In defense of our great nation during World War II, Rock-Ola went through a monumental change. When jukebox manufacturing was halted due to the war effort, Rock-Ola suspended all commercial jukebox operations at the North Kedize plant in Chicago to switch production entirely to create M1 carbine rifles for the US Armed Forces and her Allies. The company even transformed an underground bunker below the factory parking lot into a makeshift shooting range.
The Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation during the war
At the height of the conflict, until 1944, Rock-Ola was one of only 11 contractors for these operations, delivering completed military rifles at a rate exceeding 10,000 per month. From a modern manufacturing perspective this is extraordinary. The challenges they faced were enormous; the company would have had to completely retool, recruit many hundreds of new employees, train them up and engineer numerous complex precision parts. The Rock-Ola workforce had to be exceptional to pull off this incredible production feat.
Rock-Ola Employees on the production line
The M1 carbines that have survived into the present day are now highly-prized collector’s items and any M1 Carbine collectors will tell you that Rock-Ola's was among the very best produced.
Wartime M1 carbine production numbers
When the war ended, boys were coming home and it was party time. The first post-war jukebox to leave the factory in 1946 was the 1422 model, emblazoned with the Rock-Ola brand and labelled ‘The Phonograph of Tomorrow’. The industry was booming again.
The Rock-Ola 1422 Model, made in 1946