Hispano-Suiza engines were developed by Marc Birkigt, of Swiss origin, and first manufactured in Barcelona for use in automobiles. Hisso engines were very successful and featured innovative cast-aluminum cylinder construction with internal water passages. World War I, in particular, required licensing of Hisso aircraft engine manufacturing in France, England and the U.S. to meet increased aviation demand. They were all licensed under Birkigt patents which covered the number of features vital to the engine concept.
In 1916, the Wright-Martin Corporation (later Wright Aeronautical) was formed in New Brunswick, New Jersey to begin quantity production of the first Hispano-Suiza aircraft engine, the Model A, ordered by the Societe d'Exploitation des Materiels Hispano-Suiza for the Spad fighter. In the U.S., it was principally used during World War I on U.S. military training aircraft such as the Curtiss JN-4H. After the war, surplus Jennys were widely used for "barnstorming" traveling air shows-and opened the first scheduled air mail service.