Nash-Kelvinator Lansing Plants in World War Two / WWII
This page updated 3-14-2016.
Plant World War Two / WWII
Production Numbers / Statistics:
158,134 three and four blade propellers and 85,656 spare blades.
Nash-Kelvinator Lansing was second in the amount of US propeller
production during the war. For the month of October 1943, Lansing
produced 7,015 propellers, more than any other manufacturer, making it
the world's leading propeller supplier for the month.
The Nash-Kelvinator Plant in Lansing, MI won
the Army-Navy "E" Award on September 17, 1943.
Nash-Kelvinator South Cedar St.
Plant in Lansing, MI
Original production of Hamilton Standard
propellers by Nash-Kelvinator was done in this plant on the east side of Cedar
Street across from The Reo. Originally a Reo plant, it was
purchased by the Defense Plant Corporation (DPC) in 1941 and turned over
to Nash-Kelvinator for the manufacture of propellers.
The first contract
received at the plant came on June 28, 1941 for 5,000 propellers to be
delivered to the British government starting in 1942, which would have
been used on Lancaster, Mosquito and Baltimore aircraft. First
production started in the 450,000 square foot facility in February of
1942 when the first propeller came off the assembly line and was
accepted by inspectors. The DPC provided $8.5 million worth of
equipment for the manufacture of the propellers in the plant.
In October of 1942
Nash-Kelvinator received a second contract from the Army Air Force for
7,000 propellers for its own use, and then was issued a third contract in
May of 1942, which was the working contract and amended as the war
progressed for more propellers. In March of 1942 final
assembly and blade manufacturing moved to the former Reo plant at Mt.
Hope and Washington Streets, with the Cedar Street plant then
responsible for propeller hub production.
At its peak the
Nash-Kelvinator Lansing operation employed 8,500 workers.
When I grew up in Lansing,
the Cedar Street plant, photographed above in 2011, was owned by John
Bean and made fire apparatus.
Mt. Hope Ave Plant in Lansing, MI
Looking at the former Nash-Kelvinator plant
from across the street on Mt. Hope Avenue. When in junior high
school, I would walk the sidewalk in the foreground, not realizing the
significance of the plant across the street or that my grandfather had
worked there during the war. While in college, I would drive this
route to Michigan State University.
The plant pictured is located on the southwest corner of Washington Street and Mt. Hope
Avenue. Originally built by Reo, which was located about a half a
mile north on Washington, starting in March of 1942 the plant became the
final assembly location for Nash-Kelvinator to produce
158,134 Hamilton-Standard propellers.
I grew up a mile away and walked
by this plant for three years going to junior high school, and then
drove by it for five and a half years when I went to college, but was
unaware of this building's historical or or my family's involvement with
the plant until 2010. Then while visiting my uncle in May of 2010
in California, he mentioned that my grandfather had worked in the plant during WWII, and was foreman in the
propeller balancing department. This came as a complete surprise
to me, as I had no idea of this plant's contribution to the war effort,
nor the fact that my grandfather had ever worked in the plant. The location of the plant allowed him
to walk to work and save valuable rationed gasoline during the war.
After WWII Motor Wheel Corp.
occupied the building for a while until it moved out to the north end of
Lansing. Around 1960-61 this was the location of the first discount /
big box store in Lansing, and I remember when it opened as we went
shopping there on occasion. I actually remember purchasing some
solder needed for a radio project I was building at the store. The
name of store escapes me but it
was the predecessor of the K-Marts and others we have today. That
lasted for a short time and then the plant I believe was occupied by a
drop forge, of which we had several in Lansing supporting Oldsmobile.
It now is occupied by multiple companies in what is called the Mid-Michigan
Looking southwest with Washington Ave. on the left. About a half a
mile down Washington Ave. on the west side of the road is the HQ for the
Michigan National Guard. It was here that I served out my military
commitment in the 1970's. Again, not knowing that the factory just
to the north of the armory had produced Hamilton-Standard propellers
Aircraft types with Lansing built
Hamilton-Standard three blade propellers: A-20, C-47, C-53,
B-17, B-24, B-25, Baltimore, Lancaster, and Mosquito.
