Jan 242012

The gallery above reproduces a letter from Republic Aviation Corporation to the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics dated September 16, 1948 enclosing revised drawings of the Republic AP-47 mixed-power ground support airplane proposal. The letter was found in USAF files (which may have been those of the Colonel J.S. Holtoner also referenced in the letter) in the National Archives. The letter states that Republic had revised its original AP-47 proposal by moving the pilot forward to allow better vision, at the request of a General Quesada. The enclosed three-view and inboard profile sheets were to replace corresponding sheets in the original AP-47 proposal, which unfortunately has not been located by the author.

“AP-47” was an internal Republic designation (Army Project 47) and not an official Air Force one. However, it shares some important components with the company’s famous P-47 Thunderbolt and could be considered an evolution thereof. This is likely no accident, as Republic probably emphasized the design’s relationship to its legendary forebearer and the cost savings of using some existing tooling and jigs. The drawings depict an airplane with only a passing resemblance to the famous Thunderbolt, with the most obvious change being the addition of a jet engine in the aft fuselage (described as a “43 J 692 24C” in the inboard profile, likely the Westinghouse J34). The airplane retains the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 power plant in the front (minus the turbosupercharger), though the contours of the nose have been reworked to provide an intake for both the oil cooler and the jet engine. The wing, armament and main gear appear to be stock P-47N. Some portion of the central fuselage may also be from the P-47N as well. The horizontal tail planes may derive from an early model F-84, while the vertical tail appears to be a new design. The forward-mounted canopy shows some influence from an early model F-84, but is not an exact match. It would be interesting to see how the original proposal looked with the canopy mounted further aft.

The lack of an arresting hook and folding wing indicates that it was primarily intended for the USAF; perhaps the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics considered it for use by the Marines in the land-based ground support role. In any case, neither service saw enough merit in the design to fund its development, and it remained a drawing board curiosity, perhaps the last evolution of the venerable P-47 proposed by Republic.

To view the letter and drawings in higher resolution, please click through the gallery above. If anyone has more information on this design, feel free to comment below or contact the editor.

All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 341

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