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WILLOW RUN AND THE HENRY FORD

Unexpected Discovery of Willow Run Airfield and Visit to Henry Ford Museum

sunny 81 °F

My choice of campgrounds could not have been better for it is situated west of busy Detroit, and yet easily accessible to the interstate highway. My trip into Dearborn and the Henry Ford Museum was an easy 20 minute drive.

My AAA tour book is my Bible as I use it as a reference to learn of communities along my travel route. Belleville is a small town of 4K people and I only chose a campground here for its location. Ironically, it was the site of something very significant. As you have learned, I am a WWII history buff primarily because our father served 3 1/2 years in the Army Air Corps during the war and I just happened to be born during that period. In my reading of that period in American history, specifically in the book "Arsenal of Democracy" I learned of America's incredible transition from civilian to a wartime posture seemingly overnight following the attack on Pearl Harbor in Dec. 1941. Among the weapons needed to fight the war were heavy bombers. The primary airplane manufacturers contracted in this effort were Boeing, Seattle with its B-17 and Consolidated Aircraft, San Diego with its B-24. Consolidated's production process was flawed and they could not produce the numbers needed. So, Ford Motor Co. was asked to produce the B-24 with Consolidated's plans. Long story short. They chose Belleville to build the (then) world's largest airplane factory on the vast lands owned by Henry Ford. The site was 5 sq. miles in size and included an airport of large proportions to accommodate these huge (1940's standards) planes. The factory, built in a mere 19 months, covered 80 acres and was over a mile (5450 ft.) in length. Using automotive assembly line methods it was producing one B-24 heavy bomber AN HOUR by 1944. They employed a daily average of 42,000 people, 1/3 of whom were women as many men were drafted into war. It's cost of $103,000,000. was paid by War Bonds. While the factory building has been razed over the 70 years since the war, one small portion of it remains and is now the Yankee Air Museum. My visit there was concentrated on the B-24 and I bought a book which gets into detail of this massive project.

From there I drove east to visit the Henry Ford Museum and to tour the River Rouge Factory, Ford's giant (12 1/2 acres under one roof) assembly plant for the F-150 truck. In the past 10 years the company has invested over 1 Billion dollars to make the plant Eco-friendly and State-of-the Art in their processes. A pick-up truck comes off the line every 58 seconds! Robots are used extensively, of course. It operates 16 hrs. a day with 3,000 workers a shift. The employee parking lots cover acres and there is a blue dividing line painted across them. Those who own a Ford product park nearest the factory entrance, those who don't have to park behind the blue line and walk the extra distance to the doors. A subtle message to buy a Ford product. More on my Henry Ford visit tomorrow.

Posted by dixter 04:47 Archived in USA Tagged and factory museum air to tour henry yankee visit willow ford run's

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Your in my terretorry now. Grew up in Detroit. Attended car shows at Greenfield Village and the Musum. Drove my 36 restored Ford to the show. Great place to go 4-5 times each year. Best time was Christmas. Enjoy Dick. Tour the village It's dedicated to HF and Edison's contributions to the Industrial Revolution.

by kafera

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