From Toys and Models to Full-Scale Armaments

Posted By Tom Feltham on 12 May 2014

Posted in The Vintage Machinery Almanac

This article first appeared in Practical Engineering 1940 Vol1 No23. The information is accurate as of 1940. This article describes developments in Industry at the time.

Toy factories have now turned their attention from models to the real thing. Machinery which was previously employed in turning out toy guns and aeroplanes is now making parts for real ones. In fact, all types of machinery used in toy-making is now being utilised in the production of armaments. This is due to the order issued by the Government recently restricting the supply of a long list of luxury goods.

At one large mechanical toy factory somewhere in England, where nearly 2,000 workers are employed, the skilled labour is already engaged on war work, and every day more labour and more machinery are being turned over to arms making.

The managing director of the firm said:

"A large part of our machinery is ideal for making the more delicate parts of both aeroplanes and tanks. It is machinery in miniature, but it produces high-grade parts with exact precision, and we are using it to the full for the war effort. Even without the new restriction imposed on toys, we should be compelled to keep down to two-thirds of our peacetime production because of the restriction on raw materials and the difficulties of manufacture generally."

Reduced Luxury Production

The slackening in luxury production— silk stockings, sewing machines, dart-boards, toys, etc.—will provide the munition factories with thousands more girl workers. Already hundreds of girls a day are starting work in arms factories. Most of them are already used to manipulative work and require little special training.