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The Beginnings of the Bendix Magneto

Bendix Magnetos earned their notoriety and popularity due to their significant production during World War II from the Bendix factory in Sidney, NY. The growth of Bendix Magnetos and all other types of magnetos owe their success to Robert Bosch. Bosch was the first person able to adapt a magneto to an automotive engine. After this innovation in 1897, magneto use proliferated and allowed for the expansion of aviation in the 1920s and 1930s. The Scintilla Magneto Company, a Swiss company, started a manufacturing plant in Sidney, NY after World War I ended. The extensive use of magnetos in America led to Bendix Aviation Corporation purchasing Scintilla Magneto Company in 1929. The production of the Bendix Magnetos was expanded in 1935 and would continue until the end of World War II. By 1942, the labor force at the Bendix Magneto plant had risen from 600 to 4,000 workers. Near the end of the war time production for Bendix Magnetos the factory employed nearly 9,000 employees. The significant growth in work force was due to the popularity of the Allison V-1710 engine used in over 60 percent of Army fighter planes. Bendix Magnetos were used on the Allison V-1710 engines in many aircraft which included P-38, P-39, P-40, P-51A, P-63, and P-82. It is estimated that the Sidney manufacturing plant produced Bendix Magnetos for almost 150,000 different aircraft. The approximate monthly production for the factory was 2,500 per month for Bendix Magnetos. Eventually production would decline significantly with the end of World War II but with so many Bendix Magnetos in service the use of these magnetos continues to this day. There have been updates made the Bendix Magneto design but most mechanical aspects remain the same as the ones produced in the Sidney plant.