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The Dodge Chicago Aircraft Engine Plant was a World War II defense plant that built the majority of the B-29 bomber aircraft engines used in World War II.

The plant design was initiated by automotive plant designer Albert Kahn and his company. The plant is seen[by whom?] as an influential design landmark of American industrial manufacturing facilities. The main building of the Dodge Chicago plant covered eighty-two acres and occupied over 30 city blocks and at the time it was the largest building in the world. Although Mr. Kahn died prior to the completion of the project, he was influential in the innovative design that efficiently utilized precious war time materials used in its construction. Albert Khan had extensive underground tunnels dug as to facilitate foot and supply traffic. These tunnels span the width and breadth of the plant in a tic-tac-toe pattern. As characteristic for industrial plants of the day, wooden block floors were placed for ergonomic reasons. These floors were cemented over in Ford City, and only recently had to the removed from TRI (candy maker Tootsie Roll Industries) as hosting a potential health hazard. The Belt Line Railroad shunted lines into the plant, which to this day evidence of the rails remain. Construction of the plant was started in 1942, and it was in full operation by early 1944.

sectionalized view of a Wright - Cyclone engine

The B-29 Superfortress Bomber was used in the strategic bombing campaign of Japan. It was the largest American aircraft to see service in World War II. Each B-29 Superfortress utilized four of the massive Wright R-3350 - Cyclone 18-cylinder 2,200 horsepower (1,600 kW) engines built at the Dodge Chicago Plant. There were nearly 4000 of these aircraft produced when the B-29 was retired from service in the 1960s. which made it a most labor intensive operation. Many firsts in industry took place there. Chemist Lencke produced Z-max lubricant. 75% of the employees were women, 1 to 2 percent of whom were African Americans.[1] The Dodge Chicago plant marked an all-time high water mark of cooperation and success between the efforts of the American government, industry, and labor.[citation needed] It also set an early standard for providing an environment of racial and ethnic cooperation and tolerance. After the war, a lease for the plant was awarded to the Tucker Car Corporation and later utilized by several automobile manufacturers including Ford Motor Company. Tootsie Roll Industries moved into a vacated portion of the plant in 1967. To this day, TRI uses these tunnels for archives and storage as well as locker rooms, as Ford City uses them for a strip of boutiques.[2] The plant was constructed near South Cicero Avenue and 72nd Street in Chicago's West Lawn community. To this day, portions of its buildings still house what is now the Ford City Mall and Tootsie roll factory.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Jack Kay: Kilo-Quad Tucker treasure; Booksurge 2009
  2. Jack: Kilo-quad /Tucker Treasure: Booksurge; Nov.9 2009 9781439250693)

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 41°45′31″N 87°43′55″W / 41.75861°N 87.73194°W / 41.75861; -87.73194

Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2013, ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY, by Jerome M. O'Connor, www.historyarticles.com

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