Edsel Ford agrees to manufacture Rolls-Royce engines for war effort - Jun 12, 1940 - HISTORY.com

On this day in 1940, Edsel Ford telephones William Knudsen of the U.S. Office of Production Management (OPM) to confirm Ford Motor Companyís acceptance of Knudsenís proposal to manufacture 9,000 Rolls-Royce-designed engines to be used in British and U.S. airplanes.

By the spring of 1940, Nazi Germany had conquered Poland, Norway and Denmark and pushed France to the brink of defeat. An increasingly nervous General George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the United States needed to rearm in order to prepare for the possibility of a German attack on American shores. That May, Roosevelt called on Knudsen, a former Ford executive who became president of General Motors in 1937, to serve as director general of the OPM, the agency responsible for coordinating government purchases and wartime production. Knudsen had barely settled in Washington when he received an urgent appeal from the British government: The Royal Air Force (RAF) was in desperate need of new airplanes to defend Britain against an expected German offensive.