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tv   History of Willow Run Bomber Plant  CSPAN  November 16, 2013 11:43am-11:56am EST

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although it, there are many accounts of deaths during stampedes. during water crossings. and sometimes brushes with outlaws. and native people. bob, what did i get wrong? okay, thank you. thank you very much. i never saw anything like it when i landed. there was broken equipment, there was -- bodies all over the place. they hadn't yet yet to burley anybody, either the japanese or the american marines. there were bodies without arms, without heads, completely
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eviscerated. and there's the smelling that you never get over, to this day, i -- when i drive by a cemetery, especially if they're using recycled water, i really think i can smell the dead bodies. >> one of the big reasons they took the iwo jimas, they would fly 1,000 miles, but they had to go over iwo jima to get to tokyo. so tokyo, i mean iwo jima would forewarn them by radar and they also had pursuit planes there that could shoot down the inj e injured b-29s when they were returning. it got so bad that a friend of mine by the name of general randall who was there, he told me that they had submarines almost every 50 piles between tokyo and saipan to pick up the flyers. >> the battle for iwo jima, told by the men who were there, today
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at 5:00 p.m. eastern. part of american history tv on c-span 3. i started with teddy roosevelt. i knew so much had been writ bn teddy, i needed another story. i got into taft, knowing he had been friends, knowing they had broken apart in 1912. when i figured out what was the difference between the two in their leadership, it was teddy's public leadership, taft's failure as a public leader. i started reading about the progressive era and the public and the magazine and the press. and these guys stood at the center of it. they played a signal role. even the best historians writing will say these people were the van kiloliter guard of the progressive movement. then i started reading about them. i knew about ida tarbell and william allen white. and i didn't know mcclure, so he came into my life. >> roosevelt, taft, and the muckraker sunday night with doris kearns goodwin. all weekend long, american
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history tv is featuring ann arbor, michigan, where gerald ford's presidential library is located. he attended and played football for the university of michigan. hosted by our comcast cable partners, c-span's local content vehicles visited many sites, exploring the city's rich history. learn more about ann arbor all weekend long on american history tv. this is the story of willow run, one of the ford farms that vicini virtually overnight became the largest aircraft plant that had ever been built. story that can now be told in full. >> we're presently in what is known as hangar 1 at willow run
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airport. we're in bay 8. and if you look out at about a 45-degree angle from here, we see the two doors where the bombers would come off the assembly line after they were built. there's a lot of stories that lead up to the building of this factory. with the war in europe turning hot, the blitzkrieg took place in the low countries, the u.s. was totally unprepared. so roosevelt went to congress and said the u.s. must build 50,000 airplanes to protect itself. then in the fall of 1940, the battle of britain took place. and the bombers were devastating england. and it came out that bombers would be the way that you'd have to fight world war ii. and all the auto companies were given projects to build engines and airplane parts. ford motor company was given the b-24 bomber. a problematic airplane, the newest airplane we had, it was still in development stages and they wanted to mass produce this
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airplane. so ford said i'm not just going to build parts, i'll build complete airplanes, that was henry ford speaking for his company. and in january of '41, his chief production guide, a guy named charles sorenson went out to san diego, california, to watch how consolidated was building the b-24 bomber. and what he saw for a production guy was out of this world. they were building them by hand, one at a time. every airplane, in every individual handcrafted masterpiece. and he said, you'll never build a lot of airplanes this way. and ford can't help you, ford builds everything the same, you guys build it different. he went back to his hotel room at the coronado hotel in san diego, he stayed up all night. in the back of 42 place mats he drew the willow run bomber plant where we are the next day. he went back the next morning, he told the army. he told consolidated, ford motor company can build one b-24
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bomber an hour on an automotive-style assembly line. the u.s. was so desperate, without even asking how you could do this, they said start the project. and they allocated $200 million to build this factory, the largest single allocation in the history of the u.s. government at that time. and they broke the ground on this plant in april of 1941, they broke ground on the airport at the same time and by november of '41, the factory was producing parts. >> this 80-acre plant was built in record time in reality it was made into two plants under one roof. a manufacturing plant, and an assembly plant. >> this was the largest single factory under one roof ever produced in the world when this plant was designed. the plant was originally designed to have about 60,000 employees. they never got above 42,000, because of the logistics of living here and getting the people in the plant.
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and when they were in peak production there was only about 17,000 employees 35% of the bombers built in the united states were delivered here at willow run and that was one of eleven factories building the b 24 bombers. >> of course this was something new in assembly, not just another relatively simple automobile with only 15,000 or so parts to be made and assembled. each of these machines is made up of one million, 225,000 parts. >> what they did was took what had been done as individual pieces and they took the engineering drawing and designed it to hold it to 2/10,000th of an inch. they would then go on the assembly line and workers with just a little bit of training
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could assemble the airplanes and all the piece were precise. you could interchange any part with any b-24 bomber and it would fit because they fit them to blueprints like cars. the rest of the industry used air lot of hand fab dirication complete the airplanes. >> manpower shortage had become a problem. overworked trains to the assembly line and the need for workers had risen sharply. >> there was a shortage of manpower and the women came into the workforce. even by may of 42 before production started, women made up about 20% of the workforce here at willow run. the females stayed in here.
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by the end of the war, 40% were women. >> not peeping toms, but riveters learning how and where to put the 700,000 rivets that go into a single liberator bomber. >> there was a girl that came out of kentucky, rose monroe who took the job at the factory. there was promotion in hollywood about the women in the fence industry, but they picked this girl because her name was rosy, it tapped on to rosy the riveter and she became the prototype for the female production worker in world war ii. the museum is involved and they want to save a part of this plant and make it a display of what happened in world war ii. how the auto industry stepped forward in a time of need who really saved the world.
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>> the plant is in the process of hanger doors and those represent the end of the plant and the assembly line and b 24s rolled out and we intend to save that. we store a piece of the building at 175,000 square feet and move the museum into it. we can show people what the history of this is all about in the 1940s. something for us to remember for our kids and grand kidses to s. when they were finished with bomber production, 1975 they cleared the plant out and in 1947 it was performed by the kaiser frazier company. kaiser frazier used the plant both for the automobiles with 800,000 automobiles here. henry js and they said about
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800,000 were built, but also most people know of the b 24 bomber plant. they have c 119 box cars here. roughly 200 of them built here in the early 1950s. general motors lot of to a fire and saw the plant was empty at the time they performed it and owned it since then in 2010 when it became vacant after the bankruptcy. right now if you look inside the facility, there is not much in there. there was a lot of the manufacturing equipment left from general motors on the floor.
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this end of the building is never restored. the other end was restored a number of years ago and modernized by general motors. this end hasn't. the original plant was 3.5 million square feet. now it is 5 million square feet. we intend to save about 175,000 square feet. it really is a very insignificant piece of the plant. as they said early, it represents the most significant piece of democracy where the bombers rolled out. we intend to move the museum into it some day. we use it for a hangar for the airplanes that they have in this hangar. initially we are looking at raising about $8


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