The XP-41 Hussar had been abandoned because it marked an inadequate level of development over the original P-35 Lancer. Republic Aviation (by now, Seversky had been ejected from the company he had founded and the organization renamed) produced a further cleaned-up and developed version of the basic P-35. This featured a close-fitting engine cowling and an inordinately large propeller spinner in an attempt to reduce drag. However, this arrangement caused cooling problems and a more orthodox radial cowling was fitted at an early stage. On March 12, 1939, thirteen service test models were ordered by the Army under the designation YP-43. The YP-43 featured further design modifications. The cockpit was lowered in an attempt to reduce drag, the rear fuselage upper decking was raised, and the transparent area behind the cockpit greatly reduced. The tailwheel leg was made longer. The air intake for the turbosupercharger was moved from the port wing root and was mounted underneath the engine inside the deeper, oval-shaped cowling. The two 0.5-inch machine guns in the engine cowling were supplemented by a pair of wing-mounted 0.3-inch machine guns. The Pratt and Whitney R-1830-35 engine was adopted, offering 1200 hp for takeoff and 1100 hp at 20,000 feet.
Specifications of the YP-43 Dragoon
Maximum speed was 349 mph at 25,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 2850 feet per minute. Service ceiling was 38,000 feet, and range was 800 miles. Wingspan was 36 feet, length was 27 feet 11 inches, height was 14 feet, and wing area was 223 square feet Weights were 5656 pounds empty and 7300 pounds gross.
Republic P-43 Dragoon
By 1941, the Dragoon was already outdated by the rapid advances in air combat technology that had taken place. It suffered from poor firepower, maneuverability and climbing performance, and lacked such modern innovations as armor protection for the pilot and self-sealing fuel tanks. However, the USAAC needed every fighter it could get, other production lines were filled to capacity but Republic’s plant was virtually idle. If Republic-built fighters were to be ordered, it was a choice between the P-35 and the P-43 – and the P-43 was by far the better choice. Fifty-four P-43 Dragoons were ordered by the Army in late 1940. Serial numbers were 41-6668/6721. They were virtually identical to the YP-43. The engine was the turbosupercharged Pratt & Whitney R-1830-47, delivering 1200 hp. The first P-43 was delivered on May 16, 1941, the last example being delivered on August 28, 1941.
Specification of the P-43
Maximum speed was 349 mph at 25,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 2850 feet per minute. Service ceiling was 38,000 feet, and range was 800 miles. Wingspan was 36 feet, length was 28 feet 6 inches, height was 14 feet, and wing area was 223 square feet Weights were 5654 pounds empty and 7810 pounds gross. Maximum takeoff weight was 7935 pounds. Armament consisted of two 0.50-inch and two 0.30-inch machine guns.
Republic P-43A Dragoon
The P-43 was immediately followed by the P-43A, 80 examples of which were ordered. Serials were 40-2891/2970. Deliveries began in September of 1941. The P-43A was essentially the same as the earlier P-43, but differed in having the turbosupercharged R-1830-49 which afforded its full 1200 hp at 25,000 feet. Deliveries began in September 1941.Armament was increased to a full four 0.50-in machine guns, two in the fuselage and two in the wings.
Specification of the P-43A
Maximum speed was 356 mph at 25,000 feet. An altitude of 15,000 feet could be reached in 6 minutes. Service ceiling was 36,000 feet, and range was 650 miles. Wingspan was 36 feet, length was 28 feet 6 inches, height was 14 feet, and wing area was 223 square feet Weights were 5996 pounds empty and 7435 pounds gross. Maximum takeoff weight was 8480 pounds. Armament four 0.50-in machine guns.
Republic P-43B Dragoon
On June 30, 1941, 125 further examples were ordered primarily purpose was still to keep the Farmingdale production lines occupied until the Thunderbolt could be ready. The P-43B differed from the P-43A by having a Pratt and Whitney R-1830-57 engine with the same power. The four 0.50-inch machine guns were all concentrated in the wings. Some attempt was made to make the design more combat-worthy by adding such modern features as armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. The USAAF always viewed the P-43 as only an interim type and considered it unfit for any combat role. None of the USAAF P-43s ever saw any action, being used strictly for advanced training in Stateside units. In 1942, most of the surviving USAAF P-43s were converted as specialized photographic reconnaissance aircraft and redesignated FP-43Cs. These were fitted with cameras in the rear fuselage. These aircraft were never deployed operationally. In the mid-1940s, some surplus P-43 Dragoons were transferred to Ecuador, Peru and Chile.
Specification of the P-43B
Maximum speed was 356 mph at 10,000 feet, service ceiling was 36,000 feet, and maximum ferry range was 1450 miles. Weights were 5996 pounds empty, 7435 pounds loaded, and 8480 pounds maximum. Wingspan was 36 feet 0 inches, length was 28 feet 6 inches, height was 14 feet 0 inches, and wing area was 223 square feet. Armament was four 0.5 inch machine guns in the wings and a 41.6 Imp. gall. drop tank, one 200-pound bomb, or six 20-pound bombs.