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World War II

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At the outbreak of the Second World War, Ward Leonard production facilities were rapidly converted to manufacture only control equipment and components for the war effort. Motor controls and electronic regulating equipment for Navy and maritime vessels were turned out in vast numbers.

Ward Leonard was the leading manufacturer of resistor units in the country at the time. The resistors were units which were placed on radio equipment for communications and also were assembled in conjunction with relays installed in the delicate mechanism in submarines and in turret manipulation equipment on battleships, tanks, and firearms. Ward Leonard resistors were also used in walkie talkies, enemy detection devices, and helped to provide the dim glow over the navigator or bombardiers map.

Additionally, Ward Leonard was a pioneer in the rheostat field. During the war, their rheostats were used on control guns on battleships, performed a multitude of tasks on all combat vessels, and even controlled the heat of the aviator’s suits.

The MIT Radiation Laboratory in 1942 used the Ward Leonard System on the newly developed SCR-584 anti-aircraft radar, which was considered the most advanced ground-based radar of its time and was also one of the first weapon systems developed by the U.S. during the war. The SCR-584 was an effective radar system, helping the allies win the war.

In 1942, Ward Leonard was one of the first Westchester, NY firms to win the Army-Navy “E” Award for its excellent record of production during WWII. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, only 5% of U.S. war production facilities (4,283 facilities) met the stringent requirements to earn the Award. Those requirements included: “excellence in quality and quantity of production; overcoming production obstacles; low rate of absenteeism; avoidance of work stoppages; maintenance of fair labor standards; training of additional labor forces; effective management; record on accidents, health, and plant protection; utilization of subcontracting facilities; cooperation between management and labor as it affected production; and conservation of critical materials.” If a facility continued their record of outstanding performance for six months after the receipt of the “E” Award, they could go on to earn a Star Award, with additional Stars awarded every six months thereafter if the outstanding production continued. Ward Leonard would go on to earn 5 stars for their excellence in wartime production, one of only 206 companies to achieve such distinction.

In July of 1943, Ward Leonard was honored by the Navy in being the first company to receive an outstanding service tribute with the sponsorship of PT Squadron 24.

In November 1943, the Ward Leonard Guard Force won the highest honors, with an award presented to the Auxiliary Military Police Force stationed at the company. The award was based on meritory efficiency, routine procedure, maintenance and adequacy of records, and, in general, the investigation and control of those persons having frequent access to the plant.

In 1943, the Navy Department Bureau of Ships called upon the Ward Leonard Regulator Division to supply Speed and Voltage Regulators to an entire new fleet of submarines under construction. The Speed Regulators incorporated many features of a previous design, while the Voltage Regulators required and entirely new design by Ward Leonard.  These new regulators lead to the development of the Regulator School with the Navy. From January 1944 to October 1945, the Ward Leonard Regulator Division conducted a special training course for Navy personnel. This secret initiative was a school of instruction for Navy personnel in the maintenance, operation, and adjustment of the speed and voltage regulators, covering every minute detail. By July 1945, more than 200 diplomas had been awarded to the sailors who participated in the Regulator School.

In 1945, Ward Leonard was awarded both the Guard Championship and the National Security Award, the only company in the country to win both prestigious awards.

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