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My wife pulled this off Facebook last week. Amazing and just one example of how U.S. companies switched over their production to support the war effort.

How many clarinets did it take to make three WWII gas masks? Eight—in the amount of zinc repurposed—according to the Conn Company, of Elkhart, Indiana. When allied victory literally became their business too, Conn ceased production of musical instruments for civilian use (August 1942 to October 1946). The Conn factory was gutted—the tools for band instruments were moved outside under tarps and into sheds and replaced with machinery to produce equipment for the U.S. Army and Navy. Materials previously used to make a single sousaphone, for example, included enough zinc for use in the building of two military motorcycles! For the war effort Conn invented and produced small vibrometers for balancing aircraft propellers; a bomb-release interval control device; and even a secret communications mechanism. Conn also consulted on U.S. military compasses, radar equipment, altimeters, and magnetic-recording applications. Musical accessories were even transformed, such as Conn’s famous Stroboconn musical-tuning device, which was adapted for testing the tuning of airplane motors! On this D-Day (June 6th) anniversary, we post this ad from the extensive Conn collection and archives at the National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota.

Conn WWII.jpg
 

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Patriotic yes, but think about how much that Govt business was worth...
Not to mention that non-military use of many of the raw materials needed for musical instrument production would have been severely restricted so it's not like they could have produced very many musical instruments if they had wanted to.
 

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I've often heard that military horns are among the best, though I'm not sure why. Better materials? More attention because fewer were being made? A patriotic boost to quality control?

Did Conn or other manufacturers change the formula during the war? Did all the military inventions (altimeters, communications, etc.) somehow trickle down to the saxes? Or is it simply that the military has the means to keep only the best instruments that come off the line, and maintain them well?
 

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I think that any superior quality of military horns that might have existed (I own a few myself, and all ARE great players) is due more to the fact that there were extra sets of eyes inspecting for quality control before they were accepted by the Quartermaster Corp. This and the added maintenance afforded these military horns during their lifetime.
 
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