Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Production feats: American manufacturing did wonders during WWII


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:15 AM

Production feats: American manufacturing did wonders during WWII


Most likely the world will never see firearms manufacturing feats to equal those of the United States during World War II. The American military entered the conflict in December 1941 desperately short of all sorts of weaponry and ended the war in September 1945 with the best-equipped armed forces on the planet. And along the way the US Government also supplied vast quantities of arms to various allied nations. (Unfortunately within a few years many of those weapons were turned against us, but that's another story.) Not least among American production feats was the making of rifles, carbines and submachine guns. Here's a quick example. The US Army officially adopted the M1 .30 Carbine as early as October 1941, but none actually were delivered until June 1942. By last delivery in August 1945, a total of 6,117,827 were made---for an average of roughly 161,000 for each of those 38 months.
Of course, there were nine primary contractors making all those M1 Carbines and a 10th one attempted to but failed to actually get "on line." Its contract and some already manufactured receivers and parts were taken over by one of the other producers. (See the June issue's Montana Musings.) Also worthy of note is except for the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, none of the M1 Carbine manufacturers had ever made firearms previously.
Production of the full-size M1 Garand rifles may have been even more impressive than the M 1 Carbine because only two facilities made them during World War II. Although the M1 Garand was officially adopted by the US Army in January 1936 and by the US Marine Corps early in 1941 only a few tens of thousands, perhaps between 40,000 and 50,000 had been produced before America entered the conflict. All of those had been made by the government-owned Springfield Armory.
Upon the declaration of war the United States government also asked Winchester Repeating Arms Company to join in M1 Garand production. Between the two locations 4,028,375 M1 rifles were made before hostilities ceased. Broken down by manufacturer, Winchester made 513,880 with the remainder made at Springfield Armory. (Figures come from Bruce M. Canfield's US Infantry Weapons Of World War II.)

Weighty Thoughts
In another of Canfield's books, The Complete Guide To The M1 Garand And The M1 Carbine, I found the following information: As early as September 1943, Springfield Armory hit 100,000 Mls in a single month, and topped out with an amazing total of 122,001 delivered to the government during January 1944. Such figures are so large as to almost be meaningless to us ordinary laymen. So let's put them in a different sort of perspective. That figure of 122,000 rifles divided by the 31 days of January figure to 3,935 Mls per day. At 10 pounds per rifle, that computes to 39,350 pounds of dries each day of January 1944 or 19.675 tons of rifles per day.
Think about that. Besides making them, what sort of effort would be required to inspect 3,935 rifles a day? What about packing 3,935 rifles per day? How much manpower was needed to even move almost 20 tons of rifles a day or how many trucks were required to move out nearly 20 tons of dries every 24 hours? It's just about mind boggling.

The Thompson
Before WWII the American military's use of Thompson submachine guns had been limited. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps had purchased some Models 1921 and 1928, but they were not considered standard issue. Then in 1938 the US Army officially adopted the Thompson as the Model 1928A1 and it was produced as such by the parent company Auto-Ordnance and also under license by Savage Arms. Still by 1940 only a few hundred over 20,000 Thompsons had been ordered by the US Government. American entry in the war kick started both Thompson manufacturers and by early 1943 562,511 Thompson Model 1928A1 submachine guns had been purchased by the government with about 300,000 supplied to allies in the form of lend-lease aid.
In an effort to reduce both costs and production time enough changes in the Thompson were made its designation was changed to Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M1 in early 1942. In about a year 285,480 of those were made when more changes caused the model to become the M1A1 of which another 539,142 were produced by both companies. All Thompson submachine gun production for the US Government ended in 1944 (Author's note: There was overlap in production of the different models of Thompson submachine guns.)
These production figures were drawn from Canfield's US Infantry Weapons Of Worm War II. So of the three basic military models of Thompson in about five years the government procured from only two companies a total of 1,397,133 45-caliber submachine guns. This is an interesting tidbit: circa 1939 the Model 1928A1 cost the government about $209. By 1944 the M1A1 price was down to about $44. (I've never been able to find a breakdown of just how many of those WWII Thompsons were made each by Auto-Ordnance and Savage.)
All of this weapons manufacturing is impressive enough but something we must also consider is quality. In my extensive reading of WWII history, I've seldom if ever encountered mentions of troops having problems with any of the three types of shoulder arms listed above. They all worked in the overall sense of functioning, and if surviving samples are any indication, they all delivered more than acceptable accuracy for their intended purposes. M1 Carbines were often accused of being underpowered or better stated perhaps, of being poor manstoppers. Such would be more a flaw of cartridge design and not a fault of manufacture or the carbine itself.
Skilled Labor
Also worthy of consideration is the fact such impressive manufacture of small arms was done without all the computerized machinery available today. The lathes, milling machines, barrel rifling equipment, etc., all had to be manned by qualified people. All those weapons had to be assembled, inspected, test fired, packaged and shipped by hand.
Space doesn't allow us to cover handguns, of which millions more were made during the 1941-1945 time frame, or Model 1903 and 1903A3 bolt-action Springfields of which more than a million were produced. It is doubtful such a firearms manufacturing feat as happened in America in WWII will ever be duplicated again, especially in this country. It is well documented that on several Pacific Islands some Japanese soldiers participated in Banzai charges armed with bayonets tied to a bamboo pole and the Soviet Union sent unarmed soldiers into attacks with instructions to pick up some fallen comrade's rifle. That sort of thing never happened to Americans.

