Vultee Aircraft

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Vultee Aircraft Corporation
  • Airplane Development Corporation
  • AVCO Aviation Manufacturing Corporation
Founded1939; 84 years ago (1939)
Defunct1943; 80 years ago (1943)
FateMerged with Consolidated Aircraft to form Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation

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


1936-built Vultee V-1 executive aircraft, displayed at the Virginia Aviation Museum

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]

AVCO subsidiary[edit]

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.[2] Vultee acquired the assets of the defunct AMC, including Lycoming Engines and Stinson Aircraft 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 sales of the aircraft failed to materialize because regulations were introduced requiring that aircraft used on scheduled passenger routes have two engines, and the V-1 was of little interest to other operators and only 25 were built. Vultee then developed the V-11 attack aircraft using the wings and tail from the V-1, which received sizable orders, albeit almost all from foreign countries with 40 for Turkey, 30 for China, 26 for Brazil, and 4 for the Soviet Union, where an additional 31 were built under licence. Hoped for orders from the United States Army Air Corps failed to materialize beyond test samples though, as the USAAC had made the decision to use only twin engine attack aircraft. This led to the development of the improved V-12, but aside from the prototype, all of these were sold to China, including three completed aircraft and 75 as knockdown kits of which at least 25 were assembled before Japanese troops overran the facility where they were being assembled.

By 1937, Vultee headed 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 Vultee become independent again, Jerry Vultee and his wife Sylvia Parker, daughter of Twentieth Century Fox film director Max Parker,[2] died in late January when the plane he was piloting crashed in a snowstorm near Sedona, Arizona.[3]

A bronze plaque memorializing the Vultees is located near the crash site at the end of Coconino Forestry and Vultee Arch Trails, where a natural rock arch named for them, the Vultee Arch, is located.[4] Donald P. Smith, Vultee's close friend and vice president of Vultee Aircraft, wrote a letter to TIME magazine about Vultee'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 Vultee'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.

Independent company[edit]

Vultee Aircraft was created in November 1939, when Vultee Aircraft Division of AVCO was reorganized as an independent company.[7][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.[8][9][10]

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 merged, creating Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, popularly known as Convair.[11] The Vultee management resigned.[10][12]


  • 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)[13]
  • 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
  • 1942 Vultee acquires Intercontinent Aircraft Corporation[14]
  • 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
  • 1997 McDonnell Douglas sold to Boeing


Model name, service name First flight Number built Type
V-1 1933 25 Single engine airliner
V-11 YA-19 1935 169 Single engine attack aircraft
V-12 1939 79 Development of V-11
V-51 BC-3 1939 1 Prototype single engine basic combat trainer
V-54 BT-13 & BT-15 Valiant 1939 11,538 Single engine basic trainer
V-48 P-66 Vanguard 1939 146 Single engine fighter
V-72 Vengeance 1941 1,931 Single engine dive bomber
V-84 XP-54 1943 2 Prototype twin boom pusher engine fighter
V-90 XA-41 1944 1 Prototype single engine dive bomber
XP-68 Tornado n/a 0 Unbuilt development of V-84



  1. ^ "Vultee.", 2003. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Yenne 2009, p. 17.
  3. ^ "Burned bodies of pair recovered". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 31, 1938. p. 1.
  4. ^ "Coconino National Forest." USDA Forest Service. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Davis-Monthan Field Register." Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine 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. ^ Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 107–120, Cypress, CA, 2013.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production, p. 251, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1945.
  11. ^ Yenne 2009, p. 18.
  12. ^ Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, p. 114, Cypress, CA, 2013.
  13. ^ Thompson, John (8 August 1940). "Vultee Buys Stinson Airplane Factory for Big Expansion Here". Nashville Tennessean. p. 6. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Vultee Aircraft Buys Intercontinent". Evening Sun. AP. 18 July 1942. p. 11.


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