Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company


Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, Ltd
Type Public
Industry manufacturing
Founded January 1916
Headquarters Buffalo, New York
Number of locations 3
Key people Glenn H. Curtiss
founder & president
Products aircraft
Revenue US$1,566 million
Employees 21,000 (1916)

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was an American aircraft manufacturer that went public in 1916 with Glenn Hammond Curtiss as president. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the company was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States. After Curtiss left the company, it became part of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

Contents

History

Glenn Curtiss had helped found the Aerial Experimental Association in 1907 and he created the first US aircraft company, Herring-Curtiss Company with Augustus Moore Herring on March 20, 1909,[1] which was renamed the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910.[2]

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

Curtis Biplane.JPG

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was created on January 13, 1916 from the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York and Curtiss Motor Company of Bath, New York. Burgess Company of Marblehead, Massachusetts, became a subsidiary in February 1916.[3]

Curtiss military aircraft being tested in College Park, Maryland circa 1912

Curtiss started US Naval Aviation by training pilots and providing aircraft. The first major order was for 144 various subtypes of the Model F trainer flying boat.[1] In 1914 Curtiss lured B. Douglas Thomas from Sopwith to design the Model J trainer, which led to the JN-4.[1] With the onset of World War I, military orders rose sharply, and Curtiss needed to expand quickly. In 1916 the company moved its headquarters and most manufacturing activities to Buffalo, New York, where there was far greater access to transportation, manpower, manufacturing, and much needed capital. An ancillary operation was begun in Toronto, Ontario that was involved in both production and traning, setting up the first flying school in Canada in 1915.

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company worked with the British and Canadian Allies. JN 4s were built in Canada, and many were used as trainers in England. In order to complete the large military orders for the Curtiss Jenny two-seat biplane trainer, production shifted to as many as five other manufacturers. The Curtiss flying boat the HS-2L was used extensively in the war for anti-submarine patrols. Bases were built in Nova Scotia, Canada, France and Portugal for the purpose. The Royal Navy and Curtiss worked together to make flying boats; this culminated with the NC-4, the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1919. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world during World War I, employing 18,000 in Buffalo and 3,000 in Hammondsport, New York. Curtiss produced 10,000 aircraft during that war, and more than 100 in a single week.

Peace brought cancellation of wartime contracts. In September 1920, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company underwent a financial reorganization and Glenn Curtiss cashed out his stock in the company for $32 million and retired to Florida.[4] He continued as a director of the company but served only as an advisor on design. Clement M. Keys gained control of the company and it later became the nucleus of a large group of aviation companies.[5]

Curtiss seaplanes won the Schneider Cup in two consecutive races, those of 1923 and 1925. The 1923 race was won by U.S. Navy Lieutenant David Rittenhouse flying a Curtiss C.R.3 to 177.266 miles per hour (285.282 km/h).

Piloted by US Army Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis, a Curtiss R3C won the Pulitzer Trophy Race on October 12, 1925, at a speed of 248.9 miles per hour (400.6 km/h).[6] Thirteen days later, Jimmy Doolittle won the Schneider in the same aircraft fitted with floats. Doolittle finished first with a top speed of 232.573 miles per hour (374.290 km/h).

Curtiss-Wright Corporation

On July 5, 1929, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation, together with 11 other Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies. One of the last projects started by Curtiss Aeroplane was the ambitious Curtiss-Bleecker SX-5-1 Helicopter, a design that had propellers located mid-point on each of the four large rotors that drove the main rotors. The design, while costly and well engineered, was a total failure.[7]

Products

Aircraft

Aircraft engines

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Gunston 1993, p. 87.
  2. ^ Bell 2002, p. 87.
  3. ^ Mondey and Taylor 2000, p. 197.
  4. ^ Rosenberry 1972 p. 429
  5. ^ Studer 1937 p. 352
  6. ^ Curtiss R3C-2 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: February 10, 2010.
  7. ^ "New Plane May Fly Straight Up In The Air." Popular Science, September 1930.
Bibliography
  • Bell, Dana, ed. Directory of Airplanes, their Designers and Manufacturers. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2002. ISBN 1-85367-490-7.
  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55750-939-5.
  • Mondey, David, ed., revised and updated by Michael Taylor. The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Greenwich Editions, 2000. ISBN 0-86288-268-0.
  • Sobel, Robert. The Age of Giant Corporations: A Microeconomic History of American Business, 1914–1970. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972. ISBN 0-83716-404-4.
  • Roseberry, C.R. Glenn Curtiss: Pioneer of Flight. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972. ISBN 0-81560-264-2.
  • Studer, Clara. Sky Storming Yankee: The Life of Glenn Curtiss. New York: Stackpole Sons, 1937.

External links

Preceded by
Curtiss Aeroplane Company
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
1916–1929
Succeeded by
Curtiss-Wright Corporation

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