Grumman's Contribution in World War II
"In my opinion, Grumman saved Guadalcanal."
~Secretary of Navy, James Forrestal
The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation played a major role in American victory during World War II. Based in Bethpage, New York, Grumman was primarily a Navy contractor and designed an aircraft known for their durability and maneuverability. "The Grumman Wildcat, it is no exaggeration to say, did more than any single instrument of war to save the day for the United States in the Pacific," said Foster Hailey, New York Times correspondent. Grumman planes were critical in Guadalcanal, Midway, the Wake Islands, Philippines, and the Battle of the Atlantic. Read the Letter from Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal about Grumman's contributions. Under the leadership of Leroy Grumman and Jake Swirbul, Grumman rose from a small one garage production facility based in Baldwin to become one of the most important defense contractors of the 20th Century. Visit the Grumman Historical Timeline to understand how this emerged.
The United States entered World War II unprepared. The nation had been in a period of isolationism since the conclusion of World War I. Adolph Hitler's conquests in Europe were not even enough to shake Americans out of this isolationist mood. Only the surprise attack by the Japanese on the American naval base in Pearl Harbor spurred Americans to act. The lack of preparation made the next several years difficult. Defense manufacturers like Grumman needed to produce large amounts of planes, tanks, and munitions. The need to send so many young men to war created a labor shortage at home. Women filled the ranks on assembly lines and became important production workers. Read about Women during World War II.
While the United States Army concentrated on land wars in Europe and Africa, the United States Navy and Marine Corps were primarily responsible for action in the Pacific Theater. The Japanese had early success in their strategies, but as the Americans became better prepared and armed, victories turned their way. All the while, the Bethpage-based Grumman Corporation kept building planes. The three most important planes during World War II were the Avenger, Hellcat, and Wildcat. Some Navy officials believed the quality of the Grumman planes and the ability to deliver so many planes in so short a time period were the key reasons for American success.
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