Southern Aircraft Corp. - 1939-1949 - Garland, Texas - (later Intercontinental Mfg. 1949-2003 - now General Dynamics Corp.)


Southern Aircraft Corp. has ads in the 1947 Chevrolet Silver Book advertising their school bus bodies.


In May 1939 the Southern Aircraft Corporation was formed in Houston, and in July 1940 this plant completed its first plane, a biplane designed for use as an army trainer. In December 1940 Southern Aircraft began excavation for a plant near Garland and in February 1941 moved from Houston and began production of military primary-training planes.


Southern Aircraft was formed by a group of former Luscombe Airplane Corporation employees in the late 1930s. Their first president was Willis C. Brown.  Garland, Texas donated 27 acres of land to SAC and the Garland facility opened its doors in 1939. The number of employees grew to 3,000 during WWII.

Until the late 1940s, aircraft parts and sub-assemblies were the primary products of the company to support WWII. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the company's focus shifted to commercial products such as school bus bodies, tractors, livestock trailers farm implements, and a short-lived Franklin-powered flying car called the Aerocar (1946). During the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War, aircraft and munitions were the primary products.

In 1949, the company's name changed to IMCO, and over the years workers produced a variety of products, including farm tractors, flamethrowers, soft drink machines and school buses.

Even so, its major emphasis has always been products that support the defense and aerospace industries.

From 1955 through 1969 under the name Intercontinental Manufacturing it had a variety of owners which included Lionel Toy.

In 1968 Bergman Forging moved from their California operations to the Garland facility.

Currently the Garland plant employs about 625 people, who develop and manufacture the steel bodies used in almost all 500-, 1,000- and 2,000-pound bombs in U.S. Navy and Air Force arsenals. The company also forges aluminum and magnesium components used in airplane and ordnance.

From 1988 through 2003 the company was owned by Datron Inc. who sold the firm to General Dynamics in 2003.


Southern, Southernaire

1940: Southern Aircraft Div, Portable Products Corp (pres: Willis C Brown), Garland and Greenville TX; 1947: Houston TX.


Aerocar 1946 = 2pChwM; 130hp Franklin 6AC; span: 30'0" v (est): 128/x/x range (est): 310. Ted Hall. Roadable with demountable wing and twin-boom, twin-tail unit, a development by Hall of his twin-boom auto-plane concepts. It is uncertain if this was ever specifically produced under the Southern banner, or if it was one of Hall's projects in the works, as it was first flown at San Diego CA in 1939. POP: 1 [NX59711], made several test flights, but proved to be underpowered and the project was abandoned in the post-war slump.

Southernaire BM-10 [NX17670] (Aero Digest)


BM-10 1940 = 2pOB; 220hp Continental R-670; span: (upper) 34'1" (lower) 33'0" length: 25'2" load: 720# v: 123/105/50 range: 355 ceiling: 15,000'. Metal-framed fuselage, metal and fabric covered, wood and fabric wings and tail group. Refitted with 225hp Jacobs L-4 [NX17670].

Southernaire BM-11 [NX59783] (Aviation Heritage)


BM-11 1940/1945 = 6pChwM; two 200hp Ranger 6-440; span: 42'0" length: 29'3" load: 1921# v: 175/166/61 range: 760. POP: 1 [NX59783].

XC-1 1947 = 2pChwM; 130hp Franklin. POP: 1 prototype with scant data.



For more information please read:

Ed Strauss & Karen Strauss - The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Donald F. Wood - American Buses

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Susan Meikle Mandell - A Historical Survey of Transit Buses in the United States

David Jacobs - American Buses, Greyhound, Trailways and Urban Transportation

William A. Luke & Linda L. Metler - Highway Buses of the 20th Century: A Photo Gallery 

William A. Luke & Brian Grams - Buses of Motorcoach Industries 1932-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Greyhound Buses 1914-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Prevost Buses 1924-2002 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Flxible Intercity Buses 1924-1970 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Buses of ACF Photo Archive (including ACF-Brill & CCF-Brill)

William A. Luke - Trailways Buses 1936-2001 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Fageol & Twin Coach Buses 1922-1956 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Trolley Buses: 1913 Through 2001 Photo Archive

Harvey Eckart - Mack Buses: 1900 Through 1960 Photo Archive

Brian Grams & Andrew Gold - GM Intercity Coaches 1944-1980 Photo Archive

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

John McKane - Flxible Transit Buses: 1953 Through 1995 Photo Archive

Bill Vossler - Cars, Trucks and Buses Made by Tractor Companies

Lyndon W Rowe - Municipal buses of the 1960s

Edward S. Kaminsky - American Car & Foundry Company 1899-1999

Dylan Frautschi - Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots and Post Houses


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