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Edward Heinemann

Heinemann, Edward Henry

Enshrined 1981 1908-1991

Heinemann’s stubborn nature was evident even in the first grade. He had been christened Gustave Henry Edward Heinemann. He decided that there were too many Gustaves among his childhood friends and relations so he decided to name himself “Edward”. When his first grade teacher called on him using the name “Gustave”, he refused to answer, insisting that his name was Edward. In the end she gave in and he was known as “Ed” ever since.

    While working at International Aircraft Corporation in 1927 he designed the landing gear for its biplane.
    Designed his first airplane, a trainer, at the Northrop Corporation and also designed the dive brakes for the BT-1 dive bomber.
      Throughout his long and productive career at Douglas Aircraft company Edward Heinemann designed many groundbreaking aircraft including:
      – The A-20 Havoc –World War II bomber.
      – The SBD Dauntless –World War II dive bomber.
      – The Skystreak jet explored transonic flight following World War II.
      – The Skyrocket, the first plane to exceed Mach 2.
    – The F-30 Skynight, the first jet to down another in night combat.
    Received the Collier Trophy in 1953 for designing the delta-wing F4D Skyray carrier fighter.
    Became the vice president of military aircraft engineering at Douglas in 1958.



Born in Saginaw, Michigan, and raised in California, Heinemann became interested in aviation when he witnessed daring exhibition flights in 1915 at the Pan-Pacific exposition. By 1926, he had become a skilled draftsman, schooled in aeronautical design.

After working for the Douglas Aircraft Company as a draftsman, Heinemann joined the International Aircraft Corporation in 1927 and designed the landing gear for its biplane. Then, as chief engineer of the Moreland Aircraft Company, he designed his first airplane, a trainer. At the Northrop Corporation, he designed the dive brakes for its BT-1 dive bomber. After becoming chief engineer of the El Segundo division of Douglas in 1937, his BD-7 Boston bomber initially served the allies, then became the A-20 Havoc during World War II. He also designed the SBD Dauntless dive bomber, the backbone of the U.S. carrier fleet, the A-26 Invader, the BTD Destroyer and the AD-1 Skyraider, which later saw service in Korea and Vietnam. After the war, he designed the Skystreak jet to explore transonic flight, and the rocket-propelled Skyrocket, the first plane to exceed Mach 2. Later he designed the F3D Skynight, the first jet to down another in night combat, the turbo-prop powered A2D Skyshark, and the delta-wing F4D Skyray carrier fighter, for which he received the 1953 Collier trophy. Then followed the F5D Sky-lancer all-weather fighter, the swept-wing A-3 Skywarrior carrier-based bomber, and the A-4 lightweight Skyhawk bomber. In 1958, he became Vice President of Military Aircraft Engineering at Douglas. In 1962, after serving as vice president of Guidance Technology, Inc., he joined General Dynamics Corporation and became Vice President of Special Projects. Upon retiring in 1973, Heinemann became an aeronautical consultant.

Edward Heinemann died on November 26th, 1991.

For more information on Edward Heinemann, you may want to visit the following websites:

All Star
Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame