Vultee Aircraft Corporation History Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation History
“After American Airlines showed great interest in their six-passenger Vultee V-1 design, Errett Lobban (E.L.) Cord bought all 500 shares of stock in the company and the Airplane Development Corporation became a Cord subsidiary.
Due to the Air Mail Act of 1934, AVCO established the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation (AMC) on November 30, 1934 through the acquisition of Cord's holdings, including Vultee's Airplane Development Corporation. AMC was liquidated on January 1, 1936 and Vultee Aircraft Division was formed as an autonomous subsidiary of AVCO. Jerry Vultee was named vice president and chief engineer. Vultee acquired the assets of the defunct AMC, including Lycoming and Stinson Aircraft Company.
Meanwhile, Vultee and Vance Breese had redesigned the V-1 to meet American Airlines' needs and created the eight-passenger V-1A. American purchased 11 V-1As, but the aircraft ultimately failed due to safety concerns about a single-engine aircraft and the advent of the twin-engine Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s. Vultee redesigned the V-1 into the V-11 attack aircraft for the United States Army Air Corps, but it received few initial orders. In November 1939, the Vultee Aircraft Division of AVCO was reorganized as an independent company but Breese was not part of the company at that point.”Wikipedia
"In 1923, Art Mankey, who was then in charge of engineering at Douglas Aircraft, hired Vultee as a structural aeronautical engineer ( Jerry Vultee in Vega fuselage, 1929 photo). Also at Douglas was Jack Northrop who was working on an idea for a commercial aircraft, the Vega (Photo). Since Douglas was doing military aircraft at the time, Northrop took his idea to mentor Alan Loughead (spelling later changed to "Lockheed.", photo left of Bill Henry in middle and Lockheed at right).
In 1928, Northrop invited Vultee to join him and they built the Vega, one of the most popular planes of its day. Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh all flew and adored it. (Amelia Earhart & Wiley Post below).
In 1928, Northrop left the young company, and Vultee became Lockheed's new chief engineer. He designed the Lockheed 8 Sirius for Charles Lindbergh which brought him some notoriety". Western Museum of Flight
Vultee Aircraft Downey History
"Fewer than 40 of these aircraft are still flying today. Our aircraft was manufactured at the Downey, CA plant and delivered to the USAAC in November 1942 where it was used in basic pilot training at Shaw Field, SC. It was transferred to the Civil Air Patrol after WWII where it remained in service until the late 1960's. In 1970, Frederick F. Walker, Sr., a WWII Veteran and Chief Pilot in Southeast Asia for Air America, bought the BT-13 and based it at the airport in Fryeburg, Maine. He would spend his summers there and fly the aircraft only a few times a year. Mr. Walker passed away on February 14, 1999 and his family sold his BT-13 to the National Capitol Squadron in July 2000. The squadron, in turn, donated it to the CAF. We are in the process of returning it to its WWII appearance.
Richard Palmer, Vultee Aircraft's chief designer, began the design of a fighter in 1938. However, the USAAC issuance of a requirement for an advanced trainer changed the design effort from a fighter to an advanced trainer. The result was the VF-51 prototype. This aircraft made its first flight in March 1939 as a low-wing, all-metal monoplane with retractable main landing gear, powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp 600 hp radial engine driving a two-blade variable pitch propeller." More here...
Vultee Field below with Cerritos Road ( Lakewood Blvd.) in front of original EMSCO building before the construction of the Kaufmann Wing, including the Rotunda and added offices. With international orders consistently coming in and interest from the military, the Downey plant would expand numerous time through the coming decades. in this image notice Washburn Road cut through to Lakewood Blvd.? In the distance are orange groves and Bellflower BVlvd.
