Bell Aircraft History

Topics: Bell Helicopter, UH-1 Iroquois, UH-1N Twin Huey Pages: 10 (3839 words) Published: June 23, 2013
Michael Wright
History of Technology in Western NY
12/8/11
Final Research Paper

Bell Aircraft
During the early nineteen hundreds, the industrial revolution and technological boom was in full effect; every engineer, inventor, and large company wanted to produce the next world changing piece of technology. On December 17, 1903 when the Wright brothers made the first successful airplane, it opened up a new industry where the small manufacturers had just as much a chance to succeed as the large corporations. Companies like Boeing, Glenn Martin, Thomas Brothers, Consolidated Aircraft, Burgess, Lockheed, and several others were established and began competing to either find or create a consumer base for their product (13). With the skills learned at Glenn Martin and Consolidated Aircraft, a young man named Lawrence Bell decided to take a risk and create his own aircraft company that would be able to compete with the companies that had already found success in the newly created aircraft market. Throughout history, Bell Aircraft has successfully adapted to the changing market and succeeded in the aircraft industry not just by “reinventing the wheel” but by creating completely original aircrafts.

Lawrence “Larry” Dale Bell was born on April 5th, 1894 in Mentone, Indiana, a town of less than one square mile that today contains less than a thousand people (14). Life in Mentone was particularly uneventful and in 1907 the family moved to Santa Monica, California so his father could find work (10). In January, 1910, and his older brother, Grover, attended the first major U.S. Air Show at Dominguez Field near Los Angeles. Inspired, they built a model plane of their own which actually flew. Larry was still in school but Grover went off and learned to fly and eventually teamed up with stunt pilot Lincoln Beachey. In 1912 the two asked Larry if he would like to be their mechanic, an offer that he accepted. Unfortunately in 1913 Grover was killed in a stunt accident and Larry quit the stunt aviation business (10). Unable to stay away from the aviation industry completely, he was employed by the Glenn Martin Company that same year. By age twenty-two, three years after being hired, Larry became Vice President of the company. Working with the company until 1928, he became an expert in aviation by watching Glenn Martin compete in pioneering the aviation industry (9). In 1928 he moved to Buffalo New York to work for Consolidated Aircraft, where he shortly became Vice President and general manager. Unable to test the planes during Buffalo’s harsh winters, Consolidated Aircraft relocated to San Diego in 1935, but Larry decided to quit the company and stay in Buffalo. On July 10th 1935, Larry created Bell Aircraft Corporation and opened up a factory on Elmwood Avenue (9). Luckily for Bell Aircraft tensions were growing between Hitler’s allied countries and the opposing countries, which forced the U.S military to start building a war industry to prepare for possible war. Without the high demand for military aircrafts the company may never have excelled. In 1937 Bell Aircraft signed their first military contract by developing the YFM-1 Airacuda. Bell Aircraft created a unique fighter plane advertised to be a mobile anti-aircraft platform as well as a convoy fighter. It was created to destroy enemy bombers at distances beyond the range of single-seat fighter interceptors, and incorporated several features never before seen in a military aircraft (9). Utilizing a efficient yet futuristic design, the Airacuda appeared to be "unlike any other fighters up to that time."(12). Publishing a book in 1942 on aircrafts, major Alexander De Seversky wrote, “[The Airacuda] represents a great engineering achievement” (6). One year later the P-39 Airacobra was produced which had several original features that made it desired by the military. Its innovative features included a tricycle undercarriage, an engine that sat in the center fuselage behind the...

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2.) "Bell Helicopter." Home. Bell Aerospace. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <http://bellhelicopter.com>.
3.) Birth of the Bell Helicopter. Niagara Aerospace Museum, 17 Nov. 2011. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RSfrOsubuk>.
4.) Bishop, Chris, and Michael Badrocke. Bell UH-1 Huey 'Slicks ' 1962-75. Oxford: Osprey, 2003. Print.
5.) "Breaking the Sound Barrier." Modern Marvels. History Channel. 8 Apr. 2003. Television.
6.) De, Seversky Alexander P. Victory through Air Power. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942. Print.
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8.) Leuthner, Stuart. "Larry Bell: Aviation’s Super Salesman." Airport Journals. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <http://www.airportjournals.com/Display.cfm?varID=0706006>.
9.) Matthews, Birch. Cobra!: Bell Aircraft Corporation, 1934-1946. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 1996. Print.
10.) Norton, Donald J. Larry, a Biography of Lawrence D. Bell. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1981. Print.
11.) Pelletier, Alain J. Bell Aircraft since 1935. London: Putnam, 1992. Print.
12.) Shilling, Erik. Destiny: a Flying Tiger 's Rendezvous with Fate. S.l.: Author, 1993. Print.
13.) "The U.S. Aircraft Industry During World War I." Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Aerospace/WWi/Aero5.htm>.
14.) "U.S. Gazetteer Files: 2010, 2000, and 1990." Census Bureau Home Page. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html>.
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