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World War I Eagle Boats Were Manufactured at the Rouge
The first product to be manufactured at the Ford Rouge plant—the most famous of all of the company's facilities—was actually a boat!
Eagle Boats Built for WWI
The building up of the Rouge complex coincided with the beginning of World War I. The U.S. government quickly commissioned Ford Motor Company to build the Eagle Boats (also known as submarine chasers) for the U.S. Navy.
Four months after the company received the order, the first Eagle Boat was launched into the Rouge boat slip. It was July 1918. Although the government had contracted with the company to build 100 of these boats, only 60 were produced before the war came to an end.
Supplying the Allies’ Needs
Eagle Boats were not the only product made by Ford Motor Company for the Allies in World War I. There were helmets, tanks, airplane engines; Model T cars, trucks, and ambulances; and Fordson tractors.
After the war, the Rouge plant was converted for civilian production, but the first civilian product to be built was not a car or a truck this time, either—it was the "Fordson" tractor.
Tractor production ended there in 1928, and car production commenced. But in 1942, civilian production temporarily ceased again to support the Allied war effort. The Rouge and the other Ford facilities were once again converted to wartime production.