"The Vultee P-66 Vanguard was a United States Army Air Forces fighter aircraft. It was initially ordered by Sweden, but by the time the aircraft were ready for delivery in 1941, the United States would not allow them to be exported, designating them as P-66s and retaining them for defensive and training purposes. Eventually, a large number were sent to China where they were pressed into service as combat aircraft with indifferent results...In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, all Vanguards were assigned the designation P-66. Production ended in April 1942. Approximately 50 aircraft were retained by the USAAF and primarily used at pursuit training bases in the western U.S. and were deployed to the 14th Pursuit Group in defensive roles. Although pilots were impressed by the P-66's handling, the type was considered less than robust and a tendency to ground-loop led to 15 aircraft being destroyed in landing accidents." Wikipedia
Vultee XP-54 - The "Swoosh Goose"
"The XP-54 was unique in numerous ways. The pressurized cockpit required a complex entry system: the pilot’s seat acted as an elevator for cockpit access from the ground. The pilot lowered the seat electrically, sat in it, and raised it into the cockpit. Bail-out procedure was complicated by the pressurization system and necessitated a downward ejection of the pilot and seat in order to clear the propeller arc. Also, the nose section could pivot through the vertical, three degrees up and six degrees down. In the nose, two 37 mm T-9 cannon were in rigid mounts while two .50 cal machine guns were in movable mounts. Movement of the nose and machine guns was controlled by a special compensating gun sight. Thus, the cannon trajectory could be elevated without altering the flight attitude of the airplane. The large nose section gave rise to its whimsical nickname, the Swoose Goose, inspired by a song about Alexander who was half swan and half goose: "Alexander was a swoose." Wikipedia
Who was "Jerry" Vultee?
Vultee Aircraft Corporation History Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation History
Jerry Vultee was a native of California and he was one of the first graduates in aeronautical engineering in 1921 at the California Institute of Technology. Starting as a draftsman at the Lougheed Company, now Lockheed, he worked his way up to become chief engineer. It was under his direction that the first low-wing commercial planes with retractable landing gear were built in America. Jerry Vultee’s connection to Arizona was first recorded on the Davis-Monthan Register when he landed at Tucson Sunday, March 30, 1930. He was a passenger in an almost new Lockheed Vega Model 3, built August 27, 1929, registration number, NC522K. His pilot was none other than Wiley Post. They were eastbound from Burbank, California to El Paso, Texas. No purpose was cited in the register for their trip and they departed the same day. At that time Vultee was Lockheed's chief engineer and was a primary designer of the Vega model at Lockheed. The Vega was one of the most popular planes of its day; Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh all flew and adored it. Also while at Lockheed, Jerry Vultee was the chief designer in the development of the Lockheed Orion and the speedy, far-ranging Lockheed Sirius (which Lindbergh used to scout routes for airlines) which brought him some notoriety. http://www.aircraftwrecks.com
Duke Kahanamoku: The heroic moment that became part of his legend.
LA Times David C. Henley August 2015
"As for Jerry Vultee, Kahanamoku's best friend and longtime surfing companion who joined in the rescue of the Thelma fishermen, he was a Caltech alumnus and founder of the Vultee Aircraft Corp. that built the Army's iconic V-ll dive bomber.
On Jan. 29, 1938 — 13 years after the Thelma tragedy — Vultee was piloting a small, single-engine airplane while en route from New York City to Los Angeles when heavy snows and winds forced it off course following a stop for fuel at Winslow, Ariz.
Attempting to land on the snow-covered desert, Vultee lost his bearings and crashed into a tree near Sedona. A nearby resident said he heard "an awful screech ... then deafening silence ... and then a loud bang."
