.  Although the production of the Liberator ended with the war, more than 18,000 models were built

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A 1945 advertisement for Ford boasted of Willow Run: “Raw material went in one end, planes out the other.”

Information is from the book, “Vanished” by Wil S. Hylton and The Willow Run documentary site found HERE!

Another site dedicated to saving the historical plant and the legend of Ford, Kaiser and Fraser is HERE!!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 260ee918219e21f4aa408a68ed019c81

Carson Holmquist (25) – Polk, WI; USMC, Afghanistan, Sgt, 3rd Battalion/14th Marine Regiment

Thomas J. Sullivan (40) – Springfield, MA; USMC, Iraq, gunnery Sgt. Purple Heart, Mike Battery/3rd Battalion/14th Marines

Skip “Squire” Wells (21) – Marietta, GA; USMC, 3rd Battalion/14th Marine Regiment, Lance Corporal

David Wyatt 35) – Burke, NC; USMC, Afghanistan & Iraq, 3rd Battalion/14th Marine Regiment Staff Sgt.

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Randall Scott Smith (26) – Paulding, OH; US Navy, Logistics specialist, Petty Officer 2nd Class

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 Veterans –

I have been informed by Sheri de Grom that veterans who applied for disabilities using the electronic system, especially the promised 100% disability payment for any vet who served in Vietnam and now has diabetes or kidney disease, there are problems.  It’s expected to to take a minimum of 3 years to adjudicate each of those claims and the veteran MUST add new information to his/her claim every 6 months to keep the electronic claim active.

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Current News – 

Japanese firm apologizes to U.S. POWs

http://news.yahoo.com/70-years-wwii-japanese-firm-apologize-us-vets-144146733.html

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