General Dynamics -------';--~ - - .Aircraft and their Predecessors John Wegg
General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors
The AFTI/F-16 (75-750) at Fort Worth in 1982. (General Dynamics)
Preface and Acknowledgments
Thomas Brothers and Thomas-Morse
Thomas Brothers Aircraft Thomas-:\1orse Aircraft Thomas and Thomas-:\1orse Selected Projects
Dayton Wright Dayton Wright Aircraft Dayton \Vlight Projects
Consolidated Aircraft Corporation Consolidated :\1odels and Production Summary Consolidated Aircraft John \Vegg 1990 First published in Great Britain by Putnam Aeronautical Books, an imprint of Conway :\ Iaritime Press Ltd 24 Bride Lane, Fleet Street London EC4Y 8DR Published and distributed in the United States of Ameriea and Canada by the _ aval Institute Press Annopolis, ylaryland 2l-1D2 Library of Congress Catalog Card :'-10. 89-60237 ISBN 0-87021-233-8 'n,is edition is authorized for sale only in the L'nited States and its territories and possessions, ,md Canada. All rights reser.·ed. Cnauthorized duplication eontra\'enes appliCllble la\\'s. :\ lanufaetured in Great Britain.
Hall-Aluminum Hall Aircraft
Stinson Stinson Aircraft Selected Stinson Projects
Vultee Vultee Aircraft
Barkley-Grow Aircraft Corporation Barkley-Grow Aircraft
Convair Convair Aircraft Convair Selected Projects
General Dynamics General Dynamics Aircraft General Dynamics elected Projects
32 34 41
42 49 50 110 111
116 118 147 148
152 170 170 173 178
228 232 247 249
Preface and Acknowledgements
( )f all the major aircraft manufactw-ers .,ctive in the United States today, none has had such a complicated corporate history as General Dynamics. The present General Dynamics is a defence wnglomerate encompassing not only aircraft (which contribute about one third of its revenue), but also submarines, missiles, space and electronics, and land vehicles and systems. As its title suggests, this book retricts its coverage to aircraft, and other products of General Dynamics are exduded. However, there are three airl raft manufacturers that are eligible for melusion in this volume but have had to be omitted because of space conIderations. Canadair, owned outright by the Electric Boat Company (forerunner of General Dynamics) since July 1947, became Canadian-controlI·d in 1976, and is comprehensively Ulvered in a companion Putnam, CalIadian Aircrqft since 1909. Also induded in that title is Fleet Aircraft of '
craft. Further complicating the fOimat was the intricate family tree of the predecessor companies, themselves frequently the subjects of takeovers, mergers, and acquisitions. Therefore, this book is divided into four separate parts which more logically follow the progress of aircraft design and manufacturing by the ten companies, although inevitably there is some overlap and some anomalies. The quartet consists of the Consolidated lineage, encompassing Thomas and Thomas-Morse, Dayton Wright, Consolidated, and Hall Aluminum; the Vultee group of companies-Stinson, Vultee, and Barkley-Grow; the Convair or Consolidated Vultee era; and fmally General Dynamics. Each of these sections include histories of tlle manufactw-ers themselves, followed by the aircraft types and, unlike otller Putnam titles, which use appendices, selected projects and production information. With such a vast subject, there have been limits to the exhaustiveness of detail that can be included. Therefore, although attempting to remain close to the Putnam tradition of thoroughness with regard to historical and technical facts, some aircraft type histories have been subject to editi.ng by the author, along with licence production of other unrelated manufacturer's types. Also, tlle sections referring to unbuilt projects and production lists have been intentionally restricted i.n scope. As the main focus has been to record the history of aircraft, sin1i.lar sacrifices have been made with regard to the fullness of corporate history and biographies of founders and key figures. In the latter case, two previously published works
