Colt’s Patent Firearms Mfg Factory Photo Tour Hartford, CT. July, 1942. ~ Image Vault

AmmoLand Image Vault Series

Colt's Armory, Hartford, Ct. between 1900 and 1906
Colt's Armory, Hartford, Ct. between 1900 and 1906

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Welcome to the AmmoLand News image vault. Here is where we dig deep into some of our collection of historic firearms photos for our readers to enjoy. In this series, we visit the Colt's Patent Firearms Mfg. Co., Hartford, Conn. July 1942.

These images feature the production of wartime machine guns and handguns of various calibers. Images and comments are by era photographer Andreas Feininger from the United States Office Of War Information and preserved on Nitrate negatives. AmmoLand Editors have reprocessed and digitally enhanced these photos so you can better see the details and imagery of these important photos. Be sure and click on each image for full-size images views.

This is the first time these images are being seen in print in sixty plus years. If you like this series please leave us feedback in the comments if you would like to see more vintage photo digs like this.

Production Colt 45-Caliber Pistols: Production. 45-caliber pistols. John Ignacek pierces trigger hole guards on .45-caliber automatic pistols in the plant of a large manufacturer of firearms. The plant produces pistols, machine guns and other weapons that will soon be spreading trouble for the Axis. Many men and women are employed in this plant which produces pistols, machine guns and other essential weapons for the armed forces.

Production Colt 45-Caliber Pistols
Production Colt 45-Caliber Pistols

Production Machine Guns: Machine guns of various calibers. Walter Newman, the operator of a high-speed lathe in a large firearms plant, performs an operation on the barrel of a machine gun. Many women workers are also employed in this plant in producing essential weapons for the armed forces.

Production Machine Guns: Machine guns of various calibers. Walter Newman, the operator of a high-speed lathe in a large firearms plant, performs an operation on the barrel of a machine gun. Many women workers are also employed in this plant in producing essential weapons for the armed forces
Production Machine Guns

Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistols: Anthony Freda drills the barrels of .45-caliber automatic pistols in the plant of a large manufacturer of firearms. Many men and women are employed in this plant which produces pistols, machine guns, and other essential weapons for the armed forces.

Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistols
Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistols

More Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistols: William Watson gauges and inspects barrel drilling holes on .45-caliber automatic pistols in the plant of a large manufacturer of firearms. Many men and women are employed herein producing pistols, machine guns and other essential weapons for the armed forces.

More Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistols
More Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistols

Production Machine Gun Barrels: Machine guns of various calibers. High-speed lathe operators in the plant of a large manufacturer of firearms perform precision operations on the barrels of machine guns.

Production Machine Gun Barrels
Production Machine Gun Barrels

Production Grinding Trunnion Blocks: Machine guns of various calibers. Grinding trunnion blocks for .50-caliber machine guns, produced in a large Eastern plant. Note how the operators are protected by respirators.

Production Grinding Trunnion Blocks, Colt Factory 1942
Production Grinding Trunnion Blocks, Colt Factory 1942

Production 50 Caliber Machine Gun: Agnes Mahan, bench lathe operator at a large Eastern firearms plant, makes oil drills for .50- caliber machine gun barrels. Many women workers are employed in this plant, producing essential weapons for the armed forces. Note the Colt's [sic] ID Badge.

Production 50 Caliber Machine Gun
Production 50 Caliber Machine Gun

Production Bench Lathe Operator: Building machine guns of various calibers. Dorothy Taylor, bench lathe operator at a large Eastern firearms plant, makes oil drills for .50- caliber machine gun barrels.

Production Bench Lathe Operator
Production Bench Lathe Operator

Production Milling Machine Operator: Mayna Lentz performs a milling machine operation on the pawl pin of a machine gun that will tell the Axis about the superiority of American weapons. This girl operator in a large Eastern plant is one of many women arsenal workers.

Production Milling Machine Operator
Production Milling Machine Operator

Production .38-Caliber Revolvers: Angela Cherubini, hand miller at a large firearms plant, machines bolt holes on the cylinder of .38-caliber revolvers. Many women, as well as men, are employed in this plant which produces machine guns and automatic pistols for the armed forces.

Production .38-Caliber Revolvers
Production .38-Caliber Revolvers

Production Drop Forge Shop Colt's MFG: In the drop forge shop of a large firearms plant, a skilled operator shapes a forging for the trunnion block of a .50-caliber machine gun.

Production Drop Forge Shop Colt's MFG
Production Drop Forge Shop Colt's MFG

Production Machine Guns Lathe Work: Miss Newman, operator of a high-speed turret lathe in a large firearms plant, performs an operation on the barrel of a machine gun.

Production Machine Guns Lathe Work
Production Machine Guns Lathe Work

Production Drilling Operator Colt's MFG: A drilling operation on the pawl pin of a machine gun in a large Eastern plant. This girl operator is one of many women making a direct contribution to the all-important job of keeping our men in the field well armed for the task ahead.

Production Drilling Operator Colt's MFG
Production Drilling Operator Colt's MFG

Production 45-Caliber Pistols: Norman Rand forges frames for .45- caliber automatic pistols in the plant of a large manufacturer of firearms. Note the drop forge hammer in motion and 45 auto frames piling out the back.

Production 45-Caliber Pistols
Production 45-Caliber Pistols

Production Machine Gun Parts: Machining a switch pivot for a machine gun in a large Eastern plant. Women's hands are playing a prominent role in this plant producing essential weapons.

