During World War II, STEINWAY AND SONS produced specially-built pianos for the American troops. Called the Victory Vertical or G.I. Steinways, the pianos were sometimes airdropped onto battlefields to provide a bit of relaxation. They were manufactured in STEINWAY’S Queen-based factory and mostly sold to the U.S. government.
At first, STEINWAY was prohibited from building pianos due to government restrictions on iron, copper, brass, and other raw materials. The factory bided its time producing coffins and parts for troop transport gliders, until it was granted a contract to send specially design pianos to commissioned war soldiers. STEINWAY proceeded to make over 3,000 “Victory Vertical” pianos designed specifically for troops in battle between 1941 and 1953. The pianos came in olive, blue, and gray drab. In 1941, the first “Victory Vertical” was dropped by parachute, complete with tuning equipment and instructions.
For American troops in a faraway country during World War II, music was an excellent way to give them a peace of mind and remember why they were fighting. One soldier wrote home to his family, “Two nights past we received welcome entertainment when a jeep pulling a small wagon came to camp. The wagon contained a light system and a STEINWAY piano. It is smaller and painted olive green, just like the jeep. We all got a kick out of it and sure had fun after meals when we gathered around the piano to sing… I slept smiling and even today am humming a few of the songs we sang.”
The pianos provided an excellent camaraderie and created a strong appreciation on the battlefield for not only the music, but the STEINWAY name.