McDonnell Aircraft was founded by James McDonnell (1899-1980) in 1939. The young company produced no aircraft of its own design during World War II, but served as a parts manufacturer to other companies. Immediately after the war it launched a program of producing fighter aircraft, specializing in the new jet fighters. The company, based in St. Louis, Missouri, became known for its innovative, high-performing fighter jets until its 1967 merger into the McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft Corp., which continued McDonnell’s jet fighter tradition. McDonnell also was an early entrant into the rocket, missile and spacecraft fields, producing the crew capsules for the early U.S. space missions.
James McDonnell reportedly was interested in the occult, and McDonnell’s fighters bore the names of supernatural apparitions and evil spirits.