CONSOLIDATED

Future giant was formed as Consolidated Aircraft Corp. by Major Reuben H. Fleet, organizer 1918 of first US air mail service and from 1922 manager of Gallaudet. Dayton-Wright, despite GM ownership, was also ailing, but Fleet had stature to gather finance and form these 2 companies into 1 viable unit. Operations started at former Gallaudet plant, making 20 TW-3 trainers designed for Dayton-Wright by Col. Virginius E. Clark. Fleet suggested Clark should design improved TW-3 with tandem seating. Resulting PT-1 (1925) was smash hit, leading to Army PT-3 Husky, Navy NY-2 and various export versions, to total exceeding 800. Smaller version, Husky Junior, found few tustomers; Consolidated board proposed to drop it, so Fleet took it on himself, formed Fleet Aircraft (see Fleet) and in mid-1929 sold rights back to Consolidated, total built over 1,000. By this time Consolidated had moved into former giant wartime plant run by Curtiss at Buffalo. Here new designer Isaac M. 'Mac' Laddon designed Admiral (Navy XPY-1) monoplane flying-boat (3 Wasp), flown January 1929. Martin underbid for production, but Consolidated sold 14 civil Commodore derivatives to NYRBA airline. Also in 1929 bought Thomas-Morse, and in 1931 recruited Robert Wood from failed Lockheed-Detroit. He developed YP-24 2-seat fighter into later versions of which P-30A (PB-2A) went into Army service. Even in Depression production continued on fast Fleetster transports and mailplanes and Navy BY and B2Y bombers. Laddon produced P2Y flyingboat 1932, leading to 23 P2Y-1 and 23 P2Y-3, followed by XP3Y (Model 28) flown 28 March 1935, which led to PBY Catalina family, total 3,290 in N. America plus many (between 550 and 1,200) in Soviet Union - greatest of any marine aircraft. Under intense pressure Laddon’s team designed Model 32 (XB-24) Liberator, flown 29 December 1939, leading to 19,203 of countless versions by 1945. In 1935 Consolidated moved from Buffalo to milder climate of San Diego, and during Second World War opened giant plant at Fort Worth, Texas. In 1940 took over Hall Aluminum Aircraft. In December 1941 Fleet sold 34% of Consolidated to Avco via latter’s subsidiary Vultee, leading to complete merger March 1943 as Convair (Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft).

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