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When E.M.Smith started EMSCO Aircraft he also built the first airfield that would later become the basis of the Vultees Aircraft production. The first Aircraft Company on the site offered a single seat personal aircraft called the "Airster".

BT-13 Valiant Trainer

Gerard ( Jerry ) Vultee ran this company up til his death in 1933. The most important program was the BT-13 Valiant Trainer aircraft. Vultee Aircraft Company produced over 10,000 aircraft.

AJ-1 Savage

At the end of WWII the Navy needed a carrier based aircraft that could handle nuclear weapons, so the AJ-Savage was designed to fill the bill. Prototypes were built and flown out of Downey.

AT6 Texan

North American Aviation needed to expand production operations for the F86 at El Segundo so the AT6 modification contract was moved into the Downey Building 1 facility.


The RTV-A-3 NATIV was an experimental missile program, developed by North American Aviation for the United States Air Force in the late 1940s to test and evaluate guided missile technologies.

Navaho Program

At the beginning of the cold war, before the Space Race began, America was reverse engineering the captured German V2 technology. Southern California and Downey had a role through the NATIV and Navaho Missle programs. Much of this research at the Downey site was precursor to the late ICBM and Cruise technology.

GAM 77 Hound Dog

The GAM-77 ( Ground to Air Missile ) also designated AGM-28 Hound Dog was a cruise missile designed by North American Aviation for US Air Force to defend against Soviet ground based installations. It was developed in 1959 and deployed in September of 1960. 722 Hound Dog missiles were produced by North American Aviation before its production ended in March 1963. Units were produced until April of 1960 at a cost of $690,073 each. 

Little Joe

The early spacecraft programs needed a booster to test designs. NAA offered up the Little Joe as an economical an and capable lift vehicle for testing. The Little Joes were designed and fabricated at the Downey site.

Saturn S-II

Early in the Apollo Program NASA awarded the contract for the Saturn S-II second stage to NAA. While the design centered at the Downey site, fabrications and testing facilities in Seal Beach were leased from the Naval Weapons Station. The stages were shipped by barge to the east coast.


Man's greatest achievement sending men to the moon began in Downey with the design of the Command and Service modules. This spacecraft was fabricated assembled and tested here at the Downey facilities. At the peak of the program over 25,000 people were employed at the site.

Apollo ASTP

One of the last Programs on Apollo was the design of a docking adapter so the Apollo Command Module would be able to dock with the Soviet Spacecraft.

Space Shuttle

The most complex spacecraft ever built was designed and created at the Downey site. While the assembly and integration work was all performed in Palmdale, Ca. the Crew and Aft sections were built at Downey and trucked to Palmdale. Much work was still performed at the KSC after delivery.

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