Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

Last updated
Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, Ltd
Public
Industry Manufacturing
FateMerged
FoundedJanuary 1916
Headquarters Buffalo, New York
Number of locations
3
Key people
Glenn H. Curtiss
founder & president
Products Aircraft
Revenue US$1.566 billion
Number of employees
21,000 (1916)

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was an American aircraft manufacturer formed in 1916 by Glenn Hammond Curtiss. After significant commercial success in the 'teens and 20s, it merged with the Wright Aeronautical in 1929 to form Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

Glenn Curtiss American aviator and industrialist

Glenn Hammond Curtiss was an American aviation and motorcycling pioneer, and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle racer and builder before moving on to motorcycles. As early as 1904, he began to manufacture engines for airships. In 1908, Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association, a pioneering research group, founded by Alexander Graham Bell at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, to build flying machines.

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation is an American-based, global diversified product manufacturer and service provider for the commercial, industrial, defense, and energy markets. Created 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.

Contents

History

Curtiss-Herring flying machine photographed in Mineola, New York. Curtiss-Herring Flying Machine.jpg
Curtiss-Herring flying machine photographed in Mineola, New York.

In 1907, Glenn Curtiss was recruited by the scientist Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, to be among the founding members of Bell's Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), with the purpose of helping establish an aeronautical research and development organization. [1] According to Bell, it was a "co-operative scientific association, not for gain but for the love of the art and doing what we can to help one another." [2]

Alexander Graham Bell scientist and inventor known for his work on the telephone

Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator who is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885.

Aerial Experiment Association 1907-1909 aircraft research group

The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) was a Canadian-American aeronautical research group formed on 30 September 1907, under the leadership of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.

In 1909, the AEA was disbanded [3] and Curtiss formed the Herring-Curtiss Company with Augustus Moore Herring on March 20, 1909, [4] which was renamed the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910. [5] [6]

Augustus Moore Herring aircraft experimenter

Augustus Moore Herring was an American aviation pioneer, who sometimes is claimed by Michigan promoters to be the first true aviator of a motorized heavier-than-air aircraft.

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

Curtiss 160 hp reconnaissance biplane (1918) Curtis Biplane.JPG
Curtiss 160 hp reconnaissance biplane (1918)

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. [7]

Hammondsport, New York Village in New York, United States

Hammondsport is a village at the south end of Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes of New York, United States. The population was 731 at the 2000 census.

Burgess Company

The Burgess Company was a U.S. airplane manufacturer between 1910 and 1918.

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 expertise, and much needed capital. The company housed an aircraft engine factory in the former Taylor Signal Company-General Railway Signal Company. [8] An ancillary operation was begun in Toronto, Ontario that was involved in both production and training, setting up the first flying school in Canada in 1915. [9]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Buffalo, New York City in Western New York

Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. As of July 2016, the population was 256,902. The city is the county seat of Erie County and a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canada–United States border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region.

Taylor Signal Company-General Railway Signal Company

Taylor Signal Company-General Railway Signal Company is a historic industrial complex located in Buffalo, Erie County, New York. It was designed by the architectural firm of Esenwein & Johnson and built between 1902 and 1906. The daylight factory complex consists of a rectangular two and three-story brick factory building with a central light court and wings. It has a three-story brick office building fronting on Elmwood Avenue and connected to the factory by a hyphen. The office building features Gothic Revival style design elements. The complex housed the Taylor Signal Company/General Railway Signal Company until 1907, when operations were moved to Rochester, New York. Afterwards, it housed a number of manufacturing companies including the Century Telephone Construction Company, General Drop Forge Company, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, and Lippard-Stewart Motor Car Company. The complex has been renovated to house a hotel, banquet facility, and loft apartments.

In 1917, the two major aircraft patent holders, the Wright Company and the Curtiss Company, had effectively blocked the building of new airplanes, which were desperately needed as the United States was entering World War I. The U.S. government, as a result of a recommendation of a committee formed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, pressured the industry to form a cross-licensing organization (in other terms a Patent pool), the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association. [10] [11] [12]

The Wright Company was the commercial aviation business venture of the Wright Brothers, established by them on November 22, 1909, in conjunction with several prominent industrialists from New York and Detroit with the intention of capitalizing on their invention of the practical airplane. The company maintained its headquarters office in New York City and built its factory in Dayton, Ohio.

Wright brothers patent war

The Wright brothers patent war centers on the patent they received for their method of an airplane's flight control. The Wright brothers were two Americans who are widely credited with inventing and building the world's first flyable airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903.

