The Curtiss-Wright Corporation is an American-based, global diversified product manufacturer and service provider for the commercial, industrial, defense, and energy markets. Created in 1929 from the consolidation of Curtiss, Wright, and various supplier companies, by the end of World War II it was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States, supplying whole aircraft in large numbers to the U.S. Armed Forces. It has since evolved away from final assembly of finished aircraft, becoming a component manufacturer specializing in actuators, aircraft controls, valves, and surface-treatment services. It also is a supplier to commercial nuclear power, nuclear navy systems, industrial vehicles and to the oil and gas industries. It has an integrated supply chain and an extensive worldwide service network, and is one of the largest diversified market players in the aerospace sector and the largest domestic manufacturer of small jet aircraft.

Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Traded asNYSE: CW
S&P 400 Component
Nuclear Power Generation
General Industrial and other various industry
PredecessorCurtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, Wright Aeronautical, and related companies
FoundedBuffalo, New York, 1929
HeadquartersDavidson, North Carolina, U.S.
Key people
David C. Adams
(Chairman and CEO)
ProductsValves, Pumps, Motors, Generators
Instrumentation, Controls, Actuation, Sensors
Embedded Computing
Surface Treatment services
Revenue US$ 2.41 billion (FY 2018) [1]
US$ 373.6 million (FY 2018)
Number of employees
9,000 (2019)


Merger and expansion

Curtiss-Wright came into existence on July 5, 1929, the result of a merger of 12 companies associated with Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Buffalo, New York, and Wright Aeronautical of Dayton, Ohio,[2] and was headquartered in Buffalo, New York. With $75 million in capital (equivalent to 10.94 billion in 2018), it was the largest aviation company in the country.

Companies Merged[3] Owner
Wright Aeronautical Corp Hoyt
Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Co Keys
Curtiss Airports Corp. Keys
Curtiss Flying Service Keys
Curtiss Aeroplane Export Co. Keys
Curtiss-Caproni Corp. Keys
Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Mfg. Co. Keys
New York Air Terminals Hoyt
N.Y. & Suburban Airlines Hoyt
Keystone Aircraft Corp Hoyt

There were three main divisions: the Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division, which manufactured airframes; the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, which produced aircraft engines; and the Curtiss-Wright Propeller Division, which manufactured propellers. After 1929, most engines produced by the new company were known as Wrights, while most aircraft were given the Curtiss name, with a few exceptions.

Throughout the 1930s, Curtiss-Wright designed and built aircraft for military, commercial, and private markets. But it was the Wright engine division and the longstanding relationship with the U.S. military that would help the company through the difficult years of the Great Depression. In 1937, the company developed the P-36 fighter aircraft, resulting in the largest peacetime aircraft order ever given by the Army Air Corps. Curtiss-Wright also sold the P-36 abroad, where they were used in the early days of World War II.

During World War II, Curtiss-Wright produced 142,840 aircraft engines, 146,468 electric propellers and 29,269 airplanes.[2] Curtiss-Wright employed 180,000 workers, and ranked second among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts (behind only General Motors).[4][5]

Aircraft production included almost 14,000 P-40 fighters, made famous by their use by Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers in China, over 3,000 C-46 Commando transport aircraft, and later in the war, over 7,000 SB2C Helldivers. Its most visible success came with the P-40, variously known as the Tomahawk, Kittyhawk, and Warhawk, which were built between 1940 and 1944 at the main production facilities in Buffalo, New York. During the war, a second large plant was added at Buffalo, followed by new plants at Columbus, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; and Louisville, Kentucky. Engine and propeller production was at plants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

In May 1942, the U.S. government assigned Curtiss-Wright a defense production factory for wartime aircraft construction at Louisville, Kentucky, to produce the C-76 Caravan cargo plane, which was constructed mostly of wood, a non-priority war material. However, after difficulties with the C-76 (including a crash of a production model in mid-1943), as well as the realization that sufficient quantities of aluminum aircraft alloys would be available for war production, plans for large-scale C-76 production were rejected.[7] The Louisville plant was converted to C-46 Commando production, eventually delivering 438 Commandos to supplement the roughly 2,500 C-46s produced at Buffalo. The C-46 cargo plane was fitted with two powerful radial engines, and could carry more cargo at higher altitudes than any other Allied aircraft. Consequently, it was used extensively in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Defective engines sold to U.S. military in World War II