Aircraft types with Lansing built
Hamilton-Standard four blade propellers: F4U-4 and A-26D,E,F.
These two aircraft were late developments in the war and Goodyear, which
was going to build the four bladed version of the F4U-4 Corsair as the
FG-4, never went into production with the aircraft. Lansing-Nash
Kelvinator was to be the supplier for the Goodyear FG-4 and it is
unknown whether the propellers were routed to the Vought production line
in Connecticut, for use on the F4U-4 version that was built there.
The A-26D, E and F were the only versions of
the aircraft that were to have been fitted with four blade props, and
they never went into production, even though there had been plans for
750 of the A-26Ds and 2,150 of the A-26E to have been built.
Nash-Kelvinator Lansing built a total of 4,972
four bladed props by the time production stopped at the end of the war.
Hamilton-Standard propellers being run at
the Lansing Nash-Kelvinator plant during WWII. Photo courtesy of
Ken Schroeder added 3-14-2016.
This photo is interesting due to the American automotive industry's
importance in the construction of this late model B-24 (J, L, or M
model). First of all, this is a Ford built B-24 at the Willow Run,
MI plant. Obviously the Lansing, MI Nash-Kelvinator plant built
the propellers being installed and the 100,000th milestone has been
reached. My grandfather, Frank Dominik, while not in the photo,
played an important part in this, in that he was the supervisor of the
propeller balancing department back in Lansing. It was his
responsibility to make sure that when the engines on this B-24 fired up,
there were no vibration issues due to out of balance blades.
Army-Navy E for Excellence Award
The Lansing Nash-Kelvinator Plant was awarded
the prestigious Army-Navy E for Excellence Award on September 17, 1943.
Below is the program given to the employees to honor the event.
This page notes production of propellers by
Lansing for use on the US types of aircraft to include the B-17, B-24,
B-25, A-20, C-47, C-53 and the Baltimore. Research indicates all
of the Baltimore production went to the British, which served with
distinction in North Africa.
This article from the Detroit Times is misleading in the section titled
"Precision Propellers Perfectly Balanced". While I appreciate the
author honoring the work my grandfather did in making sure the
propellers were balanced, it should be noted that Nash-Kelvinator both
before and after WWII had no operations in Lansing, and so therefore the
production men and women in the Lansing plants did not previously build
refrigerators. Because of this, employees at the Lansing plants
were all hired specifically for war production. My grandfather was
came from the Fisher Body plant to help out, and then returned there
when the war was over.
World War Two Aircraft with Lansing built
Nash-Kelvinator Built Propellers:
The Boeing B-17 has became one of the most
famous bombers of World War Two, if not the most famous of those in US
service during the war. With over 12,000 built, Nash-Kelvinator
was one of two automakers to supply propellers for this aircraft.
The Consolidated B-24 was the most widely produced bomber of World War
Two by the US, with over 18,000 being built in five plants across the country.
Lansing built propellers were supplied to the Ford Willow Run bomber
plant in southeast Michigan for this aircraft as noted above. Author's photo.
The North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. Author's photo.
A rare Douglas A-20 Havoc twin engine attack aircraft. Author's
The Douglas C-47 was equipped with Lansing Nash-Kelvinator produced
propellers. Author's photo.
Early on the morning of June 6, 1944 C-47s like this one along with
C-53s, pulled through the air by Lansing built Nash-Kelvinator
propellers, dropped the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions into Normandy,
France, to start the D-Day invasion. This C-47, "Tico Belle", is a
A close up look at the propellers on a C-47.
Nash-Kelvinator built the four bladed propellers for the Goodyear
version of the Navy's F4U-4
Corsair, the FG-4, which did not go into production. It is unknown
whether the Lansing built propellers were diverted to Vought for use on
the F4U-4, like this one pictured here. Author's photo.
Lansing produced propellers for Martin Baltimore bombers, all of which
went to the British under Lend-Lease.
Nash-Kelvinator's original production went to the British for aircraft
like this Canadian built Lancaster bomber. Author's photo.
Another British aircraft built in Canada was the DeHavilland Mosquito
shown here, which was also supplied with Lansing built propellers.