Britain: Climbing Out of the Clouds

First into the world with commercial jets (the Comets) and turboprops (the Viscounts), Britain's planemakers have been trailing their wings through a combination of ill luck, much-publicized crashes and the lack of resources to compete with U.S. giants. As a survival measure, the British government pressured the British aviation industry into consolidating into two major groups in 1960. The groups: 1) British Aircraft Corp., composed of Vickers, English Electric and Bristol, and 2) Hawker Siddeley, which took de Havilland under its wing.

To bring about the consolidation, the government held out the lure of fat missile and military jet contracts,...

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