|FLOAT FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Romano|
One of several contracts, most of which were clandestine, negotiated with representatives of Etienne Romano by a purchasing commission of the Spanish Republican government early in 1937, involved 24 land-based derivatives of the R-90 single-seat float fighter. To support the subterfuge that Spain had actually ordered a re-engined version of the entirely different tandem two-seat R-82 trainer, the land-based fighter was allocated the non-sequential designation R-83, part manufacture and final assembly being undertaken clandestinely in Belgium by LACEBA (Les Ateliers de Construction et d'Exploitation de Brevets Aeronautiques). The R-83 was fundamentally similar to the R-90 apart from having a 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engine, a cabane replacing the gulled upper wing centre section and a spatted wheel undercarriage. In order to further the pretence that the R-83 was purely a tuitional aircraft, a 280hp Salmson 9Aba radial engine was fitted in Belgium for flight testing and delivery to Spain where it was intended that the Wasp Junior engine be installed. The first of an initial batch of six R-83s reached Spain on 20 April 1938, and the last on the following 5 July, these allegedly being re-engined as planned after arriving in Barcelona. The ultimate fate of these aircraft is unknown. The wings and fuselages of the remaining 18 were completed, but the aircraft had still to be assembled when the Spanish conflict terminated. No data relating to the R-83 have apparently survived.