April, 1941, Canadian Aviation
The accomplishment of producing 25 fighting planes a week with relatively unskilled labour is anticipated for Canadian Car & Foundry Company’s Fort William plant in a letter from an employee received in Winnipeg recently.
The letter is reproduced here because it describes a feature common to the Canadian aircraft industry generally; production of aircraft by men and women who a short time ago were completely untrained in the work.
“Well, we are finally turning out planes here. When I first started we had about one plane on final assembly and a couple in various stages of construction. Now there is a swell looking string of them almost the full length of one of the buildings.
Last week we turned out 14, which has been our average for the past month. This week we should do 16 and inside of another month we should be turning out 25 planes a week.
You will keep in mind that we are building the best of the fighting ships and when you think of 5,000 people like me, absolutely without previous experience, doing this work and doing it well, it is something to be proud of.
I certainly can’t figure out why the aviation industry, which has been crying for men for so many years, should have demanded experienced men and no others. Heck, we’ve proved here that that’s a lot of bunk. We have about a thousand girls working here and they are doing every job that a man beside them is doing. Riveters and welders, fabric workers, parts makers – and none of them had any experience, for sure.
We had a school here where they taught them how to hold a file in a few days and then put them in the shop. I’ve no doubt that there was considerable material spoilage and costs have run up, but these planes are being built by these same people and the British AID inspectors are right here to see that they are being built correctly.”
Among the 17,500 employees of the Glenn L. Martin factory there are some 75 crafts and professions, including 29 separate classifications of engineers in a staff of 1,700 of these technical experts. The company reports that there is scarcely any common labour, although under the spur of big orders, manufacturing methods are being simplified to admit use of men and women of lesser skills.
This article originally appeared in the April, 1941 edition of Canadian Aviation.