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Willis M. Hawkins Papers, 1920-2009
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Willis M. Hawkins Papers
    Dates: 1920-2009
    Bulk dates: 1949-1998
    Collection Number: Consult repository.
    Creator: Hawkins, Willis M.
    Extent: 80 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: manuscripts@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=554 .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Willis M. Hawkins Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was a gift from Nancy G. Bostick, Hawkins’s daughter and trustee, delivered to The Huntington Library on 1 October 2004.


    Willis Moore Hawkins (1913-2004) was born in Kansas City, Missouri on 1 December 1913. As the only child of Willis Moore Hawkins, Sr. and Elizabeth Daniels, who divorced shortly after his birth, Willis was raised by his mother. He was one of five students in the first graduating class of Leelanau School, an experimental high school in Glen Harbor, Michigan that emphasized the outdoors and science. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1937, he began a career that would span over 60 years at Lockheed Aircraft Company, starting as a junior detail engineering draftsman in Burbank, California.
    Hawkins advanced through a number of key engineering positions at Lockheed, becoming engineering department manager in 1944 and chief preliminary design engineer in 1949. From 1953 to 1957 he was director of engineering at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (LMSC), a division he helped to found. He became Assistant General Manager in 1957, Corporate Vice President in 1960, and Vice President and General Manager of LMSC Space Systems Division in 1961. He served as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s Vice President-Science and Engineering from 1962 to 1963 and 1966 to 1969, then advanced to Senior Vice President-Science and Engineering and was elected a member of the Board of Directors in 1972. Although he took early retirement in 1974, he remained with Lockheed as a senior advisor and board member and in 1976 returned as Senior Vice President and President of the Lockheed-California Company, a position he retained until 1979. From 1979 to early 1980 he served the corporation as Senior Vice President-Aircraft, from which he again retired but remained as Corporate Senior Advisor until his death in 2004.
    During his long Lockheed career, Hawkins played a major role in the design and development of airplanes, missile systems, and space vehicles. He served as a structural component designer on the P-38 Lightning fighter, the Hudson bomber, and the Lodestar transport. He contributed significantly in the design of high-speed fighters such as the P-80 Shooting Star (first U.S jet fighter), F-104 Starfighter (supersonic interceptor aircraft), and transports such as the C-130 Hercules, Constitution, and Constellation. He directed the formation of Lockheed’s first major organization for Weapon System Analysis, which defined the optimum anti-submarine warfare systems with the support of the Office of Naval Research. He also directed the pilotless aircraft division and led the development of the X-7 ramjet test vehicle and X-17 reentry test vehicle, which formed the basis for the formation of LMSC. As chief engineer and then as assistant general manager of the Missiles and Space Division, he led the advanced design teams that developed the concepts leading to the Navy’s Polaris submarine launched ballistic missile as well as the Agena space vehicle and Discoverer program.
    In addition to his work at Lockheed, Hawkins contributed his ideas and advice to the government, military, and industry establishments through his consulting for a variety of private and public institutions, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Army, the Navy, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Research Council (NRC). With the NASA he served as a member of the Space Program Advisory Council (SPAC) from 1974 to 1978, as a member, then Chairman of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) between 1975 and 1984, and as a member of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) from 1977 to 1983. He was a member of the NRC Naval Studies Board (NSB) from 1982 to1986 and 1988 to1992, member, then Chairman of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) from 1967 to 1975, and a member of the NAE Space Applications Board (SAB) from 1975-1978. He was also Vice-Chairman (1970) and Chairman (1971) of the Aerospace Industry Association (AIA) Aerospace Technical Council and, in 1979, Chairman of the Defense Science Board of the Department of Defense.
    Hawkins received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In 1961 he received the U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Award for his contributions to the Polaris missile program. Hawkins briefly left Lockheed between 1963 and 1966 to serve as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army for Research and Development, for which he received Distinguished Civilian Service Awards in 1965 and 1966 for his contributions to the Army’s research and development programs and for his direction of the M1 Abrams main battle tank development. He received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1965 and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Illinois College in 1966, the same year he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In addition to the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal awarded in 1975 for his contributions to the space shuttle program, Hawkins received the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 1982 and the National Medal of Science in 1988.
    Hawkins was a member of many professional organizations, including the honorary engineering society, Tau Beta Pi, and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He was a fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Royal Aeronautical Society of Great Britain.
    Hawkins held 14 patents, including basic aircraft and component patents on carrier aircraft landing gear, a multiple-wheel system for large aircraft, a jet aircraft system with augmented takeoff and boundary-layer control, thrust augmentation of pure jet engines, aircraft control with thrust deflection, jet aircraft with aft-mounted engines, and design patents for several Lockheed airplanes, including the C-130 Hercules transport vehicle.
    Although he worked as an engineer and administrator rather than a test pilot, Hawkins earned a pilot’s license in 1939 and owned a series of private planes over his lifetime. He also maintained a sense of civic duty, and gave many speeches to a variety of audiences ranging from children to professional groups. He authored numerous articles in a wide variety of publications, both popular and technical, and remained deeply involved in many aspects of aviation in his private life until his death.
    He married Anita Stanfill on 22 June 1940; they had three children, Nancy Gay (Bostick) (b. 1943), Willis M. III (b. 1945), and James Walter (b.1956). Widowed in 1982, Hawkins remarried Fredericka Betts in 1984 and later divorced in 1990. He died at his home in Woodland Hills, California on September 28, 2004 of natural causes at the age of 90.

