In the depths of WWII, Ford Motor Corporation opened the Willow Run Bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1942 on the outskirts of Detroit.
Under the direction of Edsel Ford, Willow Run produced B-24 aircraft in a 5 million square-foot facility—one mile long, by a quarter mile wide—the largest factory in the world.
At the height of production, more than 42,000 workers, including legendary cadres of Rosie the Riveters, rolled out a B-24 every 59 minutes, producing a total of more than 8,600 aircraft before the conclusion of the war.
The Willow Run plant is revered as a critical factor in the effort to win the war. In 1981, a group of military aviation enthusiasts formed the Yankee Air Museum at the Willow Run property to pay homage the Greatest Generation.
Today the Yankee Air Museum Collections and Exhibits building contains 47,000 square-feet of permanent exhibits, in addition to flyable WWII aircraft, including a B-25, C-47, and the B-17 “Yankee Lady” housed in one of the vintage Willow Run maintenance structures, mammoth Hanger One.
* This podcast, the recipient of the prestigious 2016 Lowell Thomas Award, is a reprise post, originally broadcast as an NPR podcast June 2015
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR Podcast travel show Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer via:
Follow Tom on Social Media