The Spirit of Santa Monica

Between 1920 and 1975, Donald Douglas’ company—and a southern California city—helped shape aviation history.

(Courtesy Bill Wasserzieher)

XB-19 Bomber

(Courtesy Bill Wasserzieher)

Time for a shop-floor meeting of employees building the XB-19 bomber (in vertical position) in 1938. The XB-19 was the biggest American plane during World War II, but its late-1930s design soon rendered it obsolete.

“I was a Mechanic ‘A’ working on the factory line," recalls Jean Castro in Wasserzieher's book. "I remember it was a hot August afternoon in 1945, and we all stopped work when we heard Mr. Douglas’ voice come over the loud speaker. When he told us the war was over, we all just put down our tools and streamed out onto Ocean Park Boulevard, laughing and singing and hugging each other. I went home to the little house I shared with my parents on Second Street in Ocean Park, and we got dressed up in our very best and walked down Main Street to the pier and celebrated all night. There were thousands of people on the streets, and we were all hugging and kissing each other and every service man we met.”

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