National Air and Space Museum Archives

Curtiss-Wright Corporation Records

Collection ID:
Curtiss-Wright Corporation
bulk 1925-1949
Physical Description:
212.29 Cubic feet
598 boxes
This collection consists of the corporate records of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Included in the collection are technical and engineering reports of Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division's operations in St. Louis (Robertson), MO (1935-1945) and Buffalo, NY, (1932-1945), as well as AAS Material Division and AAF Air Technical Services Command memorandum reports collected by Curtiss-Wright's St. Louis and Buffalo technical reference libraries. The collection also contains the files of Curtiss-Wright's Patent Department, which hold records of patents filed by Curtiss-Wright and patent-infringement cases involving Curtiss-Wright. Also included in the collection are specifications issued by and photos commissioned by the Keystone Aircraft Corporation (Huff-Daland Airplanes, Inc. until March 1927), which had been acquired by Wright in 1928 along with Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corp., and formed the Keystone Division of Curtiss-Wright until 1932 when Keystone's Bristol, PA factory closed its doors. The collection also contains financial records of the Curtiss-Wright Airports Corporation, which was liquidated in 1936, as well as an extensive negative collection featuring Curtiss-Wright aircraft from the 1930s and 1940s, concentrated especially on the war years.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Curtiss-Wright Corporation Records collection contains approximately 212 cubic feet of material. The collection contains the following material:
  • Army Air Service Material Division & Army Air Force Technical Services Command Memo
  • Reports & Technical Reports which include testing of various Curtiss-Wright models of aircraft and/or various parts of aircraft
  • Technical & Engineering Reports from the St. Louis, MO plant [Robertson] & Buffalo, NY plant
  • Patents, Patent Dockets, Patent Serial numbers, Suits, License Agreements, Patents filed by Curtiss-Wright & Patent Infringement Cases [1800s to 1940s]
  • Miscellaneous Research Files
  • Corporate & Financial Records [1923 to 1972]
  • Correspondence
  • Blueprint Drawings
  • Advertisements from Newspapers & Magazines in Scrapbooks
  • Engine Decals
  • Photographs
  • Negatives & Glass Plates

This collection was arranged into Series and Subseries:
Series I: Curtiss-Wright Corporation Records
Subseries I: Corporation Reports\Records Subseries II: Patents Subseries III: Patent Serial Numbers Subseries IV: Patent Application/Dockets Subseries V: Patent Litigation Subseries VI: Aircraft & Engine Designations arranged by Designation Subseries VII: Photographs Subseries VIII: Keystone Aircraft Corporation Subseries IX: Oversize Scrapbooks of Advertising Material, Newspaper Clippings
Series II: Technical Reports
Subseries I: Air Corps Materiel Division, Reports [ACMR] Subseries II: Buffalo Reports Subseries III: St. Louis
Series III: Glass Format Photography
Series IV: 1969 Accretion - Listing of Archival Material
Series V: Master Print Books [this part of the collection has not been processed]

Historical note
Historical note
An historic event in aviation occurred on June 26, 1929 when two major aircraft companies: the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company merged with the Wright Aeronautical Corporation to form the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. After this merger, the former Wright organization took over all of the engine and propeller manufacture while Curtiss concentrated on airplanes. This merger was completed by organizing two major divisions under their original names, but under the direction of a corporate headquarters located in New York City. However, there was a recognized separation of spirit as well as specialized facilities that was never completely resolved in succeeding years. The election of former Wright personnel to key corporate positions soon led to Wright becoming the dominant division. At the height of the Lindbergh Boom during the 1920s and 1930s, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation was made up of the following identified organizations: The Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company; The Curtiss-Caproni Corporation; The Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company; The Keystone Aircraft Corporation; The Moth Aircraft Corporation; The Travel Air Manufacturing Company; The Wright Aeronautical Corporation; Curtiss-Wright Flying Service; The Curtiss-Wright Sales Corporation; The Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation. Curtiss-Wright was quickly becoming the 'General Motors of the Air' until the great depression in October 1929. Sales dropped and Curtiss-Wright was forced to close certain satellite plants and transfer some of their product lines to the St. Louis facility. It looked like even the Buffalo plants would also have to close when Curtiss-Wright received an order from Colombia, South America for Hawks and Falcons. This was the largest military order to Curtiss since the war. The Colombia sale saved the Curtiss-Wright organization at this low point in its history. This order kept the production lines going until new military and civil markets began to open up as the depression waned and the build-up for World War II began. During the U.S. military build-up prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, all existing Curtiss-Wright plants were expanded and new aircraft factories were built at Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky. The dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japan resulted in an unexpected early end to World War II. All of the major U.S. airplane builders including Curtiss-Wright were hit by massive contract cancellations because of the Japanese surrender. In 1946 Curtiss-Wright had only two experimental military models at hand for postwar delivery and no assurance of production orders. Curtiss-Wright was forced to shut down all airplane plants and transfer all units of the Aeroplane Division to their Columbus Plant. The eventual sale of the Airplane Division to North American included design rights to the former Curtiss-Wright airplanes. The Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division, which manufactured airframes, finally closed down in 1951.

Hank Brown with Naoise Johnston (Series 1 and 2); Jessamyn Lloyd and Melissa A. N. Keiser (Series 3)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Curtiss-Wright Corporation, gift, XXXX, 1969
Processing Information
Arranged and described by Hank Brown with Naoise Johnston, 1999. Encoded by Tyler Love, 2014. Glass Format Photography Series processed and digital image assets attached by Melissa A. N. Keiser and Jessamyn Lloyd, 2022.
Processing Information
Every effort was made to try to date each folder. The date range is given in brackets when an exact date could not be found, e.g. [1940-1950].
Box 177 holds oversize (legal-size) materials. There are separation sheets throughout boxes 75-221 when necessary to redirect the archivist to "Legal Size Box #1" which is Box 177.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Preferred Citation
Curtiss-Wright Corporation Records, Acc. XXXX-0067, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Motion pictures (visual works) Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reports Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Curtiss, General, Aircraft Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Curtiss-Wright aircraft Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Financial records Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics, Military Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Keystone Aircraft Corp Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Curtiss-Wright Airports Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151