Republic Aviation Aircraft

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P-47 Thunderbolt, XF-12 (RC-2 Rainbow) and RC-1 Thunderbolt Amphibian
Republic Aviation Corp. 1945
Photo: © courtesy American Airpower Museum via Gary Lewi

During the years Republic Aviation Corporation existed, they manufactured some of the most remarkable aircraft of aviation history!  Below is a summary of some of the aircraft developed and manufactured by RAC.  If you have any corrections, information or photos that you would like to contribute for this website, please e-mail Steinar Saevdal at:



Army fighter and fighter-bomber used in greater numbers, and probably with greater and more versatile effectiveness, than any other fighter airplane developed and built for World War II. The P-47 series included constantly improved models, developed by Republic and the A.A.F. to meet the changing requirements of war. They ranged from the P-47B’sused in pilot transition training, and the P-47C’s first sent into combat in European theatre, to the P-47N’s, long range fighter bombers so effective against the enemy in the Pacific.

The P-47N has a range of more than 3,000 miles, speed exceeding 450 miles per hour, and a ceiling of approximately 40,000 feet. It is powered by a single Pratt and Whitney twin-bank 18 cylinder, 2,800 horsepower radial aircooled engine. The wing span is 42 feet 6 inches and the overall length 36 feet 2 inches. Armament includes eight .50 caliber machine guns, with two or three 500-pound bombs and ten 5-inch high velocity rockets, or two 1,000 lb. bombs. The Thunderbolt’s were in action in every major European, African and Pacific theatre of war with the Air Forces of the U.S. Army and their Allies.

Republic built 15,329 Thunderbolts, terminating production of P-47’s in November of 1945. Over two thirds of them reached combat. These flew more than 545,000 battle sorties, expended 135,000,000 rounds of 50-caliber ammunition, dropped 132,000 tons of bombs and fired 60,000 rockets against enemy targets. They destroyed 7,067 and damaged 4,807 enemy aircraft, and took a ground toll against Germany alone of 86,000 railroad cars, 9,000 locomotives, 68,000 motor transports, 6,000 tanks & other armored vehicles.

Republic also designed and built several remarkable fighters with extraordinary performance characteristics, which were never put into volume production because, under the changing requirements of war, it better served the cause of victory to incorporate their features and improvements into current production models of P-47 Thunderbolts. These experimental models included:

The XP-47J -- First conventional propeller-driven airplane to exceed 500 mph in level flight.

The P-47M -- Higher powered, with R-2800 “C” engine and speeds of 470 mph in level flight; 130 built, as first planes specially designed to combat German jet fighters.

The XP-72 –- Medium interceptor fighter, with Pratt and Whitney R-4360 engine, a 6-bladed counter-rotating propeller, and a remotely driven blower back of the pilot. Extremely fast and of excellent performance. Two built, but never put into production because, as was the case with the P-47J, continuance of highest possible output of P-47’s was deemed more essential.





On 3 December 1944 Republic Aviation Corporation revealed their plans for a new post-war amphibian.

To give to postwar fliers a plane that will embody the benefit of the engineering and design experience and skill that produced the P-47 Thunderbolt, Republic Aviation Corporation, of Farmingdale, L.I., plans production of a land and water plane for civilian use. This plane, development of which has just been revealed by Republic, gives such promise of performance that both Army and Navy are reported interested in its possibilities for sea rescue work.

Still in development stage, the new plane is tentatively called the “Thunderbolt Amphibian.” Although plans for this postwar plane have been closely guarded, continued secrecy has become impossible because flights of the first experimental model have become a familiar sight on both land and water in and about Long Island.

In its present stage of development Republic’s amphibian is a high wing monoplane of all metal construction except that movable control surfaces are fabric covered. A big comfortable cabin offers accommodations for four passengers. Interior details and fittings suggest the latest in automobile design. The upper half of the cabin is largely of plexiglass affording great visibility.

