1907 - 1925 1926 - 1938 1939 -1945 1946 - 1948 1949 - 1958 1959 - 1964


1939 to 1945: The war years

Success of the B71 snowmobile is such that by 1939 the L'Auto-Neige Bombardier is unable to keep up with demand. A more modern plant is built in 1940 with an annual production capacity of 200 vehicles. It will be inaugurated on January 29, 1941 under the name L'Auto-Neige Bombardier.

Birth of the B121 snowmobile

Through 1941, Joseph-Armand perfects a new snowmobile called the B121, which receives a patent on June 23, 1942. This new version of the snowmobile seats 12 passengers and features a longer, more aerodynamic profile than the B7 snowmobile.

The launch of the B121 snowmobile meets with great success, and orders increase. But momentum is short-lived, halted prematurely by Canada's declaration of war.

Military vehicles

Mat
erial and manpower rationing now prevents Joseph-Armand from manufacturing civilian vehicles. His offer of service to the Minister of Munitions and Supply is greeted with a mandate to develop a prototype military snowmobile for transporting troops in snowbound operation zones, such as Norway.

Using the B121 snowmobile as a model, the inventor takes a few weeks to develop the prototype B11, with technical innovations submitted for Canadian and American p
atents. The Canadian Forces orders 130 vehicles, to be delivered in four months.



The Valcourt plant is too small for such an order, so Joseph-Armand begins production in an existing Montreal factory. He continues manufacturing parts in Valcourt to maintain employment for village workers.

At the request of Canadian authorities, Joseph-Armand develops a prototype of an armoured tracked vehicle, named Kaki1, in 1943. Conclusive trials carried out near Valcourt allow the inventor to perfect the first in a series of armoured snowmobiles, named Mark I1, armoured snowmobile which after modifications becomes the Mark II1, also known as the Penguin1. It is followed by the Mark III1.

More than 1900 tracked military vehicles are produced following Joseph-Armand Bombardier's designs between 1942 and 1946. Although wartime production is limited, civilian snowmobiles are still manufactured at a modest pace in Valcourt to meet the needs of special permit holders. Production even increases annually, going from 27 units in 1942-43 to 236 units in 1945-46.

As the war ends, Joseph-Armand Bombardier leaves Montreal to return to Valcourt where he continues expanding the company.

Incorporation

Despite the war and its many restrictions, Joseph-Armand tirelessly pursues his research, trials, and inventions, and continues to submit patent requests in Canada and the United States. To protect his rights and benefit close associates, he decides to give the company a legal framework. On July 10, 1942, L'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée is born, with a head office in Valcourt, Quebec and authorized capital of 3,000 shares.

Wartime restrictions and challenges brought out the best in Joseph-Armand Bombardier: an exceptional ability to adapt to the most limiting of circumstances, an almost limitless capacity for work, a heightened sense of responsibility toward his hometown, and a sense of open-mindedness to the changing horizons lying ahead. He possessed crucial wisdom in surrounding himself with quality people to help run his business successfully ­ which left him more time for his inventions.

KAKI1 Mark I1 Mark I1

 

 


Two B121 snowmobiles


A B121 snowmobile on the British Colombia ice field


Joseph-Armand Bombardier and a B11 snowmobile


A Kaki1


A Mark I1


A Mark III1


The management team at L'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée consists of the founder and his earliest supporters: brothers Léopold, Alphonse-Raymond and Gérard, and secretary Marie-Jeanne Dupaul.


 
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