Fairchild Aircraft

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Fairchild Aviation
Former typeAircraft manufacturer
FateAcquired by M7 Aerospace
FoundersSherman Fairchild
HeadquartersSan Antonio, Texas, USA
Area servedMilitary, Civilian
SubsidiariesFairchild Aircraft Ltd.
Ranger Aircraft Engine Division/Fairchild Engine Division
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Fairchild Aviation
Former typeAircraft manufacturer
FateAcquired by M7 Aerospace
FoundersSherman Fairchild
HeadquartersSan Antonio, Texas, USA
Area servedMilitary, Civilian
SubsidiariesFairchild Aircraft Ltd.
Ranger Aircraft Engine Division/Fairchild Engine Division

Fairchild was an aircraft and aerospace manufacturing company based at various times in Farmingdale, New York; Hagerstown, Maryland; and San Antonio, Texas.


Early aircraft[edit]

The Fairchild plant at Jamaica, NY, in 1941.

The company was founded by Sherman Fairchild in 1924 as Fairchild Aviation Corporation, based in Farmingdale, and East Farmingdale, New York. It was established as the parent company for Fairchild's many aviation interests. The company produced the first US aircraft to include a fully enclosed cockpit and hydraulic landing gear, the Fairchild FC-1. At some point they were also known as the Fairchild Aircraft Manufacturing Company. The Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. of Longueuil, Quebec, Canada was an aircraft manufacturer in the period 1920-1950. It served as a subsidiary of the Fairchild company of the United States. The Fairchild Engine company was formed with the purchase of the Caminez Engine Company in 1925.[1] In 1929 Sherman Fairchild purchased a majority stock interest in Kreider-Reisner Aircraft Company of Hagerstown, Maryland. Fairchild moved to Hagerstown in 1931.[2]

Besides designing and building aircraft, Fairchild pioneered the commercial use of aerial photography. Many of its first aircraft like the Fairchild FC-2 were originally designed for that purpose, because the cameras of those days were extremely heavy and required flying steady at a high altitude for that era.[3] In 1935 Fairchild was hired by the US government to do aerial photograph surveys of the United States to track soil erosion and its effects.[4]

A Fairchild aircraft, the Virginia, was taken as one of three aircraft by Richard E. Byrd on his 1928–1929 expedition to the South Pole. It was used for test flights and reconnaissance.

World War II[edit]

Fairchild Argus III, 1944
C-119 Flying Boxcars from the 314th Troop Carrier Group.

Among its activities during World War II was producing PT-19/PT-23/PT-26 (Cornell) and AT-21 trainers, C-82 Packet cargo planes and missiles. The Fairchild AT-21 Gunner, a twin-engine trainer, was manufactured at a former rayon mill in Burlington, North Carolina. Also large numbers of the Fairchild Type 24 (C-61) were produced for the military (principally the Fairchild Argus for the Royal Air Force) and postwar, the civilian market (see separate entry under Fairchild Argus). Fairchild ranked 73rd among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.[5]


Fairchild PT-26B Cornell in flying condition at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba, 2005.

The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was a US military transport aircraft developed from the World War II C-82 Packet. The C-119 was designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients and mechanized equipment with the ability to make "paradrops" of cargo and troops. The first C-119 made its initial flight in November 1947, and by the time production ceased in 1955, more than 1,100 C-119s had been built for use in the USAF and other air forces including the Royal Canadian Air Force. After its retirement from military service, the flexibility and ruggedness of the C-119 made it ideal to convert as a waterbomber.

In 1949, the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation (based in Hagerstown, Maryland) started work on the C-123 Provider, the transport officially entering service in 1955. In 1954 Fairchild purchased the American Helicopter Company, incorporating it and the XH-26 Jet Jeep as a division.[6] In 1956, the company acquired rights to the Fokker Friendships, producing 206 of the aircraft as the Fairchild F-27 and Fairchild Hiller FH-227. During the 1950s, Fairchild was a large subcontractor to Boeing for B-52 fuselage sections and wing panels. Later they would build F-4 Phantom tail sections, F-14 Tomcat tails, and Space Shuttle stabilizers.

