LIFE and Times: Rolls-Royce Merlin Aircraft Engine Production

The second photo collection unearthed by PPG volunteer Richard Mayer is an impressive reminder that the Packard Motor Car Company assisted in the manufacture of aircraft engines during the 1940s. Nearly two hundred photos are included in this collection, all of which depict the manufacture of the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines. While exploring the images, Mayer discovered “a couple exterior shots of the new buildings that Packard built at the plant site,” which were specifically designed for use in facilitating the engines’ construction.

These images were taken in 1941 by documentary photographer Bernard Hoffman. Hoffman’s most prolific work occurred during his time with LIFE Magazine, and includes his status as the first American photographer to capture the aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Following his departure from the magazine in 1951, Hoffman developed Bernard Hoffman Laboratories to focus on making improvements to professional photographic technology.

Browsing this collection is a reminder that this impressive company and its workers not only made efforts to make people’s lives easier through high-quality vehicles—but that they also helped to design and create well-functioning, reliable aircrafts. During the 1940s, this was a high calling indeed. We’re grateful to Google Arts & Culture for preserving the company’s involvement in its efforts to keep American airmen safe.