Franklin D. Roosevelt 32nd President of the United States

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Curtiss was instrumental in the development of U.S. Naval Aviation by providing training for pilots and providing aircraft. The first major order was for 144 various subtypes of the Model F trainer flying boat. [4] In 1914, Curtiss had lured B. Douglas Thomas from Sopwith to design the Model J trainer, which led to the JN-4 two-seat biplane trainer (known affectionately as the "Jenny"). [13] [14]

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company worked with the United States' British and Canadian allies, resulting in JN-4 (Can) trainers (nicknamed the "Canuck") being built in Canada. [15] In order to complete large military orders, JN-4 production was distributed to five other manufacturers. After the war, large numbers of JN-4s were sold as surplus, making influential as the first plane for many interwar pilots, including Amelia Earhart. [16] A stamp was printed to commemorate the Curtiss JN-4, however a printing error resulted in some having the aircraft image inverted, which has become very valuable, and one of the best known rare stamps, even being featured in a number of movies.

Curtiss military aircraft being tested in College Park, Maryland circa 1912 Curtiss plane - College Park.jpg
Curtiss military aircraft being tested in College Park, Maryland circa 1912

The Curtiss HS-2L flying boat was used extensively in the war for anti-submarine patrols and was operated from bases in Nova Scotia, Canada, France and Portugal. The John Cyril Porte of the Royal Navy and Curtiss worked together to improve the design of the Curtiss flying boats resulting in the Curtiss F5L and the similar Felixstowe F.3. Curtiss also worked with the US Navy to develop the NC-4, which became the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919, making several stops en route. By the end of World War I, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company would claim to be the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, 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. [17] 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. [18]

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 U.S. 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). [19] Thirteen days later, Jimmy Doolittle won the Schneider Trophy in the same aircraft fitted with floats with a top speed of 232.573 miles per hour (374.290 km/h).

The Curtiss Robin light transport was first flown in 1928, becoming one of the company's biggest sellers during the Great Depression, and the 769 built helped keep the company solvent when orders for military aircraft were hard to find.

Curtiss-Wright Corporation

On July 5, 1929, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company together with 11 other Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies merged to become the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. One of the last projects started by Curtiss Aeroplane was the ambitious Curtiss-Bleecker SX-5-1 Helicopter, a design that had propellers located midpoint on each of the four large rotors that drove the main rotors. The design, while costly and well engineered, was a failure. [20]

Curtiss Aviation School

Curtiss also operated a flying school at Long Branch Aerodrome in Toronto Township, Ontario from 1915 to 1917 before being taken over by the Royal Flying Corps Canada. [21]

Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station

Glenn H. Curtiss sponsored the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station on a 20-acre tract east of Newport News, VA Boat Harbor in the Fall of 1915 with Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin as head. Many civilian students, including Canadians, later became famed World War I flyers. Victor Carlstrom, Vernon Castle, Eddie Stinson and General Billy Mitchell trained here. The school was disbanded in 1922.

Products

Aircraft

Other types of aircraft

Aircraft engines

Helicopters

See also

Related Research Articles

Aileron aircraft control surface used to induce roll

An aileron is a hinged flight control surface usually forming part of the trailing edge of each wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. Ailerons are used in pairs to control the aircraft in roll, which normally results in a change in flight path due to the tilting of the lift vector. Movement around this axis is called 'rolling' or 'banking'.

Curtiss JN-4 airplane

The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" was one of a series of "JN" biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Although the Curtiss JN series was originally produced as a training aircraft for the U.S. Army, the "Jenny" continued after World War I as a civil aircraft, as it became the "backbone of American postwar [civil] aviation." Thousands of surplus Jennys were sold at bargain prices to private owners in the years after the war and became central to the barnstorming era that helped awaken the U.S. to civil aviation through much of the 1920s.

Wright Aeronautical (1919–1929) was an American aircraft manufacturer headquartered in New Jersey. It was the successor corporation to Wright-Martin. It built aircraft and was a supplier of aircraft engines to other builders. In 1929 it merged with Curtiss to form Curtiss-Wright.

AEA <i>Silver Dart</i> Experimental aircraft by the Aerial Experiments Association

The Silver Dart was a derivative of an early aircraft built by a Canadian/U.S. team, which after many successful flights in Hammondsport, New York, earlier in 1908, was dismantled and shipped to Baddeck, Nova Scotia. It was flown from the ice of Baddeck Bay, a sub-basin of Bras d'Or Lake, on 23 February 1909, making it the first controlled powered flight in Canada. The aircraft was piloted by one of its designers, John McCurdy. The original Silver Dart was designed and built by the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), formed under the guidance of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.

Curtiss P-36 Hawk family of fighter aircraft

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, is an American-designed and built fighter aircraft of the 1930s and 40s. A contemporary of both the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft—a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful radial engine.

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1908:

Aerial Service Corporation was an aircraft manufacturer established in Hammondsport, New York in 1920. It built aircraft using the name Mercury Aircraft.

