Time Capsule: Vintage Detroit Car Maker World War II Production Photos

As part of a larger story in its August 17, 1942 issue on strife within between Detroit’s car makers and their labor union member workers, Life magazine captured some excellent photographs of Motor City manufacturers in the midst of wartime production. The pictures, taken by staff photographer William Vandivert, captured a rare moment in modern American history — when the nation’s vast commercial manufacturing muscle was flexed to produce machinery (planes and bombers) for World War II.

Seen here are images from Ford, Chrysler, and Chevrolet plants in Detroit, Michigan. Click on any photo for a larger version.

Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
The exterior of the Chevrolet Gear and Axle plant, the union car on the street.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Ford aviation plant workers constructing a B-24 heavy bomber.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
The assembly line at the Chrysler tank arsenal changing over from M3 to M4 while the line continues moving.

Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Ford aviation plant workers constructing a B-24 heavy bomber.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Ford aviation plant workers constructing a B-24 heavy bomber.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
The exterior of the Ford aviation plant at night during a thunderstorm.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Workers on the assembly line at the Chrysler tank arsenal.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
The assembly line at the Chrysler tank arsenal.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Workers on the assembly line at the Chrysler tank arsenal gathering to be paid and told that the line is going down, and they’re being temporarily laid off.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Ford aviation plant workers constructing a B-24 heavy bomber.
Detroit car makers produce for World War II (1942)
Ford aviation plant workers constructing a B-24 heavy bomber.