The country, then in the
depths of a financial depression, could not find expenditures for
investment in a commercial airliner - - no matter how advanced the
engineering was. Searching for financial backing to make their product a
reality, Vance Breese left for the West Coast. Sources were no more
receptive there either until a contact was made with E.L. Cord, President
of the Cord Automobile Company. Cord, living in Los Angeles, reviewed the
material presented by Breese and expressed the desire to use the machines
in his Century Airlines. Before the aircraft could be produced however,
Cord was forced to sell the airline due to labour disputes in early 1933.
Investments in the
aviation field by Cord Corporation had become quite extensive. The Stinson
Aircraft Corp. and the Lycoming Manufacturing Company were purchased in
1931. During the same year the operating field was entered with the
organization of Century Airlines, Inc. and the following year controlling
interest in Transamerican Airlines, Inc. was acquired. By 1933 the Cord
Corp. had also purchased the Smith controllable pitch propeller company.
Several airlines were
contacted in the meantime to see their response to the new design.
American Airlines showed great interest, although a number of changes were
necessary to meet their needs. American gave a tentative order for ten
aircraft if the design could meet the requirements. Breese felt this could
be done and with this received the needed financial backing of E.L. Cord.
Immediately after the
business transaction, Vultee was notified and he left Detroit to join
Breese. The new company was incorporated under the laws of California on
January 26, 1932, as the Airplane Development Corporation. A small office
was rented at Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale. On January 18, 1932,
Vultee hired the first employee, Richard Palmer as Assistant Chief
Engineer. Together they started work on the redesign of the original
concept to suit the needs of America Airlines. It was necessary to
accommodate eight passengers. The original was designed for six. A more
powerful engine was necessary. The aircraft grew in overall dimensions,
design and scope. It incorporated many advanced aerodynamic features. Then
a move was made to a building at the United Airport. By spring it was
necessary to move back to Grand Central field where sufficient room was
found in a hangar-plant as tooling got underway. Throughout 1932 the
airplane took shape. This was the first commercial type aircraft to have
full attention from an airline-engineering department throughout its
On November 15, 1932
during reorganization of the company, permission was granted by the state
of California to sell all its authorized stock of 500 shares to the Cord
Corporation. With controlling interest, the management took several
unexplained steps. Vance Breese, who was tied up with financial matters in
the business, received a termination of employment notice. No explanation
was given and it befell Vultee and Palmer to complete the V-1 prototype.
The prototype was
completed in February 1933 and Marshall Headle was called upon to perform
initial test flights. On the 19th, the V-1 made its first flight. The
airplane lived up to every expectation. Not only was the company elated
but also American Airlines shortly thereafter signed the order for 10
The V-1 was turned over to
American for in-service evaluation. The findings of both manufacturer and
purchaser found several recommendations of improvements on forthcoming
production models. The new aircraft emerged as the Vultee V-1A.
On November 30, 1934 the
Vultee concern was reformed as the Aviation Manufacturing Corporation,
thus acquiring all of the Cord interests. By this time the V-1 and eight
V-1As were built and delivered to American Airlines, plus two to private
owners. Under new management an additional four were delivered to American
and another 10 to other interests. In April, 1936 when the facilities were
moved from the hangar/plant at Glendale to larger quarters at Downey,
California, taking over the old E.M. Smity (EMSCO) field and plant, the
last of 24 V-1As were delivered.
The year 1936 proved a big
one for aviation, especially the Douglas Company and all the airlines. The
DC-2 and DC-3 were making airline headlines. Celebrating their tenth
anniversary late that year, American Airlines took a bold step with a
complete re-equipment program. An all-Douglas fleet was ordered. As a
consequence their multi-engined Stinson As, Curtiss-Wright T-32 Condors
and the Vultees were being retired. The V-1As remained in service with
American a little under two years. In September 1938 the last Stinson
trimotor in service (Cincinnati-Washington route) was replaced by a DC-3.
American Airlines was now completely equipped with 32 Douglas machines.