    Scope and Content

    The Willis M. Hawkins Papers, 1920-2009 (80 boxes) document the successful aerospace engineering career of Hawkins at Lockheed, the relationships between industry, military, and government, and the development of airplanes, missile systems, and space vehicles during the second half of the 20th century. Effort was made to maintain the original order in which the collection arrived at The Huntington Library and the arrangement reflects Hawkins’ organization of materials largely by subject, project, or organization. The collection is divided into ten series: Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development, Calendars and Diaries, Consulting Files, Correspondence, Personal Files, Photographs, Presentations and Speeches, Publications and Writings, Subject Files, and Oversized, with the bulk of the material concentrated in the Consulting Files, Correspondence and Subject Files series. The bulk of collection materials date from the 1950s to the early 1990s and consists of correspondence, memoranda, presentation and meeting materials, reports, blueprints, clippings, speeches, writings, and ephemera. The collection is especially rich in correspondence; in addition to Hawkins’ incoming and outgoing correspondence is the copied correspondence of other Lockheed executives with whom Hawkins worked closely during his tenure. Hawkins’ involvement in consulting and professional organizations was often in conjunction with his role at Lockheed, and researchers should thus be aware that materials are often dispersed through the series. For example, materials related to specific committees are frequently represented in both the Correspondence and Consulting Files Series.
    The collection consists of the following series, described in detail within this document:
    SERIES 1: ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, 1963-1966, 1968, 1970-1972, 1975, 1992, n.d.
    SERIES 2: CALENDARS AND DIARIES, 1966-1981, 1983-1984, 1995-1998
    SERIES 3: CONSULTING FILES, 1966-1999, n.d.
    SERIES 4: CORRESPONDENCE, 1941-1964, 1966-2001, 2003-2004, n.d.
    SERIES 5: PERSONAL FILES, 1937, 1941-1954, 1955, 1959, 1961-1994, 1997-2001, 2008-2009, n.d.
    SERIES 6: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1920, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1939, 1944, 1946, 1947-1948, 1950, 1952, 1954-1955, 1957, 1962-1967, 1969-1971, 1974-1989, 1991-1994, 1999-2000 n.d.
    SERIES 7: PRESENTATIONS AND SPEECHES, 1949, 1952-1956, 1958-1962, 1964, 1966-2002, 2004, n.d.
    SERIES 8: PUBLICATIONS AND WRITINGS, 1937, 1944, 1950, 1979-1981, 1983-1987, 1992-1993, 1995-1997, 1999-2000, n.d.
    SERIES 9: SUBJECT FILES, 1920, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1942, ca. 1944, 1945-1946, ca. 1947-1948, 1951, 1956-1957, 1962, 1964-1986, 1988-2001, 2004, n.d.
    SERIES 10: OVERSIZE, 1963-1966, n.d.


    A detailed container list is available through the Manuscripts Department.

    Indexing Terms

    Corporate Names

    Lockheed Advanced Development Company
    Lockheed-California Company
    Lockheed Corporation
    Lockheed Martin
    Lockheed Missiles and Space Company


    Aeronautical engineers—United States
    Aeronautics—United States
    Aerospace engineering
    Aerospace engineering—United States
    Aerospace engineers—United States
    Aerospace Industries Association of America
    Aerospace industries—Employees
    Aerospace industries—United States
    Aerospace Technical Council (Aerospace Industries Association of America)
    Aircraft industry—Employees
    Aircraft industry--Military aspects
    Aircraft industry--United States
    Aircraft industry--United States—History
    Airplanes—Design and construction
    Airplanes, Military
    Antisubmarine aircraft
    Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (U.S.). Naval Studies Board
    Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (U.S.). Space Science Board
    Ballistic missiles
    Cheyenne (Attack helicopter)
    Constellation (Transport planes)
    Engineering—United States
    Engineers—United States
    Hydrogen as fuel
    Intercontinental ballistic missiles
    Jet planes, Military
    Liquid hydrogen
    Lockheed aircraft
    Lockheed Aircraft Corporation—History
    Supersonic transport planes
    NASA Advisory Council
    National Research Council (U.S.)
    National Research Council (U.S.). Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
    National Research Council (U.S.). Board on Army Science and Technology
    Stealth aircraft
    United States. Army Scientific Advisory Panel
    United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel

    Geographic Areas

    California, Southern
    Burbank (Los Angeles County, Calif.)


    Negatives (photographic)
    Photographic prints
    Technical drawings