Bombs Away!

Many plant workers during World War II were women. On March 24, 1942, construction began on the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant near Grand Island. Bombs and cannon shells were produced there throughout World War II. The plant eventually sprawled over a twenty square mile area at its location five miles west of Grand Island. Plant workers poured the first bomb on November 11, 1942, and loading operations continued until August 16, 1945, the day after Japan surrendered.

During the war, plant workers were employed mainly in the loading of 260-pound and 90 -pound fragmentation bombs, l,000-pound and 2,000-pound general demolition bombs, and 105 mm high explosive artillery shells. As Grand Island’s largest and most diverse industry during World War II, the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant employed some 15,000 workers during the Nov. 1942-Aug. 1945 period. At its peak, the Plant employed 4,229 workers.

After the war, the plant went through a decontamination process and was placed in standby condition. In the 1950s, the Silas Mason Company used the plant for rocket manufacture. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, 500-pound and 750 -pound bombs were assembled there for the Army Air Corps and Air Force. In the later twentieth century, the plant was on layaway status, although it was used as an Air Force satellite ground support station during 1978-1982. For most of the rest of the 1980s, the plant and the grounds were leased to private operators on a bid basis.

Top photograph: RG0825-7-9  SFN17075.

Below are a few other photos of the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant: 

“The Four Machine (Mechanical Cow) on Composition B which has been used for several months at the plant.” RG825-4-8


“This is the storage-bay and shows method of stacking Frag Bomb casings.” RG825-4-1


“The bomb is whirled in a circular motion and the operator sprays it as it whirls. The booth is equipped with fans which circulates the air through the running water shown in the background. This filters the paint spray out of the air so that the air is free from impurities at all times.” RG825-6-2


“Bombs receive final operation, stenciling of data and replacement of shipping bands preparatory to shipment.” RG825-3-9


(Posted 3/24/2010; updated with additional photos 12/13/2022)

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

No Father’s Day for Nebraska in 1915

No Father’s Day for Nebraska in 1915

Sewing the Flag

Sewing the Flag

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.