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The Arsenal of Democracy
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On the Home Front
Conversion!

Where the assembly lines used to be, one sees swarms of workers ripping out overhead conveyor systems, uprooting old machines, rushing discarded equipment to snow-covered parking lots. . . . Old machines are hauled to repair shops and, wherever possible, adapted to war use.

The New York Times, March 1, 1942

Woman checking shells. Photo: Archives of MichiganAfter Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered auto manufacturers to stop producing cars for domestic use. The last cars rolled off the assembly lines in early 1942 as Michigan auto makers converted their factories to make war products such as ambulances, tanks, trucks, Jeeps, bombers, guns, engines and ammunition.

It does not take long — in Michigan — to realize you are on a real battle front. The industrial sections roar with machinery.

National Geographic, December 1944

Detroit ranked number one in the nation in war production. The Detroit metropolitan area produced 70% of Michigan's total output.

Automakers dominated war production, but hundreds of other Michigan industries converted from peacetime to wartime manufacturing to support the war effort.

The Arsenal of Democracy gallery includes a computer interactive program. By touching a map of Michigan on the video screen, visitors find Michigan manufacturers who converted their factories to produce war matériel. Artifacts and/or photos for some of the products mentioned in the program can also be seen in the exhibit. To read about them, click on the links below:


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