Their association with Boeing would continue into the 1980s building wing controls surfaces for 747s and 757s. In 1964, the company purchased Hiller Aircraft, changing its name to Fairchild Hiller and producing the FH-1100, until 1973 when the helicopter division was sold back to Stanley Hiller. In 1965, the company acquired the Republic Aviation Company.

Following the death of its founder, Fairchild changed its name to Fairchild Industries in 1971, before purchasing Swearingen and manufacturing the Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, a successful commuter aircraft (with US military designations C-26 Metroliner and UC-26 Metroliner). During 1971 and 1972, the company developed what would become the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog", prevailing over rival Northrop YA-9.

The company developed the T-46 jet trainer to replace the elderly T-37 Tweet trainer, but it was not accepted by the Air Force because of performance problems.

In 1984, aircraft production ceased in Hagerstown, Maryland.

After the company's takeover of Dornier's civil assets in 1996, the company was renamed Fairchild Dornier. The company commenced production of the Dornier 328 in 1998 under license from Daimler Benz Aerospace.

In December 1999, Fairchild Aerospace Corporation was acquired by German insurer Allianz A.G. and the United States investment group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. for $1.2 billion.[7]

In 2003, the assets of Fairchild were purchased by M7 Aerospace and the new company was relocated to San Antonio.

On December 15, 2010, M7 was purchased by the United States subsidiary of the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.


Summary of aircraft built by Fairchild
Model nameFirst flightNumber builtType
Fairchild-Dornier 728Jet19970Prototype commuter jet
Fairchild-Dornier 428JET1990s0Cancelled regional jet
Fairchild-Dornier 328Jet1991217commuter jet
Fairchild T-4619853Jet Trainer
Fairchild C-26 Metroliner1980sMilitary transport aircraft
A-10 Thunderbolt II1972716Close air support jet
Fairchild AU-23 Peacemaker1971Armed counter-insurgency, utility aircraft
Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner1968600Turboprop airliner
Fairchild AC-119196852Ground-attack aircraft
Fairchild-Hiller FH-11001966253Turbine helicopter
Fairchild-Swearingen Merlin1965xxTurboprop corporate
Fairchild 2281960s2Regional jet airliner
Fairchild VZ-519591Experimental VTOL
Fairchild Hiller F-27, FH-227195878Turboprop commuter
Fairchild XC-120 Packplane19501Military transport aircraft
Fairchild C-123 Provider1949307Cargo
Fairchild XNQ19492Trainer
Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar19471,183Cargo
Fairchild M-8419451Four-Five place family aircraft
Fairchild C-82 Packet1944223Cargo
Fairchild BQ-319442Assault Drone
Fairchild AT-21 Gunner1943175Bomber Trainer
Fairchild PT-1919396397Trainer
Fairchild F-4619371Light aircraft
Fairchild Model 45193517Low-wing Monoplane
Fairchild 9119354flying-boat airliner
Fairchild 2419322232Four passenger light aircraft
Fairchild 221931127Two passenger light aircraft
Fairchild 100193027Nine passenger airliner
Fairchild KR-34192873+Biplane
Fairchild 2119272Two-seat touring monoplane
Fairchild 4219278Three passenger light aircraft
Fairchild 711926111Eight passenger light aircraft
Fairchild FC-21926118Four passenger light aircraft
Fairchild FC-119261Four passenger light aircraft


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donald M. Pattillo. A History in the Making: 80 Turbulent Years in the American General Aviation Industry. p. 11. 
  2. ^ Kaske, Kristine L. "Fairchild Industries, Inc. Collection." National Air and Space Archives, 2003.
  3. ^ Donald 1997, p. 382.
  4. ^ "Wide Area Is Mapped From Air By Giant Ten Lens Camera." Popular Mechanics, October 1935. (Editors have stated Fairchild Aircraft in hand written comment to left of archived article.)
  5. ^ Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  6. ^ Flying Magazine: 44. July 1954. 
  7. ^ "Fairchild Aerospace is sold for $1.2 billion." The New York Times, 29 December 1999. Retrieved: 28 July 2011.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5.

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