Wittemann-Lewis Aircraft Co.

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C. and A. Wittemann Aeronautical Engineeers reformed as Wittemann-Lewis Aircraft Co., apparently either late 1915 or late 1916. The named principals were Charles R. Wittemann, president, and aviator Samuel C. Lewis, vice president; Redmond F. Kernan was secretary, Paul W. Wittemann, treasurer; brothers Walter and were also involved. (Lewis had previously been a civilian instructor in France for officers of the French Flying Corps.) The actual incorporation in New Jersey appears to have followed a 16 Oct 1916 meeting with representatives of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Apparently on the basis of that meeting, Wittemann-Lewis formed, acquired a large building on the north edge of Newark Meadows (where Newark Airport is now located), converted it to an aircraft factory, and designed and built a prototype training airplane to Signal Corps specifications, all in anticipation of an order to follow. In 1919, A. Francis Arcier, who had been chief engineer of Handley-Page, emigrated to the US and joined Wittemann-Lewis as its designer and chief engineer.

A tractor trainng biplane with Hall-Scott 90hp motor, built to US Army Signal Corps specifications, was ready on 16 Apr 1917; it was then flown from the factory to the Signal Corps training school at Mineola, Long Island. However, despite earlier promises from the Signal Corps, a contract was not forthcoming. It appears that in 1919, they did receive a contract from the US Post Office to convert surplus US Army DH4s. In 1919, apparently for that work, they built a manufacturing plant on swampy meadows they had bought near Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, (the date of the land purchase is not clear) and in 1920 converted 75-100 aircraft to be used for the first airmail service. Also in 1919, Arcier joined fhe firm and started designing the biplanes that carried his initials FA as their designation; by January 1920 he was up to FA4. eventually the series went to FA10 and included both land and sea aircraft. In 1920, Lewis left the firm and on 1 Feb. 1921 the Wittemann Aircraft Corp., a Delaware corporation, succeeded the Wittemann-Lewis Corp.

There's an ad for Wittemann-Lewis in the 5 Sep 1921 issue of AAW but since that was the only one that year in that periodical, we suspect that could be an errant ad. We are unclear about whether the Barling Bonber, a 3-winged, 10-wheeled, 6-engined bomber, was designed for the U.S. Army by Walter H. Barling when the company was still Wittemann-Lewis or after it became Wittemann Aircraft. The contract to built it went to Wittemann Aircraft. Problems with payments from the government, apparently on this as well as on other contracts, eventually forced Wittemann Aircraft out of business and either in late 1923 or early 1924, it leased its plant to Atlantic Aircraft Corp., the US subsidiary of Fokker, and filed a petition in bankruptcy; Atlantic later purchased these assets. SD appears to date Wittemann-Lewis as beginning 1914 and has Lewis leaving in 1917. However, we are relying on our source, a reported legal decision (see 144NER673), that Wittemann-Lewis was formed in 1921 and so far we can document that Lewis was part of the firm in 1918. A recent history of Teterboro Airport states the Lewis left the company in 1920. While we think 1920 is correct, as several other dates in this book re the Wittemann companies are in conflict with each other, we are looking for another source to document when Lewis left. Note that G and 2dG date Wittemann-Lewis from 1919-1923 and thus has not only its beginning and ending dates wrong but misses its succession by Wittemann Aircraft. Also, note that in "Wittemann Aircraft," "Wittemann" is often spelled without the final "n." According to the 19 Jul 1923 NYT, Walter H. Barling designed the Barling Bomber, which makes sense; however AAFFA attributes it to Arcier, which we think a mistake.

Locations: Factory opened early 1917 on north edge of Newark Meadows, Newark, NJ, on the Lincoln Highway where it crosses the Passale River (where Newark Airport is now located), thus having both land and water facilities. In 1919, built a manufacturing plant on swampy meadows below Hasbrouck Heights, Bergen County, NJ (the land was either purchased then or in 1918; it is now the site of the Teterboro Airport).


  • SD308-309
  • RFBTM35 (still need to see)
  • SSCAPHV2, 888, 891, 899, 907-913
  • WTAE198
  • 1917-1918DDNY647
  • 1917AAE42
  • 1917FM333
  • 14BCHS26-27
  • AAFFA; HTA7-26
  • 1921MI264
  • 1921AAW638
  • 1923NYT (18 July 1923)
  • 1924AM75

Names Wittemann-Lewis Aircraft Co., Wittemann-Lewis Aircraft Co. Inc.
Country US
City near Newark NJ
Started aero 1915 or 1916
Ended aero 1921
Key people Charles R. Wittemann, Samuel C. Lewis, Redmond F. Kernan, Paul W. Wittemann, A. Francis Arcier
Wikidata id