The 1911 Curtiss Model D was an early United States pusher aircraft with the engine and propeller behind the pilot's seat. It was among the very first aircraft in the world to be built in any quantity — all of which were produced by Curtiss during an era of trial-and-error development and equally important parallel technical development in internal combustion engine technologies.

John Alexander Douglas McCurdy Canadian politician

John Alexander Douglas McCurdy was a Canadian aviation pioneer and the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1947 to 1952.

Curtiss P-6 Hawk fighter aircraft series acquired by the US Army

The Curtiss P-6 Hawk is an American single-engine biplane fighter introduced into service in the late 1920s with the United States Army Air Corps and operated until the late 1930s prior to the outbreak of World War II.

Thomas-Morse Aircraft

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

Glenn H. Curtiss Museum

The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is an educational and cultural institution that collects, preserves, and interprets transportation artifacts and regional history, with a general focus on the life, legacy, innovations, and accomplishments of aviation pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss. This 60,000 square foot facility in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY is home to a priceless collection of aircraft, vintage motorcycles, automobiles, aircraft engines, and much more.

Bell Oionus I

The Oionus I was a tetrahedral triplane built for Alexander Graham Bell It was the culmination of Bell's experiments with kites built at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. The aircraft's design combined those of the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA)'s AEA Silver Dart biplane and his AEA Cygnet kite. It was Bell's final aviation pursuit and Canada's first and only triplane design. The aircraft attempted a test flight in March 1910, but failed to achieve flight.

References

Notes

  1. Casey 1981, pp. 4–5.
  2. Milberry 1979, p 13.
  3. Casey 1981, pp. 36–37.
  4. 1 2 Gunston 1993, p. 87.
  5. Bell 2002, p. 87.
  6. Casey 1981, p. 37.
  7. Mondey and Taylor 2000, p. 197.
  8. "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation . Retrieved 2015-11-01.[ permanent dead link ]Note: This includes Martin Wachadlo and Francis R. Kowsky (February 2014). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Taylor Signal Company-General Railway Signal Company" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-01. and Accompanying photographs
  9. Molson and Taylor 1982, p. 23.
  10. "Patent thickets and the Wright Brothers". ipbiz.blogspot.com. 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2009-03-07. In 1917, as a result of a recommendation of a committee formed by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (The Honorable Franklin D. Roosevelt), an aircraft patent pool was privately formed encompassing almost all aircraft manufacturers in the United States. The creation of the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association was crucial to the U.S. government because the two major patent holders, the Wright Company and the Curtiss Company, had effectively blocked the building of any new airplanes, which were desperately needed as the United States was entering World War I.
  11. "The Wright Brothers, Patents, and Technological Innovation". buckeyeinstitute.org. Retrieved 2009-03-07. This unusual arrangement could have been interpreted as a violation of antitrust law, but fortunately it was not. It served a clear economic purpose: preventing the holder of a single patent on a critical component from holding up creation of an entire aircraft. Practically, the pool had no effect on either market structure or technological advances. Speed, safety, and reliability of US made airplanes improved steadily over the years the pool existed (up to 1975). Over that time several firms held large shares of the commercial aircraft market: Douglas, Boeing, Lockheed, Convair, and Martin, but no one of them dominated it for very long.
  12. "The Cross-Licensing Agreement". history.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  13. Casey 1981, pp. 103, 123–124, 134–136, 174–175.
  14. Casey 1981, pp. 176–179.
  15. Casey 1981, p. 196.
  16. "The Humble WWI Biplane That Helped Launch Commercial Flight". Wired. 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  17. Rosenberry 1972, p. 429.
  18. Studer 1937 p. 352
  19. "Curtiss R3C-2." Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: February 10, 2010.
  20. "New Plane May Fly Straight Up In The Air." Popular Science, September 1930.
  21. Long Branch Archived 2009-01-05 at the Wayback Machine

Bibliography

  • Bell, Dana, ed. Directory of Airplanes, their Designers and Manufacturers. Washington, D.C.: 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.
  • Casey, Louis S. Curtiss, The Hammondsport Era, 1907-1915. New York: Crown Publishers, 1981. ISBN   978-0-517543-26-9.
  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Annapolis, Maryland: 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.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1979. ISBN   0-07-082778-8.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, Vol. 1. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: CANAV Books, 2008. ISBN   978-0-921022-19-0.
  • Molson, Ken M. and Harold A. Taylor. Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Stittsville, Ontario: Canada's Wings, Inc., 1982. ISBN   0-920002-11-0.
  • Sobel, Robert. The Age of Giant Corporations: A Microeconomic History of American Business, 1914–1970. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972. ISBN   0-8371-6404-4.
Preceded by
Curtiss Aeroplane Company
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
1916–1929
Succeeded by
Curtiss-Wright Corporation