Production feats: American manufacturing did wonders during WWII | Guns Magazine | Find Articles at BNET
  • marc780 likes this
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#2 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:44 AM

"It is well documented that on several Pacific Islands some Japanese soldiers participated in Banzai charges armed with bayonets tied to a bamboo pole and the Soviet Union sent unarmed soldiers into attacks with instructions to pick up some fallen comrade's rifle. That sort of thing never happened to Americans."

Not too sure of this LOL. It is true that the US military armed and supplied it's soldiers fairly well and much better then it's enemies.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#3 Wolfy

Wolfy

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,900 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:56 AM

While the American ground units had overwhelming superiority in logistics, specialist equipment, tanks, and artillery (with the run of the mill US infantry division as well or better equipped than a full strength panzergrenadier division (or more so after late 1944)), I don't get the impression that the American was generally better equipped than the German as far as infantry small arms go. But the small arms weren't as important as the other issues...

#4 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:13 AM

The US soldier as opposed to the German soldier were as a standard issued with a semi-automatic weapon like the Garand or M1 Carbine or a submachinegun like the Thompson or M3. Thus giving them more firepower then the average German soldier armed with the bolt actioned K98K that was the standard issue from before the war untill the end .
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#5 Wolfy

Wolfy

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,900 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:24 AM

True, but there were more belt-fed machineguns and submachineguns in German rifle infantry units compared to the American. The run of the mill German section had a belt-fed LMG while the American had one of the less effective BAR. Veteran US units could expect 2 BARs in their section and motorized German formations were issued two LMGs per section but this is still an overall inferiority in small arms capability. Meanwhile, belt-fed machineguns in HMG mode were equally common, but the German had the advantage of the better model (MG34/MG42).

In fact (for some reason or another) the American rifle units, even into the Korean war and Vietnam seemed to have a paucity of belt-fed machineguns in general. (Maybe out of lack of necessity, perhaps?)

#6 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:06 AM

The German unit may have had more machineguns. That of course being a standard TO&E and there is of course the inherent problems with having more machineguns in a unit. And there are always variations in the TO&E. The Army developed tactics that helped lessen thier effect. But Im talking about the individual infantryman. The US soldier was better supplied with many items including individual weapons then the standard German infantryman. The subject is not who had the better TO&E or better weapons though. But the amount of weapons and other items produced and how quickly the US Industrial companies were able to supply the US Forces and it's Allies.The US military was able to provide 99.9% of it's troops and quite a bit of it's Allies with modern semi and fully automatic weapons. The Axis could not.It really is amazing how the US could in such a short time produce and supply it's military And others. And still have so much in surplus after the war.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#7 lwd

lwd

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,885 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:56 AM

..., belt-fed machineguns in HMG mode were equally common, but the German had the advantage of the better model (MG34/MG42)....

I'm not sure I agree with that. Why do you think the MG34/MG42 is superior to the M2.

#8 Miguel B.

Miguel B.

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 956 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 02:51 PM

Well, he was talking about inf sections so he was referring to the BAR. Still, the M2 other than in a mount had limited use in offence wouldn't you say so?? it's weight is just too much. even the .30 MG had weight problems. True that in defence, an M2 could wreck havoc as it's bullet would be much more effective against obstacles and the such.
Just my 2c...




Cheers...
Battles don't win wars, Logistics do!

#9 Wolfy

Wolfy

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,900 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:43 PM

The US usually relied on either water-cooled machineguns or the 30 cal. on tripod for HMG mode. But these were quite heavy and the 30 cal. had a fixed barrel.

The tripod-mounted MG34/MG42 with its high firing rate and quickly removable barrels was just a better gun.

Being very heavy (with very heavy ammunition as well) M2 was mostly mounted on vehicles although quite a few found their way into defensive positions.

#10 brndirt1

brndirt1

    Saddle Tramp

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,709 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 07:23 PM

getting back to production of "stuff" rather that use of weapons in applied tactics;

In the US when the war began there was a surplus of 12,900,000 bales of cotton (short staple) unsold and in storage. When it ended there were still 11,000,000 bales in surplus storage. Not a bad record of production to meet extended use either.

