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Author Topic: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft  (Read 1579 times)

Offline Apophenia

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Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« on: February 14, 2017, 04:45:54 pm »
Southern Aircraft Corporation (SAC) of Garland, Texas

In the pre-war section, hesham started a topic on Southern Aircraft Corporation products. This topic is for Southern Aircraft's post-war developments: http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,28603.0.html

Background: Southern Aircraft Corporation (SAC) was formed in Houston, TX (in 1938 or May 1939 - sources vary), by former Luscombe employees to produce a military trainer.  This Model BM-10 biplane trainer was on offer from 1940 to 1942 with a variety of 225 hp radial engine options.

SAC also worked out an agreement with Ted Hall on his XCP-1 flying car design which ultimately led to the XC-1/Southern Roadable after the war. Southern Aircraft was working on a 6-seat, twin-engined executive aircraft at the same time. That aircraft is often referred to as the 'BM-11' which I believe is an error. I will refer to it simply as the Model 11. [1]

Another common error is applying the term 'Southernaire' as a substitute company name for Southern Aircraft Corporation. [2] But Southernaire was actually the type name that SAC applied to its Model 11, not a corporate rebranding exercise.

After WWII, the firm had become the Southern Aircraft Division of Portable Products Corporation. The Roadable and Southernaire were the two notable attempts made to find markets in post-war civilian aviation. Neither effort panned out and Southern turned to building more profitable buses and farm machinery.

Some sources claim that Southern was rebranded as IMCO in 1949. [3] Not so. Actually, Southern Aircraft went bankrupt early in that year and the Garland facility was leased by the Intercontinental Manufacturing Company. IMCO also took over Southern's inventory  of tractors, etc. Ironically, by 1951, the vast majority of IMCO's activity was in building military aircraft components.

There were a few more firms at the former Southern Aircraft plant after IMCO before it became the Garland facility of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) in 2003.

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[1] I suspect that this springs from the Model BM-10 trainer's designation. I believe that the latter stands for 'Biplane, Military'. As such, 'BM' is inappropriate for a civilian transport. So, I will refer to the executive transport simply as the Model 11.

[2] Eg: http://www.aerofiles.com/_sk.html

[3] Eg: http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/s/southern/southern.htm

Offline Apophenia

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Re: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 04:49:08 pm »
Southern Aircraft Corporation Roadable/Hall XC-1 flying car

As mentioned, SAC worked out an agreement with Ted Hall on his XCP-1 flying car design which ultimately led to the post-war modification known as the XC-1/Southern Roadable.

Theodore Parsons 'Ted' Hall had been associated with Thomas Morse Aircraft before joining Cunningham-Hall (co-founded by his older brother, Randolph F. Hall). In 1931, Hall joined Consolidated in Buffalo, NY, relocating to San Diego, CA, with Consolidated in 1935. Today, Ted Hall is best-remembered for the Model 118 ConvAir-Car flying car.

During the War, Ted Hall had been employed by Southern Aircraft Corp. as a contract engineer. It's not clear whether Hall worked on flying car concepts during this period at SAC (more likely he did detail engineering on contracted components for other company's designs). What is known is that Hall's XCP-1 flying car - first flown in 1940 - was transferred to Southern's Garland, TX facility after WW2.

According to a Descriptive Finding Guide for the Theodore P. Hall Personal Papers (SDASM.SC.10061.O/S) at the San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives:

"In 1946, Hall sold rights to his flying car program to Southern Aircraft Corporation for further development. Southern Aircraft, however, after several months, returned all rights to Mr. Hall." [1]

That "several months" at Garland is too short for what transpired (and some sources claim that development work at SAC continued for up to three years). Initially, Southern seems to have referred to Hall's XCP-1 prototype as the 'Roto Mobile'. Development work began on a tight timeline under the direction of engineer Orin Moe (who was also SAC VP) along with EM Johnson, Jr (who had also worked on the Model BM-1 prototype).

Hall had already planned changes for Southern Aircraft under the new designation XC-1. [2] Presumably, Moe and Johnson did the engineering work for whatever those detail changes were. The resulting modified prototype was dubbed the Southern Roadable by SAC. [3] The Franklin-powered Roadable was driven the 45 miles from Garland to Majors Field at Greenville, TX for test flying. Development work continued but Southern Aircraft's emphasis was on bringing another project to commercial fruition.

Roadable development continued for research purposes but exceeded its contractual time contraints and, by agreement, the prototype was returned to Ted Hall in California. As the XCP-1, the prototype was loaned to the San Diego Air & Space Museum "for many years, but was destroyed during the 1978 fire." [4]


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[1] http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8xp79dj/entire_text/

[2] In SDASM.SC.10061.O/S, under Series VII: Engineering Drawings, is listed "XC-1, General Arrangement Drawing, Southern Aircraft Corporation (1945)". SDASM has 7 pages of photos from their Ted Hall collection on Flicker ... not not a GA Drawing among them  :P

[3] The XC-1/Southern Roadable is sometimes called the Southaire (sic) Roadable or misidentified as the 'Aerocar' (the latter being more appropriate to Moulton Taylor's Aerocar). Aerofiles lists the XC-1 as a 1947 prototype "prototype with scant data" and the 'Aerocar' as a separate project.


