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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.

Gerard "Jerry" Vultee (1900-1938) and Vance Breese (1904-1973) started Airplane Development Corporation in early 1932 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 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. 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.

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 orders.

In 1938, before he could see Vultee become an independent company, Jerry Vultee and his wife Sylvia 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. USDA Forest Service Coconino National Forest Jerry Vultee's close friend and Vice President of Vultee wrote a letter to TIME magazine about Jerry's death:

Sirs:

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. Davis-Monthan Field Register

Richard Millar succeeded Vultee, and Vultee Aircraft, Inc. began to develop military designs. Its major production programs, however, were the BT-13 Valiant trainer and V-72 Vengeance, serving as the A-31 and A-35. 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.

On March 17, 1943, Consolidated and Vultee officially merged, creating Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, popularly known as Convair. The Vultee management resigned.

Vultee timeline

Due to name changes and acquisitions over the years it is often difficult to sort out the exact sequence of events. In order to clarify things, the following timeline was created by consulting a variety of sources to resolve discrepancies.

  • 1923 Consolidated Aircraft Corporation formed by Major Ruben Fleet
  • 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, also know as Convair, formed by the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft; still controlled by AVCO
  • 1947 Convair acquired by the Atlas Corporation
  • 1947 AVCO name changed to Avco Manufacturing Corporation
  • 1953 or 1954 Convair acquired by General Dynamics
  • 1959 Avco Manufacturing Corporation name changed to Avco Corporation
  • 1985 Avco Corporation acquired by Textron
  • 1985 General Dynamics formed the Space Systems Division from the Convair Space Program
  • 1994 Space Systems Division sold to Martin Marietta
  • 1994 Convair Aircraft Structures unit sold to McDonnell Douglas

The above timeline was based on the following sources:

Museum displays

1936 V-1AD Special NC16099, "Lady Peace II", once owned by publisher William Randolph Hearst - only V-1 known to exist.
1942 Vultee BT-13A Valiant

References

  • McKillop, Jack. "Vultee SNV Valiant." Brown-Shoe Navy: U.S. Naval Aviation. "Vultee SNV Valiant", retrieved January 6, 2006.
  • Rumerman, Joel. "Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation. " US Centennial of Flight Commission. "Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation", retrieved 6 January 2006.
  • Thompson, Jonathan. Vultee Aircraft 1932–1947. Santa Ana, CA; Narkiewicz/Thompson, 1992. ISBN 0-913322-02-4.
  • "The Vultee V-1A." Golden Age of Aviation E-column. "The Vultee V-1A", retrieved 6 January 2006.
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