The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet in Buffalo, NY, the result of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company’s liquidation and Fleet’s purchase of designs from the Dayton-Wright Company as the subsidiary was being closed by its parent corporation, General Motors.
Consolidated became famous during the 1920s and 1930s for its line of flying boats. The most successful of the Consolidated patrol boats was the PBY Catalina, which was produced throughout World War II and used extensively by the Allies. Equally famous is the B-24 Liberator, a heavy bomber which, like the Catalina, saw action in both the Pacific and European theaters.
In September 1935 Consolidated moved across the country to its new “Building 1”, a 247,000-square-foot (22,900 m2) continuous flow factory in San Diego, California. The first production PBY Catalina was launched in San Diego Bay in 1936, and the first XPB2Y-1 Coronado test aircraft made its first flight in 1937. The XB-24 Liberator prototype made its first flight in December 1939, and the first production order was from the French in 1940 just days before their surrender to Germany, six of these YB-24 Liberators were designated LB-30A and ferried to Britain.
In 1943, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft or Convair. General Dynamics purchased a majority interest in Convair in March 1953, where it continued to produce aircraft or aircraft components until being sold to McDonnell Douglas in 1994. McDonnell Douglas shut down the division after just two years of operations in 1996.
Consolidated Aircraft and later Convair had their headquarters situated in San Diego, California on the border of Lindbergh Field (KSAN).