Skip to main content

Dayton-Wright Airplane Company Photographs

Identifier: MS-152

Scope and Content

The Dayton Wright Company collection contains 156 large format glass plate negatives and 63 nitrate negatives taken between 1918 and 1922.

The photographs depict airplanes in various stages of production both inside and outside the three Dayton Wright factories: plant 1, located next to South Field, on Springboro Road, Moraine, OH; plant 2, located in Miamisburg, OH; and plant 3, the former The Wright Company factories built between 1910 and 1911, located in Dayton, OH.

As most of the photographs were taken during wartime production in 1918, the majority of aircraft featured are the WWI fighter, De Havilland-4 (DH-4). Other models photographed include the Kettering Bug, T-4 Messenger, "Bullhead", DW Racer (RB-1), DW Honeymoon Express (DH-4B-5), and DW Chummy (T-3,-5). Motors by Nordyke Marmon, Cadillac, Buick and Ford are also featured.

Researchers can learn about the organization of the Dayton Wright Company facilities and the stages of early mass manufacture of airplanes from images of the following departments: Mill, Dry Kiln, Star, Wire, Motor Test, Wing, Engine, Final Wing, Landing Gear, Propeller Stock, and Balancing. As the collection contains no written documents, it is best used as a supplement to research on World War I mass manufacture of aircraft.

Prints of the negatives are available for reference in the collection and in digital versions online in CORE Scholar at / .


  • Creation: 1918-1922
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1918


Restrictions on Access

Please use CORE Scholar, the campus online repository at , to view the images for reference.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

History of Dayton-Wright Airplane Company

In April 1917 the newly-established Dayton Airplane Company was reorganized into the Dayton Wright Company. Its founders were Edward A. Deeds, Charles F. Kettering, Harold E. Talbott, and Harold E. Talbott, Jr. Orville Wright lent his name to the operation and served as a consulting engineer. Dayton Wright operated out of plants in three locations: Moraine, Miamisburg, and the two former buildings of The Wright Company off West Third Street in Dayton.

Upon American entry into WWI, also in April 1917, Edward Deeds was commissioned a colonel and given the responsibility to procure aircraft for the Aircraft Production Board. He left the Dayton Wright Company, and then granted it two government contracts for 4,400 aircraft. The contracts specified 4,000 De Havilland 4s, British bombers to be redesigned for the American Liberty engine, and 400 J-I trainers designed by the American company Standard Aircraft.

The first Dayton Wright DH-4 was completed in September 1917. By October 1918 the company was at the height of its production, employing more than 8,000 workers and sending 400 airplanes to France each month. In total, the company delivered 3,506 airplanes to the warfront. In addition to these piloted aircraft, Charles Kettering and Orville Wright began in the fall of 1917 to develop a self-guided flying bomb with a carrying capacity of 200 pounds of explosives over a distance of 200 miles. The Bug was still in development when the war ended, but the program was cancelled in the 1920s. However, it was a significant contribution to early guided missile engineering.

Following WWI the national defense budget was cut dramatically, and Dayton Wright was forced to find new markets for its inventory of hundreds of partially completed planes. The air forces of Central American countries like Nicaragua, the U.S. Air Mail Service, and commercial buyers became its primary customers. The company continued to manufacture new designs, including the K.T. Cabin Cruiser, R.B. Racer, and XPS-I, the first airplane with retractable landing gear to be used by the U.S. Army.

The company was acquired by General Motors in 1919 and dissolved in 1923 when GM withdrew from airplane manufacturing and converted the plants for use in its Inland Division. Dayton Wright design rights were purchased by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.

The photographs in this collection were taken by industrial photographers like William Preston Mayfield and staff photographers for the Dayton Electrical Laboratories (Delco), founded by Deeds and Kettering in 1912.


9.35 linear feet : (219 images : 156 large format glass plate negatives and 63 nitrate negatives)

Language of Materials



The collection contains 156 large format glass plate negatives and 63 nitrate negatives depicting factory workers, interior and exterior plant views, airplane assembly, and completed airplanes from a Dayton manufacturer of World War I aircraft.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is comprised of 156 large format glass plate negatives and 63 nitrate negatives taken between 1918 and 1921.The images are arranged according to their numerical order.

Existence and Location of Copies

The images in the collection are also searchable online in CORE Scholar, the campus online repository at .

Separated Materials

Original nitrate negatives are in frozen storage for long term preservation. Please use reference prints and images in CORE Scholar.

Processing Information

Processed by Archives Staff; finding aid updated, May 2014.

Guide to the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company Photographs (MS-152)
Finding aid prepared by WSU Archives Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2014 May: Finding aid revised.
  • 2021 Nov: Revised by Lisa Rickey to add box numbers; linear feet also updated to reflect current physical housing; box/file listing imported, including descriptive metadata from CORE Scholar and direct url links to the online images.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA