DURING WORLD WAR I, FORD BUILT "EAGLE" ANTI-SUBMARINE PATROL BOATS AT A NEW PLANT ON THE ROUGE RIVER.

Image of Eagle Boat 1 being launched at Ford's Rouge River Plant

While Henry Ford was an active proponent of peace, he lent his company’s support once it became clear the country was going to enter World War I. Using the same mass-production techniques that were perfected for its automobiles, the massive River Rouge Complex assembled Eagle Boats that were going to be used to hunt down German submarines.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY HAS A HISTORY OF HONORING THE MILITARY, STARTING WHEN HENRY FORD BEGAN TO HIRE DISABLED VETERANS RETURNING FROM WORLD WAR I.

Image of a war bond rally at the Ford Rouge Motor Building in 1944

This philosophy of inclusion made Ford one of the first companies to hire people with disabilities and adapt the work environment to their specific needs. Henry Ford also honored these veterans by organizing a caravan of 50 Model Ts to take them to a convention in San Francisco.

An old 1941 vintage Ford advertisement about the war effort

DURING WORLD WAR II, FORD MOTOR COMPANY SHUT DOWN CIVILIAN VEHICLE PRODUCTION TO DEDICATE ALL OF ITS RESOURCES TO ALLIED WAR EFFORTS.

We see workers assembling airplanes at the Willow Run Plant in 1943

Ford Motor Company repurposed its assembly lines to meet military manufacturing needs during World War II. Ford built the giant Willow Run Plant to produce B-24 Liberator bombers using an assembly line that was one-mile long. The plant produced its first bomber in May 1942 and made several hundred aircraft a month from then on.

A 1943 Ford military equipment advertisement about the war effort producing tanks
A Ford worker standing next to the fifteen thousandth tank engine produced in 1944

FORD MOTOR COMPANY ALSO REPURPOSED ITS RIVER ROUGE PLANT ASSEMBLY LINES TO PRODUCE AIRCRAFT ENGINES AND MILITARY VEHICLES DURING WORLD WAR II.

The last peacetime automobile rolled out of the massive River Rouge Plant in 1941. The focus was shifted to the wartime production of aircraft engines and military vehicles. The Rouge manufactured M-4 tanks through 1943 and continued producing M-4 engines and armor plates until the end of World War II.

Ford built amphibious vehicles driving in Rouge River in 1943

BY THE END OF THE WAR, FORD HAD BUILT 86,865 COMPLETE AIRCRAFT, 57,851 AIRPLANE ENGINES AND 4,291 MILITARY GLIDERS.

In addition to aircraft, Ford plants built 277,896 vehicles (tanks, armored cars and jeeps).

Henry Ford also enjoyed visiting his factories, even at the age of 81, and his frequent appearances were well known around the world. In 1944, The American Legion awarded Henry its Distinguished Service Medal for his contribution to the rehabilitation of veterans of both world wars.

A vintage 1945 Ford War Products Poster
A B 24 in natural finish flying over Detroit Michigan in 1944

WHEN MILLIONS OF MEN WENT OFF TO FIGHT IN WORLD WAR II, AN ARMY OF EVERYDAY HOUSEWIVES, MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS ANSWERED THE CALL AND TOOK OVER THE JOBS.

Everyone was asked to “Do Their Part.” These pioneering, industrial workers were collectively known as “Rosie the Riveter.” They took over the work that was once reserved for men and laid the groundwork for sweeping social change.

A group of Rosie the Riveters from World War 2 celebrate their contributions to the war effort