During World War II, more Waco CG-4A gliders
were built at the Ford Motor Company Plant
A restored World War II Waco CG-4A glider, manufactured at the Kingsford Plant,
The museum display is filled with photos, has a model of the CG-13 glider (top two pictures), newspaper articles, and a video on the production of the CG-4A glider in Kingsford. The video takes you through the actual construction of war-time gliders built at Kingsford. Part of a glider frame sits outside at the front of the museum.
In World War 2, a new aerial war tactic was developed called "vertical envelopment". This was a new way to land troops behind enemy lines. The paratroopers were dropped first followed by transport gliders bringing more troops, jeeps, howitzer guns, food and other war materials. The 15-place Waco CG-4A glider was the undisputed workhorse of American troops during the war.
In June 1942, a contract was arranged with the Ford Motor Company for 1,000 CG-4A gliders. Ford established its glider plant in Kingsford, Michigan, where it had been manufacturing wooden-sided station wagons since 1931.
The entire Kingsford facility was converted to glider production, with 4,500 people working around the clock in eight-hour shifts. During their peak production period the workers at Kingsford turned out eight gliders per day.
Military inspectors at the plant would check each CG-4A after it had been fully assembled. If the gliders passed inspection they would then be disassembled by Ford employees and crated for rail shipment to glider training schools.
Starting in 1944, this awkward shipping process was speeded up considerably when Ford cut a 120-foot-wide swath through wooded areas leading from its assembly line to the airport one mile away in Kingsford. Fully assembled gliders could then be pulled off the assembly line by Ford farm tractors and hauled through the woods to the airport. From there military airplanes would tow them to their destinations around the country.
The Kingsford plant eventually turned out 4,190 CG-4As, more than twice the number of gliders produced by any other company during the war. Ford's price tag of only $15,400 per CG-4A demonstrated the economy of streamlined and efficient mass production. Nearly all of the other 15 manufacturers of CG-4As charged Uncle Sam a minimum of $25,000 for their gliders. The Ford Motor Company was twice given the E for Excellence award by the United States War Department.
American glider pilots flew in the European, Pacific, and China-Burma-India Theaters during World War II.
After the war, the Ford plant at Kingsford MI was converted to the manufacture of Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes.
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