From 1941 to 1943, the Curtiss Aeronautical plant in Lockland, Ohio produced aircraft engines under wartime contract destined for installation in U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft.[8][9] Wright officials at Lockland insisted on high engine production levels, resulting in a significant percentage of engines that did not meet Army Air Forces (AAF) inspection standards. These defective engines were nevertheless approved by inspectors for shipment and installation in U.S. military aircraft. After investigation, it was later revealed that Wright company officials at Lockland had conspired with civilian technical advisers and Army inspection officers to approve substandard or defective aircraft engines for military use.[8][9] Army Air Forces technical adviser Charles W. Bond was dismissed by the Army in 1943 for "gross irregularities in inspection procedure."[10] Bond would later testify that he had been "wined and dined" by Wright company officials; one of those occasions was the night before Bond fired four AAF engine inspectors another AAF inspector had described as "troublemakers."[10] In 1944, three Army officers, Lt. Col. Frank Constantine Greulich of Detroit, former chief inspection officer for the material command, Major Walter A. Ryan of Detroit, former central states inspection officer, and Major William Bruckmann, a former Cincinnati brewer and resident Army inspections officer at the Wright plant in Lockland were charged with neglect of duty, conspiracy, and giving false testimony in a general court martial.[11][12][13] All three men were later convicted of neglect of duty.[13] The story of defective engines had reached investigators working for Sen. Harry Truman's congressional investigative board, the Truman Commission, after several Wright aircraft assembly workers informed on the company; they would later testify under oath before Congress.[8][9][14] Arthur Miller's play All My Sons is based on this incident.[15]

Post–World War II

Curtiss-Wright failed to make the transition to design and production of jet aircraft, despite several attempts. During the war, the company had expended only small amounts on aircraft research and development, instead concentrating on incremental improvements in conventional aircraft already in wartime production. This was especially true in the first two years of the war. Curtiss' failure to research and develop more advanced wing and airframe designs provided an opening for North American, Bell, Lockheed, Northrop, and other U.S. aircraft manufacturers to submit newer and more advanced aircraft designs. The P-60, the firm's last prop-driven fighter design, was merely an extrapolation of its 1930s P-36 Hawk, offering no advantage over other designs already in service. With the rapid development of jet engine technology and near-supersonic flight, this technological lag resulted in Curtiss losing a number of critical postwar military aircraft orders. The final nail in the coffin was the choice of the Northrop F-89 Scorpion over the XF-87 Blackhawk; after the F-87 was cancelled October 10, 1948, Curtiss-Wright shut down its entire Aeroplane Division and sold the assets to North American Aviation.

While this marked Curtiss-Wright's departure from preeminence in the aviation industry, one notable spin-off involved Curtiss-Wright's flight research laboratory, founded in 1943 near the main plant at the Buffalo airport. During divestiture of the airframe division, the lab was given to Cornell University along with a cash gift to finish construction of a transonic wind tunnel. Cornell Aeronautical Labs, or CAL as it was known, was eventually spun off from the university as a private company, Calspan Corporation, which has been responsible for many subsequent innovations in flight and safety research.

After the Government gave the development of the Whittle jet engine to GE, the company concentrated on reciprocating engines and propeller production for military transport and civilian airliners. With the approaching twilight of the big piston aircraft engine, Curtiss-Wright needed new design inspiration. in 1950, Curtiss-Wright licensed the Sapphire jet engine from Armstrong Siddeley in the U.K, and manufactured it as the Wright J65. It powered models of the Martin B-57, and several other U.S. fighter planes. Subsequent derivative engines were late, and did not find substantial markets.

For a brief time, Curtiss-Wright licensed rights to the Wankel rotary engine from NSU in 1958 as a possible aircraft power plant. For this major innovative engineering project, Curtiss-Wright relied extensively on the design leadership of NSU-Wankel engineer Max Bentele.

In 1954, United Airlines bought four Curtiss-Wright flight simulators at a cost of $3 million. These simulators were like earlier ones produced in the late 1940s for airliners with the addition of visuals, sound, and movement. They were the first of today's modern flight simulators for commercial aircraft.[16]

In 1956, financially strapped automaker Studebaker-Packard Corporation entered into a management agreement with Curtiss-Wright as a means for the nation's fifth largest automobile manufacturer to avoid insolvency. The relationship lasted until 1959 at which time Curtiss-Wright withdrew from the agreement. The shift of civilian aircraft to jets left the company with little of its old business, and during the 1960s it shifted to components for aircraft and other types of equipment, such as nuclear submarines, a business that is still being conducted today.

