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Clave
04-13-2011, 06:24 AM
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress entered service in 1938 with the USAAC, it was a four-engined heavy bomber which evolved rapidly during WW2.

The early versions of the Fortress were not very successful, but rapid development of the 'E' 'F' and 'G' models made a huge difference to the survivability and and effectiveness of the aircraft and it became renowned for it's ability to take heavy battle damage.

The Fortress was armed with up 13 x 12.7mm machine guns (B-17G) and carried a 8,000 lb bomb load as standard for short range missions.

B-17G (Fortress III) of 214 Squadron RAF 1944.
This is a RCM (Radio Countermeasures) aircraft.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_GB_214Sqn_1.jpg

B-17G of the 4th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_4BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 324th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1944.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_324BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 336th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_336BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 340th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1944.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_340BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 358th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_358BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 364th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1944.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_364BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 414th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1944.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_414BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 418th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1943.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_418BS_1.jpg

Clave
04-13-2011, 06:24 AM
B-17G of the 509th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1944.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_509BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 533rd Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_533BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 535th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1944.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_535BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 601st Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_601BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 615th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_615BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 835th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_835BS_1.jpg

B-17G of the 837th Bomb Squadron USAAF 1945.

http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/boeing_b17/B17G_USA_837BS_1.jpg

skorzeny57
04-13-2011, 02:59 PM
Clave,
the quality of your work is really impressive! Thanx for sharing... :)

VonWeyer
04-14-2011, 01:30 AM
Excellent as always Clave!!!

Wittmann
07-03-2013, 11:28 PM
Great pictures Clave,

I had a restored Yankee Lady B-17G fly over my property a few times on June 2013, I'm in the local airport flight path. The sound of those engines above is both fascinating and scary.

The local paper reported that during one of flights a local WW2 B17 Bomber vet was aboard.

Yankee Lady B17G You Tube Vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVpatrZzOvs


I think in memory of James Shuttleworth, many of these old WW2 planes still visit the area.

http://www.mustangsmustangs.com/p-51/p51news/shuttleworth_022003.shtml

Wittmann
07-05-2013, 10:25 PM
I was wrong, there were actually four local WW2 Vets who were able to take a ride on the Yankee Lady.

Wilbert L. "Curly" Seibold, Robert L. Randol, Dean A. Gressley and Don E. Baer were treated to the flight on Friday, June 21, through the efforts of Mayor Brooks Fetters, the Huntington County Veterans Service Office, Huntington County Veterans Council and two private donors. Seibold and Randol are both former prisoners of war.

Here's the link : http://www.huntingtoncountytab.com/community/22849/4-area-world-war-ii-vets-get-b-17-ride-gift

Here is the website for the B-17G Yankee Lady:

http://www.yankeeairmuseum.org/b17_flying_fortress.php

I thought it was good story.

royal744
07-08-2013, 05:22 PM
These were taken at the Tucson Air & Space Museum last year. Enjoy.
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royal744
07-08-2013, 08:26 PM
These were taken in 2010 at Stinson Field in San Antonio. This B-17 was in flying condition.
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royal744
07-08-2013, 08:39 PM
These also from Stinson Field in San Antonio:

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bonzelite
07-12-2013, 02:30 AM
Beautiful artwork for a beautiful plane. WW2 bombers, particularly the Allied designs, are among the most gorgeous planes ever created.

Wittmann
07-12-2013, 09:54 PM
Thanks for the pictures royal744.

Bonzelite, I agree they are very beautiful planes. It's almost impossible to imagine what the crews went thru during their missions.

I need to visit the Dayton Air and Space Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Its not that far from me.

bonzelite
07-13-2013, 12:12 AM
Thanks for the pictures royal744.

Bonzelite, I agree they are very beautiful planes. It's almost impossible to imagine what the crews went thru during their missions.

I need to visit the Dayton Air and Space Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Its not that far from me.

Yes I started becoming interested in WW2 bombers recently and have been avidly watching documentaries quite regularly. The beauty is juxtaposed with such horror and heroism--very hard to grasp in real terms being merely an armchair hobbyist as I have become. The call to duty and living that out as the crew is traveling over land and sea to the targets cannot be put into words. And then the intensity of air battle thereafter... it must have been unreal.

