GRUMMAN

Leroy Randle Grumman graduated from Cornell, MIT and Columbia, served as Navy flying instructor and test pilot and then joined Loening, becoming chief engineer and managing director. When in 1928 Loening sold out, Grumman, Leon 'Jake' Swirbul and William T. 'Bill' Schwendler decided to set up on their own. After handpicking Loening men and collecting funds (Loening put up $30,000 of the $77,250 launch capital), Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. was in business 6 December 1929 in derelict garage in Baldwin, Long Island, ostensibly to offer service support and repair for existing Loening amphibians, but also to market Grumman's own design of amphibious central float with fully retractable wheels, strong enough for catapulting and arrested landings. This led to first Grumman aircraft, Navy XFF-1 2-seat fighter (29 December 1931) with retractable landing gear, which proved to be 11 mph faster than Navy’s latest single-seater. This in turn led to F2F and F3F single-seat fighters, so that during depth of Depression Grumman more than doubled in size annually, output also including J2F Duck utility amphibian and 2 neat twin-engined monoplane amphibians, Goose and Widgeon. In 1936 F4F biplane fighter was urgently redesigned as monoplane, leading to 7,898 Wildcats which, until mid-1943, carried almost entire burden of fighting naval fighter war. Meanwhile team under Bob Hall designed outstanding torpedo bomber, TBF Avenger, and Hall himself made first flight (7 August 1941). By this time Grumman had reputation for unbreakable aircraft, and TBF enhanced it, 9,939 being built (like F4F, jointly by Grumman and GM's Eastern Aircraft). On 26 June 1942 Hall flew XF6F Hellcat, and it was this fighter which dominated Pacific sky, Grumman's Bethpage, Long Island, plants delivering 12,275 in 30 months. The 4,000-hp F7F and agile F8F were made in hundreds rather than planned thousands, but with jet F9F Panther and swept-wing Cougar Grumman scored another smash hit, 3,370 being built. Other post-war types included Albatross multirole amphibian, Guardian search/strike aircraft, S-2 Tracker anti-submarine aircraft (with Tracer AEW and Trader COD transport versions), F11F Tiger supersonic fighter, Ag-Cat ag-aircraft (production entrusted to Schweizer, with lower overheads), OV-1 Mohawk Army observation aircraft and troubled XF10F Jaguar variable-sweep prototypes. On 14 August 1958 turboprop Gulfstream I opened new chapter with attractive purpose-designed executive transport, 200 being sold. This led to twin-jet GII (2 October 1966), which sold 256 by 1980. While building a solid bizjet customer base, Grumman's main support remained Navy and Marine Corps, which sponsored a twin-jet attack aircraft, A-6 Intruder, and a twin-turboprop AEW platform, E-2 Hawkeye, both first flown in 1960. Orders for successive E-2 versions total 226 ending 1995; 684 A-6 Intruders of various marks, including many conversions, but future clouded by cancellation of advanced A-6F and G. A complete redesign of A-6 resulted in EA-6B Prowler 4-seat ECM platform, last of 164 in 1991, while C-2A Greyhound is COD transport derived from E-2. Grumman was GD's prime partner on F-111B, Navy fighter cancelled June 1968, replaced by F-14 Tomcat (21 December 1970). 557 F-14A followed by 38 F-14A (Plus) and 37 of planned 127 new-build F-14D when programme cancelled 1989, so last of 712 F-14 delivered 10 July 1992. Ray of hope for future is December 1991 study award for US Navy A-X strike aircraft to Grumman team with Boeing and Lockheed. In 1950-70 Grumman had considerable missile and space business, including prime contract for Orbiting Astronomical Observatory and complete Lunar Module. Other diversification included hydrofoil ships and aluminium truck and van bodies, of which it is world’s largest producer. Gulfstream manufacture was moved 29 September 1967 to new plant at Savannah, Georgia, and in 1969 original firm split into Grumman Corp. (small holding company), Grumman Aerospace, Grumman Allied Industries and Grumman Data, all separate corporations. On 1 January 1973 American Aviation Corp. was merged into Grumman American Aviation Corp., keeping office at Cleveland but switching production to Savannah. On 1 September 1978 Grumman sold entire general-aviation business to American Jet Industries, which later formed Gulfstream Aerospace. By 1985 10 operating divisions proved unwieldy, and by 1991 company's shrinking operations were managed by Grumman Aircraft Group, Systems Group (which includes E-8A J-Stars), and 2 non-aero groups. In 1994 Northrop bought Grumman. See also Northrop Grumman.

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