Model Airplane News
January, 1946

Model Airplane News Cover for January, 1946 by Jo Kotula Republic RC-3 Seabee

Republic RC-3 "Seabee"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for January, 1946
by Jo Kotula
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The RC-3 Seabee was designed by Percival Hopkins "Spence" Spencer, an aviation pioneer. In 1937 he joined Sikorsky engineer Vincent A. Larsen to design their first, and only, amphibious aircraft, the Spencer-Larsen SL-12C. Development of the plane progressed slowly and in September 1940 Spencer left the partnership to form his own company. His resulting design was the Spencer S-12 Air Car,a fabric covered amphibian with a unique boxlike forward cabin, a high wing, pusher engine and a long, slender tail boom.

Spencer Air Car Design Patent D-156,778     Spencer Air Car Design Patent D-156,778    The Republic RC-3 Seabee Design Patent D-156,694    The Republic RC-3 Seabee Design Patent D-156,694

Design Evolution of the Republic Seabee
Spencer Patent for the Air Car D-156,778
Republic Patent for the Seabee D-156,694
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Spencer then worked for the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois who wanted to use his Air Car to promote their company. We have discussed the Mills company in depth as a manufacturer of Jukeboxes. There was an unlikely fit between the two, as Spencer used the company's wood forming equipment to build a new egg-shaped cabin for the Air Car. His former employer, Republic Aircraft. saw the potential of the Air Car as the perfect sports plane for pilots returning from the warand purchased the rights to the Air Car in December 1943. Republic immediately began development of an all-metal version involving both Spencer and Alfred Boyajian that first flew in early 1944 with Spencer at the controls.

The Republic RC-3 Seabee      The Republic RC-3 Seabee

Photos of the Republic RC-3 "Seabee"
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By the end of 1944, Republic had received 1,972 civilian orders for the airplane (Priced at $3,500, about $90,000 in $2009). The U.S. Navy and Army Air Corps were impressed with the design. In February of 1945 the Navy granted Republic Aviation the rights to use the name "Seabee" for the civilian version. A $20,000,000 order was placed for a large number of these planes, designated OA-15. They were to be used in air-sea rescue. Following VJ Day, both the Army and Navy canceled their orders. Only about 1,000 were sold into the civilian market, not enough for Republic to justify a large production facility. Production ceased in 1947. However, in January of 1946, the "Seabee" was quite courant and a noteworthy cover of M.A.N.

Here is a video featuring the Republic RC-3 "Seabee":

Click Here for more information about the Republic RC-3 "Seabee".

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