It's also somewhat tragic furthermore that most of these magnificent machines were nearly 90% scrapped and rendered extinct forevermore, with only a scant few flying and on display in museums. Out of tens of thousands made only a few score are extant. That seems wrong. These are among some of the finest and most beautiful planes ever created and they were nearly all earnestly destroyed just minutes after the war ended.

royal744
07-13-2013, 12:53 PM
They are beautiful, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder and wasn't the point which was to drop bombs. Even with the formidable defensive armor of the B-17, it generally was not enough to withstand the determined assault of the Luftwaffe which shot these planes down in huge numbers. Bombing accuracy was not good either. The famed Norden bombsight failed to deliver. I forget the statistics, but the Strategic American Bombing Survey conducted following the war determined that a very small percentage of bombs released actually hit their targets. The English already knew this and resorted to area bombing at night which was akin to using a hand grenade to kill an ant. The Mustang eventually saved the day for the B-17 by providing cover all the way to Germany and back. Goering, seeing the Mustangs over Berlin, concluded with, "I knew then that the war was lost."

bonzelite
07-13-2013, 01:29 PM
They are beautiful, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder and wasn't the point which was to drop bombs. Even with the formidable defensive armor of the B-17, it generally was not enough to withstand the determined assault of the Luftwaffe which shot these planes down in huge numbers. Bombing accuracy was not good either. The famed Norden bombsight failed to deliver. I forget the statistics, but the Strategic American Bombing Survey conducted following the war determined that a very small percentage of bombs released actually hit their targets. The English already knew this and resorted to area bombing at night which was akin to using a hand grenade to kill and ant. The Mustang eventually saved the day for the B-17 by providing cover all the way to Germany and back. Goering, seeing the Mustangs over Berlin, concluded with, "I knew then that the war was lost."

From my cursory knowledge of the bombing campaigns of the Allies over Europe, the accuracy and survival rate improved as the war went into its later stages. The Americans were the daytime/tactical bombing element and the British were the night shift/area bombing aspect--which amounted to a 24 hour daily regimen of bombing Germany.

After a time, the Americans, too, began area bombing and targeting civilians directly as the war matured (Dresden is the example that sticks out). From my understanding, the sheer numbers of planes available and replaced by the Allied forces overwhelmed the Luftwaffe despite Germany's myriad technical advantages in aerial combat. Germany's technical edge began to diminish in relevance as their Luftwaffe wasn't replaced at the pace of the Allied planes.

Evidently the United States adopted the Henry Ford mass assembly line ethos of bomber and fighter production, outpacing and outnumbering in units all of the Allied country's rate of plane production combined. Also the Luftwaffe failed to coordinate their radar tracking systems which, despite their superior radar, left them without the intelligence gathering of the Allies whose radar systems were inferior but much more coordinated and made into a "system."

And then there are the various individual models of bombers and fighters that each brought strengths and weaknesses to the battlespace. For example, the B-17 is perhaps the most famous and good looking of the bombers, with the B-25 as a strong competitor in that regard, whilst the B-26 is the "black sheep" of the bombers which was plagued with technical issues in its development cycle even though once worked out was more "capable" than the 17 or 25.

This is all very endlessly fascinating :) I'm avidly learning more and more about it every day. And I thank forums like this one for the great content. :lol:

bonzelite
07-13-2013, 02:18 PM
I found these flight simulator/documentary style personal mini-movies about WW2 air battles on YouTube. Here are a couple:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=69sswO0WTFU

"A flight simulator movie based on a short story written by Colonel Merle Fister, USAF, retired. It's about a mission that he flew on June 6th, 1944. The movie is narrated by Col. Fister."
----------------
JG 52's Messerschmitt vs B-17

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThAO8axuhsA

royal744
07-15-2013, 04:46 PM
Actually, my favorite bomber in the looks department is the Lancaster. There was only one bomber that was mass-produced on the Detroit model and that was the B-24 line at Ford's Willow Run plant in Dearborn, MI, although when viewed in the light of every other country's airframe production, they all looked like mass production. It might not be so hard to outpace other countries' production when yours is immune from air attack, has access to huge manpower and natural resources and where one's transportation systems are pristine. The Mosquito is another favorite because it was very fast, had a long range and was clad in plywood(!) because steel or aluminum were in short supply.

bonzelite
07-15-2013, 07:21 PM
Actually, my favorite bomber in the looks department is the Lancaster.