It took rescuers a day to reach the wreckage of the tiny Stinson SR-9C aircraft that contained the remains of Vultee, 38, and his sole passenger, his wife, Sylvia, 27. The couple had left their only child, 6-month-old Peter, in the care of a nurse at their home in Los Angeles". More here from LA Times
"Convair (Consolidated Aircraft Corporation ) was an American aircraft manufacturing company, which later expanded into rockets and spacecraft. The company was formed in 1943 by the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft, and went on to produce aircraft such as the Convair B-36 bomber, the F-102 Delta Dagger, the F-106 Delta Dart, the B-58 Hustler bomber, as well as the Convair 880 and Convair 990 jet airliners. It also manufactured the first Atlas rockets, including the rockets that were used for the manned orbital flights of Project Mercury. The company's subsequent Atlas-Centaur design continued this success and derivatives of the design remain in use as of 2017. In 1994 most of the company's divisions were sold by then-owners General Dynamics to McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed, with the remaining components deactivated in 1996." Wikipedia
Gerard F. Vultee- The Genius of a Life Stopped Short
Gerard “Jerry” Freebairn Vultee has been described as a little known man who played a leading role in the drama of early aviation in America. He ascended to international prominence as an aircraft designer and engineer only to die tragically in an aircraft accident in Arizona. Some of the innovations he helped introduce were the engine nacelle or cowling, the fully retractable landing gear, replaceable fuselage panels, the V-type windshield (above), and Vultee large wing flaps that made it possible to reduce landing speeds. His contributions to aviation are vast and his legacy lives on in the state of Arizona. Jerry Vultee was a native of California and he was one of the first graduates in aeronautical engineering in 1921 at the California Institute of Technology. Starting as a draftsman at the Lougheed Company, now Lockheed, he worked his way up to become chief engineer. It was under his direction that the first low-wing commercial planes with retractable landing gear were built in America. Click Vultee's Last Flight for more
Articles about Vultee
Jobs at Vultee Field in Downey- 1943
Meet The Vultee's
1940 airplane crash near Downey's Vultee Aircraft
The Vultee Aircraft Company from the Western Museum of Flight
Gerard "Jerry" Freebairn Vultee (1900-1938).
In 1912 his family moved to Ocean Park, California, and he attended Caltech from 1921 to 1923, studying aviation science. As a student project he designed and built a full-sized aircraft, the Tal Glider ( Photo right).
In 1923, Art Mankey, who was then in charge of engineering at Douglas Aircraft, hired Vultee as a structural aeronautical engineer ( Jerry Vultee in Vega fuselage, 1929 photo at left). Also at Douglas was Jack Northrop who was working on an idea for a commercial aircraft, the Vega (Photo left). Since Douglas was doing military aircraft at the time, Northrop took his idea to mentor Alan Loughead (spelling later changed to "Lockheed.", photo left of Bill Henry in middle and Lockheed at right).
In 1928, Northrop invited Vultee to join him and they built the Vega, one of the most popular planes of its day. Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh all flew and adored it. (Wiley Post right).
In 1928, Northrop left the young company, and Vultee became Lockheed's new chief engineer. He designed the Lockheed 8 Sirius for Charles Lindbergh which brought him some notoriety.
Some of the innovations he helped introduce were the engine nacelle or cowling, the fully retractable landing gear, replaceable fuselage panels, the V-type windshield, and Vultee large wing flaps that made it possible to reduce landing speeds.
But genius was not enough in the face of the Great Depression. Controlling interest in Lockheed was purchased by the DetroitAircraft Corporation. In 1931 it went into receivership, and Vultee was replaced as chief engineer by Richard Von Hake. Vultee accepted a job developing and teaching drafting and engineering courses at the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute. He also took a post as chief engineer for the E.M. Smith Corporation (EMSCO) in Downey. But the Depression smothered new designs at EMSCO as well and he left, but eventually he went off on his own in pursuit of financial backing for some ideas that he and Vance Breese had for a single-engine six passenger monoplane V-1 (V for Vultee).
Vultee's search ended when he met Errett Lobban Cord in September 1931. Cord, the head of the Cord Corporation, owned two aviation companies, Stinson Aircraft and Lycoming Motors, two automobile companies, Auburn and Dusenberg, and five other engine manufacturers. In early 1931, Cord had founded two airlines and he saw Vultee's high-speed transport as a replacement for the Stinson tri-motors these airlines were operating. In January 1932, Cord formed the Airplane Development Corporation as a subsidiary of the Cord Corporation, with Vultee as chief engineer, to begin work on the Vultee V-1 transport. The company initially used a hangar in Burbank, California. The V-1 was a popular aircraft, and American Airways ordered ten. Completed as a prototype in 1933, it was the fastest plane of its kind with a top speed of 235 mph. When modified by American Airways it was known as the V-1A. The federal government's regulation of civil aviation, created an unexpected reversal of fortune by ruling that all commercial passenger planes be Multi-engine. The V-1A was single engine, and was thus grounded for passenger use.
