My favourite aeroplane in 200 words #40: North American 0-47

101st_Observation_Squadron_O-47.jpg“Favourites?  Mustang, Spitfire, yeah…boring.  Mythologies rather than experiences. The closest any of us have gotten to the royalty of the air are plastic models or a glimpse at an airshow.

Not me.  As a kid, I spent hours surrounded by the scent of aluminium, old oil, and rubber… in my own plane.

It was an 0-47.

The 0-47 was so anonymous that the Army didn’t even give it a name.

No Storch, no Lystander, just an number.  Starting with a Zed.

North American built 250, a tiny number… [for America]   

No guns, it was designed to observe with a mile long greenhouse on top and a fat belly underneath with camera ports.

It was my airplane.

On a sleepy country airport one sat derelict axle deep in weeds.  Just a mile of walking, carrying a camp stool for the missing pilot seat, my sister and my best friend could fly to Europe destroy the Axis.

The pilot’s stick still waggled the bare ailerons who, like rudder, it’s yaw buddy, had lost their fabric years ago.


The author (on the right)

No cowling, prop, nor glass in the canopy, but deep inside it’s green cavernous interior, sitting at the observer’s station, the two camera port doors could be cranked open pushing the weeds aside to reveal the Japanese fleet..

The 90 degree Oklahoma Summer, the sound of cicadas, and this thing that once flew, were a 10 year old’s perfect day.

There is a flying example in California.  Now, for me as a pilot, the need is great…”

– Jack Murphy


One comment

  1. duker

    Dint the USAAF not used ‘names’ until the British started buying for the RAF and came up with them, eg Lightning was the RAF name for the P-38

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