North American O-47
1935
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North American O-47

Developed by General Aviation (the precursor of North American Aviation) to meet a US Army specification for an observation aircraft, the GA-15 represented a radical change in design for such a role in that, unlike its predecessors, it was a low-wing monoplane with an enclosed cockpit, seating a three-man crew. Powered by a 634kW Wright Cyclone engine, the prototype flew in mid-1935 and to provide an acceptable field of view for the observer a glazed nose position was located under the fuselage. North American put the type into production to meet a USAAC contract for 109 North American O-47A aircraft ordered in February 1937, later increased to 164. They were powered by 727kW Cyclones, while 74 O-47B aircraft had 790kW engines and additional fuel capacity. During World War II they served as trainers and target tugs.

Comments
Bob Lindberg, 23.05.2012

My cousin and I got a ride in this plane in Chino California in 1979. My brother got a ride in a P-51 mustang which joined up with us for pictures in formation. The O-47 later crashed and burned on landing at Chino. The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino has another O-47 they are restoring. I saw another one in the Daton Ohio Air Museum. It looks in mint condition. My cousin's dad used to be an aerial photographer in O-47s.

Klaatu, 03.05.2011

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with this aircraft. However, during World War II the Army found that the mission that planes like this one were designed to fulfill was more ably carried out by smaller and less expensive light aircraft that could operate close to the front lines; such as Piper Cubs, Aeroncas and Taylorcraft. Such planes became collectively known as "Grasshoppers". In a similar fashion, the British Army adopted the famous Auster.

J. Narland, 27.12.2010

I would be interested in any information and especially any photographs pertaining to the O-47 use by the Iowa National Guard.

Ken Dowd, 23.09.2010

O-47A 38-284 was based at Ontario,Ca, used in film "Flight of the Phoenix", crashed and destroyed at Portville,CA in 1982.
O-47B 39-098 was located at the Combat Air Museum in Topeka,KS

Robert Bourlier, 21.09.2010

The 118th Observation Squadron, CT National Guard, deployed to Jacksonville, FL in 1941 where they performed anti-submarine patrol off the Florida and Georgia coast in the O-46 & O-47. In 1943 they became the 118th TRS flying P-39 then P-40 and P-51 reconnaissance planes. Deploying to the CBI in December 1943, the squadron was assigned to the 23rd FG in China where the CO, LtCol Edward O. McComas, became the 4th highest scoring ace in the 14th AF.

Mark Barnhill, 07.09.2010

My dad Maj Clarence Barnhill was Cmdr of the 112th Obs Sqdn Ohio Nat. Guard based at Cleveland arpt flying O-47s.Sqdn was activated in Dec 1940 and sent to Pope Field, Ft Bragg, NC. Sqdn was sent to Dover, Del Dec 26,1941 for anti-sub patrol. Sqdn switched to O-52s shortly thereafter.

John Brasko Jr, 10.01.2010

My dad also flew in O-47s on anti-submarine patrols from Cape Cod, Mass. He was a Sgt and photographer-gunner.

R.C. Holliday, 24.06.2009

I recall that these were operated on submarine patrol missions out of Hunter Field in Savannah, GA in 1942-1943. My father (Captain Allen P. Holliday) was the engineering officer there at the time and flew several missions. I would like any information available relating to that activity.

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