Bell is an American rotorcraft manufacturer headquartered in Hurst, Texas, near Fort Worth. A division of Textron, Bell manufactures military helicopter and tiltrotor products in and around Fort Worth, as well as in Amarillo, Texas, and commercial rotorcraft products in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. Bell provides training and support services worldwide.
The company was founded on July 10, 1935 as Bell Aircraft Corporation by Lawrence Dale Bell in Buffalo, New York. The company focused on designing and building of fighter aircraft. Their first fighters were the XFM-1 Airacuda, a twin-engine fighter to attack bombers, and the P-39 Airacobra. The P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet fighter, and the P-63 Kingcobra, the successor to the P-39 and the Bell X-1 were also Bell products.
In 1941, Bell hired Arthur M. Young, a talented inventor, to provide expertise for helicopter research and development. It was the foundation for what Bell hoped would be a broader economic base for his company that was not dependent on government contracts. The Bell 30 was their first full-size helicopter (first flight December 29, 1942) and the Bell 47 became the first helicopter rated by a civil aviation authority in the world and would become a civilian and military success.
Textron purchased Bell Aerospace in 1960. Bell Aerospace was composed of three divisions of Bell Aircraft Corporation, including its helicopter division, which had become its only division still producing complete aircraft. The helicopter division was renamed to Bell Helicopter Company and in a few years, with the success of the UH-1 during the Vietnam War, it had established itself as the largest division of Textron. In January 1976, Textron changed the name of the company again to Bell Helicopter Textron.
Currently the name of the company is only Bell.
Bell has a close association with AgustaWestland. The partnership dates back to separate manufacturing and technology agreements with Agusta (Bell 47 and Bell 206) and as a sublicence via Agusta with Westland (Bell 47). When the two European firms merged, the partnerships were retained, with the exception of the AB139, which is now known as the AW139.
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