In early 1932, Cord faced labor problems with his airlines pilots and he sold both airlines to American Airways in exchange for seven percent of the stock of American's parent company, the Aviation Corporation. By late 1932, Cord had purchased 30 percent of the stock in the Aviation Corporation and after a bitter stockholder's battle, Cord gained control of the company. More here from The Western Museum of Flight
"Vultee aircraft sold well overseas, with 1,500 employees and more than a million dollars in orders for V-1's, V1-A's and V-11's, the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) had ignored their aircraft, On Saturday, January 29, 1938 Jerry and Sylvia Vultee were flying home from Washington, D.C. in his personal Stinson Reliant SR-9C cabin monoplane, registration number NC17159, after presenting a new aircraft design to the Army. The venerable 1936 Stinson Reliant was popular at the time and featured leather upholstery, walnut instrument panels, and automobile-style roll-down windows. The Stinson Reliant was a rugged aircraft built of fabric-covered welded steel-tubing structures with a single strut braced double-tapered wing. Powered by a 260 hp Lycoming R-680 radial engine, the Reliant carried a pilot plus three or four passengers at speeds close to 165 miles per hour. Pilots appreciated the Reliant's durability, safety, and stability in flight, while passengers enjoyed a comfortable ride in an opulent cabin. The couple was anxious to return to their six month old son and home in Glendale California. They departed the TWA Winslow, Arizona Airport at 8:35 in the morning and were headed west to Downey, California when they were caught in a snowstorm and blizzard. Jerry Vultee was an excellent pilot but had no training in instrument flying and it is believed that he was unable to find his way out of the blinding snow storm. He most likely became disorientated and loss direction. The aircraft disappeared approximately two hours after taking off. Local Oak Creek Canyon ranchers heard the plane flying a crisscross pattern apparently lost in the snow storm trying to find a break in the clouds and then crash." Courtesy- Western Museum of Flight
"By 1940 the plant had doubled in size. As World War II approached, activity at the Vultee plant, in both production and personnel, continued to increase. To protect the plant from possible enemy detection, most of the buildings were camouflaged to appear like surrounding farmland and orange groves. An antiaircraft gun was also emplaced on the roof of Building 1 to support antiaircraft operations that occurred near Paramount and 3rd Streets. Crosswalks were also built across Lakewood Blvd. to assist thousands of workers as they crossed the busy street. During the early 1940's the Vultee Valiant Basic Trainer was produced for the Army Air Corps.
Vultee was the first major manufacturing plant to use powered assembly lines producing more planes in a shorter span of time than any other similar plant.
In numbers of planes, the BT-13 Valiant Basic trainer represented the largest order ever placed by the Army Air Corps. By July 1941, Vultee was producing 15 percent of all the military aircraft in the nation. The company received enormous military contracts to construct these basic training planes for Army, Navy, and Marine pilots; many of Downey's men went off to war; and hundreds of women joined the Vultee workforce. Vultee was the first military aircraft manufacturer to employ women directly in production. Women received exactly the same pay for equivalent work as men. Vultee's particular masterpiece is what executives exultantly describe as the first and truly powered assembly line in the industry. It consists of an overhead oval track, located at the head of the final assembly, from which dangle twenty-five cradles fed with raw fuselage frames.
1942-1948 Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair) brought together Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego and Vultee of Downey, California (see article below). Practically every type of military aircraft from small, single engine, civilian defense trainers to huge, multiple engine land and sea bombers were produced in the diversified plants of the companies. 11,537 trainer aircraft (Valiants) had been produced at the Vultee field. Also, in the first 6 months of 1944, Convair at Vultee field helped turn out the largest delivery of heavy bombers (B-24 Liberators) produced in the country. At the end of World War II production of military aircraft at the Downey plant was nearing an end. The Vultee Field division of Convair remained open to support a contract with the Navy for a short-range missile called the Lark. The Lark was a surface-to-air missile with a range of 35 miles and a speed of 300 knots per hour". Western Museum of Flight
Movie about Vultee
Produced by Jarel & Betty Wheaton for Peninsula Seniors www.pvseniors.org