When the import of hemp for rope and twine production was interrupted with the fall of the Philippines, hemp was grown extensively in America. Tennessee and Kentucky were stand-out producers, but converting to hemp removed their usual flax acreage from production. Before the war Minnesota produced half of all of the flax in America, when much of their, Tennessee, Kentucky and Wisconsin’s acreage were taken for high fiber, low resin hemp production the flax acreage moved west and north, into the Dakotas, and Montana in the US, and Saskatchewan, Alberta in Canada.

Flax is the source of high quality oils (linseed oil) a base for non-synthetic paints, as well as the basis for the cloth covering for most of the control surfaces of WW2
aircraft; linen. It shrinks to fit easily, is rugged, and NOT very susceptible to insect damage in its "doped and cured" state. Linen was also used extensively for the bags of cordite propellants in the "big guns" of the US Navy and RN. Apparently linen burns cleaner and leaves fewer "embers" behind compared to cotton.

Then, an even less appreciated use for flax was the production of cigarette paper! Now it sound bizarre, but cigarettes were a major industry in WW2 America.

Ah well, the little stuff people ignore when it comes to "war production", everybody likes the guns, tanks, and other things which roar or go boom and such.

Happy Trails,
Clint.

#11 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:06 PM

getting back to production of "stuff" rather that use of weapons in applied tactics;


Ah well, the little stuff people ignore when it comes to "war production", everybody likes the guns, tanks, and other things which roar or go boom and such.


Thanks Clint :). And you are so very right about "Logistics". A few of us have been saying that all along :rolleyes:.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#12 Slipdigit

Slipdigit

    Good Ol' Boy

  • Administrators
  • 14,223 posts
  • LocationAlabama

Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:14 PM

It is not hard to be productive, when you consider the huge amounts of resources available. I'll find the page, etc for you if you want, but I remember reading in Brute Force by John Ellis, that the city of Pittsburgh alone produced more iron and steel than did Germany and Japan. Then combine that will all the other iron and steel producing cities in the US and you get a prodigous amount of production.

Best Regards,  
JW :slipdigit:

SlidigitAxe.png


#13 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:25 PM

It is not hard to be productive, when you consider the huge amounts of resources available. I'll find the page, etc for you if you want, but I remember reading in Brute Force by John Ellis, that the city of Pittsburgh alone produced more iron and steel than did Germany and Japan. Then combine that will all the other iron and steel producing cities in the US and you get a prodigous amount of production.


Thats true too Jeff. Its just amazing how quickly the US was able to gear up for the war. For example,

"At the outbreak of war in Europe, the United States was ill-prepared to play a major military role. By early 1941, however, 34 new munitions factories were under construction across the country, and by 1944 U.S. factories led the world in armaments production. "
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#14 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:44 PM

Hey Clint. Hane you checked out my http://www.ww2f.com/...llied-axis.html thread? It shows another aspect of the war that the US excelled at. And of course a subject where "guns, tanks, and other things which roar or go boom and such." are not present.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#15 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:26 AM

getting back to production of "stuff" rather that use of weapons in applied tactics;

Then, an even less appreciated use for flax was the production of cigarette paper! Now it sound bizarre, but cigarettes were a major industry in WW2 America.

Ah well, the little stuff people ignore when it comes to "war production", everybody likes the guns, tanks, and other things which roar or go boom and such.



So very true. In this PC age not alot realize how much smoking was a part of life back there. Even more so in the military. Of all countries!! :eek: LOL. I mentioned it and provided quite a bit of info and pics in the http://www.ww2f.com/...-mess-kits.html thread.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#16 36thID

36thID

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,052 posts

Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:58 AM

Excellent topic ! An amazing acomplishment considering the poor shape our defenses were in from 1940-1941. The US war production hit full stride right away. It really reflects the lost togetherness of that era. As a united front, our country pulled out a miracle. Now we were not getting bombed like the enemy and our allies so our country was able to produce an amazing ammount of goods and arms.

Had 6 uncles and 1 cousin that fought, my dad wanted to service but even though he was an great athelte, regrettfully he was deaf, so he helped manufacture rifes in St Louis for 4 years. After the war, that facility was retooled to make the Corvette.

Is there a web site that has old WW 2 war production plants ?

#17 Slipdigit

Slipdigit

    Good Ol' Boy

  • Administrators
  • 14,223 posts
  • LocationAlabama

Posted 03 February 2009 - 02:39 AM

Some production numbers:

All US numbers are for 1942-1945, other nations 1939-1945

The United States produced 165,422 aircraft of all types in 1944. Italy and Germany produced 209,556 the entire war.

US Crude steel production was only 18 million metric tons less than all other beligerants combined 334,000,000 vs 352,000,000 metric tons.

