Learning Center Our Enshrinees

John Leland “Lee” Atwood

  • Was Chief of Advanced Design for the Douglas Company and helped design the DC-1 airliner.
  • Helped design Douglas DC-3 commercial transport, a plane vital to the rise of the passenger airline industry.
  • In 1934 became the Vice President and Chief Engineer at North American Aviation, Inc. where his BT-9 Air Corps trainer launched the company into military aviation. He designed the B-47 plane, the improved BT-14 trainer, the AT-6 Texan combat trainer and the B-25 Mitchell bomber.
  • Originated the design of the P-51 Mustang fighter.
  • Led North American Aviation, as the company designed planes such as the T-6, B-25, F-100, X-15 and B-1.
  • Following World War II he directed the design of the FJ-1 Fury, the B-45 Tornado and the AF-1 Savage.
  • Became president of North American Aviation and oversaw the development of the F-86 Saber jet, FJ-2 Fury and the F-100 supersonic super Saber fighter as well as the Redstone rocket used to launch the first American astronauts, X-15 research aircraft and the XB-70 Valkyrie bomber.
  • Became North American CEO in 1960 and Chairman of the Board in 1970.
  • During his career, Atwood was directly responsible for the design of more aircraft than any one person.

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