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Wartime Industry

Birmingham Remembers VE Day

Wartime Industry

 Lancaster assembly

Birmingham's workers and factories helped to win the war by making thousands of aircraft, military vehicles, arms and ammunition.

Car factories began making military aircraft. Four new 'shadow' factories were built for this in Acocks Green, Solihull, Cofton Hackett and Castle Bromwich. They constructed Spitfires, Lancasters and Stirlings.

Crusader tanks - larger version

Smaller firms also manufactured important parts for aircraft. For example, Birmingham firms made all the radiators and carburettors for Spitfires and Hurricanes.

Other firms made military vehicles. Metro-Cammell built 4,000 tanks in Washwood Heath and Wednesbury. Morris and Austin made all kinds of army vehicles, and BSA made motorbikes and folding bicycles.

BSA - Birmingham Small Arms and ICI in Witton made arms and ammunition. Jewellers made parts for rifles and Cadburys manufactured rockets.

Munitions poster - larger version

Some firms made objects to help protect people, like pumps to put out fires and black-out lights for bicycles. Birmingham-made buttons and badges were worn by thousands of new soldiers.

More images of wartime industry in Birmingham

'Lest We Forget' Exhibition
VE Day Street Parties