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Republic P-44 (Rocket)

United States (1940)
Picture of Republic P-44 (Rocket) Single-Seat, Single-Engine Pursuit Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft

The Republic P-44 Rocket venture was made obsolete by developments in Europe at the start of World War 2 - leading the company to develop the P-47 Thunderbolt instead.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Republic P-44 (Rocket) Single-Seat, Single-Engine Pursuit Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/14/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The road to the American classic war-winning Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" of World War 2 went through various iterations under the leadership of engineer Alexander Kartveli. In 1937 the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) took into service the Seversky P-35 which was authored by Kartveli under the Seversky brand label (Seversky was reorganized in 1939 to become "Republic"). The P-35 was notable for it becoming the first American-made single-seat, single-engine monoplane fighter to feature all-metal construction, a fully-enclosed cockpit, and a completely retractable undercarriage. From this form the P-43 "Lancer" was eventually developed and arrived in 1941 to be used by the air services of the United States, China and Australia with production reaching 272 units before the end.

Even before the P-43 came to fruition, there was a stop at another Republic fighter offering - the P-44 "Rocket". The fighter was developed to a new U. S. Army requirement for an interceptor / pursuit type capable of speeds in the upper 300mph, lower 420mph range while flying under 20,000 feet of altitude. Republic beat out other submissions with their "AP-4J" which promised to fulfill the required specs.

Design work was, again, headed by Kartveli and drive power would stem from a single Pratt & Whitney R-2180-1 "Twin Hornet" engine of 1,400 horsepower fitted to the nose. A monoplane wing arrangement was, of course, in play and showcased rounded wingtips. The fuselage was well-contoured with the radial piston engine air-cooled and shrouded by a very tight cowling. A traditional single-finned tail unit was positioned to the rear in the usual way. The "tail-dragger" undercarriage was completely retractable. The cockpit, with its raised fuselage spine, was heavily framed and seated a single operator at midships. Armament was to be wholly machine gun-based: a mix of 2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns paired with 4 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns (a common arrangement of pre-war/early-war American fighters).
The AP-4J was estimated with a maximum speed of around 385 miles per hour and the Army thought enough of the Republic initiative to award a contract to the company for 80 aircraft on September 13th, 1939. Rather notable was the lack of any working, flyable prototypes to ensure a sound design. By this time, the war in Europe had just begun (September 1st) and reports from the front became critical to observers stateside and it was quickly realized that the modern mounts of Europe outclassed those being offered by the Americans.

The AP-4J was evolved into the AP-4L which was to install the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-7 series air-cooled radial of 2,000 horsepower. Additional internal fuel stores would be provided to help increase range. Cockpit armoring was now an essential quality of fighting warplanes as were self-sealing fuel tanks so these too found their way into the revised P-44 design - which was now ordered by the Army as the P-44-2 on July 19th, 1940. The initial contract called for 225 fighters to the newer standard and this was increased to 827 on September 9th of that same year. Even despite the added weight, Republic engineers were optimistically hopeful that their new fighter would hit the 422mph maximum speed envelope.

However, as soon as it arrived on the drawing boards, the P-44 Rocket was made more or less obsolete by events half-a-world-away. Fortunately for Republic it had also been hard at work at developing another fighter in the "AP-10" which also caught the Army's eye back in November of 1939 - this aircraft becoming the prototype XP-47 before being finalized in service as the classic P-47 Thunderbolt. With the XP-47 proving itself the more promising venture, the P-44 project was ended on September 13th, 1940 with no physical prototype to show for the years-long effort - such was the military aircraft design business. To keep Republic production lines open until P-47 manufacture could be brought up to speed, the P-44 contract was simply converted by authorities to purchase more P-43 Lancer fighters for the U.S. Army and its ally in China.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (373mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Republic P-44-2's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: United States
Service Year: 1940
Classification Type: Single-Seat, Single-Engine Pursuit Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Republic Aviation - USA
Production Units: 0
Operational Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Republic P-44-2 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
28.71 ft


Meters
8.75 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
36.09 ft


Meters
11 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.27 ft


Meters
4.35 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
5,986 lb


Kilograms
2,715 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
8,598 lb


Kilograms
3,900 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-7 air-cooled radial piston engine developing 2,000 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
373 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
600 kph


Knots
324 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
649 mi


Kilometers
1,045 km


Nautical Miles
564 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
36,089 ft


Meters
11,000 m


Miles
6.84 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,500 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
762 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

PROPOSED:
2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns
4 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• AP-4J - Initial project submission; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-2180-1 Twin Hornet radial piston engine of 1,400 horsepower.
• AP-4L - Revised project submission; fitted with PW R-2800-7 radial engine of 2,000 horsepower; self-sealing fuel tanks; increased fuel load; cockpit armoring; additional machine guns.
• P-44 - U.S. Army designation for production quality fighter.
• P-44-2 - Revised Army model based in the AP-4L project submission.