I like that one, too. The Landcaster is brutishly elegantly ugly-beautiful. It's awesome to behold. And my favorite is the B-24 actually. I have a soft spot for that one. I'd launch a search and recover mission to find another restorable B-24.


There was only one bomber that was mass-produced on the Detroit model and that was the B-24 line at Ford's Willow Run plant in Dearborn, MI, although when viewed in the light of every other country's airframe production, they all looked like mass production.

Agree and I will add that I consider they were all mass-produced, assembly line style particularly after Dec 7, 1941, regardless of where they were made. The number of units made outpaced all allied countries' output combined. I don't think they had to be made literally by an automotive manufacturer the be deemed assembly line mass-produced.

http://www.taphilo.com/history/WWII/USAAF/Boeing/B17/index.shtml

Regardless, I think that drastically (if not solely) nailed the coffin shut on the axis powers as the German infrastructure's ability to keep pace and recover failed miserably. I think Hitler underestimated, out of pure ego and ideology, the capacity of the United States' manufacturing capability and national resolve. He was out of his depth.


It might not be so hard to outpace other countries' production when yours is immune from air attack, has access to huge manpower and natural resources and where one's transportation systems are pristine.

Hence, Hitler's hubris. No doubt the German's were a formidable adversary. They brought a lot to the table to overcome on the battlefield, be it sky, land, or sea. But their momentum was unsustainable in hindsight. Once one loses momentum their tempo drops and it's incredibly hard to get initiative back. Any chess player will attest to this brutal reality.


The Mosquito is another favorite because it was very fast, had a long range and was clad in plywood(!) because steel or aluminum were in short supply.

Yes I think that was a British plane. I learned about that plane last week. It's a great looking plane and I did a double take to make sure I heard it correctly: that is indeed made of wood.

Another thing that was surprising to learn (but made sense after I pondered it) was the Wellington bomber with its canvas coated fuselage made of geodesics. It made for an incredibly airworthy airframe under flak conditions.

There is a great documentary about the one they found and raised and restored from Loch Ness--you probably have long since seen it.

pdf27
07-16-2013, 04:43 AM
Agree and I will add that I consider they were all mass-produced, assembly line style particularly after Dec 7, 1941, regardless of where they were made.
Not at all. You can get big production in a factory by throwing skilled craftsmen at it (to some extent the system the British used), but that isn't mass production. To understand the difference I'd suggest starting by reading up on W Edwards Deming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming).


Yes I think that was a British plane. I learned about that plane last week. It's a great looking plane and I did a double take to make sure I heard it correctly: that is indeed made of wood.
It's probably better to think of it as an early composite aircraft. Wood is very broadly cellulose fibres in a lignin matrix, while fibreglass is glass fibres in a resin matrix. The high strength comes by aligning the fibres with the load, which De Havilland did by using thin plywood and good design.
On a strength for weight basis, wood can actually outperform aluminium in some circumstances - the reason it was dropped was the difficulty in mass-producing wooden aircraft. De Havilland partially solved this problem by moulding the plywood into concrete moulds, removing some of the skill from the process, but mass production was only really possible because wartime had created a surplus of skilled woodworkers. it is notable that their last wooden design (the Hornet) was also their last wartime one...

bonzelite
07-16-2013, 12:52 PM
Not at all. You can get big production in a factory by throwing skilled craftsmen at it (to some extent the system the British used), but that isn't mass production. To understand the difference I'd suggest starting by reading up on W Edwards Deming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming).

I imagine we are considering terms differently. For example, I can generate on a daily basis probably 300 paper airplanes in my bedroom (or more, maybe 700) were I so focused to do so. I will not be in a factory, I will not have any employees, there will be no conveyor belts or tooled production lines making components. But I will be mass-producing paper airplanes. Apparently that will not be "mass production" per your position.

