Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II
Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II, John M. Fredrickson, 2015, ISBN 9780760348161, 224 pp., 42 color and 166 b/w photos
John Fredrickson has written a biography of North American Aviation (NAA). In his book, Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in WWII, he has also describes working as well, as the workers, in World War II at NAA factories—in the way they would prefer to be remembered and in the way they would definitely not prefer. Frederickson presents an accurate depiction of the designing, times and events.
Warbird Factory does not limit itself to the World War II period with the B-25 Mitchell and P-51 Mustang—it begins with the founders, especially Dutch Kindleberger and John Leland Atwood and designs which predate WW II. Warbird Factory ends with Cold War aircraft, notably the B-45 Tornado and F-86 Sabre.
Fredrickson has selected the best of public and private photo archives to help tell the story of NAA. These images are phenomenal and nicely sized in this coffee table format of a book. Rich black and whites prints which were done so well back in the day as well as color, beautiful Kodak color most likely. These pictures show the aircraft, aircraft detail and workers in their environment.
Fredrickson represents all aspects of the NAA workers in their environs. African-Americans and Asians (shamefully but certainly not Japanese Americans, and kudos to Fredrickson for explaining this racist tragedy). He describes the rapid evolution of NAA, as well as the United States population, as workers had to be recruited from rural areas and other industries. Also, the strike in the Inglewood CA factory during a critical stages of WW II is detailed.
Welcomely, a good bit of detective work along with excellent imagery—again—of Gen. Eisenhower’s personal B-25 (with admiring feats of front line landings) as well as the tragedy of the NA-98X and why it came the crash which ended the evolution of the Mitchell.
The Twin Mustang is mentioned but not in many words though a gorgeous color cutaway drawing is in the pages. Many wonderful technical drawing, plan view and perspective, will have the reader enjoying the design details of several of the NAA aircraft types. Naturally, the B-25 Mitchell and P-51 Mustang have the lion’s share of pages and photos. The people behind these iconic designs are also written of in such a way that the reader can sense their individual thinking and urgency of the times, not only due to wartime pace but the intense competition from rival firms as well. Details are documented that often go unmentioned, by other authors, making the history in Warbird Factory real—not a distilled and purified PR product. Fredrickson’s work has produced a book which can be enjoyed by aviation buffs as well as professional historians and is as welcome on a coffee table as it is in a professional library.
As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press provided a copy of Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II for an objective review.