The accompanying pictures show the full cantilever wing with single strut-supported wing floats, scientifically designed hull or float that permits easy landing or take off from water requiring only 17 inches of draft fully loaded. Wheels are retractable. Vacuum operated slotted flaps insure safe landings at approximately 50 miles per hour.

The Thunderbolt Amphibian is powered by a single, six cylinder horizontally opposed, 175 h.p. engine. The location of the engine and propeller in back of the cabin is an outstanding feature insuring greater safety in landing and docking also giving protection to the power plant from water spray, and grater passenger comfort because of reduced noise and the better forward vision permitted. The clipper type tail gives strength and fine aerodynamic design.

Republic’s amphibian stems from a long line of successful land and water ships designed and built over the past twenty years by P. H. Spencer credited with having more experience with single engine amphibians than any other pilot. From Spencer’s prototype, Republic engineers are evolving a plane for all-around personal, family or business use that has long been wanted by sportsmen for hunting and fishing use and by all types of private fliers who like the additional safety and flexibility of both land and water operation.

Here are preliminary specifications:

Gross weight -- 2600 pounds
Maximum speed -- 120 miles per hour
Cruising Speed -- 105 mile per hour
Wing span -- 36 feet
Length -- 26 feet, 6 inches
Height (on wheels) -- 8 feet, 7 inches
Power -- In 175 HP range
Range -- 5 hours
Price -- Not determined -- Probably under $4000



World's fastest four-engined transport, carrying 46 passengers and crew of seven. Cruises at 400 miles per hour at 40,000 feet, has a top speed well above 450 miles per hour, and a range of 4,100 miles. These performance figures are with the normal gross load of 114,200 pounds, which includes the crew, passengers and their luggage and 5,500 gallons of gasoline. The Rainbow is powered with four Pratt and Whitney Wasp Major engines of 3,250 horsepower each. Utilizes heated, compressed exhaust gases from reciprocating engines to obtain a jet thrust assist of approximately 200 horsepower per engine. Fuselage is 98 feet 9 inches long; wing span is 129 feet 2 inches, and overall height is 29 feet 1 inches. Can fly from New York to Paris in 9 hours, or New York to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 8¼ hours. Especially designed for long range transcontinental, transoceanic, and global airline operations with dependable regularity of flight schedules, the Rainbow’s fully pressurized interior assures passengers and crew of traveling in comfort at altitudes unaffected by “weather”.





Army four-engined photo reconnaissance plane for long range, high altitude missions. Military prototype of the Rainbow. Powered with four Pratt and Whitney Wasp-Major engines of 3,000 horsepower each. Performance features similar to the Rainbow; is slightly shorter, measuring 93 feet 10 inches from nose to tail, and height from ground to top of stabilizer is 28 feet 4 inches. A flying photographic laboratory, the big-plane is equipped with latest aerial cameras and flash bombs for night photography.




New four-place all-metal amphibian personal or family plane with exceptional roominess, sturdiness, and wide range of practical utility for business or pleasure. Has a high speed of 120 miles per hour and a cruising speed of 103 miles per hour, with a range of 560 miles on 75 gallons of fuel. Powered by a Franklin Aircooled engine of 215 horsepower, the Seabee carries four adults and baggage in comfort, and operates with equal ease off either land or water. Wing span is 37 feet 8 inches and the overall length 27 feet 10¾ inches. Standard equipment includes two-way radio, electric starter, hydraulically operated flaps, dual wheel controls, retractable landing gear, full component of C.A.A. basic flight and engine instruments, and features low, wide doors on both sides and a roomy nose door in the bow for fishing, anchoring or docking. Rearward mounted engine and pusher type propeller accentuate exceptional visibility. Take off run 800 ft. from land and 1,000 ft. from water; landing run 400 ft. on land and 700 ft. on water. Simplified design features increase plane’s ruggedness, safety, durability and usefulness, yet reduce manufacturing costs to enable Republic to produce Seabees at $4495, retail price.





