The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet in Buffalo, NY, the result of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company's liquidation and Fleet's purchase of designs from the Dayton-Wright Company as the subsidiary was being closed by its parent corporation, General Motors. Consolidated became famous, during the 1920s and 1930s, for its line of flying boats. The most successful of the Consolidated patrol boats was the PBY Catalina, which was produced throughout World War II and used extensively by the Allies. Equally famous was the B-24 Liberator, a heavy bomber which, like the Catalina, saw action in both the Pacific and European theaters.
Consolidated's first design was one of those purchased by Fleet from Dayton-Wright, the TW-3 primary trainer, sold to the U.S. Army as the PT-1 Trusty. In September 1924 the company moved from the Gallaudet plant in Connecticut to new facilities in Buffalo, New York, and in the same year won a U.S. Navy contract for a naval version of the PT-1 designated the NY-1.
In September 1935 Consolidated moved across the country to its new "Building 1", a 247,000-square-foot (22,900 m2) continuous flow factory in San Diego, California. The first production PBY Catalina was launched in San Diego Bay in 1936, and the first XPB2Y-1 Coronado test aircraft made its first flight in 1937. Consolidated vice president Edgar Gott was responsible for securing the company's contract to design and build the B-24 Liberator bomber. The XB-24 Liberator prototype made its first flight in December 1939, and the first production order was from the French in 1940, just days before their surrender to Germany; six of these YB-24 Liberators were designated LB-30A and ferried to Britain. By the fall of 1941, Consolidated was San Diego's largest employer with 25,000 employees, which eventually expanded to 45,000 by the following year.
In November 1941 Fleet sold his 34.26% interest in Consolidated for $10.9 million to Victor Emanuel, the president of AVCO, with the idea that Consolidated would be merged with AVCO's Vultee subsidiary.
In 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft or Convair. General Dynamics purchased a majority interest in Convair in March 1953, where it continued to produce aircraft or aircraft components until being sold to McDonnell Douglas in 1994. McDonnell Douglas shut down the division after just two years of operations in 1996.
Consolidated Aircraft and later Convair had their headquarters in San Diego, California, on the border of Lindbergh Field (KSAN).
Consolidated aircraft (dates are of first flights):
- Consolidated PT-1 Trusty trainer (1923)
- Consolidated NY trainer (1925)
- Consolidated PT-3 trainer (1927)
- Consolidated O-17 Courier (1927)
- Consolidated Fleetster (1929)
- Consolidated Commodore (1930)
- Consolidated PT-11 (1931)
- Consolidated XB2Y (1933)
- Consolidated P-30, A-11, Y1P-25 (1934)
- Consolidated P2Y
- Consolidated PBY Catalina (1936)
- Consolidated PB2Y Coronado (1937)
- Consolidated XPB3Y not built
- Consolidated XP4Y Corregidor or "Model 31" (1939)
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator (1939)
- Consolidated TBY Sea Wolf (1941)
- Consolidated B-32 Dominator (1942)
- Consolidated R2Y (1944)
- The Boeing Company 2015 Form 10-K Annual Report. sec.gov
- KensAviation.com. Consolidated PT-1 Trusty Retrieved: 25 September 2010
- U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Consolidated NY trainer Retrieved: 25 September 2010
- U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: 25 September 2010
- DavesWarbirds.com. Consolidated P2Y Retrieved: 25 September 2010
- DavesWarbirds.com. Consolidated XP4Y-1 Retrieved: 25 September 2010
- Yenne 2009, p. 15.
- Yenne 2009, p. 16.
- Yenne 2009, p. 17.
- Boone, Andrew R., "The Liberator", Popular Science. May 1943. p. 90.
- Yenne 2009, p. 18.
- Linder, Bruce (2001). San Diego's Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 122. ISBN 1-55750-531-4.
- Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 219-34, 242-3, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
- Yenne, Bill. Convair Deltas from SeaDart to Hustler. Specialty Press: North Branch, MN, 2009. ISBN 978-1-58007-118-5.
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