As WWII erupted in Europe, in the late 1930s, and the United States mobilized its own war industry, the civic leaders in Tulsa aggressively promoted construction of a new aircraft assembly facility. The U.S. War Department agreed to build a plant if Tulsa provided land and necessary runways.

Tulsa citizens quickly responded, passing a $750,000 bond issue in March 1941, enabling the city to purchase 750 acres east of the municipal airport and to construct the runways. On May 2, 1941 the city of #Tulsa broke ground for the facility that became known as Air Force Plant 3. The plant was dedicated by Donald W. Douglas, the owner of the Douglas Aircraft Company, on August 15, 1942.

The Douglas Aircraft Company, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, operated the Tulsa facility. During World War II it produced A-24 Dauntless dive bombers, B-24 Liberator strategic bombers, and A-26 Invader medium bombers. From 1953 to 1957 during the Cold War, B-47 Stratojet strategic bombers and B-66 Destroyer medium bombers were manufactured. More than twenty-three thousand people worked in the plant during peak World War II production.

The plant was a magnificent example of a streamlined production facility. It was 4,004ft long, 200ft wide and provided more than eight hundred thousand square feet of floor space. Its forty-foot headroom and crane hoists were designed to process large, multi-engine aircraft. A Burlington Northern Railroad spur line brought aircraft subassemblies and raw materials into one end of the building, and completed aircraft emerged from the other end. Built without windows, the plant operated under blackout conditions. In addition to the assembly building, the plant included a boiler house, cafeteria building, guardhouse, hanger, maintenance building, office building, paint shop, pump house, and police building.


President Roosevelt stopped by to inspect the plant in 1943. He arrived in a top-down, black convertible sedan and the surprised workers stopped production to cheer and greet him.

Tinker Air Force Base (in Oklahoma City) used the plant for storage after the plant ceased aircraft production at the end of World War II. In 1951, as the Cold War with the Soviet Union intensified, the plant reopened, producing and modifying aircraft until 1991. The plant also produced missile-guidance systems, space-vehicle components, electronic countermeasure devices, and stealth technologies during that time period.

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