Curtiss-Wright

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Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Type Public
Traded as NYSECW
Industry Commercial Aerospace
Defense
Oil and Gas
Nuclear Power Generation
General Industrial and other various industry
Predecessor(s) Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, Wright Aeronautical, and related companies
Founded Buffalo, New York, 1929
Headquarters Charlotte, North Carolina, US
Key people Martin Benante
(Chairman)
David Adams
(President and CEO)
Products Valves, Pumps, Motors, Generators
Instrumentation, Controls, Actuation, Sensors
Embedded Computing
Surface Treatment services
Revenue

Increase US$ 2.51 billion (FY 2013)

[1]
Operating income US$ 234 million
Employees 10,000 (2013)
Divisions Commercial / Industrial
Defense
Energy
Website www.curtisswright.com

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation is an American-based, global diversified product manufacturer and service provider that delivers highly engineered, critical function products and services to the commercial, industrial, defense and energy markets. Born in 1929 from the consolidation of Curtiss, Wright, and various supplier companies, by the end of World War II it was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States, supplying whole aircraft in large numbers to the U.S. Armed Forces. It has since evolved away from final assembly of finished aircraft, becoming a component manufacturer specializing in actuators, aircraft controls, valves, and surface treatment services. It also is a supplier to commercial nuclear power, nuclear navy systems, industrial vehicles and to the oil and gas industries.

History[edit]

Merger and expansion[edit]

Curtiss-Wright came into existence on July 5, 1929, the result of a merger of 12 companies associated with Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Buffalo, New York, and Wright Aeronautical of Dayton, Ohio,[2] and was headquartered in Buffalo, New York. With $75 million in capital, it was the largest aviation company in the country.

Companies Merged[3] Owner
Wright Aeronautical Corp Hoyt
Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Co Keys
Curtiss Airports Corp. Keys
Curtiss Flying Service Keys
Curtiss Aeroplane Export Co. Keys
Curtiss-Caproni Corp. Keys
Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Mfg. Co. Keys
New York Air Terminals Hoyt
N.Y. & Suburban Airlines Hoyt
Keystone Aircraft Corp Hoyt

There were three main divisions: the Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division, which manufactured airframes; the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, which produced aircraft engines; and the Curtiss-Wright Propeller Division, which manufactured propellers. After 1929, most engines produced by the new company were known as Wrights, while most aircraft were given the Curtiss name, with a few exceptions.

Throughout the 1930s, Curtiss-Wright designed and built aircraft for military, commercial, and private markets. But it was the Wright engine division and the longstanding relationship with the US military that would help the company through the difficult years of the Great Depression. In 1937, the company developed the P-36 fighter aircraft, resulting in the largest peacetime aircraft order ever given by the Army Air Corps. Curtiss-Wright also sold the P-36 abroad, where they were used in the early days of World War II.

During World War II, Curtiss-Wright produced 142,840 aircraft engines, 146,468 electric propellers and 29,269 airplanes.[2] Curtiss-Wright employed 180,000 workers, and ranked second among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts (behind only General Motors).[4][5]

Curtiss-Wright building at Caldwell, New Jersey, in 1941.
alt text
Curtiss-Wright: Biggest Aviation Company Expands Its Empire. An overall perspective of how Curtiss-Wright stretches from St. Louis to Buffalo, and how its products flow from the factories to the U.S. aircraft industry. Dated: September 15, 1941.

Aircraft production included almost 14,000 P-40 fighters, made famous by their use by Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers in China, over 3,000 C-46 Commando transport aircraft, and later in the war, over 7,000 SB2C Helldivers. Its most visible success came with the P-40, variously known as the Tomahawk, Kittyhawk, and Warhawk, which were built between 1940 and 1944 at the main production facility in Buffalo, New York. Along with the Buffalo plant, major aircraft production was at Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri, and Louisville, Kentucky. Engine and propeller production was at plants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