Production Machine Gun Parts
Production Machine Gun Parts

Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistol Ejectors: Anna Healey turns and drills butt millings on the ejector of .45-caliber automatic pistols in the plant of a large manufacturer of firearms. This plant produces pistols, machine guns and other weapons that will soon be spreading trouble for the Axis.

Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistol Ejectors
Production 45-Caliber Automatic Pistol Ejectors

If you enjoyed this look back and want to see more let us know in the comments below.

*Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USE6-D-006258 (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8b07473 (digital file from original neg.)]

  • 42 thoughts on “Colt’s Patent Firearms Mfg Factory Photo Tour Hartford, CT. July, 1942. ~ Image Vault

    1. I have made many , many engine parts for military aircraft both jet and combustion. And they were made on pre-world war 2 machines. Machines that turned out parts for world war 2 planes and other vehicles. This was a very good read for me. Although we did have modern equipment that could put out multiple parts with unbelievable tolerance I love this type of equipment. . It gives the user more of a feeling of accomplishment, more hands on. And to see this firearms production is great. Especially with 6 years of Army behind me. Soundly made weapons made with pride. Thanks for the read.

      1. When you have the drawings and a skilled machinist, the old manual machines are faster when doing just a few parts. You can make a part, such as a pin to connect the scissors on a landing gear strut pretty quickly. But if you need 1,000 such pins you might need a month of time of a machinist and have a 5% scrap rate. Today it might only take one day and a machine operator to monitor the CNC machining station that does everything except heat treating. Turning, drilling, and gauging automated.

    2. We were the “Arsenal of Democracy “ as ships laden with newly made arms flowed to England and other freedom loving nations. My father was a engineering officer fresh from Kings Point, Merchant Marine Academy in conveys across the Atlantic.He served on an oil tanker. Luckily he came home,or I wouldn’t be typing this. So thank you to all who served,at home or in service. Thank you for some damn fine pictures of that world.

    3. ~ WAR BONDS AT WORK ~ should be the title.
      This was before CNC machines were even thought of.
      True craftsmanship in every piece !
      “Rosie” did not work in the aircraft plants only !

      *KEEP IT COMING*

    4. Wonderful to see history in action. This what made America great! Now l need to research when the Colt 38 Army Special that belonged to my father was made. I’d like to see the AR factory line, please!

    5. State of the “art” of gun making in 1942. Machine operators turned hand cranks to remove material. Turn too far and the part was scrap. The actual size of a finished part was greatly different since each part was installed on the machine, a first cut was made and then measured with a micrometer. The operator then calculated how many graduations on the handwheel would remove half the difference between the current part diameter and the desired finished size..
      Each part was different.
      A modern CNC machining station can turn out a series of parts identical to 1/10000 inch.
      Love the old pictures. You should include some modern factory pictures and video to show how far we’ve come in 75 years.

    6. I loved this. I was born and raised in Hartford. My father and 6 uncles fought in WW11. Somehow they all lived to come home. I was born in 1948 and lived two blocks from this plant. There is a huge Colts park there where we spent our summer days at the playground. In the winter we were there for ice skating and sledding. My high school played football games at Dillion stadium there. Summer bike races and later semi-pro football. Yes, please do more like this.

    7. I’d much prefer that the original comments be left unedited without apology. Nothing worse than trying to make the past politically correct. And I agree that this should be a regular feature with as many representations of the various manufacturing plants of years gone by as possible. As my grandfather was a Marine armorer, anything of that nature would be greatly appreciated. This set from Colt was professionally shot and amazingly preserved.

    8. OUTSTANDING ! Far too few of our current population realize what a tremendous contribution the non-military men & women of America made to winning WW II….
      The fact that we are reading this article in English should bring Great pride to all Americans!!
      I am Honored & Blessed to have personally Known so many of ” The Greatest Generation” and to have a Colt Python close at hand…( & a colt 1911 close to the other hand!!)

    9. Awesome! Love seeing the pictures of “way back when”.

      As much history as there is in firearms through the ages, a similar history exists in the manufacturing processes. I very much enjoy seeing/learning how things were done with the technology that existed at the time.

    10. Very good I would bet some of those machines are still working somewhere. It would be nice to see more of the machines that are still working today.
      Thanks

    11. This is a great photo series you have published. Andreas Feininger was a great photographer who also worked for Life Magazine, among others, and is known for his photos of architecture and scientific subjects and 1930’s-1940’s New York and the Brooklyn Bridge at Night. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Feininger
      Also, Nitrate negatives are highly unstable and quite flammable, so it’s kudos to you for digitizing them and cleaning up the images for high-resolution display. This is a job well done, and a labor of love on your part. I hope you will do more of these series.

    12. It’d be nice if the labels were accurate. You do not drill a barrel into the frame of a 45 auto. That was the initial hole in the magazine well.

    13. The men and women in these great photo’s would be ashamed to know how their heirs feel about firearms and what they have done to limit the ownership of the products these real Americans took pride in making.
      What a shame.

    14. GREAT photos! Ammoland is an outstanding site, and this feature is very interesting and enjoyable. Also important to preserve these photos for historic reference. Keep up the good work.

    15. Awesome. Drove past this plant for many years, and although not in operation any more, the plant and the awesome Colt Dome are still there and maintained. The newer plant in W. Hartford has none of the old glory of this beautiful piece of history. It is the landmark of Hartford, and is viewable while driving on I-95 thru Hartford.

      Now, any chance of resurrecting some of the historical Remington plants in Bridgeport CT where both of my in-laws worked. My FIL retired from Remington as the manager of the ballistics dept.

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