More than other subject, the issue of transportation of combat supplies was also a major focus of wartime supply efforts. In much the same way as Germany and Japan, the Americans also made their railroad system the mainstay of material transportation during World War II and tied it closely to the development of the military, although there was no sign of this cooperation until the incoming General Marshall was determined to expand the strength of the U.S. Army. In fact, the United States had an excellent rail network, but a shortage of freight trains meant the country was still operating at full capacity in November 1939. When Roosevelt announced the creation of the Defense Transportation Service on December 18, 1941, and the America’s disorganized transportation efforts were fundamentally reversed. At the same time, the construction of railroad locomotives and freight cars was urgently begun in the second half of 1940; and with 180,000 railroad transfer stations in the United States, it was possible to get any raw material or war material on a train and deliver it to any corner of the United States within a maximum of 14 kilometers, even if it took less than five days to transport lumber from the Rocky Mountains to naval repair yards on the east and west coasts of the United States. it would take less than five days. It was with this constant flow of fresh blood that the Americans were able to get their wartime production efforts up and running.
This poster gives an exhaustive set of figures: 72% rail transport, 11% Great Lakes shipping, 10% supply line transmission, 4.5% truck transport plus 2.5% inland water transport. Throughout 1943, 1 trillion tons/mile was transported between cities alone, and of that amount, 730 billion tons/mile was transported by rail, almost three-quarters of the total. When Lieutenant General Brien Somervell, who was in charge of the U.S. Army’s munitions supply, made a site visit to the General Motors industrial area in Michigan in 1944, he left this comment: “Hitler was at a disadvantage in this race with us when he decided to start his war wagon; and when he is now stake all on one throw to put his war four-wheeled He did not realize that we were already well prepared for the other race which he was trying to win.
In the late 1920s, the United States experienced a severe economic crisis, which caused General Motors to stumble in its development and operation: the external economic recession was severe, internal management was in crisis, the automobile market was sluggish, and the company’s revenue was very little. Alfred P. Sloan, then executive vice president of GM, was tasked to overhaul and transform the company at a time of crisis. After adopting Sloan’s concept of decentralized operation under the control of a unified and coordinated centralized policy to replace the previous concept of individual branches, GM miraculously came out of the doldrums and regained its strength. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, GM’s industrial technology was effectively applied to the military, and production orders began to come in. Under Sloan’s effective organization, the various branches of GM began to gradually burst forth with great production energy.
In February 1942, the Fischer Body Works was the first to stop production of civilian vehicles and began assembly of the Sherman tank in its Flint manufacturing plant. Pontiac company’s war mobilization was earlier than Fisher Body Works, as they produced the first naval anti-aircraft gun for the U.S. Navy nine months before the outbreak of Pearl Harbor, and the torpedo weapons on the Navy torpedo planes were also completed by the company; Cadillac’s main production direction was to build tanks and various military trucks for the Army; while Oldsmobile was not directly involved in the production of large combat weapons. Although Oldsmobile is not directly involved in the production of large combat weapons, but the U.S. Army used all kinds of artillery shells, air combat aircraft on the gun, aero-engine parts and up to the military machinery castings are also completed by the plant production; compared to these companies, the two larger Chevrolet and Buick, the former is not only the Grumman aircraft manufacturing subcontractor, but also all kinds of guns and ammunition, artillery parts and aero-engine main Buick produced tens of millions of magazines for the U.S. Army throughout World War II and key aero-engine components for the B-24 bomber manufacturer, in addition to the M18 Hellcat tank destroyer, all from the plant’s production line.
Between 1940 and 1945, GM’s 113,000 employees created $12.3 billion worth of defense materials for this country. Throughout World War II, GM built 854,000 trucks of all types, 206,000 aero engines, 198,000 diesel engines, 38,000 armored tanks and 13,000 combat aircraft for the U.S. Army, and more munitions than can be accurately counted.
This is a corner of the shop floor at the Willow Run, Michigan, aircraft assembly plant. This General Motors assembly plant took only five months to build and open, and it produced one B-24 bomber per hour during the war at a rate unmatched by many plants.
As the leading domestic production company during the war, GM naturally kept its employees informed and motivated that they were also the protagonists in the war and that the quantity and quality of production could change the pattern of the war. To this end, GM designed numerous posters with concise and powerful messages asking workers to increase production and efficiency so that the country could win the war.
Looking at the posters of General Motors, it simply feels like looking through a brief history of World War II; therefore, here specially selected dozens of, let us through this one poster full of expression tension, from a special perspective to re-visit the war.