Oil production was 3.5 times all other beligerants combined. 833,000,000 metric tons vs 258,000,000.

Logistics, the bane of the What-Ifers. The US produced, by just a smudge, twice the number of trucks/lorries/wheeled transport than did the rest of the beligerants combined: 1,242,902 vs 2,382,311. This was done while building 737 BBs, CVs, CAs, DDs SSs, over 2700 Liberty Ships and around 1000 LSTs.

This is not to say the US did it alone, it just shows the force that could be built up and sustained, so that in concert with our Allies, the war was won.

Best Regards,  
JW :slipdigit:

SlidigitAxe.png


#18 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 03 February 2009 - 06:46 PM

Logistics, the bane of the What-Ifers. The US produced, by just a smudge, twice the number of trucks/lorries/wheeled transport than did the rest of the beligerants combined: 1,242,902 vs 2,382,311. This was done while building 737 BBs, CVs, CAs, DDs SSs, over 2700 Liberty Ships and around 1000 LSTs.


LOL. One of my favorite phrases there Jeff ;). Also the bane of those who only concentrate on the weapons and tactics of the war.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#19 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:10 AM

Excellent topic ! An amazing acomplishment considering the poor shape our defenses were in from 1940-1941. The US war production hit full stride right away. It really reflects the lost togetherness of that era. As a united front, our country pulled out a miracle. Now we were not getting bombed like the enemy and our allies so our country was able to produce an amazing ammount of goods and arms.

Had 6 uncles and 1 cousin that fought, my dad wanted to service but even though he was an great athelte, regrettfully he was deaf, so he helped manufacture rifes in St Louis for 4 years. After the war, that facility was retooled to make the Corvette.

Is there a web site that has old WW 2 war production plants ?


Found a couple but nothing about all of them yet LOL.

World War II Ordnance Plants - Encyclopedia of Arkansas

The Aerospace Industry During World War II

A Table of U.S. Airplane Factories in WW2 - Grumman, Curtiss-Wright, Bell, etc.

Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant: World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#20 brndirt1

brndirt1

    Saddle Tramp

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,709 posts

Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:55 PM

LOL. One of my favorite phrases there Jeff ;). Also the bane of those who only concentrate on the weapons and tactics of the war.


Hey there Robert, as I have mentioned in the past my "filing system" leaves much to be desired and it has taken me this long just to find this old link and make sure it is/was still active. Great site with excellent breakdown and synopsis of the "Big L (ogistics)" in WW2. If you already have them, ah well; others may not.:)

http://www.ibiblio.o...BigL/index.html

and by one of the contributing authors to the above:

http://www.ndu.edu/i...50/m50cont.html


Edited by brndirt1, 06 February 2009 - 08:57 PM.
forgot the URLs!!

Happy Trails,
Clint.

#21 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 07 February 2009 - 03:25 AM

Hey there Robert, as I have mentioned in the past my "filing system" leaves much to be desired and it has taken me this long just to find this old link and make sure it is/was still active. Great site with excellent breakdown and synopsis of the "Big L (ogistics)" in WW2. If you already have them, ah well; others may not.:)

HyperWar: The Big 'L'--American Logistics in World War II

and by one of the contributing authors to the above:

</title><meta name="CreatedBy" content="WP Internet Publisher 6.1"></head><BODY BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF"><title>McNair Paper 50, Contents


Thanks Clint. I did have the first one but not the second :).
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#22 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 09 February 2009 - 02:25 AM

Hey Clint? Would you know of any sources that would list the Munitions and Armaments factories during the War? What was produced and when?
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#23 brndirt1

brndirt1

    Saddle Tramp

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,709 posts

Posted 09 February 2009 - 05:05 PM

Hey Clint? Would you know of any sources that would list the Munitions and Armaments factories during the War? What was produced and when?


Wowsers, not off the top of my head. Seems like I have seen a list of them somewhere, but I'll be danged if I can recall where. Old-timers must be setting in more and more often! I check around in my old files and stuff and see if I can find something like that.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#24 brndirt1

brndirt1

    Saddle Tramp

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,709 posts

Posted 12 February 2009 - 09:38 PM

Another weird one; Who would have thought that egg overproduction would be a major problem in the US during the war years, at least it was in 1944! In May alone America’s patriotic hens set a new production record of 6,704,000,000 eggs.

See:

E Is for Egg - TIME

Happy Trails,
Clint.

#25 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:12 AM

Wowsers, not off the top of my head. Seems like I have seen a list of them somewhere, but I'll be danged if I can recall where. Old-timers must be setting in more and more often! I check around in my old files and stuff and see if I can find something like that.


LOL Same here. I thought I remembered you posting something about it. But I could be wrong LOL. And thanks for the Egg info LOL!!!!
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users