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Published on Mar 16, 2011
The Willow Run manufacturing plant (owned/operated by Ford Motor Company until 1946) began life in 1939 as a farm providing vocational training for young men under the name Camp Willow Run. Sensing the need for war production plans were already in motion to build an aircraft production plant. Farming was effectively removed in 1941 when construction on the plant ensued. The plant, as a whole, concentrated on the production of Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines, gliders, superchargers, and various avionics among other products. The main facility was completed on December 4, 1941, just days before the attack at Pearl Harbor. In addition, a full airstrip was constructed to facilitate testing of the finished bombers.
Willow Run reached peak output in 1944 which saw a complete B-24 Liberator leaving the assembly line every fifty five minutes. These completed aircraft were tested by on site air crews after final assembly. 8,685 complete B-24 Liberators were reportedly manufactured at the Willow Run plant accounting for roughly forty eight percent of the estimated 18,000 aircraft of this type produced during World War II.
Ford Motor Company sold the plant to Kaiser-Frazer in 1946 after which Kaiser produced various automobiles including the Henry J. Kaiser then sold the plant to General Motors in 1953. GM produced automobiles and transmission at the plant until late 2010 when operations were ceased.