What World War II-era technology is this?
September 13, 2013 11:01 AM Subscribe
A friend of mine found this picture
of his grandmother working at Westinghouse Air Brake (or possibly Union Switch and Signal?) in the early 1940s and is trying to identify what she is working on.
posted by mkb to grab bag (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This link is to a photo of my grandmother affectionately referred to as "BaBa" working at Westinghouse Air Brake (or possibly Union Switch and Signal?) in the early 1940s, probably sometime during US involvement in World War II (1941-1945). Most likely it was taken at the Westinghouse complex in Turtle Creek, PA, or maybe Wilmerding.
My father and uncle believe she helped build electrical motors and switches for wartime vehicles. The photo was professionally taken, and may have appeared in a local newspaper. (if so, it may have been the McKeesport Daily News or another smaller local Mon Valley paper, or the Pittsburgh Press or Post Gazette.) I have always assumed it could have also been taken for a Westinghouse promotional document or some sort of government literature.
A cursory Google search on Westinghouse war effort comes up with: "In Pittsburgh, Westinghouse's research laboratories contributed to significant improvements in radar, created gyroscopic stabilization device that improved the accuracy of tank guns, and built the first American-designed jet engine." but my sense is that those parts she is handling don't have anything to do with any of those particular applications. I feel like she would have been working on an assembly line of more time-tested technologies. She had no formal electrical training other than what she would have learned on the job.
She's turning 90 next week and she doesn't remember the exact story behind the photo. So my question for reddit is: what exactly is she building?