The XP-84 airplane, a mid-wing, single engine, all metal day fighter was first submitted as a proposal by the Republic Aviation Corporation of Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, in September 1944.  Following correlation of formal laboratory comments on the proposal Air Material Command representatives conferred with Republic officials and representatives of the Office of Commitments and Requirements, from Washington at Farmingdale, on 30 and 31 October 1944, and agreed that three flying articles and one static test article should be purchased,  On 6 November 1944, Authority for Purchase No. 352737 was initiated in the amount of $2,619,132.88 for the procurement of these airplanes and Letter Contract was issued to the Contractor on 5 December 1944.  From Washington on 30 November 1944, TI 2184 was issued directing procurement of these airplanes and assigning project number MX-578 to the project.  The E.O. issued at this time bore the number 430-215.

On 5 March 1945 a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, W33-038-AC-6248 was negotiated and finally approved on 12 March 1945 in the amount of $2,567,132.88.

On 4 January 1945, Procurement Division issued a Letter Contract to Republic for 24 YP-84 and 75 P-84 airplanes.  At the same time it was decided by Procurement Division to cancel 100 P-72 type airplanes on order with Republic.  This decision was based on the fact that the work load at Republic was critical and it was considered advisable to develop the latest type jet fighter rather than continue work on the propeller driven P-72.  The funds that were made available as a result of this cancellation, were used in the procurement of the YP and P-84 airplanes.

On 4 June 1945, Authority for Purchase No. 352745 in the amount of $400,000.00 was issued to cover the Engineering Division's share of the cost of converting the contract from a cost plus fixed fee type to a fixed price type.  On 17 September 1945, Supplement No. 1 to the basic contract was initiated and on 5 January 1946 was approved changing the basic contract was initiated and on 5 January 1946 was approved changing the basic contract to the fixed price type and in addition called for the 100 production type airplanes and necessary spares and tools.  The Engineering Division's share of this conversion, $275.196.07 was advanced from the Authority for Purchase No. 352745.

On 28 February 1946 the No. 1 XP-84 made its first flight at Muroch.

Object of Development

The purpose of procuring the series of airplanes designated the XP-84 was to get a day fighter designed to the "Military Characteristics" as put forth by Materials and Services in Washington on 11 September 1944, and further to develop a suitable airframe to utilize the General Electric TG-180 axial flow gas turbine engine to which the Air Material Command was already committed for development.  Secondary object was to develop a longer range fighter airplane than the then existing P-80.  Procurement was made under Research and Development Program F.T. 1945.

Engineering Inspection

The Engineering Inspection of the XP-84 airplane, serial no. 45-59475 was held at the Contractor's plant in Farmingdale, from 22 August 1945 through 25 August 1945.  A complete report of the comments, proceedings, and recommendations can be found in Air Material Command report TSESE-2-1223 dated 18 October 1945.

Flight Test

In early February 1946, the No. 1 XP-84 was disassembled at the Contractor's plant in Farmingdale and loaded into the KC-97 and flown to Muroc, California.  There it was re-assembled and on 28 February 1946 made its first flight of 18 minutes.  The contractor then after 32 hours and 12 minutes of general flight testing released the airplane to the Air Material Command for Phase II performance tests.  These tests were conducted from 2 August 1946 to 6 August 1946 and consumed 10 hours and 40 minutes additional flight time.  Results from these tests are included in Air Material Command Report TSFTE-2013 dated 6 September 1946.  Subsequently on 18 October 1946 this airplane was damaged beyond economical repair at Shawnee Municipal Airport, Shawnee, Oklahoma while being ferried to Wright Field from Muroc.  The airplane was removed by commercial carrier to Tisker Field, Oklahoma from where it was brought to Wright Field for gun firing tests.

The No. 2 XP-84, serial number 45-59476, made its first flight on 25 August 1946 and remained at Muroc for additional flight test by the Contractor and Power Plant Laboratory of Wright Field.

