AMERICA ENTERS WORLD WAR II
Higgins Goes To WarAndrew Jackson Higgins, a rough-hewn Louisiana shipbuilder, built 199 PT (Patrol, Torpedo) boats for the US government, but the LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) are why we remember him. He designed, built, and licensed these landing craft that saw service in virtually every Paci?c and European amphibious landing. On June 6, 1944, on the beaches of Normandy, France, his ‘Higgins Boats’ brought 160,000 troops across the English Channel, and ashore —in one day. In his design, he used a revolutionary new boatbuilding product—plywood. After the war, he continued in the boatbuilding business with inboard plywood pleasure craft, seen right. The Higgins watercraft were plentiful, and an explosion of pleasure boat building occurred with the cessation of hostilities in August of 1945.
Storm BoatsVirtually every boatbuilder in the US became a manufacturer of military craft, and sometimes airplanes, overnight. One of these was the ‘Storm Boat’, a plywood craft designed to carry 6 troops, plus a crew of 2. It was typically powered by a Model 4-60 Evinrude, and with a coat of camou?age green paint, it became Model 8008. With this former race engine, the Allies were able to transport 300,000 troops across Germany’s Rhine River, 125,000 in a single day, in March of 1945. The larger Assault Boats were used to transport troops, and also used as bridge pontoons.
War SurplusMost boat manufacturers did not survive the war—Gar Wood and Dodge were no exception. Despite this, many other manufacturers came along to replace them, using the revolutionary new material, plywood, as their lumber. Thousands of engines, both outboard, inboard, and aircraft, appeared again on the surplus market, driving new production of boats to utilize them in the pent-up postwar demand for consumer goods. The APBA, having disbanded during wartime, started racing again in 1946.
Average Salary: $2,100/Yr
New House: $6,550
New Car: $925
Quart of Milk: 34¢
Gold per ounce: $37.00