Historic Structures

Kreider-Reisner Aircraft Company - Fairchild Aircraft, Hagerstown Maryland

Date added: April 19, 2019 Categories: Maryland Industrial

Kreider-Reisner Factory No. 1 (also known as Fairchild No. 1) was built as a result of a partnership between upstart airplane builders Ammon H. Kreider and Lewis E. Reisner and aviation industrialist Sherman Fairchild in 1929, in order to meet demand for the Challenger, a popular sport biplane. A modern open industrial structure by the late 1920s standards, the factory was constructed in only four months in the former airfield behind the original Kreider-Reisner Shed. Here Kreider-Reisner Aircraft Company and Fairchild Aviation Corporation developed and mass produced several innovative commercial aircraft, including the KR-31 and KR-34 Challengers, the F-22 and F-24, and the F-91 Amphibian. Entering the defense field in 1939, Fairchild's PT-19 Primary Trainer and C-82 Packet both earned major Army contracts, leading to tremendous expansion of both the factory and the company. During World War II, Fairchild No. 1 was the center of the "Hagerstown System" of manufacturing as Fairchild subcontracted with over twenty-five businesses throughout the city to assist in the production of military aircraft for the war effort. Although Fairchild closed in the 1980s, the factory survives as a symbol of Fairchild's and Hagerstown's heyday as a major aviation manufacturing center.

Kreider-Reisner Factory No. 1 (Fairchild No. 1) represents the evolution of the Kreider-Reisner Aircraft Company from a small partnership assembling biplanes out of a patchwork of buildings into the modern Fairchild corporation operating essentially under one roof with state of the art practices. Although forced to cut back production not long after it opened due to the effects of the stock market crash, Fairchild managed to survive the Depression by reducing production costs and building quality, affordable planes. It was poised for growth with the onset of World War II after it developed the PT-19 Primary Trainer for the military in 1939. Moving into the air transport market, Fairchild also developed the F-31, F-91 Amphibian and C-82 Packet. New wartime contracts led to further expansion of the company adjacent to the Hagerstown Airport with the construction of Fairchild No. 2, designed by Albert Kahn & Associates. During WW II, Fairchild No. 1 became the center of the "Hagerstown System" of aircraft manufacturing, in which a variety of local industrial concerns were converted to aviation subcontractors to meet the incredible demand of the U.S. Army. The company and city went into eventual decline following the Korean War, as Fairchild sold its flagship factory in 1963 and ultimately closed its remaining plants in the 1980s. Even after its conversion to miscellaneous light industrial uses, Fairchild No. 1 remains as a testament to the growth of aircraft development and construction in Hagerstown from 1929-45.