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North American O-47

The North American O-47 is an American observation fixed-wing aircraft monoplane used by the United States Army Air Corps.

It had a low-wing configuration, retractable landing gear, and a three-blade propeller.

The O-47 was developed as a replacement for the Thomas-Morse O-19 and Douglas O-38 observation biplanes.

It was larger and heavier than most preceding observation aircraft and its crew of three sat in tandem under the long canopy.

Windows in the deep belly overcame the obstacle that the wings presented to downward observation and photography.

The design for the XO-47 prototype originated in 1934 with General Aviation Manufacturing, a subsidiary of North American Aviation, as the GA-15. 

The Air Corps ordered 174 O-47s in 1937 to 1938, 93 of which were assigned to National Guard units.

In 1938, the Army ordered 74 O-47Bs with a redesigned engine cowling for better cooling, an uprated engine, and improved radio equipment.

Training manoeuvres in 1941 demonstrated the shortcomings of the O-47.

Thus, O-47s during World War II, except for those caught at overseas bases by the Japanese attacks, were relegated to secondary duties such as towing targets, coastal patrol, and anti-submarine patrol.



One built, serial number 36-145 in Dundalk, Maryland, 850 hp (634 kW) Wright R-1820-41 engine


164 built in Inglewood California, Wright R-1820-49 engine


74 built, minor improvements and a 1,060 hp (790 kW) Wright R-1820-57 engine installed, plus an extra 50-gallon fuel tank





33 ft 7 in (10.24 m)


46 ft 4 in (14.1 m)


12 ft 2 in (3.7 m)

Wing area

350 sq ft (32.5 m2)

Empty weight

5,980 lb (2,712.5 kg)

Gross weight

7,636 lb (3,463.6 kg)


1 × Wright R-1820-49 radial,

975 hp (727 kW)


Maximum speed

221 mph (355.7 km/h, 192 kn)

Cruise speed

200 mph (322 km/h, 170 kn)


840 mi (1,352 km, 730 nmi)

Service ceiling

23,200 ft (7,071 m)

Rate of climb

1,470.8 ft/min (7.47 m/s)


1 × fixed forward-firing .30-cal (7.62 mm) machine gun (200 rounds) in starboard wing

1 × flexible .30-cal (7.62 mm) machine gun (600 rounds) in rear cockpit.



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