How Detroit Factories Retooled During WWII to Defeat Hitler

Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, would never forget the moment his boots hit the sand during Operation Overlord – the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944. Shortly after the landing, Ike visited the beaches, strewn with broken vehicles and bullet holes. It looked like a junk of dead machines – but also, proof that the war was won by the soldiers of the American work force, on assembly lines thousands of kilometers away.

“There was nothing in the war that impressed me as much with the industrial power of America as the wreckage of the landing beaches,” he recalls in his memoirs.

War is about value, heroism and sacrifice. But the story of victory Operation Overlord and war at large are also part of industrialism. World War II was, in large part, a contest between the Allied and Axis Powers to imagine ingenious war machines and mass produce them with unmatched speed.

The D-Day invasion, for example, used some 50,000 vehicles of all types, well over 5,000 ships and more than double that number of planes. There were amphibious trucks, tanks, four-wheel drive troop carriers, flame thrower armored cars, jeeps, fighter planes, bombers … No entity did more to produce these machines than the he American automobile industry, which at the time of World War II, had a larger economy than almost any foreign country on earth.

Here’s a look at how Detroit became the biggest war city of all.

GALLERY: The images that defined World War II

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