A Veterans Day tribute in vintage photography of General Motors’ support for “The great arsenal of democracy”
It was Dec. 29, 1940, when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned of the impending wartime threat to national security. In a radio broadcast, he galvanized the country when he used the term “Arsenal of Democracy” and urged preparations.
According to Wikipedia, it was nearly a year before the United States would enter the Second World War (1939-1945.) Nevertheless, Roosevelt’s address was a call to arms for supporting the Allies in Europe in total war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
The Allied War Effort
“The great arsenal of democracy” came to specifically refer to the industry of the U.S. as the primary supplier of material for the Allied war effort.
Roosevelt promised help to the United Kingdom to fight Nazi Germany. The U.S. would sell the U.K. military supplies while the United States stayed out of the actual fighting. The president announced that intent a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941), when Germany had occupied much of Europe and threatened Britain.
The arsenal for support came from more than 40 U.S. industries. Among the transportation manufacturers were:
- General Motors: trucks, tanks, and aircraft parts
- Ford Motor Co.: trucks and aircraft
- Chrysler: tanks, electronics, and trucks
- Packard: aircraft engines
- Nash-Kelvinator: parts
- Studebaker: trucks
- Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.: tires
- International Harvester: trucks
- Convair (San Diego-based): aircraft
- Caterpillar Inc.: tanks
- Allis-Chalmers: parts
GM Wartime Support
On this Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2021, I found these General Motors’ wartime photos.
GM has supported the U.S. military since 1917 when 90 percent of its truck production went toward WWI manufacturing. During WWII, GM converted all of its plant facilities to support the “Arsenal of Democracy.”
GM claims to have produced more U.S. military vehicles than any manufacturer in history.
Between 1942 and 1945, GM’s Chevrolet division manufactured:
- 60,000 Pratt & Whitney bomber and cargo plane engines;
- 500,000 trucks;
- 8 million artillery shells;
- 3,000 90mm cannon barrels;
- 1 million tons of aluminum forgings;
- 1 million tons of gray-iron castings;
- 2,850 tons of magnesium forgings, and;
- 3,800 T-17 Staghound armored scout cars.