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     Hello everyone... does anyone know if either Republic or its predecessor Seversky ever designed an aircraft for the airlines. I know they had the Seabee flying boat/amphibian. However I was curious if they ever tried to design an airliner. Or did they leave that to Boeing, Douglas, and Convair/Consolidated ? For that matter did they ever angle into Piper, Beechcraft, or Cessna territory ? 
 

Dennis

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Well, they tried, but with little success.

 

Seversky’s output pre-war was pretty much all military.  The first serious attempt at civilian stuff was to convert the XF-12 Rainbow into an airliner.  It had been ordered as a prototype long-range reconnaissance platform; when the USAF ordered the RB-50 instead, that put the mockers on any chance of an airliner derivative.

 

The Seabee came not long after but was always economically marginal, and overall made a loss.  It wasn’t helped by Republic buying a company just to make its engine.

 

In 1963 they tried hovercraft, with a licence agreement for the Vickers VA-3.  But there were no orders and they gave up on that.

 

Republic had some success with spaceflight, but pretty minor.  Alas, six vertical fins for the Space Shuttle was never going to be the start of a long-term business.  It was much the same with tin-bashing for, eg, the Boeing SST.

 

When Fairchild took them over, that was when they had their nearest brush with the airliner market.  Fairchild had built the Fokker F27 under licence and developed it into the FH-227.  Republic had sketched out something similar a few years earlier, the RC-4; presumably Fairchild cornered that particular market.  Republic tried to develop the abortive US/FRG VG fighter into a business jet and a feeder-liner; again, nothing.  Then they designed the SF-340 with SAAB, but manufacturing problems meant their end of the programme fell apart and SAAB carried on without them.  And that was it.  The company (well, Fairchild’s Republic Division) closed in 1988 and is now a housing estate.

 

I got all this from The Thunder Factory, which was published a couple of years later.  It’s a fascinating and slightly depressing read.  The overall impression is of a company that wasn’t terribly well run and relied far too much on military work, until it was too late.  An interesting factor is that Grumman was a brisk walk away, and US pork-barrel politics meant that if one firm got a contract, the other couldn’t, so as to spread out the work across the country.

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