Hispano, which is Spanish for “Spanish,” started out as the Hispano-Suiza (“Spanish-Swiss”) company which manufactured automobiles and aviation engines from its founding in 1904. Hispano-Suiza engines powered the SPAD series of fighters, among other First World War aircraft. In 1939, after Franco’s government took over Spain, the company was nationalized and its name shortened to Hispano. Hispano made an aircraft-mounted cannon that was very popular with Allied manufacturers during World War II, equipping many British fighters such as the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mosquito, Typhoon and Tempest, and the American P-38 and Grumman F8F Bearcat.
German aircraft designer Willi Messerschmitt went to work for Hispano after World War II. Hispano’s first airplane was a variant of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, the Ha-1109. With design help from Messerschmitt, Hispano produced several other designs for the Spanish military and civil markets. The company merged into Airbus in 1972.