Friday, January 18, 2013

Retro American Airlines and their Vultee

NC13768 was the fifth production Vultee V1-A
With American Airlines' announcement yesterday of their first major livery change since 1968, I thought it would be fun to take a look back almost 80 years at one of their first really modern monoplane airliners, the Vultee V1-A.

Designed by Gerard Vultee and Vance Breese, the V1 prototype was developed by the Aircraft Development Division of Cord Manufacturing at Glendale, California. It first flew on February 19, 1933. The design was soon followed by the slightly larger production version, the V1-A, also built at Glendale.

There is no date or location information on this fabulous amateur snapshot
of three American Airlines Vultee V1-As. It is possible, though, that this is
Moline IL. Detail scans of the three planes are below. 
American Airlines had been flying the Curtiss Condor bi-plane, a genuinely good airplane, if not state-of-the-art, and needed something faster, so they purchased between ten and twelve (depending on the source you reference) of the production V1-As along with the prototype.

The new aircraft were the fastest in the business when they entered service in 1934, but didn't last long. Within two years, new rules promulgated by the Bureau of Air Commerce (forerunner of the CAA and FAA) limited single-engine aircraft used in commercial service, so American sold the V1-As.

Note that the engine is running!
At least seven of the former American Airlines aircraft (including NC13768, the plane in the photo above) ended up being fitted with machine guns and bomb racks, and flown by the Spanish Republicans in the Spanish Civil War but carrying French registration (this one became F-AQAM).

A fascinating and detailed history of the V1A can be found at Aerofiles here, including information on the numerous speed records set by V1-As.

Monocoupe was based in Moline, IL, and the Monocoupe lettering on the
hangar in the background of this detail scan suggest Moline as the location.

Not related to the Vultee photos, but when I saw this
sitting in an antique store, it intrigued me, and I thought
this was as good an opportunity as any for posting.

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