This is a faithful reproduction of the wartime logo of the famous Bell Aircraft Corporation.
After working for Glenn L. Martin and Consolidated, Larry Bell established his own company, the Bell Aircraft Company, on July 10, 1935, headquartered in Buffalo.
Bell’s first military contract followed in 1937 with the development of the ill-fated YFM-1 Airacuda, an unconventional bomber-destroyer powered by two Allison-powered pusher propellers. Bell enjoyed some success the following year with the development of the single engine P-39. Putting their previous experience with Allison engines to good use, the P-39 placed the engine in the center of the aircraft, with the propellor driven by a long shaft through which a cannon was also mounted. A somewhat larger and more powerful version of the P-39 was produced shortly before the end of World War II. Called the P-63 Kingcobra, this warplane addressed many of the shortcomings of the P-39, though it was produced too late in the war to make any contribution.
Bell Aircraft won contracts to build hundreds of Consolidated B-24 Liberators and Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers too. Although Bell designed several more fighter plane designs during and after WW II, none of these ever entered mass-production. The twin-jet P-59 Airacomet, really an experimental airplane, was the first American jet fighter to fly, though its performance turned out to be inferior. The XP-77 was a small fighter using non-strategic materials; it was not successful. The XP-83 was a jet escort fighter similar in layout to the P-59 that was cancelled. The Bell XF-109 was a supersonic vertical takeoff supersonic fighter that was cancelled in 1961.
Perhaps Bell Aircraft’s most important contribution to the history of fixed-wing aircraft development would be the design and building of the experimental Bell X-1, rocket plane the first airplane to break the sound barrier, and its follow-on, the Bell X-2.
Bell went on to design and produce several different experimental aircraft during the 1950s. These helped the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) explore the boundaries of aircraft design, and paving the way for the founding of NASA and the exploration of outer space.
Helicopter development began at Bell Aircraft in 1941 with the company’s first one, the Bell Model 30 first flying in 1943. Bell Helicopters became the only part of Bell Aircraft still producing aircraft when Bell was purchased by the Textron Corporation. That part of Textron is now known today as Bell Helicopter Textron. After a series of successful helicopter designs, the UH-1 Iroquois became the most noted helicopter of the War in Vietnam, and Bell Helicopters still designs and manufactures helicopters today.