Brief History of the British Aircraft Industry

Depending on how you count them, there were up to 27 aircraft companies in Britain in 1945.

Airspeed part of De Havilland since 1940
Armstrong Whitworth Hawker Siddeley Group
Avro Hawker Siddeley Group
Blackburn Aircraft
Boulton Paul
Bristol Aeroplane
Cierva Autogiro Co.
De Havilland Hatfield
English Electric
General Aircraft Co.
Gloster Hawker Siddeley Group
Handley Page
Hawker Hawker Siddeley Group
Miles Aircraft
Portsmouth Aviation
Supermarine part of Vickers
Vickers Weybridge

Initial attempts made by the Attlee Government to restrict orders to selcted design teams were subsumed by the outbreak of the Korean War. Re-armament meant that by 1955, the number of employees in the industry had risen to 250.000, and only two mergers had occured - General Aircraft and Blackburn, and Cierva and Saunders-Roe (into the Saunders-Roe helicopter division). Cunliffe-Owen had gone out of business in 1948, and Portsmouth Aviation in 1949. Britain actually had more aircraft companies than the USA.

In 1957, a White Paper presented by Duncan Sandys decided that combat aircraft should be phased out in favor of missiles. By this time many major aircraft projects had been cancelled.

In 1946, Ben Lockspeiser of the Ministry of Aircraft Production announced the cancellation of the Miles 52 supersonic aircraft and a ban on any future supersonic projects - all research in this direction was to be carried out using models. In this same year the Bell X1 first flew, which became the first manned aircraft to break the sound barrier. Eventually the first British supersonic aircraft flew in the same year that the supersonic F100 entered service with USAF. The British Air Force received a supersonic aircraft five years later on.

In 1960, a major grouping occured. As follows :-

Brian Daugherty.