The No. 3 airplane, serial number 45-59477, made its first flight at the Contractor's plant at Farmingdale on 31 December 1946.

Airplane Acceptance

Initiation of action for acceptance of the No. 1 and No. 2 airplane was made in September 1945 and on 14 October 1945, both the No. 1 and the No. 2 airplanes were formally accepted, which was fortunate in that four days later the No. 1 airplane was damaged beyond repair while being  ferried to Wright Field.

The No. 3 airplane, serial np. 45-59477 was accepted on 31 December 1946.

Source: Air Material Command Report AF-TR-5818 "CONFIDENTIAL".

The Republic Thunderjet/Thunderstreak/Thunderflash family of jet-powered fighter-bombers and reconnaissance aircraft had its origin in a 1944 company-financed design study for a jet-powered replacement for the famed P-47 Thunderbolt. At first, Alexander Kartveli and his team at the Republic Aircraft Corporation considered a straightforward jet adaptation of the P-47 airframe, but soon decided that such a design was impractical and began over again from scratch. They settled on a cantilever low-wing monoplane with straight, laminar-flow wings and cantilevered horizontal tailplanes mounted halfway up the vertical tail. A large airbrake was to be installed in the belly of the aircraft, just underneath the cockpit. The engine selected was the General Electric TG-180 (J35) turbojet. This engine had an axial flow, which offered less fuel consumption than that of the centrifugal-flow engines of earlier jet fighters such as the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. The smaller diameter of the axial-flow engine had the additional advantage in that it allowed the use of a more streamlined, low drag fuselage. The intake for the jet engine was to be mounted in the nose. The pressurized cockpit was to have a teardrop canopy and was to be equipped with an ejector seat.

Since range as well as high speed was an important consideration, it was necessary to forego a thin profile wing in favor of an airfoil section that was thick enough to carry fuel tanks and landing gear. The critical Mach number of this wing was considerably lower than that of the fuselage, and was the primary limiter of performance on early P-84 models.

The USAAF liked what they saw, and ordered three prototypes and 400 production examples in March of 1945. The designation P-84was chosen. However, with the coming of victory in the Pacific, all existing military aircraft orders were suspended pending a review of postwar needs. Most outstanding orders were cancelled in their entirety, but on January 15, 1946 the USAAF confirmed its order for 15 YP-84A service test aircraft and 85 production P-84Bs.

The first XP-84 (serial number 45-59475) was completed in December of 1945, and was powered by a 3750 General Electric J35-GE-7 turbojet. It was partially disassembled and flown from the factory at Farmingdale , New York to Muroc AFB in California aboard the Boeing XC-97 transport. The XP-84 took off on its maiden flight on February 28, 1946, piloted by Major William A. Lien. It was the first new American fighter to have its maiden flight after the end of World War II.

In tests, the XP-84 achieved a maximum speed of 592 mph at sea level. Normal range was 1300 miles, and an altitude of 35,000 feet could be attained in 13 minutes. Weights were 9080 pounds empty, 13,400 pounds gross, and 16,200 pounds maximum. The second XP-84 flew in August 1946. On September 7, 1946, this XP-84 set a new American speed record of 611 mph. However, that very same day, the record was snatched away by the Gloster Meteor, which reached 616 mph.

Republic YP-84A Thunderjet  service test aircraft

The YP-84A was the designation given to 15 pre-series Thunderjets. They were all delivered to the USAF by April of 1947. They were powered by the Allison J35-A-15 engine of 3750 lb. st. in place of the General Electric J35-GE-7 (the production of the J35 having been turned over to Allison). Armament consisted of six 0.50 in machine guns, four in the upper front fuselage and two in the wings. The YP-84As were turned over to crews assigned to Muroc and to the Wright-Patterson bases for tests and pilot familiarization.



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Updated 2013-01-12

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