[4] https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/sets/72157629762111670/

Offline Apophenia

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Re: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 04:54:59 pm »

Southern Aircraft Model 11 Southernaire executive aircraft

The Model 11 Southernaire was an attempt to quickly provide the Southern Aircraft Company's production floor with a product for the immediately post-WW2 civilian market. During the War, SAC produced aircraft components for other companies -- B-24 nose and tail turrets (anyone know which types?) as well as wings and tailplanes for Grumman Avengers, Hellcats, and Bearcats. The latter connection seems to have drawn SAC's attention to the Grumman G-44 Widgeon amphibious flying boat.

Aerofiles lists the 'BM-11' as a "1940/1945" project but I can't find any evidence that this design predated World War Two. There is mention of engineer EM Johnson, Jr. (who had also worked on the BM-10 biplane) dividing his time between the Roadable and executive aircraft projects in 1945. By 1946, Southern Aircraft was advertising their Southernaire as a 6-passenger transport of all-metal construction. [1]

Many of the components were common to the G-44 Widgeon -- including wings, tailplane, and main undercarriage. The latter were rearranged as part of a hydraulically-retractable tricycle landing gear. The aircraft was advertised in 1946 with 270 hp geared Continental horizontally-opposed engines. Unfortunately, that Continental engine wasn't available in time. [2] Instead, the prototype was flown fitted with the G-44 Widgeon's 200 hp Ranger 6-440 C-5 inline 6-cylinder engines.

Aviation Week (1946-02-04, pg.9) [3] describes the Model 11 as a "six-place twin-engine deluxe executive transport" and a landplane which in "its general appearance resembles the Grumman Widgeon amphibian."

Quote
Details of Transport The transport, named the Southernaire, will cruise at 168 mph. at 62.5 per cent of full power, has a top speed of 197 mph. and a cruising range of 760 miles. It is powered with two six-cylinder horizontally opposed Continental engines of 270 hp turning controllable pitch propellers. It is capable of sustained flight on one engine.

Standard equipment includes complete instrumentation for instrument flight conditions. Its interior is designed for luxury accommodation of six persons and 200 lbs. of baggage. Gross weight is 5,000 lbs. and empty weight 3,100 lbs. It is equipped with hydraulically retractable tricycle landing gear, with main wheels retracting into the sides of the fuselage.

The prototype Model 11 Southernaire (NX59783) was, reportedly, built using components from a 1947 G-44 Widgeon (c/n 1405 NC41974 or N41974). [4] These components were mated to a new "semi-monocoque fuselage construction". [5] The aircraft looked good but the market was about to be flooded with surplus military aircraft like the Beech UC-45 which could easily (and cheaply) be converted into executive transports.

In Vintage Aircraft, Vol 21 No 12, Dec 1993, pg 28, [6] reader Michael Bass of Irving, TX, reported that the sole prototype Model 11 Southernaire was sold to an operator in Mexico and has not been heard of since.

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NB: Recent eBay offers of copies of the 1946 Southernaire advert list the aircraft as the 'Southernliner'. I have no idea where that name came from. The ad clearly shows a script reading 'Southernaire'.

[1] The artwork accompanying the 1946 Southeraire advert was obviously based on a photograph of the Ranger-engined prototype flying. (See attached images comparison.)

[2] I know of no suitably-powerful Continental HO6 from that time. (Can anyone suggest potential candidates?) The Lycoming GO-435 or Franklin 6A4-200 might have been usable alternatives but there is no mention of either of those engine types being considered for production versions of the Model 11 Southernaire.

[3] https://archive.org/stream/Aviation_Week_1946-02-04/Aviation_Week_1946-02-04_djvu.txt

[4] Details on the career of G-44 c/n 1405 seem to be unavailable. It's possible that this Widgeon airframe was never actually assembled.

[5] Flying Magazine, Dec 1946, pg.87

[6] https://issuu.com/vintageeaa/docs/va-vol-21-no-12-dec-1993

Southern Model 11 Southernaire photographs:
 -- https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/southern-tx-southernaire-photograph
 -- http://www.shu-aero.com/AeroPhotos_Shu_Aero/Aircraft_N/Southernaire/index.html

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Offline hesham

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Re: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2017, 04:35:50 am »
Nice work my dear Apophenia.

Offline Mark Nankivil

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Re: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2018, 01:06:52 pm »
Here's a reference to the Southernaire in the April 1946 issue of Skyways.

Enjoy the Day!  Mark

Offline Skyblazer

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Re: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2018, 05:08:11 pm »
Impressive! You have done a great deal of research into the subject, actually far more than I did.
Up until now I still retained the distinction between the Southernaire Roadable and the XC-1 as being two different aircraft, but of course it does make a lot of sense that the two were just probably the same aircraft as I have never been able to find any picture of a separate aircraft (nor any related registration). Also the similarity between the Hall designation of XCP-1 and XC-1 adds even more credence to this theory.

You seem, however (but maybe I misunderstood what you wrote), to imply that the Southernaire Roadable was just the same aircraft as the XCP-1 that was modified. Where did you find that the XCP-1 was transfered to Southern? This is not coherent with the fact that they got two distinct civil registrations [NX59711 for the Southernaire Roadable, and the much earlier NX14993 for the XCP-1 which was later refered to as the Convair XCP-1, clearly indicating that the prototype remained the property of the San Diego firm.

I must also add that, according to my research, the BM-11 was designed and built by W. C. Brown.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 05:17:18 pm by Skyblazer »

Offline hesham

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Re: Southern Aircraft Corporation Post-War Aircraft
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2019, 05:26:50 am »
From Ailes 2/1946.