Republic Seabee Timeline

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1897

April 30
Percival Hopkins "Spence" Spencer is born in Windsor, Connecticut, USA, as the third child of then 63 year old inventor genius Christopher Miner Spencer.  Percival always hated his name and preferred to be called "Spence".

1911

April 11
Spence makes his first solo flight from Prospect Hill, when flying a hang glider built by himself from plans published in Popular Mechanics Magazine.

1914

May 15
Spence makes his first flight in a motor powered airplane, flying a Curtiss-type flying boat from Connecticut River in Hartford.

1937

Spencer-Larsen Aircraft Corporation is organized.  Spencer and ex Sikorsky engineer Vincent A. Larsen design the single engine SL-12C amphibian.

 

1940

September
Spencer leaves Spencer-Larsen and starts the work on his own S-12 Air Car amphibian design.

1941

March 01


The first parts are cut for the Spencer Amphibian Air Car.

August 08

The Spencer S-12 Amphibian Air Car, NX29098, takes to the air for the first time, from sea on Belmore, Great South Bay, Long Island.

December
After the USA is at war, from the Pearl Harbor attack on 1941-12-07, Spence put the Air Car in storage. 

1942

Spence starts working with Republic Aviation Corporation as a test pilot on their P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Flight testing 134 Thunderbolts.

1943

Spence accepts a job offer from The Mills Novelty Company, Chicago, IL.  In April the Air Car is flown from Long Island to Chicago, Illinois.

Using the wood-forming facilities at Mills, the Air Car forward cabin or reformed to a rounder 'egg'-shape.

December
The Air Car plans and manufacturing rights sold to Republic Aviation Corporation, Farmingdale, New York.

1944

January
Redesign of the Air Car design starts, to develop an all metal production version.  The first development prototype is named Model RC-1 Thunderbolt Amphibian.

November 30


The RC-1 prototype, NX41816, makes her first flight from Republic Farmingdale Airport on Long Island.  Spence is at the controls.

December
The Republic Amphibian is presented at the St. Louis Convention. A 'Seabee' diorama was displayed at the RAC booth at Jefferson Hotel. Tentative arrangements are made with the first distributors. Quota commitments made at the convention totals 1972 airplanes at a basic retail price of $3,500.  The Republic Aviation Corporation's Board of Directors approves the plans for RAC's entry into the personal plane market.

December
NX41816 is demonstrated for the USAAF, US Navy and USCG from National Airport, Washington D.C.

1945

February 19
US Navy officially approves the commercial use of the name "Seabee" for the new Republic amphibian.

April 17
RAC President Alfred Marched orders full steam ahead for engineering, tooling and manufacturing divisions, after initial contract is made with US Army for the order of OA-15 Seabees to be used for rescue work in the Far East.  The projected military rescue amphibian was to be powered by a geared engine and have a cabin arrangement for 2 litters. The contract is later cancelled, when US Army after V-J Day cancelled orders with RAC for $242,000,000.  

November 22

First prototype model RC-3 Seabee, NX87451, rolled off the construction line at Republic Aviation Corporation.

December 01
At 9:17 a.m. the first prototype Model RC-3 Seabee, NX87451, makes her first flight, taken to the air by designer and test pilot Percival H. Spencer from Republic Airport, Farmingdale.

December 27

Aircooled Motors, manufacturers of the Franklin aircraft engines, are acquired by Republic.

1946

March
First standard production Model RC-3 Seabee rolled off production lines at Republic.

July 21
P. H. Spencer, designer of Republic's Seabee, smilingly paints the coveted 'NC' on the tail of Seabee NC87457 (ex NX87457) to celebrate the CAA certification of the Seabee. 

July 25
The first Seabee, N87463 (s/n 13) is officially delivered to a customer, when handed over to president J. G. (Tex) Rankin, Rankin Aviation Industries, Tulare, California, at Republic.

1947

October 04
Republic Aviation Corp. announces that the production of the RC-3 Seabee amphibian has been terminated.  Last production RC-3 Seabee was N6770K (s/n 1060).  The last Seabees were not sold until early 1948.

 

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Updated 2014-01-12

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