On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu,. More than 2,000 American soldiers and sailors died in the attack. Twenty American Naval vessels and 300 airplanes at the base were destroyed. The United States declared war on Japan the next day, with declarations against Germany and Italy shortly thereafter. Almost two years after the war had begun, the United States became embroiled in World War II. Here at home, many Toledo industries quickly shifted from peacetime to wartime production. One example was automotive producer Willys-Overland. This Blade archive photo published January 13, 1942, shows an Army inspector checking out parts for 155-millimeter artillery shells that were being produced at the plant. In January, 1942, the plant employed 7,500, including many women, with plans to grow to 10,000 workers. Willys-Overland had war contracts that topped $142 million for Jeeps, light reconnaissance cars, shells, fuses, airplane parts, breech housings, recoil cylinders and miscellaneous war materials. Jeeps were rolling off the line at the rate of 400 a day, and orders indicated that volume would be needed for at least nine months. Two hundred to 250 smaller plants in the Toledo area were called upon to supply Willys-Overland with needed parts. Buildings and machinery were being reconditioned and put in shape for the great volume of business on hand and to come.
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