Post-War Developments: 1946-1956

North American Aviation ... Post-War Bombers

Development, the bridge between conceptual thought and hard work ... is the heart of North American activities.
-- Lee Atwood

On VJ day, there were orders in the North American books for 8,000 airplanes. The company had produced the Mitchell bomber, the great Texan and Harvard trainers, and the fighting Mustang. However, only a few months after World War II ended, the company had orders for only 24 airplanes. The company closed the Dallas, Texas, and Kansas City, Mo., plants and began to study conversion to civilian hardware.

North American entered commercial aviation with the Navion, which cost $10,000 to build, but sold for $7,000. It lost $8 million before the project was sold to Ryan Aeronautical Co. in 1947. At the same time, the company designed the AJ Savage bomber, a high-speed, carrier-based atomic bomber that first flew in the summer of 1948. Built for the U.S. Navy, the Savage was the largest airplane at the time operating aboard aircraft carriers.

Dutch Kindelberger knew the company's future lay in the new jet-engine technologies. North American's B-45 Tornado became the Air Force's first multijet bomber in early 1947. Although the B-45 was the last of the "straight-wing" bombers and only 143 were built, it served as an airborne deterrent with NATO forces into the 1950s. During the same post-war period, NAA's FJ-1 Fury, the first carrier-based Navy jet, made its debut flight on Nov. 27, 1946.

Previous narrative | Next narrative