Published April 07, 2015
DAYTON, Ohio -- North American O-47B at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
DAYTON, Ohio -- North American O-47B in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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.
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
Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.
Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)