15 May 1942

B-24E-1-FO Liberator 42-6976, the first B-24 heavy bomber to come off the assembly line at Willow Run, 15 May 1942. (The Henry Ford THF25680 Ford Motor Co. Willow Run Bomber Plant)
B-24E-1-FO Liberator 42-7770, the first B-24 heavy bomber to come off the assembly line at Willow Run, 15 May 1942. (The Henry Ford THF25680 Ford Motor Co. Willow Run Bomber Plant)

15 May 1942: The first Ford-built B-24 Liberator long range heavy bomber came off the assembly line at the Willow Run Airplane Plant, just 160 days after the United States entered World War II. 6,971 B-24s more would follow, along with assembly kits for another 1,893, before production came to an end, 28 June 1945.

The first Ford-built B-24 Liberator in final assembly at the Willow Run Airplane Plant, 12 May 1942. (Ford)
The first Ford-built B-24 Liberator, 42-7770, in final assembly at the Willow Run Airplane Plant, 12 May 1942. (Ford)
B-24E-1-FO Liberator 42-6976, the first B-24 heavy bomber to come off the assembly line at Willow Run, 15 May 1942. (The Henry Ford THF25680 Ford Motor Co. Willow Run Bomber Plant)
B-24E-1-FO Liberator 42-7770, the first B-24 heavy bomber to come off the assembly line at Willow Run, 15 May 1942. (The Henry Ford THF25680 Ford Motor Co. Willow Run Bomber Plant)
Willow Run
The Ford Motor Company Willow Run Airplane Plant
A Willow Run-built B-24E Liberator long range heavy bomber, 1942. (Ford Motor Company)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

15 thoughts on “15 May 1942

  1. I 1982 I began a quest a locate all of the 253 B24H -1FO models that were built . Where they were originally Assigned whether training command operational Bombardment Group , Squadron , name if any transfer to a different group and its demise . I found all but 30 unaccounted for .

  2. Thank You for sharing this ..

    my mother worked there as a “Riveter” one of the first to get hired and stayed on until the last B-24 flew away ..

  3. My Mother helped manufacture plexiglass noses for B-17s at a small company in California.

  4. My father was a navigator on B-24 D and E models during training in the states. I don’t think the E models were ever used in combat. He transitioned to the B-24 when he went to the 449th BG of the 15th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.

  5. At peak production Ford made one B24 every hour, 24/7. They took off from the adjacent airport and were flown to England via Gander, Newfoundland. In the 1960s the plant was owned by General Motors and used to build Hydromatic Transmissions.

  6. The caption for these images is not correct. This was not B-24E-1-FO, 42-6976. This was the educational model B-24E, 42-7770, that was completed by Ford on May 15, 1942.

  7. There were two 9 hour shifts producing aircraft the third overnight shift was used to resupply the various production locations in the plant.

  8. Actually the aircraft were flown from the factory to a training base where the bomber would be mated with a crew who would take it overseas via Gander/Goose Bay.

  9. “The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War” by A. J. Baime is an excellent account how Ford geared up to build B-24s at Willow Run. The mobilization of US industrial power was the deciding factor in the war.

  10. My mother in law worked there in the front offices doing inventories, accounting and running. She told us stories about how she sat at a tall desk and chair all day and they brought the work her. Every once in a while her supervisor would see that her back was hurting and made her a runner, delivering paperwork and was timed. You were watched the whole shift and had to ask permission to leave your desk to use the restroom. I could not recall if you could work there and be married or not. You could not be pregnant and work there. She hid her pregnancy as long as she could, then one day she was escorted out and that was that. I supported GM from 1986-1996 there from an IT perspective and I’ll tell you that plant was huge!!

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