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George Skurla, the former president and chairman of Grumman Aerospace, and William H. Gregory, a former editor-in-chief of a leading aviation and space magazine, provide an insiders view of the triumphs and disappointments of Americas one-time top aerospace contractor. From its humble beginnings in the 1930s through the war years and on to later successes with the A-6 Intruder all-weather attack aircraft and Apollo Lunar Module, they tell how the august, well-established business failed to keep itself together and were eventually taken over by one of its biggest competitors. Part history, part memoir, the book describes the rise and fall through the eyes of Skurla, who began his career as an apprentice engineer in 1944 and retired in 1986 at the head of Grumman Aerospace.
As a case history of the company, the book is without parallel as it traces Grumman from its origins in an abandoned building to a multi-billion-dollar business that eventually wound up as a junior partner to another firm. This book is the first to provide a view of the companys achievements and shortcomings from the inside. Skurla was there on the shop floor, on the carrier deck, and in the boardroom, and he reports events candidly. Top naval aviators and other Grumman personnel also offer opinions on why the story ended as it did. Skurla and Gregory point to poor planning, internal scandals, and misguided investments as factors contributing to Grummans downfall. They also list the intrusion of politics into the business of defense and the profound differences in the design and manufacture of military versus commercial products as problems to be avoided in the future.
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