JF Ptak Science Books LLC
This widely circulated and published photo appeared in 1942 (particularly in LIFE Magazine in 17 September 1942 and the Illustrated London News in the next month), and showed 4,500 aircraft models suspended from the ceiling of Chicago’s Union Station It is the result of an inspiration derived from President Franklin Roosevelt’s assertion that America would produce 185,000 war-focused aircraft in 1942 and 1943.
The planes in this photo were hanging 60-feet above the floor of the station, with wing spans between one foot and four feet (for the bombers). It was a fantastic, blustery, iconic effort to show what it meant to look at 4500 planes—and these paled in comparison to a drawing (which I unfortunately do not have) that appeared in the Illustrated London News on 21 February 1941, showing the entire production fleet of 185,000 aircraft—a column of planes one mile wide and 117 miles long.
Using this photo then to interpolate that full production figure of 185k, you’d have to piece 48 of these photos together to show full production, or a version of this photo that was 8 inches wide and 32 feet long. (The second image of Union Station and the planes is by FSA photographer Jack Delano.)