Georgia's War Fabrication

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“Photograph of first shift workers exiting the J.A. Jones Construction Company shipyard, Brunswick, Georgia, 1943-1945.” Courtesy of Special Collections, Marshes of Glynn Libraries (Ga.) via Digital Library of Georgia.

In 1942, Marietta, Georgia, was selected by the War Department as the location for Bell Aircraft Corporation to supply the Army Air Forces with B-29 bomber aircraft. Situated ideally adjacent to Atlanta's transportation networks and away from the exposed coastline, the Bell plant was the Deep South's largest military manufacturing facility at 4.2 million square feet. Bell Aircraft employed 28,000 Georgians to build B-29s; 663 of these aircraft were built for the Army Air Forces, supported by as much as seventy-three million dollars of federal funding.

That same year, the United States Maritime Commission awarded contracts to the J. A. Jones Construction Company in Brunswick, Georgia, and the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation just outside of Savannah to build emergency cargo ships known as “Liberty ships.” The Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation employed approximately 15,000 people, and built a total of eighty-eight ships. Between 1943 and 1945, the 16,000 workers at the J. A. Jones Construction Company shipyard built ninety-nine cargo ships; eighty-five of these vessels were Liberty ships.

In middle Georgia, two naval ordnance plant sites were operated by the Reynolds Corporation in Milledgeville and Macon; these two facilities worked in conjunction manufacturing explosives that included flares and detonators.