Today is the 52nd anniversary of the surrender of Japan in World War II, bringing to an end the most destructive of all the 20th century’s conflicts. In recent years, there has been a spate of books and movies celebrating what Tom Brokaw dubbed “The Greatest Generation” of Americans who survived the Great Depression and went on to win that terrible war.
But while we tend to think of their contributions mainly in terms of battlefield victories, it is fair to say the war was actually won on the home front where the American economy achieved prodigies in production of war material. By the time the war came to an end on this date, U.S. manufacturing had churned out 296,429 airplanes, 102,351 tanks and self-propelled guns, 372,431 artillery pieces, 47 million tons of artillery ammunition, 87,620 warships, and 44 billion rounds of small arms ammunition.
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