Bombing Wichita: How the bombing campaigns of World War II spurred production and change in Wichita, Kansas

Andrea Wilson

Abstract


Far above Germany, seven men fly. Their jobs are all different and imperative to the success of their mission. Hundreds of other planes fly beside them. All are focused on the task and trust in the rest of the crew and in their plane. Once the target is sighted, tons of bombs are released. They see the explosions and are elated in another mission completed. What they did not see was the family home the bombs destroyed, or the family members that lost their lives to the horrors of air warfare. The military gave justifications for this new method of war. Perhaps in their hearts, the pilots and crew felt bad for those who perished. However, they are at war and did whatever needed to be done to win. Thousands of miles away, different civilians faced disparate stresses. These civilians lived in Wichita, Kansas and they were imperative to the production of airplanes for World War II. The Boeing-Wichita plant is an important case study of war production. It was the largest plant located in Kansas and built the most iconic aircraft of World War II. The war production transformed Wichita’s people, infrastructure, future and added stress to a considerable number of those in Wichita; however, those stresses did not include wrestling with the morality of bombing civilians of belligerent nations.

Keywords


aerial warfare; aircraft manufacturers; aviation; B-17 bomber; B-29 bomber; Boeing-Wichita; housing; population growth; Superfortress; wartime employment; wartime production; Wichita, Kansas

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