In May 1942, the U.S. government assigned Curtiss-Wright a defense production factory for wartime aircraft construction at Louisville, Kentucky, to produce the C-76 Caravan cargo plane, which was constructed mostly of wood, a non-priority war material. However, after difficulties with the C-76 (including a crash of a production model in mid-1943), as well as the realization that sufficient quantities of aluminum aircraft alloys would be available for war production, plans for large-scale C-76 production were rejected.[6] The Louisville plant was converted to C-46 Commando production, eventually delivering 438 Commandos to supplement the roughly 2,500 C-46s produced at Buffalo. The C-46 cargo plane was fitted with two powerful radial engines, and could carry more cargo at higher altitudes than any other Allied aircraft. Consequently, it was used extensively in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Defective parts sold to U.S. military in World War II[edit]

From 1941 to 1943, the Curtiss Aeronautical plant in Lockland, Ohio produced aircraft engines under wartime contract destined for installation in U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft.[7][8] Wright officials at Lockland insisted on high engine production levels, resulting in a significant percentage of engines that did not meet Army Air Forces (AAF) inspection standards. These defective engines were nevertheless approved by inspectors for shipment and installation in U.S. military aircraft. After investigation, it was later revealed that Wright company officials at Lockland had conspired with civilian technical advisers and Army inspection officers to approve substandard or defective aircraft engines for military use.[7][8] Army Air Forces technical adviser Charles W. Bond was dismissed by the Army in 1943 for "gross irregularities in inspection procedure."[9] Bond would later testify that he had been "wined and dined" by Wright company officials; one of those occasions was the night before Bond fired four AAF engine inspectors another AAF inspector had described as "troublemakers."[9] In 1944, three Army officers, Lt. Col. Frank Constantine Greulich of Detroit, former chief inspection officer for the material command, Major Walter A. Ryan of Detroit, former central states inspection officer, and Major William Bruckmann, a former Cincinnati brewer and resident Army inspections officer at the Wright plant in Lockland were charged with neglect of duty, conspiracy, and giving false testimony in a general court martial.[10][11][12] All three men were later convicted of neglect of duty.[12] The story of defective engines had reached investigators working for Sen. Harry Truman's congressional investigative board, the Truman Commission, after several Wright aircraft assembly workers informed on the company; they would later testify under oath before Congress.[7][8][13] Arthur Miller's play All My Sons is based on this incident.[14]

In 2011, columnist Richard J. Eskow, senior fellow with the Campaign for America's Future and columnist for the Huffington Post, alleged that his uncle Jack Temple "died in World War II."[15] Temple's death in a military bomber crash was allegedly tied to engine failure due to improper manufacture and/or assembly; the engines had passed inspection even though they were defective.[15] Eskow referenced a 2006 article by Sarah Anderson that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and on AlterNet.[16] Anderson had alleged that Curtiss-Wright "had sold leaky motors to the government and covered it up with forged inspection reports." As a result of the investigation, wrote Anderson, "heads rolled at Curtiss-Wright and one general wound up in prison."[16]

Post–World War II[edit]

Curtiss-Wright failed to make the transition to design and production of jet aircraft, despite several attempts. During the war, the company had expended only small amounts on aircraft research and development, instead concentrating on incremental improvements in conventional aircraft already in wartime production. This was especially true in the first two years of the war. Curtiss' failure to research and develop more advanced wing and airframe designs provided an opening for North American, Bell, Lockheed, Northrop, and other U.S. aircraft manufacturers to submit newer and more advanced aircraft designs. With the rapid development of jet engine technology and near-supersonic flight, this technological lag resulted in Curtiss losing a number of critical postwar military aircraft orders. The final nail in the coffin was the choice of the Northrop F-89 Scorpion over the XF-87 Blackhawk; after the F-87 was cancelled October 10, 1948, Curtiss-Wright shut down its entire Aeroplane Division and sold the assets to North American Aviation.

While this marked Curtiss-Wright's departure from preeminence in the aviation industry, one notable spin-off involved Curtiss-Wright's flight research laboratory, founded in 1943 near the main plant at the Buffalo airport. During divestiture of the airframe division, the lab was given to Cornell University along with a cash gift to finish construction of a transonic wind tunnel. Cornell Aeronautical Labs, or CAL as it was known, was eventually spun off from the university as a private company, Calspan Corporation, which has been responsible for many subsequent innovations in flight and safety research. For an aircraft company that failed largely due to lack of sufficient research and development during World War II, it is ironic that Curtiss-Wright's flight research division was one of the few parts of the once-huge aviation conglomerate to survive to the present day.

