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Willow Run Airplane Plant


Subdeacon Joe
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Willow Run.
I landed there on commercial airliners in 1950's.

In fact my first airplane ride was from Willow Run.

The Detroit City Airport on Gratiot Avenue

is fresh in my menory banks also.

 

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Almost unbelievable.

 

What can't they use those methods for General Aviation today to reduce costs by half?

 

Too many product liability lawsuits...that's why. 20 years ago the price of a new Cessna 172 had gone from $4000 to $12,000. The Cessna rep at Oshkosh told me it was all due to so many sue happy people and their lawyer's.

Case in point; a private pilot and wanna be airplane mechanic did his own engine rebuild. Installed it back in the 172 without having a certified mechanic check it all out and sign off on his work. He took off and about 30 minutes into the test flight the engine vibrated off and the plane made a rather significant hole in a grain field with him in it. Upon the NTSB investigation results, it seems he put it back in without safety wiring the engine mount bolts and nuts. His wife sued Cessna and the courts ruled in HER favor and Cessna had to pony up a rather large amount of money.

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Almost unbelievable.

 

What can't they use those methods for General Aviation today to reduce costs by half?

They could if the demand for the product was high enough to warrant production numbers as high as what was needed during war time.

 

When they quote a bomber being completed every hour, you have to understand that the production lines were huge. Every worker only did his particular job for I hour, then a new part/plane was in front of him. The work breakdown was so small that that thousands of workers and work stations were needed and they worked 24/7. During my aerospace career, I planned and setup a new assembly line for a US Navy jet, it was planned to support a production rate of 20 planes per month. Assembly tools, work stations and manpower was set up to support that number. If a higher rate was required, we just increased everything to support the new production rate.

 

It does go back the assembly methods pioneered by Henry Ford. those folks were very smart and we use some of their analytical methods today.

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They could if the demand for the product was high enough to warrant production numbers as high as what was needed during war time.

 

When they quote a bomber being completed every hour, you have to understand that the production lines were huge. Every worker only did his particular job for I hour, then a new part/plane was in front of him. The work breakdown was so small that that thousands of workers and work stations were needed and they worked 24/7. During my aerospace career, I planned and setup a new assembly line for a US Navy jet, it was planned to support a production rate of 20 planes per month. Assembly tools, work stations and manpower was set up to support that number. If a higher rate was required, we just increased everything to support the new production rate.

 

It does go back the assembly methods pioneered by Henry Ford. those folks were very smart and we use some of their analytical methods today.

 

 

Man, that's a lot of skull sweat. I don't want to try to think of all the things involved in that. The thousands of steps. My hat's off to you, sir.

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Man, that's a lot of skull sweat. I don't want to try to think of all the things involved in that. The thousands of steps. My hat's off to you, sir.

We used to call it "Work Breakdown structure". We broke down and analyzed every task and movement used and needed to do each task. It was given a time standard for performance. The standard was used for baseline work measurement. When a task became too great to be completed with the time allowed by schedule, another work station or worker was added.

 

Probably told you more than you wanted to know!! The analysis and skill needed to look at every small detail in the assembly process is complex. It took years for an engineer to be able to understand the relationship between what they designed and the ability to build that product in a timely manner within budget. I spent most of my 40 year career doing this.

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Thanks for posting, pretty cool stuff. From about 1982-1999 I did miscellaneous renovation design work at Air Force Plant #4 in Fort Worth Texas (then Lockheed Martin) when I was with an outside Architectural firm. Some of the plant base drawings I used were 1941 War Department used for its construction. They had an area just before you entered into the main assembly building from the admin building that had lots of photos of the plant in operation during the building of many different aircraft since its construction, with the first being the B-24. When I was there they were building the F-16, upgrading the F-111 and just starting on the F-22.

 

My Dad was a co-pilot on a B-24 in Italy late 1944 with the 450 Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force. He passed in 2005 however about 10 years before we went to see a flying B-24 that was on display at Meacham field in Fort Worth and he was thrilled. Somewhere I have a photo of him standing in front of the plane but haven’t been able to locate it. But I do have some from WWII that I’ll share here. So the B-24 is special to me!

 

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Edited by Cowtown Scout, SASS #53540 L
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We used to call it "Work Breakdown structure". We broke down and analyzed every task and movement used and needed to do each task. It was given a time standard for performance. The standard was used for baseline work measurement. When a task became too great to be completed with the time allowed by schedule, another work station or worker was added.

 

Probably told you more than you wanted to know!! The analysis and skill needed to look at every small detail in the assembly process is complex. It took years for an engineer to be able to understand the relationship between what they designed and the ability to build that product in a timely manner within budget. I spent most of my 40 year career doing this.

 

 

Nope, I find this kind of stuff fascinating. There is another video that I haven't been able to find again, that goes through how an aircraft plant was built for WWII. The order the shops and facilities were built, so some could start working to help support the construction of others. How to lay out the plant for maximum efficiency, etc. Mind boggling the details that have to be considered.

 

I work at a small design and machine shop. One of our customers does MIM for various gun makers. We do things like reaming or milling holes in locking blocks, sear housing, and the like. Now and then we get in a new part and have to come up with the process for doing the work. That's bad enough.

 

Once we got in a batch of rear sights that had been hardened before the screw hole had been tapped. It was a part we had run before, but not for about a year or two. No problem, change the feeds and speeds, use a higher quality tap and change it more often (I think it was a 5-40 tap). Broke 10 taps. They had forgotten to tell us that the part was about .015" longer. Which offset the hole to be tapped. It still fit the fixtures just fine. But because the hole was moved. the taps had to bend to get into the hole. Taps don't bend. Now, when we get something like that I remember to ask "Is this the same as drawing #XYZ, Rev. D?"

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