I read the Wiki Deming page and it doesn't explain very clearly what the results of his philosophy were insofar as WW2 production, only stating that:

"He worked with H.F. Dodge, A.G. Ashcroft, Leslie E. Simon, R.E. Wareham, and John Gaillard in the compilation of the American War Standards (American Standards Association Z1.1–3 published in 1942)[12] and taught statistical process control (SPC) techniques to workers engaged in wartime production. Statistical methods were widely applied during World War II, but faded into disuse a few years later in the face of huge overseas demand for American mass-produced products."

What were the results and physical shape and working model for his "statistical process control (SPC) techniques to workers engaged in wartime production"? Is it the room full of craftsmen that you speak of? Regardless, the sheer numbers of units they produced that eclipsed all nations on Earth were not mass-produced? What would you call it?


[QUOTE=pdf27;189299]It's probably better to think of it as an early composite aircraft. Wood is very broadly cellulose fibres in a lignin matrix, while fibreglass is glass fibres in a resin matrix. The high strength comes by aligning the fibres with the load, which De Havilland did by using thin plywood and good design.

On a strength for weight basis, wood can actually outperform aluminium in some circumstances - the reason it was dropped was the difficulty in mass-producing wooden aircraft. De Havilland partially solved this problem by moulding the plywood into concrete moulds, removing some of the skill from the process, but mass production was only really possible because wartime had created a surplus of skilled woodworkers. it is notable that their last wooden design (the Hornet) was also their last wartime one...

It's still mind-boggling and counter-intuitive to realize that there were wooden warplanes sent into battle in WW2. But considering the aforementioned it has sound logic.

royal744
07-17-2013, 01:15 PM
Actually, it took Ford quite while to establish their mass-production line because they had to rationalize and reduce the parts needed to where they could be assembled in a continuous, logical production process. The B-24 prototype on which the line was based was not produced in this way, of course. However, once it started production it was formidable as to quantity and quality. The planes literally emerged from the production line and were flown off on a runway at the end of it. I believe the Willow Run plant employed mostly women.

bonzelite
07-17-2013, 02:18 PM
Actually, it took Ford quite while to establish their mass-production line because they had to rationalize and reduce the parts needed to where they could be assembled in a continuous, logical production process. The B-24 prototype on which the line was based was not produced in this way, of course. However, once it started production it was formidable as to quantity and quality. The planes literally emerged from the production line and were flown off on a runway at the end of it. I believe the Willow Run plant employed mostly women.
It would be cool if that plant still existed today, with planes inside of it staged "frozen" on the production line at each phase of assembly. It would be a unique museum. http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/04/29/willow-run-assembly-plant-faces-the-wrecking-ball/

pdf27
07-18-2013, 01:45 AM
"He worked with H.F. Dodge, A.G. Ashcroft, Leslie E. Simon, R.E. Wareham, and John Gaillard in the compilation of the American War Standards (American Standards Association Z1.1–3 published in 1942)[12] and taught statistical process control (SPC) techniques to workers engaged in wartime production. Statistical methods were widely applied during World War II, but faded into disuse a few years later in the face of huge overseas demand for American mass-produced products."

What were the results and physical shape and working model for his "statistical process control (SPC) techniques to workers engaged in wartime production"? Is it the room full of craftsmen that you speak of? Regardless, the sheer numbers of units they produced that eclipsed all nations on Earth were not mass-produced? What would you call it?

OK, here's a crash course in manufacturing engineering. Any machine more complex than a hammer is going to have parts that fit together. There are three main ways of doing this.
1) Making the design with big gaps in it so it can take parts with a wide variation in sizes (the variation in size is known as a "tolerance"). This is by and large the Soviet route - you get high production and what you make is very robust, but the design is forced to be pretty crude.
2) Making the design with small gaps in it and then modifying the parts until they all fit together. This is largely the British and German method (as a hybrid with (1) above). This allows much more sophisticated designs than the Soviet model, but requires both higher skill levels and many more man hours. It's effectively a cottage industry way of building things.
3) Making all the parts exactly the right size, so that they fit together first time every time. There are two ways of doing this:
- Measuring every single part and fettling them until they're the right size. The British and Germans did this occasionally, so every machine required a skilled operator.
- Measuring a statistically significant sample of parts and adjusting the machine until they all come out right first time. This means you don't need a skilled operator on the machine, nor is the process flow interrupted while you're measuring the parts. That was Deming's idea, and a stroke of genius it was too.