are of considerable value: Reu.ben Fleet and the story of Consolidated Aircraft, by William Wagner (Aero Publishers, 1976), and John Underwood's The Stinsons (Heritage Press, 1967). Any attempt to chronicle the more than one hundred basic types produced and built by the ten companies included in this book faces the problem that after so many corporate changes since 1910, a great deal of contemporary source material and photographs are now either in inaccessible storage, or lost. General Dynamics itself doe not have a company historian, although attempts at gathering information were made at various times by its employees. Howard 0 Welty and Nelson Fuller authored a multi-part series about the history of Convair/General Dynamics in the in-house publication Corrvairiety in the late 19505, and a company-sponsored public relations exercise called Dynmnic America appeared in 1958. Another company-sponsored historical revievv appeared in 1973, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Convair Aerospace Division of General Dynamics. Written by Jack Smothers, much material was contributed by Gordon Jackson, acknowledged as the unofficial histOl;an of Convair. Fortunately, a great deal of Jackson's notes, gathered over a long period with help from Larry Peterson, from company archives, photographs, and through interviews with employees has survived and are now with the San Diego Aerospace Museum. This fme establishment, which has risen phoenix-like from tlle ashes of the disastrous fire that almost totally destroyed the previous collection, is a haven of refuge for Consolidated and
8 GENERAL DYNA:\IlCS
Convair material. Through the kind offices of Ray Wagner, archivist, and his staff, the musewn's collection was opened to the author and proved to be an indispensable source. Although this book was not sponsored by General Dynamics, Jack Isabel and Z Joe Thornton, public affairs managers at San Diego and Fort Worth respectively, assisted with photographs and information wherever possible. I am also indebted to several former Convair employees for reading and correcting parts of my manuscript thanks to their firsthand knowledge, namely William F Chana (flight test engineer), Donald P Germeraad, Jolm W Knebel, and B J Long (test pilots). Many fellow historians, often experts on a particular subject in their o,vn light, wlselfishly shared their files of docwnentation and photographs with me. My heartfelt thanks to Richard Sanders Allen, Harold M Andrews, Walter J Boyne, Dustin W Carter, Jean-Pierre Dubois, Rene FrancilJon, Robert A Gordon, Terry Judge, Gary L Killion, Robel1: E Martin, Alain Pelletier, and Patrick Vinot Prefontaine. Others offered advice, assistance, research sources, information, and photographs that all added to this volwne, and my grateful acknowledgements go to James J Davilla, H S Fyfield Jr, Harvey Lippincott, Leonard E Opdycke, J J Paul, Jim Presley (1 aval Air Museum), Boardman C Reed, and Michael J Strole As the former Convair photograph fues are no longer intact or accessible, the majority of the illustrations had to be culled from a variety of collections, including the author's. Every attempt has been made to creeLt the original photographer but regrettably, over the passage of time, man y names have been lost and my apologies to those slighted by an incorrect credit line. Special thanks to Peter M. Bowers, Stephen]. Hudek, and A R Krieger for access to their vast negative collections, and also to Richard Aardsma, G James Alaback, Larry Milberry, Merle C Olmsted, and Robert J Ruffle, all of whom provided illustrations. Published sources of particular value were volwnes of the American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Convairiety, Stinson Plane News, Stinson Plane Talk, and The Vultair; plus notable
books by Allen Blue (B-24 Liherator), Gary L Killion (The Convair TVJins), Jay Miller (Convair B-58), and Ray Wagner (American Combat Planes). Most of the general arrangements drawings were produced by Carl G Al1remark, whose skill and care is evident to all. Gratitude also goes to Conway Maritime's editor John Stroud, not only for his shrewd comments and corrections, but also for his knowledgeable writing over many years which inspired this author down the path of aviation journalism.
In general, style and presentation of facts in this book follows along the accepted lines of the Putnam manufacturer series. The most obvious deviation concems the use of the term Manufacturer's Serial Nwnber (msn) instead of the hitherto accepted style, in enthusiast circles at least, of Constructor's Nwnber (c/n). Aircraft manufacturers assign an individual serial nwnber to their products as a means of identification, a nwnber that is rarely changed (if so, then most often in rebuilding projects) and thus, wllike nwnbers or letter combinations issued by registration authorities, or military serial numbers, fonn a pennanent record. Consequently, the histol)' of a particular aircraft may be traced via this nwnber. Manufacturer's Serial Number, commonly abbreviated to just serial nwnber, i...