Goodyear Aerospace

Goodyear Aerospace Corporation was the aerospace and defense subsidiary of Goodyear. The company was originally operated as a division within Goodyear as the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation, part of a joint project with Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, leading to the development of rigid airships in the United States. As part of the failing relationship between the US and Germany in the era prior to World War II, the division was spun off as Goodyear Aircraft Company in 1939. In 1941, a new factory in Arizona was opened which produced subassemblies, including subcontracted airframe construction and the design of the Goodyear F2G Corsair and Goodyear Duck.

Goodyear Aerospace Corporation
IndustryAerospace industry
FateBought by Loral Corporation for $640 million in 1987
PredecessorGoodyear Zeppelin Corporation
FoundedUS (1963 (1963))
Defunct1987 (1987)
Akron, Ohio
ParentGoodyear Tire and Rubber Company

In the post-war era, the division began to diversify and made major contributions to the development of synthetic aperture radar. In 1963 they became Goodyear Aerospace, with major product lines in radar, aircraft canopies, bulletproof glass, a number of spacecraft related products, and the unique Goodyear Inflatoplane. A 1986 hostile takeover attempt of the parent company by James Goldsmith led to a massive restructuring to build capital to buy Goldsmith out. Goodyear Aerospace was sold to Loral in 1987, which in turn sold their non-satellite operations with the defense products purchased by Lockheed Martin in 1993.

Early years

Goodyear's aerospace operations began with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Aeronautics Department. As part of the settling of war reparations with Germany after World War I, the German airship industry was reduced and Zeppelin operations forbidden. In 1924, Goodyear formed a joint interest company with the German Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company, of which Goodyear held 2/3 and the Zeppelin company 1/3 interest. This Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation was able to use Zeppelin's patents, and a number of German engineers and technical staff moved to the US. The chief engineer of the Zeppelin company became the "Vice-President of Engineering"[1] The company subsequently constructed rigid (zeppelins) and non-rigid (blimps) dirigibles for the US military. Goodyear's giant hangar was constructed where the huge rigid airships for the US Navy, including the USS Akron (ZRS-4) and USS Macon (ZRS-5) were constructed.[2]

Wartime aircraft manufacturing

Also due to the lack of business during the depression, the company used its advanced aeronautical knowledge to design and build the high speed Comet commuter trains for the route between Boston and Providence. It became Goodyear Aircraft Corporation[3] on December 5, 1939 in response to a contract from the Glenn L. Martin Company to design and build the empennage section for its new plane, the B-26 Marauder. The army had placed a large order and Goodyear had available manufacturing space at its huge Airship Dock, in Springfield Township, Ohio near Akron. Due to escalating problems in Europe and eventual war with Germany, Goodyear created Goodyear Aircraft Corporation to handle US military contracts in 1939. The German-US joint venture was dissolved in 1941, and Goodyear's military and commercial airship operations were transferred to the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation.

By 1941, manufacturing facilities were running at full capacity and ground was broken on July 15, 1941 at an additional location just west of Phoenix, Arizona. Goodyear was familiar with the area, and had been operating a large cotton ranch there for decades. Arizona produced more than three million pounds of airframes during World War II.

Goodyear Aircraft Company in Goodyear, Arizona, in 1951, the Arizona employees past and present played a long and storied role in numerous SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) firsts. These include the original SAR patent, the first demonstration SAR and flight test, the first operational SAR system, the first operational SAR data link, the first 5-foot resolution operational SAR system, the first 1-foot resolution SAR system, and the first large scale SAR digital processor. The company has installed and flown over five hundred SAR systems on more than thirty different types of aircraft for numerous countries throughout the world. The company designed and produced all of the evolving high performance SAR systems for the U. S. Air Force SR-71 Blackbird spy plane throughout its entire operational history, spanning some twenty-nine years.


The Arizona plant produced a range of defense products in later years, including jet aircraft canopies, bulletproof glass and vehicular armor products, military shelters and missile transporters.

Darrell C. Romick, former Chief Engineer of Taylorcraft Airplane Company was a close associate of Wernher von Braun. Romick's worked for Goodyear Aircraft in the 1950s produced a rocket and spacecraft design called the Goodyear Meteor Junior concept. The 3-stage rocket had similarities to the much later Space Shuttle in that it was manned, had reusable stages, and its topmost stage was designed to ferry personnel and cargo to a large space station orbiting the earth.[4] The concept was designed in 1954 to 1958, with a launch date of 1962.[5]

The company became Goodyear Aerospace Corporation in 1963 to reflect the diverse range of products. In 1987 it was sold to Loral Corporation for $640 million following a massive restructuring of Goodyear prompted by the hostile takeover attempt by James Goldsmith and the Hanson Trust. The Goodyear name disappeared and became the defense systems unit of Loral.


Loral's rights to the now retired Goodyear Blimp designs (GZ-20 and GZ-22) were sold to Lockheed Martin, which purchased the defense systems unit in 1993. While owning the designs, Lockheed Martin does not manufacture airships .[6]



Fixed-wing aircraft



See also


  1. Goodyear Aerospace Corp, Feasibility Study Of Modern Airships Vol. III Historical Overview (PDF), US Dept of Commerce, p. 3
  2. "Latest Diesel-Engine Train Built Like Airships", Popular Mechanics, July 1935
  4. Model, Space Shuttle, Goodyear Meteor Jr. 3-Stage Fully Reusable Concept, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
  5. All About Satellites and Space Ships, David Dietz, Random House, Toronto, LCCN 58-9014
  • Allen, Hugh. Goodyear Aircraft: A Story of Man and Industry, 1947.
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