On February 9th, 1942, Detroit automakers switched from civilian to wartime production.

It was 80 years ago today (February 9th,2022) that manufacturers in Detroit stopped producing civilian automobiles and made the switch to wartime production. During World War II, President Roosevelt made a "call to arm and support" the Allied Powers. In a December 1940 speech, President Roosevelt wanted Americans to stand up as the "arsenal of democracy" and begin producing weapons and vehicles of war to help the Allied Powers.

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As Detroit was one of the manufacturing capitals in the nations, the automobile industry transitioned into wartime production. On February 9th, 1942, Detroit auto manufacturers stopped producing civilian vehicles and began working on weapons and vehicles of war. Manufacturing companies from all over Detroit then started producing things such as jeeps, M3 and M4 tanks, guns, ammunition, helmets, and more for the war effort.

What was manufactured in Michigan for WWII?

During this time of wartime production, Michigan plants were making the following:

  • Army Helmets (91% of all the helmets were stamped in Detroit)
  • Half the tanks made in the United States were manufactured in Warren, MI by 1944.
  • A Ford plant in Willow Run produced one B-24 bomber every hour.

During this time the Pentagon even set up an annex in the Guardian Building in Detroit.

Canadians Man American Tanks
Getty Images

I find this stuff to be so fascinating and it is really cool to dive into the rich history of not only Detroit but Michigan as a whole. I am in no way a historical scholar, but learning things like this always makes me appreciate the state more as my life here goes on.

Source: Detroit Historical Society

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The plant was once capable of producing more than 350,000 car bodies each year and is credited with milestones like producing the first automobile airbag in 1974.

Since its demise in 1984, nearly every ounce of metal has been lifted from the facility for scrap, and what is left is a dirty, dingy haven for graffiti.

YouTuber Chosen Won gets credit for the photos, taken from a creepy walkthrough of the plant in September of 2021.

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