Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Ted R. Smith and Ed Heinemann

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Ted R. Smith

Ted R. Smith (1906–1976) was an American aircraft designer. He worked for the Douglas Aircraft Company, Aero Design and Engineering Company, and Rockwell Standard Corporation. In 40 years, his designs included the Douglas A-26 Invader (under the direction of Ed Heinemann), and the first all metal small twin engine business aircraft for Aero Commander, a company that he helped to start.

The Aero Commander line included one of the first twin engined business jets, the Jet Commander. In the 1960s he designed and manufactured the Aerostar line, under his own name. The Aerostar was later built by Piper Aircraft, as the Piper Aerostar.

Arguably, no one has had as great an impact on general/business aviation as Ted Smith. Each aircraft design credited to his name helped set new standards for future designs. It is not widely known, but Mr. Smith designed, certified, and built the first all new small twin engine business aircraft, the Aero Commander. He then brought the first small business jet aircraft to market which was the Jet Commander now evolved into the Astra Jet. Mr. Smith, more designer than promoter, was know as the "quiet man", letting his revolutionary aircraft designs, with their spectacular performance, speak for themselves.

After leaving the Rockwell Standard Corporation (manufacturer of the Jet Commander), Ted Smith, with 40 years of design, certification, and manufacturing experience to draw upon, went quietly about developing an entire family of aircraft that ranged from a single engine piston to a twin engine turbofan. With no turbofan powerplant available in the size range he required, Mr. Smith focused on the reciprocating powered aircraft and developed what many consider to be the world's best handling, most responsive, business/personal aircraft of all time, the incomparable Aerostar. The Aerostar family of aircraft was the culmination of 40 years of T. R. Smith's aviation experience and expertise. Before passing the baton to his existing Aerostar team he established the design concepts and supervised considerable engineering work on a light twin fanjet model should a suitable powerplant be developed.

Edward Henry Heinemann

Edward Henry Heinemann, (14 March 1908 – 26 November 1991) was a noted military aircraft designer for Douglas Aircraft Company.

Heinemann was born in Saginaw, Michigan, but moved to California as a boy and was raised in Los Angeles. A self-taught engineer, he joined Douglas Aircraft as a draftsman in 1926, but was laid off within a year. After stints at International Aircraft, Moreland Aircraft, and Northrop, Heinemann re-joined Douglas when it acquired Northrop. Heinemann became Douglas's Chief Engineer in 1936. He remained with the company through 1960, when he left to join Guidance Technology. In 1962 he joined General Dynamics as Corporate Vice President of Engineering. In this position he oversaw the development of the F-16. He retired in 1973.

His approach to aircraft design was simplistic, once saying that he simply took the most powerful engine available, and designed the aircraft around it.

During his long career at Douglas, Heinemann designed more than 20 combat aircraft, primarily for the U.S. Navy, including many that became legends in aviation history. His designs included:

  • SBD Dauntless dive bomber
  • A-20 Havoc light bomber/attack aircraft
  • A-26 Invader light bomber/attack aircraft
  • A-1 Skyraider attack aircraft
  • A-3 Skywarrior bomber
  • A-4 Skyhawk light bomber
  • F3D Skyknight night fighter
  • F4D Skyray carrier-based fighter aircraft
  • Douglas Skystreak and Douglas Skyrocket research aircraft

One of the first aircraft to be designed by Heinemann was the Moreland M-1 Trainer of 1929, a braced-wing parasol wing monoplane. Due to the 1929 recession only a small number were sold before the company ceased trading in 1933.

Awards and medals

  • 1953: Collier Trophy (for the F4D Skyray)
  • 1978: Guggenheim Medal
  • 1981: National Aviation Hall of Fame
  • 1983: National Medal of Science

The Naval Air Systems Command awards the "Edward H. Heinemann Award" annually to the individual or group that makes a significant contribution to aircraft design.