Boeing Plant 2

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Boeing Plant 2
Built 1936
Location King County, Washington, USA
Products Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Boeing 307
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Boeing B-50 Superfortress
B-47 Stratojet
Boeing 377
B-52 Stratofortress
Boeing 737

Boeing Plant 2 (also known as Air Force Plant 17) was a factory building which was built in 1936 by the Boeing Corporation in King County, Washington in the United States. By the time production ceased in the building, the plant had built half of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, the Boeing 307s, the Boeing 377s, some of the Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, Boeing B-50 Superfortresses, B-47 Stratojets, B-52 Stratofortresses, and the initial Boeing 737s. It was located between the Duwamish River and Boeing Field.[1]

History[edit]

In the 1930s, it became apparent that Boeing Plant 1, located right down the river, was obsolete for aircraft production as it focused on stitching, gluing, and nailing biplanes together. Plant 2 was built as a modern assembly line where metal would be stamped and placed onto the planes in the same facility. In 1936, the plant was finished with a goal to build early prototypes of the B-17 Flying Fortress and the Boeing 307s. At this time the floor was 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2). 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) was added to the plant in May 1940 to support Boeing production of 380 Douglas DB-7 light bombers.[2] By the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the plant had been expanded to 1,776,000 square feet (165,000 m2). In total, 6,981 B-17s were produced in Plant 2.

To hide the factory from possible aerial attack, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built houses of plywood and fabric and installed fake streets to camouflage the roof.[2] The idea was to blend the facility into the surrounding neighborhood across the river. Later in the war, the first three B-29 Superfortress were built in the facility. While B-29s were built by Boeing in Renton, Washington, and Wichita, Kansas, a Bell plant at Marietta, Georgia, and a Martin plant at Omaha, Nebraska, sub assemblies were produced in Plant 2 and shipped to the Renton plant.[2] All 370 of the follow-on aircraft, the Boeing B-50 Superfortress, were built in Plant 2.

In the late 1940s, the first two B-47 Stratojets, the first swept-wing bomber was built at the plant. After this, 278 B-52 Stratofortresses were also built in the facility. Due to the roof being thirty-five feet high, early jets had a hinge on their tail to fit inside the building since their tails were 48 feet (15 m) high. B-52 production later moved to Wichita Kansas.[2] In addition, 58 Boeing 377 airliners were built in the plant.[2]

In the 1960s the first three Boeing 737s were assembled in Plant 2, but finished in the neighboring Thompson Site.[2][3] The Thompson Site was then used to produce another 268 737s.[2] Production of the 737 was moved to the Boeing Renton Factory in 1970, where production continues to this day.[4]

In the 1980s, the plant was used as a machine shop but that discontinued as work shifted to more modern facilities. The National Air and Space Museum's Boeing 367-80[5] and the museum's Boeing 307 were restored in the facility in 1990-2002.[6] The Museum of Flight's Boeing B-17F and Boeing B-29 were restored in Plant 2 and the museum's Lockheed Super Constellation was stored in the facility.[7] A Douglas World Cruiser reproduction project was also underway in the plant.[8] All remaining aircraft were removed from Plant 2 on September 18, 2010.[7]

Eventually the building fell into decay due to lack of adequate maintenance and earthquakes. Broken water mains sometimes flood the tunnels which lead to other buildings on the site.[1]

In 2010, plans were announced by Boeing to demolish the plant. Under an agreement with both state and federal governments as well as local Native American tribes, the company will tear down the factory and restore more than five acres of wetlands along the Duwamish River. Demolition began in late 2010.[1]

Notable workers[edit]

In 1940, Joe Sutter took a summer job at the plant while studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Washington. He eventually ended up becoming the "father of the 747".[1]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°31′49.01″N 122°18′40.32″W / 47.5302806°N 122.3112000°W / 47.5302806; -122.3112000