US Industrial Might In World War II By The Numbers

by Daniel Russ on July 24, 2011

There is no more incredible story in industry than the output of US workers and factories in World War II. I have written extensively about this. The manufacturing numbers we put out were a first for industry and have barely been bested. There is a thick historical context that runs throughout these numbers as well.

US WWII B-29 Superfortress Factory

In World War II, 10 million American men were drafted into the service.

In 1943, 2/3 of all US airmen who flew in combat died.

Although they didn’t know it at the time, these young men and women would never count as much as they would in the next four years. They would never do anything this important.

Blacks joined and fought with alacrity as they have in every war since the Revolution. One sixth  of George Washington’s Colonial Regulars were Black.

By 1944 each US soldier could draw upon up to 8,000 pounds of supplies. The Japanese? Only 4 pounds.

World War II Women Factory Workers Assembling 75mm Shells.

5,400,000 US troops deployed to Europe.

The D-Day invasion involved 5000 ships and 10,000 airplanes. The weather on D-Day was bad and close air support was in its infancy. The Americans got the worst of the injuries on Omaha Beach.

During World War II, 11,000 supermarkets opened in the United States.

2,000,000 American women went to work in factories.

US World War II Tank Factory 1942

In 1939 the GDP was $ 92,000,000.

In 1945 the GDP was $233,000,000. (Source Wiki)

A woman in a factory could earn $32 a week.

In the first 16 months of WWII, 12,500 US men died in accidents.

US Factories cranked out:

88,000 tanks

318,000 aircraft

7333 war ships

40 billion bullets

600,000 jeeps

By the end of WWII there was a jeep rolling off the assembly line every four minutes.

World War II A-20 Havoc Bomber Factory With Women Workers

We forget that no country ever poured out this much industrial might so fast. We armed ourselves and we armed our allies. Detroit stunned the world and so did the aircraft manufacturers on west coast. What really stunned the world was how fast we caught up to the Germans and the Japanese technically and in some cases surpassed them. It is unheard of and it seems like today, despite our size and our advanced technology, that if today’s USA would ever have to face the USA of 1939, we’d get our asses kicked.

Source: Overy, Richard, “Why the Allies Won (Paperback)”, W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (1997), The American Aircraft Factory In WWII, Bill Yenne, 2010., Wikipedia


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Griffith August 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

There is a photo with this caption “World War II Women Factory Workers Assembling 75mm Shells” on this page. These probably are 37 mm shells.

A 75 mm projectile is 3 inches in diameter, and unless the folks in the photo are all 11 or 12 feet tall, the projectiles in the photo, including the one in the young woman’s hand look more 37 mm in diameter to me.

Maybe my old eyes are playing tricks!

Anyway, I love photos of Americans on the home front, making all of the war materiel (from the relatively tiny .30-06 cartridges all the way up to the huge aircraft carriers that were manufactured in this time period) that my dad and his contemporaries used to defeat the Axis Powers in WWII.

Daniel Russ August 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

Thank you for reminding us and I will double check and make sure that I did not over state that.

Louis September 5, 2017 at 7:06 am

Although I can’t find it on the web, I seem to recall a quote from Churchill I think: There is no country as dangerous as a Democracy in Rightfull Anger. And the above shows just what he meant by that.

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