Author: Bill Yenne

ISBN 13: 978-0-7603-3913-8

Click Here To Purchase The American Aircraft Factory in World War II

That Bill Yenne is a readable author and passionate researcher has never been more clearly seen than in his book, The American Aircraft Factory in WWII. Filled with a plethora of photographs, the text offers readers reams of information regarding U.S. wartime plane production.

Yenne begins by detailing the industry’s beginnings, showing how the ideas of the Wright Brothers – “aeronautical geniuses but not entrepreneurs” – were taken by business people and transformed into an enterprise. But not very quickly: American aviation, Yenne points out, “barely made it into the game (of WWI)” but grew in the 1920’s with the rise of different plane manufacturers, companies about which Yenne provides pages of detailed information.

The main thrust of the book, obviously, is plane production during WWII, and Yenne dovetails information regarding the industry with then-current international events. For instance, prior to Pearl Harbor, some within US government wanted a build-up of American air power when they saw that the Luftwaffe (literally, “air weapon,” the name of Nazi Germany’s air force) was the focus and representation of Germany’s military strength. In the chapter entitled, “Backing into WWII,” Yenne explains that FDR requested congressional permission to create 50,000 planes on May 16, 1940, “two days after the Netherlands’ government fled in disarray [and] Hitler’s blitzkrieg was on the move and France teetered on the brink of collapse.”

Yenne obviously loves numbers and when placed within their historical context, they are often quite illuminating. For instance, he mentions that American aircraft factories produced 2,383 planes “in the last pre-Pearl Harbor quarter” but two years later, during the third quarter of 1943, 11,776 aircraft were created by US factories. And as the daughter of a young tail gunner who flew missions in several types of B-26’s rather late in the European theater, I was interested to learn from Yenne’s book that 1,883 B-26B’s were built in Baltimore and 1,210 B-26C’s in Omaha (and I also enjoyed viewing the photographs of partially-finished B-26’s included in the book).

Filling the page opposite the book’s introduction, there is an immensely appealing color photograph of a female aviation factory worker leaning on the inside of a partially-finished plane (one presumes), hair net in place, tool in hand, a stunning, red-lipped smile across her face, and a big wink for the camera. The caption mentions that the war’s “Rosie the Riveters” were the most well paid in the aviation sector and Yenne’s book is filled with a plethora of such photographs, many of them staged, some of them not obviously so.

It is photographs like these that provide the book with a general appeal for WWII aficionados but for those with a particular interest in US wartime aviation production, this detailed book is a must-read.

Click Here To Purchase The American Aircraft Factory in World War II