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The Jet Makers

The Aerospace Industry from 1945 to 1972

• Title
• Introduction
• Preface
• Acknowledgements

• I: World War II: Aviation Comes of Age
• II: The Aerospace Industry since World War II: A Brief History
• III: The National Military Strategy: Background for the Government Markets
• IV: The Principal Government Market: The United States Air Force
• V: The Other Government Markets: The Aerospace Navy, the Air Army, and NASA
• VI: Fashions in Government Procurement
• VII: The Heartbreak Market: Airliners
• VIII: Design or Die: The Supreme Technological Industry
• IX: Production: The Payoff
• X: Diversification: The Hedge for Survival
• XI: Costs: Into the Stratosphere
• XII: Finance and Management
• XIII: Entry into the Aerospace Industry
• XIV: Exit from the Aerospace Industry
• XV: The Influence of the Jet Engine on the Industry

• Notes
• Acronyms
• Annotated Bibliography


Considering that aerospace has been the nation's largest industry for nearly all of the past thirty years, surprisingly little has been written about it. Except for a few valuable sources, most useful information must be assembled from fragments scattered through periodicals.


Government publications applicable to the aerospace industry constitute an enormous field, yet only bits here and there are useful for the historian's broad view. For example, appropriations hearings for a year selected at random, 1963, fill over 1,000 pages for the Department of Defense and almost 5,000 pages for NASA. Consequently, government sources were selected rather than exhausted. The selection was made on the basis of: bibliographies from other useful sources, subject matter, and recognition in periodicals.

Many pertinent General Accounting Office reports are reprinted in the Hearings of the Joint Economic Committee.


  • Joint Economic Committee
    • Subcommittee on Economy in Government, Hearings, Economics of Military Procurement. Parts 1 and 2, 1968, Report, 1969.
    • Subcommittee on Economy in Government, Hearings, The Acquisition of Weapons Systems. Parts 1 and 2, 1970; Parts 3, 4 and 5, 1972; Part 6, 1973. Senator William Proxmire's critical investigations of defense procurement.


  • Committee on Armed Services, Hearings, Weapons Systems Acquisition Process.
    • First and Second Sessions, 1972. A general but searching inquiry into defense procurement.
    • Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee, Report. Investigation of the Preparedness Program. 1952. Criticism of the Korean War mobilization.
    • Preparedness Subcommittee Number One, Hearings, Aircraft Procurement. Contract Award of C-119 Cargo Planes by Air Force. 1953. The inquiry into the Kaiser-Frazer contract.
    • Subcommittee, Hearings, Military Procurement. 1959. Useful for the mechanics of defense procurement.
    • Subcommittee on the Air Force, Hearings, Study of Airpower. 1956. A rambling, lengthy discussion of many aspects of airpower.


  • Committee on Government Operations
    • Subcommittee, Hearings, Navy Jet Aircraft Procurement Program. 1956. The investigation of F3H procurement.
  • Committee on Armed Services
    • Subcommittee for Special Investigations
      • Hearings, Aircraft Production Costs and Profits. 1956. An inquiry made too early to be of great use for the period 1945-1973.
      • Hearings, Study of AF Contract AF 33 (038)-18503 General Motors Corp.-Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly Division. 1957. Investigation of General Motors' profits in manufacturing F-84Fs.


  • Comptroller General, Adverse Effects of Large-Scale Production of Major Weapons Before Completion of Development and Testing, Department of the Navy. 1970. Analysis of the effectiveness of concurrent development.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Fifty Years of Aeronautical Research. 1967. A useful survey.
  • President's Air Policy Commission, Survival in the Air Age. 1948. The Finletter Report.


  • Aviation Week and Space Technology (Aviation, Aviation Week), New York, 1916-, Weekly, 1945 through 1972. The principal trade journal. Crammed with key information.
  • Business Week, New York, 1929-, Weekly, 1946 through 1972. Excellent material on industries and individual firms. Gives a broad view of business.
  • Flying, New York, 1927-, Monthly, 1946 through 1972. A general aviation publication but occasionally useful for military or commercial aviation.
  • Fortune, New York, 1930--, Monthly, 1946 through 1972. Excellent material on industries and individual firms.
  • Newsweek, New York, 1933-, Weekly, 1946 through 1972. Has occasional insights into firms and industries.
  • Time, New York, 1923-, Weekly, 1946 through 1972. Has occasional insights into firms and industries.
  • U.S. News and World Report, Washington, D.C., 1933-, Weekly, 1946 through 1972. Has informative interviews with key individuals.
  • Wall Street Journal, New York, 1889-, Monday through Friday, 1958 through 1972. Excellent material on industries, individual firms and government. Gives a broad view of business.


  • Alchian, A. A., Arrow, K. J., and Capron, W. M. "An Economic Analysis of the Market for Scientists and Engineers. " RAND Corporation, Research Memorandum RM-2190-RC, 6 June 1958. The title is an accurate description.
  • Asher, Harold. "Cost-Quantity Relationships in the Airframe Industry." RAND Corporation Study No. R-291, 1956. Details of the learning curve.
  • Miller, Thomas G., Jr. "Strategies for Survival in the Aerospace Industry." Arthur D. Little, 1964. A well-done study soon outdated by the Vietnam War and airliner technical developments.
  • Nelson, R. R. "The Economics of Parallel Rand D Efforts: A Sequential-Decision Analysis." RAND Corporation No. RM-2482, 12 November 1959. The case for duplication in development.
  • Stanford Research Institute. "The Industry-Government Aerospace Relationship." Vol. I, "Report." Vol. II, "Supporting Research." SRI Project No. IS-4216. Menlo Park, California, 1963. Contains significant analyses but partly outdated by the end of the McNamara era.


  • Reguero, Miguel Angel. "An Economic Study of the Military Airframe Industry." New York University, 1958. The industry as it was in 1958.
  • Shin, Tai Saeng. "A Financial Analysis of the Airframe-Turned Aerospace Industry." University of Illinois, 1969. The application of various financial test systems to the industry.
  • Simonson, Gene Roger. "Economics of the Aircraft Industry." University of Washington, 1959. Shallow.



  • Company Annual Reports.
  • Letter to Author from Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, 23 May 1973.