The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet in Buffalo, New York, 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.
|Predecessor||Gallaudet Aircraft Company, Dayton-Wright Company|
|Successor||Vultee Aircraft, Convair, General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas|
|Founded||Buffalo, New York, United States, 1923|
|Founder||Reuben H. Fleet|
|Reuben H. Fleet|
Consolidated Aircraft (and later Convair) had their headquarters in San Diego, California, on the border of Lindbergh Field (KSAN).
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 March 1953, General Dynamics purchased a majority interest in Convair, 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.
(dates are of first flights)
The Consolidated B-32 Dominator (Consolidated Model 34) was an American heavy strategic bomber built for United States Army Air Forces during World War II, which had the distinction of being the last Allied aircraft to be engaged in combat during World War II. It was developed by Consolidated Aircraft in parallel with the Boeing B-29 Superfortress as a fallback design should the B-29 prove unsuccessful. The B-32 only reached units in the Pacific during mid-1945, and subsequently only saw limited combat operations against Japanese targets before the end of the war. Most of the extant orders of the B-32 were canceled shortly thereafter and only 118 B-32 airframes of all types were built.Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express
The Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express was a transport derivative of the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber built during World War II for the United States Army Air Forces. A total of 287 C-87s were built alongside the B-24 at the Consolidated Aircraft plant in Fort Worth, Texas. The plant also developed and delivered a USAAF flight engineer trainer designated as the AT-22, a United States Navy VIP transport designated as the RY, and a Royal Air Force VIP transport designated as the Liberator C.IX. The last development was a Navy contracted, single tail version with an extended fuselage. Built in San Diego, its USN designation was RY-3.
In contrast, the C-109 Liberator was a fuel-transport converted from existing B-24 Bombers.Consolidated Commodore
The Consolidated Commodore was an American flying boat built by Consolidated Aircraft and used for passenger travel in the 1930s, mostly in the Caribbean, operated by companies like Pan American Airways.Consolidated Fleetster
The Consolidated Model 17 Fleetster was a 1920s American light transport monoplane aircraft built by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.Consolidated O-17 Courier
The Consolidated Model 2 Courier was an observation and training airplane used by the United States National Guard, under the designation O-17.Consolidated P-30
The Consolidated P-30 (PB-2) was a 1930s United States two-seat fighter aircraft. An attack version called the A-11 was also built, along with two Y1P-25 prototypes and YP-27, Y1P-28, and XP-33 proposals. The P-30 is significant for being the first fighter in United States Army Air Corps service to have retractable landing gear, an enclosed and heated cockpit for the pilot, and an exhaust-driven turbo-supercharger for altitude operation.Consolidated P2Y
The Consolidated P2Y was an American flying boat maritime patrol aircraft. The plane was a parasol monoplane with a fabric-covered wing and aluminum hull.Consolidated PB2Y Coronado
The PB2Y Coronado is a large flying boat patrol bomber designed by Consolidated Aircraft, and used by the US Navy during World War II in bombing, antisubmarine, and transport roles. Obsolete by the end of the war, Coronados were quickly taken out of service. Only one known example remains, at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer
The Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer is a World War II and Korean War era patrol bomber of the United States Navy derived from the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The Navy had been using B-24s with only minor modifications as the PB4Y-1 Liberator, and along with maritime patrol Liberators used by RAF Coastal Command this type of patrol plane was proven successful. A fully navalized design was desired, and Consolidated developed a dedicated long-range patrol bomber in 1943, designated PB4Y-2 Privateer. In 1951, the type was redesignated P4Y-2 Privateer. A further designation change occurred in September 1962, when the remaining Navy Privateers (all having previously been converted to drone configuration as P4Y-2K) were redesignated QP-4B.Consolidated PBY Catalina
The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.
During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind, and the last military PBYs served until the 1980s. As of 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations in some parts of the world.Consolidated PT-11
The Consolidated Model 21 was an American two-seat training aircraft built by the Consolidated Aircraft Company. It was used by the United States Army Air Corps with the designation PT-11 and the United States Coast Guard under the designation N4YConsolidated PT-3
The Consolidated Model 2 was a training airplane used by the United States Army Air Corps, under the designation PT-3 and the United States Navy under the designation NY-1.Consolidated R2Y
The Consolidated R2Y "Liberator Liner" (Consolidated Model 39) was an airliner derivative of the B-24 Liberator built for the United States Navy by Consolidated Aircraft.Consolidated TBY Sea Wolf
The Consolidated TBY Sea Wolf was a United States Navy torpedo bomber of World War II. A competitor and contemporary to the Grumman TBF Avenger, the Sea Wolf was subject to substantial delays and never saw combat; only 180 of the type were built before cancellation after VJ Day.Consolidated XB-41 Liberator
The Consolidated XB-41 Liberator was a single Consolidated B-24D Liberator bomber, serial 41-11822, which was modified for the long-range escort role for U.S. Eighth Air Force bombing missions over Europe during World War II.Consolidated XB2Y
The Consolidated XB2Y was an American prototype single-engined dive bomber of the 1930s. It was intended to meet a United States Navy requirement for a carrier-based dive bomber, but was unsuccessful, only a single example being built.Consolidated XP4Y Corregidor
The Consolidated XP4Y (company Model 31) was an American twin-engined long-range maritime patrol flying boat built by Consolidated Aircraft for the United States Navy. Only one was built and a production order for 200 was cancelled.Consolidated XPB3Y
The Consolidated XPB3Y was a proposed extra-long-range flying boat for patrol and bombardment missions, developed from the earlier PB2Y Coronado. The United States Navy ordered the construction of a prototype on April 2, 1942. On November 4 of the same year, however, the aircraft was cancelled due to the higher priority accorded to other Consolidated projects.Convair
Convair, previously Consolidated Vultee, was an American aircraft manufacturing company that later expanded into rockets and spacecraft. The company was formed in 1943 by the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft. In 1953 it was purchased by General Dynamics, and operated as their Convair Division for most of its corporate history.
Convair is best known for its military aircraft; it produced aircraft such as the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, the F-102 Delta Dagger, the F-106 Delta Dart, and the B-58 Hustler bombers. It also manufactured the first Atlas rockets, including the rockets that were used for the manned orbital flights of Project Mercury. The company's subsequent Atlas-Centaur design continued this success and derivatives of the design remain in use as of 2019.
The company also entered the jet airliner business with its Convair 880 and Convair 990 designs. These were smaller than contemporary aircraft like the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, but somewhat faster than either. This combination of features failed to find a profitable niche and the company exited the airliner design business. However, the manufacturing capability built up for these projects proved very profitable and the company became a major subcontractor for airliner fuselages.
In 1994 most of the company's divisions were sold by General Dynamics to McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed, with the remaining components deactivated in 1996.