Ryan Aeronautical Company

From Academic Kids

The Ryan Aeronautical Company was founded by Claude Ryan in San Diego, California, USA in 1934. Ryan, previously best known for building Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic Spirit of St. Louis, had been involved in several previous companies, some bearing similar names, and had been operating a flying school since 1928. The school became a subsidiary of Ryan Aeronautical.

Contents

Early aircraft

The new company's first aircraft was the Ryan ST or "Sport Trainer", a low-wing tandem-seat monoplane with a 95 hp Menasco B-4 "Pirate" straight-4 engine. Five were built before production switched to the Ryan STA (Aerobatic) with a more powerful 125 hp Menasco C-4 in 1935. This aircraft had enough power for aerobatic display, and it won the 1937 International Aerobatic Championships. A further improved Ryan STA Special was built in 1936, with a supercharged Menasco C-4S with 150 hp.

These aircraft attracted foreign military interest, and in response Ryan enlarged the cockpit openings to allow for parachutes, calling this new model the Ryan STM. Six were ordered by Mexico, followed by orders from Honduras, Guatemala Ecuador, China and the Netherlands East Indies, many of the latter ending up in Australia after the Japanese invasion.

USAAC trainers

Interest from the United States Army Air Corps followed. The Menasco engines proved unreliable, and instead Kinner radial engines were fitted. Aircraft were produced as the PT-16 (15 built), PT-20 (30 built), PT-21 (100 USAAF, 100 USN) and finally as the definitive PT-22 Recruit (1,298 built) ordered in 1941 as pilot training began its rapid expansion.

A civilian version of that plane, the S-C, with a cabin rather than exposed cockpits, was also produced.

Ryan also pioneered STOL techniques in its YO-51 Dragonfly observation craft. Three prototypes were built but no USAAF order came.

Wartime

In addition to building trainers for the USAAF, Ryan's flying schools trained USAAF aviators in large numbers during the war, becoming the largest private flying school in the USA during that period.

A different task was the development of the advanced FR Fireball fighter, developed to a 1943 US Navy contract. The Fireball was a combined power fighter, with a conventional piston engine in the nose and a jet engine in the tail. 1,300 were ordered, but only 66 were built before the end of hostilities and none saw action. Ryan also produced a derived turboprop/turbojet combination, the XF2R Dark Shark, but no orders came.

Postwar

In the immediate postwar years, Ryan diversified, including even building coffins for a short period. It bought the rights to the Navion light aircraft from North American Aviation in 1947, selling it to both military and civilian customers.

Ryan became involved in the missile and unmanned aircraft fields, developing the Ryan Firebee unmanned target drone, the Ryan Firebird (the first air-to-air missile) among others, as well as a number of experimental and research aircraft.

Ryan acquired a 50% stake in Continental Motors Corporation, the aircraft-engine builder, in 1965.

In 1968 the company was acquired by Teledyne for $128 million and a year later became a wholly-owned subsidiary of that company. Claude Ryan retired as chairman with the Teledyne purchase.

Northrop Grumman puchased Ryan Aeronautical in 1999.

Ryan aircraft


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