|Scope and Content Notes|
The Giuseppe M. Bellanca Collection is arranged as follows:
Series I: Mr. Bellanca's professional life.
Here, the researcher will find documents regarding the day-to-day operations of the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation. The material is generally divided into core documents of the corporation, correspondence, financial documents, subcontracting pursuits, patents, employee relations, and company history.
Series II: Technical Material
This material is separated into the following subseries: Miscellaneous Handwritten Notes and Sketches, Bellanca Aircraft Technical Data, Bellanca Aircraft Corporation Reports, Technical Research Files, Bellanca Aircraft Drawing Lists, Bellanca Aircraft Drawings, and Bellanca Aircraft Drawing Indexes. The Bellanca Collection is not a complete history of the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation. Over the years, it appears that many items were loaned out by the Bellanca Family to researchers and not returned. Therefore, there are significant gaps in correspondence, formal, numbered reports, and other areas of the collection. For example, the earliest report in the Bellanca Collection is Report #28, the next report which appears is report #45.
The Giuseppe M. Bellanca Collection contains over 10,000 drawings. (At the time of processing, not all drawings were entered into the Bellanca Drawings Database. These drawings will be entered as time allows.) The drawings vary in size from 8 x 11 inches to 36 x 185 inches. There are original pencil drawings, blueprints, and blueline drawings. Over 130 models of Bellanca aircraft are represented in the Collection. There are General Arrangement, or Three-View drawings for over 80 of these models. Bellanca drawings are not easy to decipher. Most of the drawings have data blocks which contain only a finite amount of information. Often the aircraft has been identified only by serial number. In some cases the model number of the aircraft is also the drawing number. Other times, the aircraft name would be given, but no model number, i.e. Skyrocket. Also, words were abbreviated and it was left up to the processing archivist to determine their probable meaning. Despite the explanation in the scope and content notes, the Bellanca Corporation was not consistent when assigning model numbers. Letters were sometimes assigned that reflected a United States War Department designation, i.e. the VSO and the VF. The processing archivist by using the Bellanca Drawing indexes was able to supply model numbers for some of the drawings.
7136 Bellanca Aircraft Company Drawings have been added to the National Air and Space Museum Miscellaneous Drawings Database. As time allows, the remaining Bellanca Drawings will be added to this database. An Archives Staff member will assist researchers in retrieving these materials from the database finding aid.
The Bellanca drawings were stored for over thirty years in less-than-ideal conditions. Many of the drawings were drawn on poor-quality tracing paper, and have become extremely brittle and fragile. Therefore, many of the drawings in the Bellanca Collection may not be available to researchers.
During processing of the collection, the project archivist has gained some insight about how Mr. Bellanca chose the model designations for his aircraft. The earliest system of model designations was based upon letters of the alphabet. No model designations appear for any Bellanca design until his work for Maryland Pressed Steel in 1916. The CD, which he designed for that company, was his fourth aircraft design that was built, and the letter D is the fourth letter of the alphabet. This pattern continues through the Bellanca CF. During 1926, when Mr. Bellanca worked for the Wright Corporation, he already had in mind an improved version of the CF, which was designated the CG. This aircraft received the designation WB-1 from the Wright Corporation.
When Mr. Bellanca formed his own company in 1927, the letter pattern described above reasserted itself for a time with the introduction of the Bellanca CH. It was a common practice of manufacturers of the time to also include the engine horsepower as part of the model number, so the Bellanca CH actually received its Approved Type Certificate (ATC) as the CH-200. When the next model came out, it was the CH-300 with a 300 horsepower Wright Whirlwind engine. This system remained in place through the CH-400. Names were given to some Bellanca aircraft. It appears that the names were a marketing tool meant to appeal to the buying public. With this idea in mind, the CH-300 became the "Pacemaker", the CH-400 became the "Skyrocket", and the P-100 was christened the "Airbus". In the early 1930's, the Bellanca Corporation moved away from the alphabetical designations and moved to numerical designations. Later Bellanca aircraft model designations consist of a series of numbers, such as 31-50. The first number was the wing area, in this case, 310 square feet, divided by 10. The second number was the horsepower of the engine, 500, divided by 10. This resulted in a distinctive system of model designations, which lasted until Mr. Bellanca sold the company.
Series III: Mr. Bellanca's personal material.
In this series, the researcher will find personal correspondence among family members, from both Giuseppe and Dorothy Bellanca's families and personal, legal and financial records for Bellanca family. As the lines between Mr. Bellanca's personal and professional lives were sometimes blurred, a fine line of separation between the two was not always possible. For example, at one time or another, two of Mr. Bellanca's brothers, John and Frank, worked for the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation and Andrew Bellanca, Mr. Bellanca's nephew, was his lawyer throughout his life. Therefore, the processing archivist suggests that the researcher look in the professional series of documents as well as Mr. Bellanca's personal papers for a more complete representation of Mr. Bellanca's correspondence.
Series IV: Photographs.
The researcher will find photographs of Bellanca aircraft, including the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation's Master Photograph Files, photographs of the Bellanca factory and factory workers, and photographs of Giuseppe M. Bellanca, business associates, and family members.
Series V: Miscellaneous and Oversize Materials.
This series contains ephemera of the Bellanca Collection:
The Bellanca Collection included 27 motion picture films. In May of 2000, this film was transferred to the NASM Film Archives. Researchers wishing to access this part of the collection should contact the NASM Film Archivist.