The home of everything related to Twin Navion and Camair aircraft
In 1945, the Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company, Inc. was formed in Dallas as a general purpose manufacturer of
products ranging from popcorn machines and tractors to Fairchild F-24 and Globe GC-1B Swift light planes. Following Globe
Aircraft's bankruptcy in the summer of 1947, they acquired all of Globe's assets and continued the manufacturing of Swifts.
Those that had already been completed were flown back to the factory in Grand Prairie, Texas where they found buyers. In
February of 1950, the company likewise acquired all assets of the bankrupt Luscombe Aircraft Co.
On April 1, 1951, the abandoned wartime training base outside of Greenville, Texas (50 miles north of Dallas) was leased by
Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company. Bob McCulloch, founder and President needed the large airfield, with its long
runways, hangars and acres of tarmac, as the company held a contract with the US Air Force for the overhaul and
refurbishment of Douglas C-54, four engine transports. Desperately needed for the Berlin Airlift and Korean War hundreds of
C-54s rotated through their inspections in 21 days. To accomplish these contracts, the workforce of 500, exploded to more
than 6,000 employees, as the Greenville plant became operational.
The following year, the name of the Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company, Inc. was officially condensed into TEMCO,
and more changes followed. As Dan Hearn recalled, "By 1953, the C-54 overhaul business had become very competitive and the
Greenville Division was forced to lay off almost 2,000 people after losing a major contract. At this time the population of
Greenville was only 15,000, so we certainly had a dreary Christmas. Most of our new friends in town were not so sure we
would add much stability to the community."
But TEMCO had already started to diversify. The original engineering department of one (Dan Hearn) had grown to a full dozen
by this point, and other engineers from the home plant at Grand Prairie were consolidated in Greenville. 1953 also saw two
important contracts; the modification of 100 Twin Navions for Jack Riley and the Riley Aircraft Corp., and the second, the
conversion of 50 Boeing C-97 freighters into flying hospitals for the USAF.
TEMCO had converted a number of C-54s into hospitals a few years earlier, but a number of patients had lost their lives
coming home from Korea due to the long, uncomfortable, unpressurized flight across the Pacific Ocean. The pressurized C-97s
solved the problem.
As the Twin Navion program began, TEMCO was finalizing the design of its model 33 Plebe, a trainer marketed as a replacement
for the larger North American T-28 Trojan. Among the company's activities was a sales tour to Mexico, where TEMCO
demonstrated the Plebe and D-16 to officials from that country's Air Force.
Another trainer was derived from the out-of-production Swift. Known as the T-35 Buckaroo, Cotton Conder, an employee with
Globe and later TEMCO, was called upon to join with 10 T-35s during their delivery to their new owners in Jiddah, Saudi
Arabia in May 1953. "After the planes were assembled, I checked out the pilots and mechanics. This operation took six
months. Every day the temperature was 120 degrees, Fahrenheit, and no rain."
By 1955, TEMCO had proven themselves in the aviation electronics field and found themselves designing equipment for and
modifying aircraft for the US government's intelligence operations. Thirty-five Boeing B-29s were the first to be converted
for the "Haystack" program, then "Big Safari" B-50s the following year. By reclassifying the work TEMCO was doing, it gave
the USAF a curtain of secrecy to protect their work gathering intelligence during the Cold War.
In 1957, a contract that would last 17 years began. Known as "Sun Valley," new Lockheed C-130A (and later B) transports
were outfitted for their clandestine missions. During this same period, the runways at Greenville were lengthened from
5,000 to 7,500 feet to accommodate jet traffic and in 1959, TEMCO received its first Boeing C-135. Of significance, Joe
Reynolds, one of the Twin Navion engineers, used the company's brand-new IBM 360-50 computers to help with the design work
on these jets.
Attempting to enter the emerging Counter Insurgency (COIN) market, TEMCO debuted their model 58 prototype in 1956, although
no sales followed. 1956 also saw the four-year development of the TT-1 jet trainer come to a close with an order for 14
production examples. The Pinto as it was known became the first jet trainer in service with any branch of the US military.
Subcontracting also continued at TEMCO's Grand Prairie facility, including the conversion of World War 2 vintage P-51D
fighters into two-seat TF-51D trainers and the assembly of rear fuselage sections for Boeing's B-47 jet bomber. The US Navy
had also contracted TEMCO to produce 100 McDonnell F3H-1 Demon fighter jets under license, but the contract was cancelled
due to the aircraft's poor performance.
By the 1960s, TEMCO was undergoing major restructuring, Dan Hearn explained, "In 1960, Ling and TEMCO merged to become
Ling-TEMCO Electronics and Missiles, Co. This name was chosen as the TEMCO Garland Division was prime contractor on the
Corvus missile for the Navy, while Ling and the TEMCO Greenville Division were strong in electronics."
In 1961, the company became Ling-TEMCO-Vought (LTV) in 1961, after buying Chance-Vought Aircraft. Besides the continued
work with the USAF's intelligence aircraft (ranging in size from Beech 50s to Boeing 747s), LTV produced the very successful
A-7 Corsair II attack aircraft. This jet saw service with the US Navy and Air Force in Vietnam and in Operation Desert