Consolidated Aircraft

The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet in Buffalo, New York, the result of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company's liquidation and Fleet's purchase of designs from the Dayton-Wright Company as the subsidiary was being closed by its parent corporation, General Motors.[1] Consolidated became famous, during the 1920s and 1930s, for its line of flying boats. The most successful of the Consolidated patrol boats was the PBY Catalina, which was produced throughout World War II and used extensively by the Allies. Equally famous was the B-24 Liberator, a heavy bomber which, like the Catalina, saw action in both the Pacific and European theaters.

Consolidated Aircraft
TypePublic company
IndustryAerospace
Predecessor
FoundedBuffalo, New York, United States, 1923; 98 years ago (1923)
FounderReuben H. Fleet
Defunct1943; 78 years ago (1943)
FateMerged with Vultee Aircraft
SuccessorConvair
Headquarters,
United States of America
Key people
Isaac M. Laddon
ParentAviation Corporation
(1941–1943)

In 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft, later known as Convair.

HistoryEdit

Consolidated Aircraft (and later Convair) had their headquarters in San Diego, California, on the border of Lindbergh Field (KSAN).

Consolidated's first design was one of those purchased by Fleet from Dayton-Wright, the TW-3 primary trainer, sold to the U.S. Army as the PT-1 Trusty. In September 1924 the company moved from the Gallaudet plant in Connecticut to new facilities in Buffalo, New York, and in the same year won a U.S. Navy contract for a naval version of the PT-1 designated the NY-1.[1]

Lawrence D. Bell served as the Operating Head at Consolidated from 1929 to 1934. When the company relocated to San Diego, Bell decided to stay behind to start up his own company, the Bell Aircraft Corporation, in the former Consolidated plant.[2]

 
A Consolidated Aircraft hydraulic mechanic greasing the landing gear of a transport

In September 1935 Consolidated moved across the country to its new "Building 1", a 247,000-square-foot (22,900 m2) continuous flow factory in San Diego, California. The first production PBY Catalina was launched in San Diego Bay in 1936,[3] and the first XPB2Y-1 Coronado test aircraft made its first flight in 1937.[4] Consolidated vice president Edgar Gott was responsible for securing the company's contract to design and build the B-24 Liberator bomber.[5] The XB-24 Liberator prototype made its first flight in December 1939, and the first production order was from the French in 1940, just days before their surrender to Germany; six of these YB-24 Liberators were designated LB-30A and ferried to Britain.[6]

In 1940, Consolidated bought Hall-Aluminum Aircraft Corporation and dissolved the company. Archibald M. Hall was President of the company at the time and later became an executive of Consolidated. Several other Hall-Aluminum engineers and technical people were added to the Consolidated staff to meet defense production needs.[7] By the fall of 1941, Consolidated was San Diego's largest employer with 25,000 employees, which eventually expanded to 45,000 by the following year.[8][9]

 
Assembling a wing section, Fort Worth, Texas, October 1942

In November 1941, Fleet sold his 34.26% interest in Consolidated for $10.9 million to Victor Emanuel, the president of AVCO, with the idea that Consolidated would be merged with AVCO's Vultee subsidiary.[6]

 
Consolidated Aircraft patch during WWII

To meet the needs of the military during World War II, General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold decided to open a regular air transport service between the U.S. mainland and the Southwest Pacific in April 1942. The Ferry Command chose Consolidated as the operating agency, forming Consolidated Airways, Inc., also known as Consairways. The airlines carried personnel, cargo and delivered aircraft to the Pacific Theatre. It was reported to have carried more than 101 million tons of cargo and had flown more than 299 million passenger miles when it closed in 1945.[10]

In 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft or Convair.

In March 1953, General Dynamics purchased a majority interest in Convair, where it continued to produce aircraft or aircraft components until being sold to McDonnell Douglas in 1994. McDonnell Douglas shut down the division after just two years of operations in 1996.

AircraftEdit

Model name First flight Number built Type
Consolidated PT-1 Trusty 1923 221 Single engine biplane trainer
Consolidated NY 1925 302 Single engine biplane trainer
Consolidated PT-3 1927 250 Single engine biplane trainer
Consolidated O-17 Courier 1927 35 Single engine biplane observation airplane
Consolidated Commodore 1928 14 Twin engine monoplane flying boat airliner
Consolidated P2Y 1929 78 Twin engine monoplane flying boat patrol airplane
Consolidated Fleetster 1929 26 Single engine monoplane transport
Consolidated PT-11 1931 41 Single engine biplane trainer
Consolidated XB2Y 1933 1 Single engine biplane dive bomber
Consolidated P-30 1934 60 Single engine monoplane fighter
Consolidated PBY Catalina 1936 1,871 Twin engine monoplane flying boat patrol bomber
Consolidated PB2Y Coronado 1937 217 Four engine monoplane flying boat patrol bomber
Consolidated XP4Y Corregidor 1939 1 Prototype twin engine monoplane flying boat patrol airplane
Consolidated B-24 Liberator 1939 ~9,251 Four engine monoplane heavy bomber
Consolidated TBY Sea Wolf 1941 180 Single engine monoplane torpedo bomber
Consolidated B-32 Dominator 1942 118 Four engine monoplane heavy bomber
Consolidated XB-41 Liberator 1 Prototype four engine monoplane bomber escort
Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator 977 Four engine monoplane patrol bomber
Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express 287 Four engine monoplane cargo airplane
Consolidated C-109 218 Four engine monoplane cargo airplane
Consolidated Liberator I 20 Four engine monoplane heavy bomber
Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer 1944 739 Four engine monoplane patrol bomber
Consolidated R2Y 1944 1 Prototype four engine monoplane cargo airplane
Consolidated XPB3Y N/A 0 Unbuilt four engine monoplane flying boat patrol bomber

ReferencesEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Only assets purchased, no direct organizational connection
  2. ^ Only design rights purchased, not entire company

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Yenne 2009, p. 15.
  2. ^ Wagner, William (1976). Reuben Fleet and The Story of Consolidated Aircraft. Aero Publishers, Inc. pp. 180–182. ISBN 0-8168-7950-8.
  3. ^ Yenne 2009, p. 16.
  4. ^ Yenne 2009, p. 17.
  5. ^ Boone, Andrew R., "The Liberator", Popular Science. May 1943. p. 90.
  6. ^ a b Yenne 2009, p. 18.
  7. ^ Wagner, William (1976). Reuben Fleet and The Story of Consolidated Aircraft. Aero Publishers, Inc. pp. 180–182. ISBN 0-8168-7950-8.
  8. ^ Linder, Bruce (2001). San Diego's Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 122. ISBN 1-55750-531-4.
  9. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 219–34, 242–3, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  10. ^ Pescador, Katrina; Renga, Alan (2007). Aviation in San Diego. Arcadia Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-7385-4759-6.

BibliographyEdit

  • Yenne, Bill. Convair Deltas from SeaDart to Hustler. Specialty Press: North Branch, MN, 2009. ISBN 978-1-58007-118-5.