Thomas Morse Observation Aircraft


The last prototype designed by B.D. Thomas with the Thomas-Morse name was a sesquiplane (small lower wing) known as the XO-932 when first flown on May 4, 1931, and tested at Wright Field in June. A geared, Prestone-cooled Conqueror in a neat cowl, N struts, and wheel pants were featured.

That model was rejected by an Army board because the basic structure seemed weak and the board now believed that “a monoplane is the most desirable type for ­observation purposes because of its superior qualities of vision.” While not sold to the Army, the aircraft received the YlO-41 designation, and was used as a Consolidated Company hack until sold to a Mexican officer in December 1936. The end of the biplane was in sight, as the Army in July 1931 rejected a proposed Consolidated Y1O-42 with an even smaller lower wing.

While the Caproni project was stalled, in December 1917 the British proposed that parts for Handley-Page bombers be manufactured in America for assembly in England, along with Liberty engines. An agreement was signed on January 26, 1918, by British and American officials, and several manufacturers were lined up to make the parts for 500 aircraft by contracts made from March 12 to April 13, 1918. Standard Aircraft, at Elizabeth, New Jersey, contracted on April 1 to assemble 50 of the bombers for tests and training in America, while the other components were to be packed and shipped to England.