The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, later Grumman Aerospace Corporation, was a leading producer of military and civilian aircraft of the 20th century. Founded in 1929 by Leroy Grumman with Jake Swirbul, its independent existence ended in a 1994 merger with the Northrop Corporation to form Northrop Grumman.
Leroy Grumman and others worked for the Loening Aircraft Engineering Corporation in the 1920s, but when it was bought by Keystone Aircraft and the operations moved from New York City to Pennsylvania, Grumman and his partners (Ed Poor, William Schwendler, Jake Swirbul, and Clint Towl) started their own company in an old Cox-Klemin Aircraft Co. factory in Baldwin on Long Island.
The company filed as a business on 5 December 1929, and opened its doors 2 January 1930. Keeping busy by welding aluminum tubing for truck frames, the company eagerly pursued contracts with the US Navy. Grumman designed the first practical floats with a retractable landing gear for the Navy, and this launched Grumman into the aviation market. The first Grumman aircraft was also for the Navy, the Grumman FF-1, a biplane with retractable landing gear. This was followed by a number of other successful designs. As the company grew, it moved to Valley Stream, then Farmingdale, finally ending up at Bethpage.
In World War II, Grumman became famous for its Navy fighter aircraft, F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat, and for its torpedo bomber TBF Avenger. Grumman's first jet plane, the F9F Panther, became operational in 1949, but the company's big post-war successes came in the 1960s with the A-6 Intruder and in the 1970s with the F-14 Tomcat.
Grumman were also the chief contractor on the Apollo Lunar Module that landed men on the moon. They received the contract on 7 November 1962, and ultimately built 13 lunar modules (LMs). As the Apollo program neared its end, Grumman was one of the chief competitors for the contract to design and build the Space Shuttle, but lost to Rockwell.
Meanwhile, in 1969, the company changed its name to Grumman Aerospace Corporation, and in 1978 it sold the Grumman-American Division to Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. The end of the Cold War ca. 1991 and the ensuing reduced need for defense spending led to a wave of mergers as aerospace companies shrank; in 1994 Grumman merged with Northrop to be Northrop Grumman.
Grumman aircraft by type and relative date
- Fighter aircraft
- AF-2 Guardian
- A-6 Intruder
- JF Duck
- G-21 Goose some modified as Super or Turbo Goose
- G-44 Widgeon
- Grumman Albatross U-16 in Naval service
- G-73 Mallard
- C-1 Trader
- S-2 Tracker
- E-2 Hawkeye
- C-2 Greyhound
- OV-1 Mohawk
- Grumman X-29A
- Grumman Gulfstream I
- Grumman Gulfstream II