Postwar, US industry largely went back to method (1) as they had prewar. Cost is about the same (assuming you don't care about quality). The advantage of Deming's method is that the quality goes up (to beyond the level possible using method (2), typically) without really affecting cost, while the skill level required actually goes down. Deming went to Japan, where their car industry treated him with something approaching awe. The Deming Prize has been awarded in Japan since 1951 for advances in quality improvement - and this quality is why Japanese carmakers were able to largely take over the world car market starting in the 1970s.

bonzelite
07-18-2013, 03:02 AM
OK, here's a crash course in manufacturing engineering. Any machine more complex than a hammer is going to have parts that fit together. There are three main ways of doing this.
1) Making the design with big gaps in it so it can take parts with a wide variation in sizes (the variation in size is known as a "tolerance"). This is by and large the Soviet route - you get high production and what you make is very robust, but the design is forced to be pretty crude.
2) Making the design with small gaps in it and then modifying the parts until they all fit together. This is largely the British and German method (as a hybrid with (1) above). This allows much more sophisticated designs than the Soviet model, but requires both higher skill levels and many more man hours. It's effectively a cottage industry way of building things.
3) Making all the parts exactly the right size, so that they fit together first time every time. There are two ways of doing this:
- Measuring every single part and fettling them until they're the right size. The British and Germans did this occasionally, so every machine required a skilled operator.
- Measuring a statistically significant sample of parts and adjusting the machine until they all come out right first time. This means you don't need a skilled operator on the machine, nor is the process flow interrupted while you're measuring the parts. That was Deming's idea, and a stroke of genius it was too.

Postwar, US industry largely went back to method (1) as they had prewar. Cost is about the same (assuming you don't care about quality). The advantage of Deming's method is that the quality goes up (to beyond the level possible using method (2), typically) without really affecting cost, while the skill level required actually goes down. Deming went to Japan, where their car industry treated him with something approaching awe. The Deming Prize has been awarded in Japan since 1951 for advances in quality improvement - and this quality is why Japanese carmakers were able to largely take over the world car market starting in the 1970s.

So I infer from your very good breakdown of the processes is that the Deming method promotes an automated assembly line process with a minimum of people involved in tweaking anything. The human element is removed and the machine pumps out the blueprinted widgets. Is this correct? If so then how is this not mass-production? If I still fail to understand your position then please excuse my ignorance.

Moreover it is ironic that an American went to Japan and taught them quality.

pdf27
07-18-2013, 04:10 AM
More or less. Humans are still involved, but the whole process is de-skilled while improving the consistency of the output. This reduces the chance of mistakes being made, and hence means that the final product will be of better quality. Under the Deming-style process humans still usually slot the thing together, but it goes together correctly first time every time.

Deming going to Japan is the reason that most manufacturing buzzwords are either directly in Japanese (Kaizen, Kanban) or developed in Japan and known under other names (Six Sigma, Five S). Most of them are either pretty obvious when you think about it, but nobody did before Deming and the Japanese were the only ones to really pay attention. The Japanese are still the best in the world at it by some margin - other places can manufacture as efficiently, but overall nobody else does lean design/design for manufacture anywhere nearly as well.

bonzelite
07-19-2013, 12:21 AM
More or less. Humans are still involved, but the whole process is de-skilled while improving the consistency of the output. This reduces the chance of mistakes being made, and hence means that the final product will be of better quality. Under the Deming-style process humans still usually slot the thing together, but it goes together correctly first time every time.

Deming going to Japan is the reason that most manufacturing buzzwords are either directly in Japanese (Kaizen, Kanban) or developed in Japan and known under other names (Six Sigma, Five S). Most of them are either pretty obvious when you think about it, but nobody did before Deming and the Japanese were the only ones to really pay attention. The Japanese are still the best in the world at it by some margin - other places can manufacture as efficiently, but overall nobody else does lean design/design for manufacture anywhere nearly as well.
Great info.

