16 Brilliant Color Photos Of Women Building World War II Transport Planes

Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States officially entered World War II and soon millions of men were mobilized to fight overseas. Many of those men were also the ones who worked manufacturing jobs — jobs that became even more important to assist with the war effort. To satisfy the sudden demand for employees, manufacturers looked to the wives, sisters and daughters of the newly enlisted.

In a previous post, we shared photos of the women who helped build bombers for Southern California’s Douglas Aircraft Company during World War II. But these weren’t the only women whose manufacturing jobs assisted the war effort.

In September 1941, the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation hired 40 women as an experiment at its San Diego plant to build B-24s. Following Pearl Harbor, the succesful program was expanded to Consolidated’s other plants, including the Fort Worth, Texas facility where C-87s were produced. A transport derivative of the B-24, the C-87 was designed in early 1942 to satisfy the need for a heavy cargo and personnel transport with longer range and better high-altitude performance than the C-47 Skytrain. 287 C-87s were manufactured in Fort Worth thanks to the efforts of Consolidated employees — including many women.

In October 1942, photographer Howard R. Hollem traveled to Fort Worth to capture photos of the Consolidated plant for the Office of War Information (OWI). These photos are just a small sample of the more than 175,000 — including 1,600 in color — captured between 1935 and 1944 for the OWI to document US life during World War II.

Production of B-24 bombers and C-87 transports, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas. Cabbie Coleman, former housewife, works at western aircraft plant. Installing of oxygen racks above the flight deck

Lowering an engine in place in assembling a C-87 transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Rita Rodriguey works a milling machine
Beulah Faith, 20, used to be sales clerk in department store, reaming tools for transport on lathe machine, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas
Drilling a wing bulkhead for a transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Drilling a wing bulkhead for a transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Drilling a wing bulkhead for a transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Frances Eggleston, aged 23, came from Oklahoma, used to do office work. Removing paper from pilot’s window, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas
Lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Drilling a wing bulkhead for a transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Working inside fuselage of a Liberator Bomber, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas
Riveter at work on Consolidated bomber, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas
A lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas
Helen Bray, who left school to become a mechanic at a western aircraft plant, is making an emplanage section on a new Consolidated transport, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas. This new ship, adapted from the B-24 bomber, is known as the C-87, carries one of the greatest human and cargo loads of any plane now in mass production

Mary Louise Stepan, 21, used to be a waitress. She has a brother in the air corps. She is working on transport parts in the hand mill, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas
Installing structural parts of a C-87 transport plane in the tunnel of a tail fuselage section at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas

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