"Packardtimeline.com is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Packard legacy, which includes over 125 years of innovation. The Packard Electric company, which was founded in 1890 (and later the automotive company in 1899) are the foundation around which this legacy is built. This legacy of innovation continues to this day with the global automotive supplier: Delphi (of which Packard is a division). Packardtimeline.com's mission is to preserve and honor the past, present, and future achievements and innovations of Packard. Delphi, in conjunction with the National Packard Museum, has begun the journey to tell that legacy in the comprehensive story presented here. We invite you to join us in that journey, and help create, inspire, and innovate for another 125 years."

-National Packard Museum

PACKARD ERA OVERVIEW

Both Packard Automotive and Packard Electric would find themselves faced with major changes and challenges as World War II drove each company out of the Depression. Each had retool and scale up production dramatically. While both companies played a part in WWI, it wasn't until the second great war that each were asked to be 100% devoted to war-time production. With both Ford and Chrysler declining the request for more engines, it was up to Packard Automotive to meet the call.

Packard Automotive would see internal growth from 350 employees to over 3,500 employees in a matter of months. New construction and deadline based expansion saw each company put to the test for production quality and volume. Packard Automotive would supply engines to power Allied planes and maritime vessels, including the British Royal Air-force and U.S. jpgPT Boats.

Meanwhile Packard Electric would build wiring harnesses and create new types of wire to be used on aircraft and engines that would power both PT boats and bombers alike. This diligence would see both companies awarded not only military honors in Excellence, but victory for the Allies.

LOCKED AND LOADED - PACKARD GOES TO WAR

After the fall of France in 1940, Franklin Roosevelt began pushing for a major military buildup in preparation for the entrance of the United States to the Second World War. During this buildup, the number of Packard Automotive employees increased tenfold from 350 to over 3,500. Volume orders of Packard Marine engines for PT boats are made. Packard Electric was also heavily involved in the effort, providing wiring harnesses for both the jpgAllison V-12 and the Rolls Royce jpgMerline V-12 engines.

In late 1940, with the Royal Air force, decimated by Luftwaffe bombings, the British government requested help from the U.S. to manufacture more V-12 Rolls Royce Merlin engines. The U.S. government contacted both the Ford and Chrysler motor companies, but each declined to attempt the production of the 50,000+ engines needed. Ultimately it was Packard Automotive who answered the call.

From 1941 to 1945 Packard Automotive produced 67,626 marine and aircraft engines. Over 50,000 of these engines powered the jpgP51 Mustang, Mosquito, War Hawk, Lancaster and Hurricane aircraft in Rolls Royce Merlin form. Variants of these 12 cylinder V-12 engines were previously used in different applications for setting land and water world speed records. Demand for these engines during the war was so high that they drove what became known as Packard’s “10 month miracle”; the building of an all new jpgEngine Assembly facility to complete the request, from groundbreaking, to production, to delivery. This represented the largest contract, wartime or otherwise, ever seen by the Packard Motor Company.

Packard Electric also switched to war time production, supplying wiring and parts for many military vehicles, such as the jpgB29 Superfortress bomber, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter plane, and the M4 and M5 tanks. Employment grew rapidly to meet the ever increasing demand. In 1942, Packard Electric developed the first jpgPVC Insulated Cable, nicknamed 'vinylite', (plastic covered insulated wire to be used in air force equipment) initiating the first use of injection molding for plastic products for vehicle electrical systems. Plastic insulated wiring would be the next step in durability and interference protected wiring for aircraft use. The insulation also increased the strength and durability of the wire.

Also in 1942, Packard Automotive received the Army-Navy "E" flag star award for manufacturing Excellence. The ‘E’ standing for Excellence in production, was only awarded to approximately 4% of all companies that were involved in wartime production or defense schedules. A flag was presented to the participating companies along with pins given to employees in recognition. To increase the significance in company excellence; additional stars were added to the flag for production merit and service to their country.

From 1942 to 1949, jpgGeorge Christopher was president of Packard Motor Cars. Christopher had helped lead development of the 120 series, and was a man focused on high volume and low cost. While this model was essential to the war time effort needed to build 50,000+ engines, ultimately it would prove a hindrance to the image and exclusivity of the Packard automotive brand. On February 9th, 1942, jpgthe last Pre-War Packard automobile is built. The machines and assemblies used to produce the jpgPackard 180 series would never again be used again. Speculation was that the tooling had been sent to the USSR and used for the production of the jpgZIS 110; a Russian counterpart that was essentially a reverse engineered Packard Super Eight. Joseph Stalin, then the communist leader of Russia; was a huge enthusiast of the Packard vehicle and had wished to create his own. While the theory of displaced machinery was never proven, design similarities between the two vehicles is unquestionable.

In 1943 Packard Electric and Sunlight Electric were combined. Packard was converted to nearly 100 percent defense production, including wiring for ignition manifolds on Allison V-12 aircraft engines, while Sunlight Electric, which was earlier sold to GM, converged in producing the wiring responsible for providing spark plugs for the engines used in the B-29 and P-38 Lightning planes. At that time, Packard had wartime orders with 651 war time manufacturing plants. This large volume of production helped Packard to earn an additional military honor, with nearly all plants dedicated to wartime production. Total wartime sales in 1944 reached over $455 million dollars, and by the end of the war in 1945, Packard Automotive was ranked the 18th Most Valuable Company in the United States for wartime contract production.

 

CONTINUE ON TO THE NEXT ERA...






























 

THE NATIONAL PACKARD MUSEUM

The National Packard Museum's Mission is to preserve the Packard Legacy, to recognize Packard's influence on transportation and industrial history, and to educate current and future generations. The museum carries out that mission through the operation of a world-class facility that collects, preserves, and exhibits a collection of automobiles, artifacts, and documents and hosts a variety of educational programs and special events "to ensure the Packard Legacy endures."

The National Packard Museum opened at its permanent location on July 4, 1999. The 7,500 square foot facility is located next to the W.D. Packard Music Hall and Packard Park in Warren, Ohio's historic district. The museum houses a rotating display of original and restored Packard automobiles as well as original documents, photographs, artifacts, and interpretive materials that chronicle the illustrious history of the Packard family, the Packard Motor Car Company, and the Packard Electric Company.

If you would like to support the museum, please visit in person at:

1899 Mahoning Ave N.W.
Warren, Ohio 44483

Telephone: (330) 394-1899

Or visit: www.packardmuseum.org

The Packard Cablegram was an internal news publication that ran from 1927 to 1991. Over 5000 pages of this history have been scanned with Optical Character Recognition and Indexed by the Packardtimeline.com Search Engine. To explore this history, try searching for friends, parents, relatives, coworkers, or maybe even yourself!

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