Thomas-Morse Aircraft

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Thomas Brothers Aeroplane Company factory floor in Ithaca, New York in 1915
Thomas Brothers Aeroplane Company in Ithaca, New York in 1915

The Thomas-Morse Aircraft Corporation was an American aircraft manufacturer, until it was taken over by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in 1929.


Founded in 1910 by English expatriates William T. Thomas and his brother Oliver W. Thomas[1] as Thomas Brothers Company in Hammondsport, New York,[2] the company moved to Hornell, New York, and moved again to Bath, New York the same year.[2] At the Livingston County Picnic in 1912 The Thomas Brothers Hydro-aeroplane was scheduled to fly the first Hydro-aeroplane in Livingston County but later reported the winds prevented the flight.[3] During 1913, the company operated the affiliated Thomas Brothers School of Aviation at Conesus Lake, McPherson Point in Livingston County, New York state[2][4](taking a page from Glenn Curtiss, who did much the same at Keuka Lake). In 1913, the name became Thomas Brothers Aeroplane Company and based in Ithaca, New York.[2] December 7, 1914 the company moved to Ithaca.

In 1915, Thomas Brothers built T-2 tractor biplanes (designed by Benjamin D. Thomas, no relation to the brothers and also an Englishman, formerly of Vickers, Sopwith, and Curtiss,[1] and later the company's chief designer) for the Royal Naval Air Service.[5] and (fitted with floats in place of wheels)[6] to the United States Navy as the SH-4. They received an order for 24 T-2's from the British, for use in the European war. Because the Curtiss OX engines weren't available they founded an engine subsidiary the Thomas Aeromotor Company which would stress their finances.[7] In 1916, the company won a contract from the United States Army Signal Corps for two aircraft for evaluation, the D-5.[6]

In January 1917, financial difficulties led to the company merge with Morse Chain Company (headed by Frank L. Morse), who was backed financially by H T Westinghouse,[7] becoming Thomas-Morse Aircraft Corporation, still based in Ithaca.[2] The company then made an attempt at selling training biplanes to the United States Army and was successful with the S-4 trainer (which included a handful of S-5 floatplanes and a single S-4E) and MB series of fighters. The last company design was the O-19 observation biplane. In 1929 the company was taken over by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, becoming the Thomas-Morse Division, and ceased business in 1934.[2]





  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e f Aerofiles:Thomas, retrieved 8/4/2008
  3. ^ Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Aug 7,1912
  4. ^ 1913 Aero and Hydro vol 6 pg 249
  5. ^ Donald, David, ed. Encyclopedia of World Aircraft (Etobicoke, Ontario: Prospero Books, 1997), p.875, "Thomas Brothers and Thomas-Morse aircraft".
  6. ^ a b Donald, p.875.
  7. ^ a b Flying Magazine. August 1960. pp. 54–. ISSN 0015-4806.


  • Donald, David, ed. Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, p. 854, "Standard aircraft". Etobicoke, Ontario: Prospero Books, 1997.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982–1985). Orbis Publishing, 1985, p. 3000.

External links[edit]

Media related to Thomas-Morse aircraft at Wikimedia Commons