CONSOLIDATED AIRCRAFT CORPORATION
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.
In 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft, later known as Convair.
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 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft or Convair. 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.
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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 active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. In 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world
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