The American aircraft boom is a remarkable development in industrial history, even for a nation used to industries of short apprenticeship and prodigious growth. From almost one-man, one-plane beginnings, it has taken less than 65 years to become one of the country's largest manufacturing employers, a crucial transport element in the economy, and a military necessity. A book on its history, therefore, is of particular interest to students of history, of business and economics, as well as to members of the aerospace industry. Professor Simonson's anthology is the first such book to appear.
The aircraft industry is unique in more than just growth rate, its history being in large part that of government industrial contracts. In an effort to sustain the industry after the spur in production brought on by World War I, the government awarded military aircraft contracts to a few producers in the interwar period, in effect determining which among the many manufactures would eventually survive. World War II, the Korean War, and subsequent events have been similarly important. A major concentration of this book is upon the effect that external circumstances and not strictly economic influences had on the growth of the industry.
The History of the American Aircraft Industry treats a series of five time periods. The first stretches from the invention of the airplane in 1903 through the first World War to the beginning of the depression in 1930. The next ten years saw the consolidation of the few still successful manufacturers and the export of aerospace equipment abroad as World War II approached. The followed the industry's immense expansion during the war, then postwar contraction and Korean War expansion of production. Above conventional demands, the decade since 1955 brought new industrial opportunity through the launching of the space and missile programs. The readings are arranged chronologically, and introductory notes are offered on each of the five parts. Many of the selections, long out of print, are virtually unobtainable elsewhere.
The contributors to this volume include professional writers and members of the academic community and the aerospace industry.