North American Aviation

North American B-25 assembly line in Kansas City


North American Aviation was founded in 1928 Clement Key as an aviation holding company, but the air mail scandal of 1930 led to regulatory changes that induced the company to move into aircraft production in 1935. The first plant was a 20-acre facility near Los Angeles Municipal Airport (in Inglewood) that took advantage of the favorable year-round flying weather of southern California. This plant was constructed specifically for the military market, and made extensive use of subassembly prefabrication.

Production centered on trainers and observation aircraft, such as the BT-9 and NA-16. The latter was the forerunner of the famous AT-6, which was produced in huge numbers. The company continued to focus on small, single-engine aircraft until wartime demand for multi-engine models led to development of the B-25 Mitchell.

In addition to the AT-6, North American produced the B-25 and the P-51 Mustang at its Inglewood plant. North American also produced these aircraft plus the Consolidated B-24 Liberator at its Dallas and Kansas City plants.

North American-Inglewood produced an average of about 364 P-51 and 99 B-25 airframes a month during the production runs of these models. Production at its other plants averaged 75 B-24, 193 B-25, and 210 P-51 airframes a month.


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