World Of Planes For Mac

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McDonnell Aircraft Corporation
FateMerged with Douglas Aircraft Company
SuccessorMcDonnell Douglas
Founded1939; 81 years ago
FoundersJames Smith McDonnell
Defunct1967; 53 years ago
United States of America

The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri. The company was founded on July 6, 1939 by James Smith McDonnell, and was best known for its military fighters, including the F-4 Phantom II, and manned spacecraft including the Mercury capsule and Gemini capsule. McDonnell Aircraft later merged with the Douglas Aircraft Company to form McDonnell Douglas in 1967.


James McDonnell founded J.S. McDonnell & Associates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1928 to produce a personal aircraft for family use.[1] The economic depression from 1929 ruined his plans and the company collapsed. He went to work for Glenn L. Martin. He left in 1938 to try again with his own firm, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, based at St. Louis, Missouri in 1939.[2]

World War II was a major boost to the new company. It grew from 15 employees in 1939 to 5,000 at the end of the war and became a significant aircraft parts producer, and developed the XP-67 Bat fighter prototype.[3] McDonnell also developed the LBD-1 Gargoyleguided missile.[4] McDonnell Aircraft suffered after the war with an end of government orders and a surplus of aircraft, and heavily cut its workforce. The advent of the Korean War helped push McDonnell into a major military fighter supply role.

An FH-1 Phantom in 1948

In 1943, McDonnell began developing jets when they were invited to bid in a US Navy contest and eventually built the successful FH-1 Phantom in the postwar era. The Phantom introduced McDonnell's telltale design with engines placed forward under the fuselage and exiting just behind the wing, a layout that would be used successfully on the F2H Banshee, F3H Demon, and the F-101 Voodoo. David S. Lewis joined the company as Chief of Aerodynamics in 1946. He led the development of the legendary F-4 Phantom II in 1954, which was introduced into service in 1960.

Lewis became Executive Vice President in 1958, and finally became President and Chief Operating Officer in 1962. He went on to manage Douglas Aircraft Division in 1967 after the McDonnell Douglas merger. In 1969, he returned to St. Louis as President of McDonnell Douglas.

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McDonnell made a number of missiles, including the pioneering Gargoyle and unusual ADM-20 Quail, as well as experimenting with hypersonic flight, research that enabled them to gain a substantial share of the NASA projects Mercury and Gemini. The company was now a major employer, but was having problems. It had no civilian side, and was thus vulnerable to any peacetime downturn in procurement.

Meanwhile, Douglas Aircraft was reeling from cash flow problems and development costs. It was also having a hard time meeting demand. The two companies began sounding each other out about a merger in 1963. On paper, they were a good match. Douglas' civilian business would have been more than enough to allow McDonnell to withstand any downturns in military procurement, while the cash flow from McDonnell's military contracts would have given Douglas badly-needed security. Douglas formally accepted McDonnell's offer in December 1966, and the two firms officially merged on April 28, 1967 as the McDonnell Douglas Corporation (MDC), based at McDonnell's facility in St. Louis. In 1967, with the merger of McDonnell and Douglas Aircraft, David Lewis, then president of McDonnell, was named chairman of what was called the Long Beach, Douglas Aircraft Division. He managed the turnaround of the division.

McDonnell Douglas would later merge with Boeing in August 1997.[5] Boeing's defense and space division is based at the old McDonnell facility in St. Louis, and is responsible for defense and space products and services. McDonnell Douglas's legacy product programs include the F-15 Eagle, AV-8B Harrier II, F/A-18 Hornet, and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.


McDonnell F2H Banshee, F3H Demon, and F4H Phantom II


World Of Planes For Mac
Model nameFirst flightNumber builtType
McDonnell XP-6719441Prototype twin piston engine interceptor fighter
McDonnell FH Phantom194562Twin jet engine fighter
McDonnell XHJH-1 Whirlaway19461Twin piston engine helicopter
McDonnell F2H Banshee1947895Twin jet engine fighter
McDonnell XH-20 Little Henry19472Prototype twin ramjet light helicopter
McDonnell XF-85 Goblin19482Prototype single jet engine parasite fighter
McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo19482Prototype twin jet engine fighter
McDonnell F3H Demon1951519Single jet engine fighter
McDonnell XV-119542Experimental single piston engine compound gyroplane
McDonnell F-101 Voodoo1954807Twin jet engine fighter
McDonnell 12019572Experimental three ramjet light helicopter
McDonnell F-4 Phantom II19585,195[a]Twin jet engine fighter
McDonnell 11919591Prototype four jet engine business jet
McDonnell 113N/A0Unbuilt multiple turboshaft engine compound gyroplane

Manned Spacecraft[edit]

  • Mercury capsule[6]
  • Gemini capsule[7]

Missiles and others[edit]

  • TD2D/KDD/KDH Katydid target drone, 1942[8]

Aircraft engines[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Sanford N. McDonnell, nephew of founder and later President (1971), CEO (1972) and Chair (1980) of McDonnell Douglas.


  1. ^This includes aircraft built by McDonnell Douglas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.


  1. ^J.S. McDonnell & Associates, Early years: 1927-1938 (part 1)Archived 2008-01-04 at the Wayback Machine,
  2. ^J.S. McDonnell & Associates, Early years: 1927-1938 (part 2)Archived 2008-01-04 at the Wayback Machine,
  3. ^McDonnell Aircraft Corp, The War Years: 1939-1945 (part 1)Archived 2007-07-07 at the Wayback Machine,
  4. ^McDonnell Aircraft Corp, The War Years: 1939-1945 (part 2)Archived 2007-12-21 at the Wayback Machine,
  5. ^Boeing Chronology, 1997–2001Archived January 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Boeing
  6. ^Francillon 1979, p. 45.
  7. ^Francillon 1979, p. 46.
  8. ^TD2D/KDD/KDH Katydid
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London:Putnam, 1979. ISBN0-370-00050-1.

External links[edit]

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Wikimedia Commons has media related to McDonnell aircraft.

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