Hispano-Suiza engines were developed by Marc Birkigt, of Swiss origin, and first manufactured in Barcelona, Spain for use in automobiles. Hisso engines were very successful and featured innovative cast-aluminum cylinder construction with internal water passages. Increased demand for World War I, in particular, required licensing of Hisso aircraft engine manufacturing in France, England and the U.S. The Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, later the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, acquired the American rights and claimed improvements during further development.
In 1916, the Societe d'Exploitation des Materiels Hispano-Suiza of France began manufacturing Type A engines for the Spad fighter. Produced under license by Wright-Martin, this engine powered U.S. military training aircraft such as the Curtiss JN-4H.