Convair - Jet Age, Cold War, and Space Age

Jet Age, Cold War, and Space Age

In March 1953, all of the Convair company was bought by the General Dynamics Corporation, a conglomerate of military and high-technology companies, and it became officially the Convair Division within General Dynamics.

After the beginning of the Jet Age of military fighters and bombers, Convair was a pioneer of the delta-winged aircraft design, along with the French Dassault aircraft company, which designed and built the Mirage fighter planes.

One of Convair's most famous products was the 10-engined Convair B-36 strategic bomber, burning four turbojets and turning six pusher props driven by Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial piston engines. The Convair B-36 was the largest landbased piston engined bomber in the world. The Atlas missile, the F-102 Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart delta-winged interceptors, and the delta-winged B-58 Hustler supersonic intercontinental nuclear bomber were all Convair products. For a period of time in the 1960s, Convair manufactured its own line of jet commercial airliners, the Convair 880 and Convair 990, but this did not turn out to be a profitable business. However, Convair found that it was profitable to become an aviation subcontractor and to manufacture large subsections of airliners, such as fuselages for the larger airliner companies, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, and Lockheed.

The Convair Division produced its own airplane designs, such as several airliners, until 1965, when it shifted from these to airframe/aerostructure subcontracting projects for other companies. Convair also shifted more money and effort into its outer space products, especially rocket boosters. The Convair-made and cryogenically fueled Atlas missile ICBM for the U.S. Air Force had within just a handful of years become obsolete, and had been replaced by the room-temperature liquid-fueled Titan II missile and the solid-fueled Minuteman missile.

Convair worked hard to make its Atlas rocket product into a very reliable space booster rocket, especially when combined with the Centaur upper stage to form the Atlas-Centaur rocket for launching geosynchronous communication satellites and space probes. The Centaur rocket was also designed, developed, and produced by Convair, and it was the first widely used outer space rocket to use the all-cryogenic fuel-oxidizer combination of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The use of this liquid hydrogen – liquid oxygen combination in the Centaur was an important direct precursor to the use of the same fuel-oxidizer combination in the Saturn S-II second stage and the Saturn S-IVB third stage of the gigantic Saturn V moon rocket of the Apollo project. The S-IVB had earlier also been used as the second stage of the smaller Saturn IB rocket, such as the one which was used to launch Apollo 7. The Centaur upper stage was first designed and developed for launching the Surveyor lunar landers, beginning in 1966, to augment the delta-V of the Atlas rockets and give them enough payload capability to deliver the required mass of the Surveyors to the Moon.

More than 100 Convair-produced Atlas-Centaur rockets (including those with their successor designations) were used to successfully launch over 100 satellites, and among their many other outer space missions, they launched the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 space probes, the first two to be launched on trajectories that carried them out of the Solar System.

In addition to aircraft, missiles and space vehicles, Convair developed the large Charactron vacuum tubes, which were the precursors of modern cathode ray tube (CRT) computer displays, and to give an example of a minor product, the CORDIC algorithms, which is widely used today to calculate trigonometric functions in calculators, field-programmable gate arrays, and other small electronic systems.

Read more about this topic:  Convair

Famous quotes containing the words space, age, jet and/or cold:

    And Space with gaunt grey eyes and her brother Time
    Wheeling and whispering come,
    James Elroy Flecker (1884–1919)

    Youth no less becomes
    The light and careless livery that it wears
    Than settled age his sables and his weeds,
    Importing health and graveness.
    William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

    I cannot beat off
    Invincible modes of the sea, hearing:
    Be a man my son by God.
    He turned again
    To the purring jet yellowing the murder story,
    Deaf to the pathos circling in the air.
    Allen Tate (1899–1979)

    By the road to the contagious hospital
    under the surge of the blue
    mottled clouds driven from the
    northwest—a cold wind.
    William Carlos Williams (1883–1963)