KS History – Group D

blogs about KS history

The Battle of Kansas November 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — emosier4 @ 2:17 pm

During World War II the Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas was in full steam in producing all sorts of aircrafts. Their factories completed 25,865 airplanes during the war, and enough equivalent airplanes in spare parts to bring the number above 30,000.  Boeing employed as many as 30,000 workers.  The B-29, nicknamed the Superfortress, was the heaviest four-engine propeller-driven bomber used in World War II. It was an aircraft ahead of its time. The B-29 contained guns that could be fired by remote control, and pressurized crew areas. It increased the bomb load, could fly at high altitudes, and ability to fly longer distances.  The majority of the B-29s were produced in the Boeing’s manufacturing plants in Wichita, Kansas.  By the fall of 1943, the first bombers were rushed into production before the “bugs” could be eliminated.

On January 12, 1944, General Hap H. Arnold, chief of the air forces, arrived at the Boeing plants and asked how many bombers could leave the next day for India. Due to the alterations and the “bugs” the answer was “none.”  Arnold exploded in rage sending impossible orders that set phones ringing all over the country. This lead to the uproar famed as the Battle of Kansas.  That same night G.I. mechanics flew in from numerous states and Boeing sent 600 civilian experts. Hangers were very scarce due to the immense wing span of the B-29.  Workers had to work outdoors in a wintery gale.  Gasoline heaters were flown in and many of the workers wore a high-altitude flying suit.

Two months later the Army Air Force bombed the Japanese homeland. The planes were delivered a full month ahead of schedule. Boeing-Wichita produced 4.2 Superfortresses per day for an average of 100 months. Of the 3,888 B-29s that were built, 1,644 were built in Wichita and an additional 125 in spare parts. The Boeing workers in Kansas made it possible for the Army Air Force to make their bombing raids on the islands of Japan and the Pacific islands. The fast production of the B-29 saved many of the American lives and paved the way for the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Boeing-Wichita workers were given a job and finish the job and exceeded the AAF expectations.

Eric Mosier

http://www.kshs.org/publicat/khq/1945/45_8_battle.htm

http://www.kshs.org/cool3/boeingmodel.htm

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6 Responses to “The Battle of Kansas”

  1. tfern24 Says:

    This is an interesting post, because I had family members who worked at Boeing in Wichita. My great grandparents were at prime age during the war, and i remember hearing stories of how they had to give away their pots and pans and sometimes even machinery so that they could be recycled and used for planes. I would guess that most of their items went to this plant since they were from SW Missouri, right next to the state line. So in a way, people on the home-front were in a “battle” here because they were sacrificing things and helping the war effort. Very informative post.
    -Tracy Fernandez

  2. rdiehl Says:

    It is interesting to know how quickly these mechanics overcame the difficulties of the B-29 to get them shipped to the Pacific theater as fast as possible. It would be interesting to know what they had to do in order to “fix” the aircraft. I know that they were notorious for engine fires and it is quite shocking to see how General Arnold disregarded these problems and just wanted to be able to use the aircraft for his air operations. The Superfortress was an American icon and helped bring WWII to a quicker end.
    -Ryan Diehl

  3. Zach White Says:

    Great post, very interesting. Quick plug, if you liked this post the WWII class at KU (I think it’s HIST 340) taught me a lot about the B-29 and all things related to WWII. Also the movie The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio told the story about the race to make the B-29.

    The statistics in this post are great. I had no idea these plants made as many planes as they did or employed so many workers. Also, the story about General Arnold flying in parts and experts to get the planes ready to go shows the extreme importance the B-29 had to the war effort. I know that these planes were probably the United States most important weapon in the Pacific War. Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense constantly sung the praises of the B-29 and it’s unique ability to evade enemy fire because of its ability to fly at higher altitudes.

  4. Jeff Alexander Says:

    This was a very interesting blog. Currently I’m studying the Pacific theatre in my WWII history class. It’s really interesting how Kansas manufactured such a vital pice of our Air corps. My grandpa worked for Beechcraft when he was about my age. He said that building airplanes was some back busting labor.

    Jeff Alexander

  5. sammyg5 Says:

    This post was awesome. I always find myself watching shows about WWII and more specifically, shows about WWII aircraft. Theses posts surprise me every week. I am shocked to see that our simple state of Kansas had so much impact on world wide events throughout the course of modern history.

    I really liked the part in the post about how the employees of this plant worked hard for our country and delivered the planes a month ahead of schedule. The Boeing plant in Wichita is on my to Kansas history to do list.

    Sammy Greenberg

  6. Molly McCoy Says:

    Your post really caught my attention. Being from a small town near Wichita, I’ve driven by Boeing Aircraft Company many times. However, I rarely take time to think about what an important role Boeing played in WWII and still plays today. I always knew Boeing had greatly contributed to plane production during WWII, but I had no idea that over half of the B-29s built came from Wichita. Thanks for the interesting post.

    -Molly McCoy


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