It's still counter-intuitive and misleading about the Japanese quality ethos--as it was created by an American! And this quality paradigm/mindshare has been used against American manufacturing for decades!

pdf27
07-19-2013, 10:52 AM
And this quality paradigm/mindshare has been used against American manufacturing for decades!
The perils of being the best in the world - the temptation to stay fat, dumb and happy instead of innovating your arse off is ever present. That, ultimately, is what killed the US car industry. Thankfully other sectors weren't so badly complacent.

Nickdfresh
07-19-2013, 02:21 PM
The perils of being the best in the world - the temptation to stay fat, dumb and happy instead of innovating your arse off is ever present. That, ultimately, is what killed the US car industry. Thankfully other sectors weren't so badly complacent.

I agree with your premise here, but the US car industry is hardly "dead." I think sales of domestics have skyrocketed in the US and both Ford and GM are making money hand-over-fist...

pdf27
07-19-2013, 03:04 PM
I agree with your premise here, but the US car industry is hardly "dead." I think sales of domestics have skyrocketed in the US and both Ford and GM are making money hand-over-fist...
Compared to what it was? They had to be taken to the brink of destruction before they paid attention, and a substantial fraction didn't survive...

Nickdfresh
07-20-2013, 09:44 AM
Compared to what it was? They had to be taken to the brink of destruction before they paid attention, and a substantial fraction didn't survive...

Most of the substantial fraction had already been consolidated by the time the "Big Three" ran into serious trouble with their shitty marketing (or rather, attempting to set the market rather than adapting to it) and poor quality control on poorly conceived new cars. The last one being American Motors Corp (AMC) that made some legendary, ugly but serviceable cars such as my dad's old "Pacer", which Chrysler took over for the Jeeps. LOL The great depression killed off far more car makers here then Detroit's notorious downfall in the 1970's. Part of the problem was their poor mentality when it came to small cars, thinking that they had to be cheap "starter cars" until young people began to make more money rather than the Japanese or Euro ethos of smaller cars are just smaller versions of nice cars. I will agree the Japanese ate their lunch at this market in the 1970's when Honda released an Accord that not only was reasonably priced, but also ran forever with proper maintenance unlike the awful Chevy Vega, whose problems were finally corrected at the end of its life - but by then the damage had been done. An old car salesman I met who worked for Honda in the 1970's told me how they would just take orders over the phone and the cars had to have every possible shitty dealership markup (like undercoating) possible and they still charged over sticker and they had a huge waiting list as they sold the Western New York allocation of Hondas to people in Boston or NYC over the phone on Sundays! But the Big Three are still here and selling lots of cars in China. Saying the U.S. car industry was "killed off" is a tad hyperbolic, especially given Ford's successes in Europe and finally breaking their habit of building fine smaller cars there, then a completely distantly related line of cheaper shit here. Chrysler is now owned by Fiat and may actually sell in Europe again, and Buick is huge in China...

royal744
07-20-2013, 11:02 AM
Most of the substantial fraction had already been consolidated by the time the "Big Three" ran into serious trouble with their shitty marketing (or rather, attempting to set the market rather than adapting to it) and poor quality control on poorly conceived new cars. The last one being American Motors Corp (AMC) that made some legendary, ugly but serviceable cars such as my dad's old "Pacer", which Chrysler took over for the Jeeps. LOL The great depression killed off far more car makers here then Detroit's notorious downfall in the 1970's. Part of the problem was their poor mentality when it came to small cars, thinking that they had to be cheap "starter cars" until young people began to make more money rather than the Japanese or Euro ethos of smaller cars are just smaller versions of nice cars. I will agree the Japanese ate their lunch at this market in the 1970's when Honda released an Accord that not only was reasonably priced, but also ran forever with proper maintenance unlike the awful Chevy Vega, whose problems were finally corrected at the end of its life - but by then the damage had been done. An old car salesman I met who worked for Honda in the 1970's told me how they would just take orders over the phone and the cars had to have every possible shitty dealership markup (like undercoating) possible and they still charged over sticker and they had a huge waiting list as they sold the Western New York allocation of Hondas to people in Boston or NYC over the phone on Sundays! But the Big Three are still here and selling lots of cars in China. Saying the U.S. car industry was "killed off" is a tad hyperbolic, especially given Ford's successes in Europe and finally breaking their habit of building fine smaller cars there, then a completely distantly related line of cheaper shit here. Chrysler is now owned by Fiat and may actually sell in Europe again, and Buick is huge in China...

