The scene above is somewhere in France in 1944, only days after D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, and these soldiers have driven deep behind the lines in their Dodge WC-56 command car. But did you know that Dodge’s contribution to the war effort went far beyond cars and trucks? Here’s more.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the big Dodge Main plant in Detroit was converted almost overnight to full-time military production. Working virtually nonstop, three shifts per day and seven days per week, the factory turned out thousands of cars, trucks, and engines for the armed forces. But due to its secure inland location and production capabilities, the plant was assigned a number of special projects as well.
Precision gyrocompasses, mobile radar antennas, and critical components for artillery guns and B-26 bombers were manufactured at Dodge Main. Employment at the big factory swelled from 20, 000 to over 40, 000 workers, the population of a medium-sized city, all working under one roof. To keep the assembly lines running, the plant had its own hospital, schools, and fire department.
In June of 1942, Dodge broke ground on another enormous plant, in Chicago—at the time of its construction, it was the single largest building in the world. The Dodge Chicago plant was designed from the ground up to produce engines for the giant B-29 Superfortress bomber. Each Superfortress required four huge and complex 18-cylinder, 2500-hp engines, and the program was given the highest strategic priority. Dodge Chicago set production records that still stand, and it is recognized by historians today for a number of historic achievements—for example, 75 percent of the plant’s workers were women.
The Dodge reconnaissance vehicle pictured above was specially built for combat use, but under its skin it was all Dodge—including its rugged six-cylinder engine, which came straight from a standard production car. To build your own Dodge, go to Dodge.com.