The Glenn L. Martin Company assembly plant and modification center near Omaha was an important part of Nebraska’s contribution to America’s World War II effort. Over 1500 B-26 Marauder medium bombers and more than 500 B-29 Superfortresses were produced at the Martin bomber plant. On the cutting edge of technology at the time, the B-29 had a pressurized crew compartment, computerized defensive weapons system, and advanced radar for bombing and navigation.
Throughout the war the plant needed large numbers of workers. Advertisements by radio, newspapers, the U.S. Employment Service, Office of War Information, and other government agencies were used to attract applicants. Many were recent high school graduates searching for their first jobs, while others wanted to leave low-paying jobs. Relatively high pay was an attraction, but many workers after the Pearl Harbor bombing entered war production because they believed it their patriotic duty. And there seemed a kind of glamour and excitement even in menial bomber plant jobs. One former employee recalled, "It’s just the idea that you were doing something and that you were right in the middle of things. Being right there, we heard all the war reports."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Nebraska Governor Dwight Griswold, and Glenn L. Martin
tour the Omaha bomber plant, April 26, 1943.
Courtesy Omaha World-Herald
No larger image available
By 1945 a total of 13,217 persons were at work — 11,019 in the main production area and 2,198 in the modification center. Included were 5,306 women and 765 African Americans. The work force included 682 inspectors, and 127 supervisors and technicians. Most were proud of their work.
"The Martin Company was one of the first to adopt the statistical method quality control of parts by using visual charts to indicate problem areas. We’ve taught our employees to make planes. . . . We’ve trained them, they have been willing to learn, and we have surrounded them with tools and procedures so that they make few mistakes. And those that do occur are caught by inspectors."
— Company President, J.T. Hartson.
The Martin plant won the Army-Navy "E" Award four times for its outstanding record of 33 consecutive months of on-schedule production.
The plant also had a pivotal part in ending the war.