Republic P-43 Lancer Fighter / Fighter-Bomber / Trainer Aircraft
Production of the early-war Republic P-43 Lancer spanned from 1940 to 1941 and yielded some 272 total aircraft.
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The road to the classic World War 2-era single-seat, single-engine Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighter was one that began in the pre-war years while Alexander Seversky still maintained control of his company (Seversky Aircraft Company). However, during September of 1939, Seversky was kicked out of the concern and the organization reformed as the "Republic Aviation Company". Despite the change, some of the company's earlier work endured, stemming from the P-35, XP-41 and AP-4 initiatives.
Prior to Seversky's dismissal, his company had signed a contract for a new United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) fighter, essentially what was to become an evolved form consisting of the proven - and best - qualities of the preceding XP-41 and AP-4 models. The aircraft would carry an air-cooled Pratt & Whitney R-1830-35 with turbosupercharger and its design headed by Alexander Kartveli (also credited with the later P-47). Armament was improved to 2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns with 2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns with the former were installed in the upper cowling and the latter carried (in single installations) at the wings. The wing mainplanes were elliptical in their general shape and the air scoop for the turbosupercharger was installed in the cowling itself under the engine (qualities later reused in the P-47). A "tail-dragger" undercarriage and single vertical tail fin completed the appearance of what was shaping up to be a promising fighter development.
The design was finalized into the "YP-43" (no "X" designation was seen in the program) with the name of "Lancer". A first-flight was had in March of 1940.
A prototype YP-43 was passed on to the Army in September of 1940 and marked the first of thirteen test articles. There proved some early deficiencies including a bad tendency for the aircraft to "ground loop" (and flip onto its back in extreme cases) which forced a revision to the height of the tail wheel. Before the program gained enough momentum, Army observers had noted the speed at which advancements to fighter design were being made in Europe. As such, interest in the P-43 waned as the focus moved to a more advanced model - the P-44 "Rocket" (to become the P-47 "Thunderbolt"). The P-43, as it turns out, was more or less an obsolete warplane before it ever had a chance to fight.