In 1934 North American Aviation developed the O-47 to replace the O-19 and O-38 observation biplanes. Larger and heavier than most preceding observation aircraft, its crew of three sat in tandem under the long canopy. Since the wings restricted downward observation and photography, North American put windows in the aircraft's deep belly. The U.S. Army Air Corps ordered 174 O-47s in 1937, and National Guard units received 93 of them. In 1938 the Army ordered 74 O-47Bs, which had a redesigned engine cowling for better cooling, a more powerful engine, and improved radio equipment.
Training maneuvers in 1941 demonstrated the O-47's shortcomings. Lighter airplanes proved more capable of operating with ground troops, and fighters and twin-engine bombers showed greater ability to perform reconnaissance and photographic duties. Therefore, the Army relegated the O-47 to towing targets or to flying coastal and antisubmarine patrols.
The museum acquired the O-47B on display in 1978 from Loren L. Florey Jr., of Eden Prairie, Minn. The 179th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Ohio Air National Guard, Mansfield, Ohio, restored the aircraft in the markings of an O-47A of the 112th Observation Squadron of the Ohio National Guard.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: One fixed forward-firing .30-cal. machine gun and one flexible .30-cal. machine gun in rear cockpit Engine: Wright R-1820 of 1,060 hp Maximum speed: 227 mph Cruising speed: 200 mph Range: 840 miles Ceiling: 24,100 ft. Span: 46 ft. 4 in. Length: 33 ft. 3 in. Height: 13 ft. 9 in. Serial number: 39-112
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