Even before America entered the war, production for it was in full swing. In Omaha, for instance, the Martin Bomber Plant plant was commissioned in September 1940 — well over a year before Pearl Harbor. Other plants were commissioned across the country to build bombs, tanks, rifles and other ordinance, some for sale or "loan" to other countries and some for our own stockpiles.
A B-26 Marauder medium bomber rolls off
the Martin Bomber Plant in Omaha.
Despite a deep feeling of isolationism within the country, many in the government were committed to the preparation for war well before we were in it. The idea was to build a large "Arsenal for Democracy."
The Martin plant was built when the U.S. War Department directed that two new assembly plants be built in the interior of the country (at least 200 miles from a coast). It was formally established on February 14, 1941, with the signing of a contract between the Martin Company and the U.S. government for the construction and operation of such a plant at Fort Crook (later Offutt Air Force Base). The Nebraska plant was owned by the War Department and operated under its supervision. The Glenn L. Martin Company facility in Baltimore could not supply all the B-26 medium bombers required by the Army Air forces.
"More Production" by Zudor,
Printed by the Government Printing Office for the War Production Board.
From the NARA Still Picture Branch.
Even before Pearl Harbor, rumors were rampant that other Nebraska communities would be chosen as sites for government defense plants. Due to the efforts of Nebraska congressmen and senators vital war plants subsequently were built near Omaha, Mead, Hastings, Grand Island, and Sidney. While the Martin Bomber Plant, Nebraska Ordnance Plant, Hastings Naval Ammunition Depot, Cornhusker Ordnance Plant, and Sioux Ordnance Depot, each employed thousands of Nebraskans and brought additional workers to the state, they also created severe housing shortages.
Many farm families, whose lands were bought for war plant sites at seemingly unfair prices, were displaced.
||Despite the many inequities tied to the construction of the war plants, the quantity of munitions churned out by Nebraska's war industries was diverse and staggering.|
Some World War II Medal of Honor recipients
in the Nebraska Hall of Fame
Click below to find out about all its members.