Seeing the name "Consolidated Vultee" (usually the B-24 is just referred to as
a "Consolidated" plane) reminded me that Consolidated eventually became
Convair, manufacturer of the Atlas missile. The Atlas was America's first
ICBM. Converted versions of this missile were used to launch many of the early
probes to the moon, Mars, and Venus, and the Atlas D was used in Project
Mercury to orbit John
Glenn and three other astronauts.
Convair grew from a Buffalo, New York-based airplane manufacturer. Major
Reuben Fleet, ex-head of the Air Mail service and a pilot with military
training and many flight hours, established the Consolidated Aircraft
Corporation (CAC) in May, 1923.
CAC produced a variety of airplanes for the military and for private and
commercial buyers. Mac Laddon, Fleet's chief designer, designed a two-engine
flying boat, the XPBY Catalina, which was ordered in quantity by the Navy.
Because flying boats and float airplanes required a year-round waterway, Fleet
started looking around for an all-weather, all-year location to produce
seaplanes (the weather in Buffalo certainly did not fit the requirement).
Fleet chose San Diego for CAC's new plant, which was dedicated in 1935. The
plant was built on the north side of San Diego's main airport, Lindbergh Field,
near the west end. . . . The plant had access to San Diego harbor right across
During the next few years, CAC built a variety of airplanes. As the war
loomed, CAC designed and built the PB2Y-3 and PB4Y-2 [I assume the "PB4Y-2"
reference is a typo in the book. The PB4Y-2 "Privateer" was a version of the
B-24 with single vertical stabilizer built for the Navy; I assume the author
really meant "PB2Y-4", which was an updated version of the -3] flying boats
and presented such believable data on a long-range four-engine heavy bomber
that CAC received a production order for seven B-24 bombers one week before
the order for the one mockup and one prototype was placed. The first B-24
bomber flew successfully one day earlier than the nine-months-after-award
delivery specified by the contract.
In the early years of World War II, the government built a companion plant
about two miles north of Plant 1, as the CAC Lindbergh Field plant was known.
The new plant, officially designated USAF Plant 19 but commonly referred
to as Plant 2, was used exclusively to produce B-24s and other military
aircraft. A total of 19,256 B-24s were built during the war at four
major CAC plants - the San Diego facilities, the mammoth Ford Motor
Company Willow Run plant in Michigan, and in the Tulsa and Ft. Worth
assembly plants. The last B-24 rolled off the line on May 31, 1945.
Fleet had built CAC into a manufacturing giant, far too large for one person to
handle. Aviation Corporation (AVCO), through its Vultee Aircraft Corporation
subsidiary, bought out Fleet's controlling interest of 34% of CAC's stock on
December 19, 1941. The merger was completed in March, 1943, and CAC became
Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (CVAC, sometimes translated by
less-serious company employees as "Christ, Ve Are Confused"), and later
converted to the acronym "Convair."
Convair had some financial problems after World War II as airplane production
phased down. . . .
In 1953, John Jay Hopkins, Chairman of General Dynamics (GD), acquired Convair.
No obvious changes occurred in the day-to-day activities of the programs
underway. However, GD's size, and the goals and quality of its leadership,
lent considerable support and strength to the work underway by Convair. The
melding produced a new name -- Convair, a Division of General Dynamics,
shortened to the GD/Convair.
So, if the B-24A model was manufactured in 1939 (well before the merger),
this emblem is certainly not original equipment. However, according to
the Commemorative Air
Force's Diamond Lil history page, the plane was used as a
"company aircraft," so the emblem was likely added then.
Of course, the CAF folks might think it looks as cool as I do, and may have
added it as "after-market" equipment.