Saturday, March 26, 2016

World War II Scenes Around Chicagoland

Douglas Aircraft Company and Orchard Place Airport and Buick Built Aircraft Engines (including jets) were other Chicago area facilities built for WWII.

David M Laz posted
A view of the biggest industrial plant in the world, the Dodge Chicago Plant at 75th and Pulaski Road on Sept. 9, 1945. By 1950, the Ford Motor company would be making 28 cylinder Pratt and Whitney Wasp Major engines for use in Air Force planes. — Chicago Tribune historical photo
[Looking at a 1951 aerial map, it was actually between 72nd and 75th Streets and between Cicero and Kostner Avenues. Ford City Mall was built on this land when the plant was torn down.]

Gail Bob McCabe posted three photos with the comment:
I put these photos up three years ago as my dad was a "bubble-gunner" on a B-29 when he was in the Army Air Corps.  So, the history of the plant hit close to home.  
Someone had mentioned Ford City when referencing an ice cream place and it reminded me that before Ford City, the location included a couple of different enterprises.  After Pearl Harbor the U.S. Government decided to build a bunch of B-29's and chose that site for the engines to be built.  
When the war ended a guy named Tucker took it over to build his Tucker automobile.  He only produced 51 because of a bogus lawsuit by one or more of the big three auto makers.  Then Ford took over but it never came to anything after that until Ford City was built.  I seem to remember Tootsie Roll still has a place nearby.  Bob



(new window) "The manufacture at the Dodge Chicago Plant of Wright R-3350 engines for Boeing B-29 Superfortresses."

James Stein posted
Ford City 1960, photo scanned from my dad's collection


David M Laz posted
Workmen install pipe tunnels and an electrical substation at the Studebaker airplane engine factory at Cicero and Archer Avenues in Chicago in March 1941. — Chicago Tribune historical photo
David M Laz posted
On July 5, 1943 inside the Amertorp Torpedo Ordnance Corporation's $20,000,000 factory in Forest Park, Ill., row upon row of shiny torpedoes are turned out for the Navy. — Chicago Tribune historical photoJohn Paradiso U.S. torpedoes were bad. Frighteningly bad. More than half way through the war before the Bureau of Ordnance realized (admitted?) that our submariners were telling the truth and the exploding pins rarely worked as they were designed to.David Borck these torpedoes were nice and shiny ...and early in the war about 50% of them didn't work. they failed to explode! Not much use.
[It was at Roosevelt and Des Plaines. It is now another shopping area.]
David M Laz posted
USS Wolverine and Sable moored in Chicago during WW2.
David M Laz posted
USS Wolverine with Chicago skyline in back
David M Laz posted
Preparing for War in southern Grant Park in 1943
[This is probably what the skyline looked like since the roaring 20s and the building of the Prudential Building. The sky is rather clear for the 1940s. There must have been a wind blowing the coal smoke haze out of town.]


  1. Does anyone remember where, along Roosevelt Road was the Navy torpedo plant located? I think my buddy and I "trained" there in the late 50's

    1. The location is on Roosevelt road about 3 to 4 blocks west of Harlem ave (between Harlem and Desplaines aves) on the southside of Roosevelt.

  2. While the ultimate blame for those defective early torpedoes lay with the Navy's own Bureau of Ordnance (that refused to accept that the design had multiple flaws, due to minimal testing during development), most of the torpedoes in question had been made at the old Newport Torpedo Station in Rhode Island...they were a bureaucratized and stubborn workforce that refused to change anything they were doing, even under wartime pressures. Amertorp was an all-new facility with new equipment, new ideas, and (most importantly) a new workforce, and presented far fewer problems with personnel or production than did Newport. Needless to say, after the War ended, Newport was eliminated instead of Amertorp.