Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 136,278 pages of information and 218,946 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Bell Aircraft Corporation

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1935 The company was founded by Lawrence Dale Bell in Buffalo, New York. It focused on designing and building of fighter aircraft. Their first fighters were the XFM-1 Airacuda, a twin-engine fighter for attacking bombers, and the P-39 Airacobra. Later produced the P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet fighter, the P-63 Kingcobra, the successor to the P-39, and the Bell X-1.

1941 Bell hired Arthur M. Young, a talented inventor, to provide expertise for helicopter research and development. It was the foundation for what Bell hoped would be a broader economic base for his company that was not dependent on government contracts.

1942 The Bell 30 was their first full-size helicopter and first flew on December 29, 1942.

The Bell 47 became the first helicopter in the world rated by a civil aviation authority, becoming a civilian and military success.

1960 Textron purchased Bell Aerospace, which consisted of 3 of the divisions of Bell Aircraft Corporation, including its helicopter division.

The helicopter division was renamed Bell Helicopter Company and in a few years, with the success of the UH-1 during the Vietnam War, it had established itself as the largest division of Textron.

1976 Textron changed the name of the company again to Bell Helicopter Textron.

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