Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II
By John Fredrickson
John Frederickson has written an extraordinary new book on North American Aviation, one of the aircraft manufacturers whose aircraft filled the skies across the Pacific, European, and China-Burma-India theaters. Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II is supplemented by a collection of black-and-white and color photographs of North American Aviation’s factories, aircraft, and the people who built them. It is these photographs which supplement the author’s prose that showcase this home front history during wartime. The home front ‘comes alive’ in Warbird Factory. Frederickson’s 36-year career as a manager for Boeing enabled his access to photographs, company records, and history of North American Aviation (NAA).
Warbird Factory is far more than just another of book of airplane pictures, technical specifications, and diagrams however. What makes this new work unique and engrossing is the author’s research and writing of the company’s history which occurred before, during and after the war. He effectively retraces NAA’s origins to the automobile industry and General Motors Corporation (GM). As such, we now have previously unpublished history which details the ‘business side’ of the industry overall and rise of NAA before the war. I personally find the synergies which took place between the automobile industry and the fledgling airline industry of the 1920’s and 1930’s fascinating. I think you will too.
The primary aircraft of NAA in Warbird Factory are the B-25 Mitchell bomber and P-51 Mustang escort fighter. (NAA also designed and developed trainers—smaller aircraft utilized for training new pilots.) Scholars and students of the 1944 invasion of Normandy—D-Day—will be fascinated with Chapter 10’s “Eisenhower’s B-25.” NAA took a stock (brand new) B-25J and made modifications for an aircraft that could blend with most other B-25 Mitchell Bombers—with one exception. RB-25J(3), later designated VB-25J, was General Dwight Eisenhower’s personal aircraft to move him throughout France following the 6 June invasion and for one year thereafter. The Ellsworth Air Force Base Museum (South Dakota) is the final resting place for Eisenhower’s B-25J.
I could continue sharing more on Frederickson’s new contribution work but will conclude here. Check out this new book and discover the new history. Warbird Factory will have special appeal for historians and scholars of women’s roles on the home front. Those interested in the early years of the American automobile industry will also find this new book absorbing for its position and support to the aviation industry.