Vultee Aircraft

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Vultee Aircraft Corporation
Fate Merged with Consolidated
Successor Convair
Founded 1939
Defunct 1943

The Vultee Aircraft Corporation became an independent company in 1939 and had limited success before merging with the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in 1943 to form the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, or Convair.[1]


Gerard "Jerry" Freebairn Vultee (1900–1938) and Vance Breese (1904–1973) started the Airplane Development Corporation in early 1932[where?] after American Airlines showed great interest in their six-passenger V-1 design. Soon after, Errett Lobban (E.L.) Cord bought all 500 shares of stock in the company and the Airplane Development Corporation became a Cord subsidiary.[citation needed]

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.[where?] 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.[2] Vultee acquired the assets of the defunct AMC, including Lycoming and Stinson Aircraft Company. Vultee Aircraft was created in November 1939, when Vultee Aircraft Division of AVCO was reorganized as an independent company.[3]

Meanwhile, Vultee and 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 plane ultimately failed due to safety concerns about a single-engine plane 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.[citation needed]

By 1937 Jerry was heading his own factory in Downey, California with more than a million dollars in orders for V-1s, V-1As and V-11s.[2] In 1938, before he could see Vultee become an independent company, Jerry Vultee and his wife Sylvia Parker, the daughter of Twentieth Century Fox director Max Parker,[2] died when the plane he was piloting crashed in a snowstorm near Sedona, Arizona. A bronze plaque memorializing the Vultees is located at the end of Coconino Forestry trail named in honor of Vultee Arch, a natural rock arch near the site of the plane crash near Sedona, Arizona. It is reached via a 5-mile jeep trail, followed by a 2-mile hike (one way) on a well-used trail. The Vultee Arch Trail goes to a viewpoint for the arch.[4] Donald P. Smith, Jerry Vultee's close friend and Vice President of Vultee Aircraft, wrote a letter to TIME magazine about Jerry's death:


Gerard F. Vultee ("Jerry"), not Gerald, my close friend and business associate for many years, was killed when the cabin monoplane he was flying with Mrs. Vultee crashed on the flat top of Wilson Mountain [TIME, Feb. 7]. ... Caught in a local snow-storm and blizzard with no training in blind or instrument flying, he was unable to find his way out. The fire occurred after the crash, not before.

DON P. SMITH Vice President

Vultee Aircraft Los Angeles, Calif.[5]
Hanging an engine on a BT-13 Valiant trainer at the Vultee aircraft plant, Downey, California in World War II.[6]

AVCO hired Dick Palmer away from Howard Hughes to take Jerry's place, and Vultee Aircraft Division began to develop military designs. Dick Palmer created the BT-13, BT-15, and SNV Valiant trainers[2] and oversaw other major production program such as the V-72 Vengeance, serving in the USAAC as the A-31 and A-35. The AVCO Vultee division became the separate Vultee Aircraft Corporation in 1939.[2] The P-66 Vanguard was a 1941 fighter program that was intended for Sweden that was inherited by the USAAC, Great Britain and finally, China. The P-66 had a mediocre combat record in China and was out of service by 1943. The XP-54 fighter project was the last Vultee Aircraft design, but only two examples were built.[7][8][9]

Vultee was the first company to build aircraft on a powered assembly line, and the first to use women workers in production-line positions. On March 17, 1943, Consolidated and Vultee officially merged, creating Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, popularly known as Convair.[10] The Vultee management resigned.[9][11]

Vultee timeline

  • 1929 Aviation Corporation (AVCO) holding company formed by multiple participants
  • 1932 Airplane Development Corporation formed by Gerard F. "Jerry" Vultee; Errett Lobban Cord soon takes it over
  • 1934 AVCO acquired the Airplane Development Corporation from Cord and formed the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation (AMC)
  • 1936 AMC liquidated to form the Vultee Aircraft Division, an autonomous subsidiary of AVCO
  • 1939 Vultee Aircraft Division of AVCO reorganized as an independent company known as Vultee Aircraft, Inc.
  • 1941 Consolidated Aircraft Corporation sold to AVCO
  • 1943 Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, generally known as Convair, formed by the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft; still controlled by AVCO
  • 1947 Convair acquired by the Atlas Corporation
  • 1953 (or 1954) Convair acquired by General Dynamics
  • 1985 General Dynamics formed the "Space Systems Division" from the Convair Space Program
  • 1993 Lockheed Corporation acquires General Dynamics' Fort Worth aircraft division, builder of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
  • 1994 Space Systems Division sold to Martin Marietta
  • 1994 Convair Aircraft Structures unit sold to McDonnell Douglas



  1. "Vultee.", 2003. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Yenne 2009, p. 17.
  3. Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 107-120, Cypress, CA, 2013.
  4. "Coconino National Forest." USDA Forest Service. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  5. "Davis-Monthan Field Register." Retrieved: 26 September 2010
  6. Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 107, 110-13, Cypress, CA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
  7. Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 140, 203, 262-3, Random House, New York, NY, 2012.
  8. Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 107-120, Cypress, CA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production, p. 251, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1945.
  10. Yenne 2009, p. 18.
  11. Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, p. 114, Cypress, CA, 2013.

External links