What happened to the US car industry reminds me a lot of what occurred after the Russians launched the first Sputnik. The national crisis that resulted was a huge shock to the system and American psyche. There was talk of "having lost the high ground". Truth be told, the US wasn't that far behind the Russians in launching its own satellite, but the fact was, we weren't "first" which is a fixation of ours. Kennedy set a goal of being first to the moon which was a huge spur to the aerospace industry and got the whole country going more or less as a unit. In the end, we surpassed the Russians in about six or seven years in this race after which they pretty much gave up the ghost.

I agree completely that Detroit had become fat and complacent and self-satisfied with the concept of "planned obsolescence" when people really wanted solid, reliable cars that they wouldn't have to trade in very couple of years, a scheme that had more to do with financing, profit and creating a permanent, renewable customer base than meeting customer needs and desires. The Japanese and some Europeans handed us our derrieres on a platter. It took a long time and a near-death experience to get us past that and the final verdict is not yet in, but we may have learned some valuable lessons along the way.

During the recent crisis, I would point out that Ford took not a dime from the federal government and GM paid back all of its loans with interest. So I wouldn't call the industry dead or "killed" by any means, but the managers will need to remain innovative, lean and mean and ever vigilant.

pdf27
07-20-2013, 12:32 PM
During the recent crisis, I would point out that Ford took not a dime from the federal government and GM paid back all of its loans with interest. So I wouldn't call the industry dead or "killed" by any means, but the managers will need to remain innovative, lean and mean and ever vigilant.
It's also worth pointing out that Ford and GM are historically the only ones with a major presence outside the US for design and manufacturing, with Ford being far more significant. That's certainly helped Ford of late - a lot of their recent small cars are just models they've been selling over here for years that they've dumbed down a bit and moved to the US market. GM has started doing the same recently, but to a lesser extent. Chrysler has been a bit of a poison chalice for years - it nearly destroyed Mercedes, so I was a bit surprised when Fiat took it on (although if I understand things correctly the US government pretty much bought it, guaranteed the liabilities and gave it to Fiat, so maybe not such a big risk).

So no, the big three aren't dead by any means, but they only survived thanks to various distinctly non free-market practices (legal limits on the number of Japanese imported cars for instance - same thing happened in Europe). That gave them enough time (somehow) to sort out their frankly awful manufacturing practices and get a grip on quality. They're still not as good as the Japanese, but the difference isn't embarrassing any more.

royal744
07-22-2013, 02:49 PM
Pay a visit to Greenfield Village, a museum that Ford did build in Dearborn. This is a huge, spectacular indoor/outdoor museum of old and new technology including locomotives, aircraft, Edison's original lab and much, much more. Willow Run itself was much too bif to have been used as a museum and the real estate was much too valuable to just sit there.

http://www.thehenryford.org/collections/current.aspx

"Entering Greenfield Village is like stepping into an 80-acre time machine. It takes you back to the sights, sounds and sensations of America’s past. There are 83 authentic, historic structures, from Noah Webster’s home, where he wrote the first American dictionary, to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, to the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. The buildings and the things to see are only the beginning. There’s the fun stuff, too. In Greenfield Village, you can ride in a genuine Model T or “pull” glass with world-class artisans; you can watch 1867 baseball or ride a train with a 19th-century steam engine. It’s a place where you can choose your lunch from an 1850s menu or spend a quiet moment pondering the home and workshop where the Wright brothers invented the airplane. Greenfield Village is a celebration of people — people whose unbridled optimism came to define modern-day America."

Kilroy
03-20-2014, 09:08 AM
These all look really nice. They are actually accurate because most of the time people screw up these things.......
So its great that I have found this website with people who enjoy this era