After the Government gave the development of the Whittle jet engine to GE, the company concentrated on reciprocating engines and propeller production for military transport and civilian airliners. With the approaching twilight of the big piston aircraft engine, Curtiss-Wright needed new design inspiration. For a brief time, Curtiss-Wright licensed rights to the Wankel rotary engine from NSU in 1958 as a possible aircraft power plant. For this major innovative engineering project, Curtiss-Wright relied extensively on the design leadership of NSU-Wankel engineer Max Bentele.

In 1954, United Airlines bought four Curtiss-Wright flight simulators at a cost of $3 million. These simulators were like earlier ones produced in the late 1940s for airliners with the addition of visuals, sound, and movement. They were the first of today's modern flight simulators for commercial aircraft.[17]

Curtiss-Wright Travel Air CW-12Q at Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire, England

In 1956, financially strapped automaker Studebaker-Packard Corporation entered into a management agreement with Curtiss-Wright as a means for the nation's fifth largest automobile manufacturer to avoid insolvency. The relationship lasted until 1959 at which time Curtiss-Wright withdrew from the agreement. The shift of civilian aircraft to jets left the company with little of its old business, and during the 1960s it shifted to components for aircraft and other types of equipment, such as nuclear submarines, a business that is still being conducted today.

In 2002, Curtiss-Wright acquired Penny & Giles, a supplier of black boxes and sensing devices (Hybrid linear, hybrid rotary, and VRVT sensors).[citation needed]

In 2010, Curtiss-Wright acquired Hybricon Corporation for $19 million in cash. Hybricon is a supplier of electronic packaging for the aerospace, defense and commercial markets, and provides electronic subsystem integration.[citation needed]

In 2011, Curtiss-Wright acquired Ireland based Acra Control for $61 million in cash. Acra Control is a supplier of data acquisition systems and networks, data recorders and telemetry ground stations for both defense and commercial aerospace markets.[citation needed]

In the beginning of 2013, Curtiss-Wright acquired Exlar Corporation for $85 million in cash. Exlar, a private company, is a designer and manufacturer of highly engineered electric actuators used in motion control solutions in industrial and military markets. The acquired business will operate within Curtiss-Wright's Motion Control segment.[citation needed]

Products[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Curtiss Electric propellers[edit]

As well as manufacturing engines, a range of electrically actuated constant speed three- and four-bladed propellers were manufactured under the name Curtiss Electric.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.thestreet.com/story/12413223/1/curtiss-wright-reports-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-2013-financial-results.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b http://www.curtisswright.com/company/history
  3. ^ Time. 8 July 1929. 
  4. ^ Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  5. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, p. 312, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  6. ^ "Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Factory". The Encyclopedia of Louisville (University Press of Kentucky). 2000. Retrieved 2010-06-04. 
  7. ^ a b c Meyers, Jeffrey, The Genius and the Goddess: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0-252-03544-9 (2009), pp. 92–93
  8. ^ a b c Clausen, Henry C., and Lee, Bruce, Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment, Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-81035-2 (2001), pp. 56–58
  9. ^ a b Colonel Ready To Deny Neglect, The Toledo Blade, 20 April 1944, p. 2
  10. ^ Hinton, Harold B., Air Victory: the men and the machines, New York: Harper & Bros. (1948), pp. 249–251
  11. ^ Corning, New York Leader (5 April 1944), p. 9
  12. ^ a b Three Air Officers 'Guilty of Neglect', Ordered Dismissed, The Milwaukee Journal, 26 April 1944, p. 33
  13. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 302, 311-12, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  14. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, p. 312, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  15. ^ a b Eskow, Richard J. (28 May 2011). "My Family's Fallen and Yours Deserve More than Platitudes for Memorial Day". Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Anderson,Sarah (6 March 2006). "Fighting War Profiteering Truman Style". AlterNet. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  17. ^ "Airline Pilots Fly Anywhere in the world - Without Leaving the Ground." Popular Mechanics, August 1954, p. 87.
  18. ^ Curtiss Electric Propeller

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Eltscher, Louis R. and Young, Edward M. Curtiss-Wright – Greatness and Decline. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-8057-9829-3.
  • Gunston, Bill (2006). World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines, 5th Edition. Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, England, UK: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-4479-X. 
  • House, Kirk W. Curtiss Wright. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7385-3870-1.

External links[edit]