‘Stars over Berlin and Tokyo will soon replace these factory lights reflected in the noses of planes at Douglas Aircraft’s Long Beach, California plant,’ says a caption written for the US National
Archives. ‘Women workers groom lines of transparent noses for deadly A- 20 attack bombers,’ in Office of War Information photographer Ann Rosener’s picture taken in 1942 as the ‘arsenal
of democracy’ was still ramping up. The Plexiglass nosecones of the Havoc bombers reflect a myriad of high bay lamps. Between April 1941 and June 1942 the Douglas Aircraft Long Beach
workforce grew from 950 to 18,000. Men and women worked 10 or 12 hour shifts, six or seven days a week at the plant, meaning the lights were never off. The huge array of pendant lamps
blasted equally harsh light over assembly lines, stock rooms and tool cribs. An individual A- 20 not only required the assembly of 165,000 parts but also their individual inspection, hence, ‘the
bright lights made it impossible to tell what time of day it was in the plant,’ writes Gerrie Schipske in Rosie the Riveter in Long Beach.