As you may have noticed, I did some museum hopping last week. Thankfully I got a chance to cruise through the National Air and Space museum with a Toolmonger’s eye and caught a glimpse of this display of a German aircraft factory, circa 1918. The tools you see on the table are actually from the original factory.
What made me take note was that the warplanes they put in the air from this factory were made with these pretty rudimentary instruments by largely unskilled workers. The plaque that went with the scene said that Germany was forced to take drastic measures to maintain production of their warplanes to meet the growing number of enemy Allied planes over the skies of Europe.
Since skilled labor was getting shot at on the front lines, unskilled workers — many of them women and children — whose ranks were bolstered by sailors from the German High Seas Fleet (many of whom were skilled machinists) had to crank out aircraft as best they could.
I just tried to imagine crawling into a cockpit knowing that the plane I trusted my life to was built with those basic tools by the neighbors’ ten-year-old and his mother’s friend from down the street from where I used to live before the war. My hat’s off to both the pilots and the builders.
National Air & Space Muesum [Offical Site]