London Aircraft Production (L.A.P.)
During the Second World War, many London factories abandoned their normal production to focus on war work. Manufacture of munitions, vehicles and aircraft was a priority.
London Transport (L.T) was one of the largest organisations in London contributing to the war effort. Its Charlton tram and trolleybus works took on additional work manufacturing ammunition and gun parts. The buses and coaches department at Chiswick Works manufactured armoured lorries and parts. On the site adjacent to Acton Works, damaged vehicles including tanks were overhauled.
Notable amongst L.T's wartime productions was the completion of 710 Handley Page Halifax bomber aircraft. Together with Chrysler, Duple, Express Motor & Bodyworks Limited, and Park Royal Coachworks, L.T. formed the London Aircraft Production Group (L.A.P) in 1940. The L.T. chairman, Lord Ashfield, also became chairman of the L.A.P.
L.T. had responsibility for manufacturing the centre section of the plane, installing engine units and the front fuselage, final assembly and aircraft testing. It also coordinated the group's work. The heart of the organisation was established at the L.T. works at Chiswick, with additional premises on land set aside for the Northern Line construction at Aldenham. Later L.T. also took over a new factory built at Leavesden, near Watford, for the final assembly and testing of the planes.
L.T. transferred staff from its various engineering departments, although none had any experience of aircraft construction. The desperate need for completed planes, particularly after the air war intensified in the summer of 1940, meant that most workers received little specific training. Eventually, over half the workforce were women, none of whom had previous engineering experience. However, this did not adversely affect production, and morale amongst L.A.P. staff was high for the duration of the war. Many L.T. staff also volunteered to work on the aircraft production in their own time, and collections were made to raise funds. Enough money was raised to pay for two bombers to be built.
At the peak of its production the L.A.P. included 41 separate factories and units, 600 sub-contractors and 51,000 employees. Production averaged one aircraft per hour.
The first L.A.P. Halifax was completed in 1941. The last, given the name London Pride, was delivered to the R.A.F. in April 1945.
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