In 2002, Curtiss-Wright acquired Penny & Giles, a supplier of black boxes and sensing devices (Hybrid linear, hybrid rotary, and VRVT sensors).[17]

In 2003, Curtiss-Wright acquired Systran Corporation, a supplier of highly specialized, high-performance data communications products for real-time systems, primarily for the aerospace and defense, industrial automation and medical image markets.[18] The acquisition also reintroduced Curtiss-Wright to Dayton, OH.

In 2010, Curtiss-Wright acquired Hybricon Corporation for $19 million in cash. Hybricon is a supplier of electronic packaging for the aerospace, defense and commercial markets, and provides electronic subsystem integration.[19]

In 2011, Curtiss-Wright acquired Ireland based Acra Control for $61 million in cash. Acra Control is a supplier of data acquisition systems and networks, data recorders and telemetry ground stations for both defense and commercial aerospace markets.[20]

In the beginning of 2013, Curtiss-Wright acquired Exlar Corporation for $85 million in cash. Exlar, a private company, is a designer and manufacturer of highly engineered electric actuators used in motion control solutions in industrial and military markets. The acquired business will operate within Curtiss-Wright's Motion Control segment.[21] In October 2013, Curtiss-Wright completed the acquisition of the Parvus Corporation, a business unit of Eurotech S.p.A., for $38 million. Parvus is a leading designer and manufacturer of rugged small form factor computers and communications subsystems for the aerospace, defense, homeland security and industrial markets.[22]



Curtiss Electric propellers

As well as manufacturing engines, a range of electrically actuated constant speed three- and four-bladed propellers were manufactured under the name Curtiss Electric.[23]

See also



  1. "Curtiss-Wright Corporation (CW) Income Statement".
  2. "Curtiss-Wright Corporation – Company – History".
  3. Time. 8 July 1929. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  5. Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, p. 312, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  6. "Life Magazine, September 15, 1941". Google Books (LIFE Magazine Archive). Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  7. Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Factory. The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. 2000. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
  8. Meyers, Jeffrey, The Genius and the Goddess: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0-252-03544-9 (2009), pp. 92–93
  9. Clausen, Henry C., and Lee, Bruce, Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment, Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-81035-2 (2001), pp. 56–58
  10. Colonel Ready To Deny Neglect, The Toledo Blade, 20 April 1944, p. 2
  11. Hinton, Harold B., Air Victory: the men and the machines, New York: Harper & Bros. (1948), pp. 249–251
  12. Corning, New York Leader (5 April 1944), p. 9
  13. Three Air Officers 'Guilty of Neglect', Ordered Dismissed, The Milwaukee Journal, 26 April 1944, p. 33
  14. Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 302, 311–12, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  15. Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, p. 312, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  16. "Airline Pilots Fly Anywhere in the world – Without Leaving the Ground." Popular Mechanics, August 1954, p. 87.
  17. PR Newswire. (1 April 2002) "Curtiss-Wright Complete Acquisition of Spirent's Sensor and Control Assets". Curtiss-Wright Company Website. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  18. "Curtiss-Wright Acquires Systran Corporation". Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  19. Curtiss-Wright Coroporation. (27 May 2010) "Curtiss-Wright to acquire Hybricon Corporation". Curtiss-Wright Company Website. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  20. Ryan, Jim (28 July 2011) "Curtiss-Wright Acquires Acra Control LTD" Curtiss Wright Company Website. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  21. Ryan, Jim (2 January 2013) "Curtiss-Wright Acquires Exlar Corporation" Curtiss Wright Company Website. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  22. GlobeNewswire (2013-10-01). "Curtiss-Wright Acquires Parvus Corporation". TheStreet. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  23. "Curtiss Electric Propeller". Archived from the original on November 5, 2007.


  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Eltscher, Louis R. and Young, Edward M. Curtiss-Wright  Greatness and Decline. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-8057-9829-3.
  • Gunston, Bill (2006). World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines, 5th Edition. Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, England, UK: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-4479-X.
  • House, Kirk W. Curtiss Wright. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7385-3870-1.
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