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Seversky P-35's

unexpected metamorphosis

by Luc Fournier

5: Ultimate development.

Despite his success, Alexandre de Seversky was forced to resign as the shareholders of his firm criticised his deplorable management. Furthermore, the American government was adamant about his decision to sell a two-seater version of the P-35 to the USSR, and above all, to Japan, two countries which were in the State Department "black list". In 1939 Ralph S. Damon was appointed as general manager of the firm, which became the  Republic Aircraft Corporation.

During that time period, the tension between Nazi Germany, with France and Great Britain was increasing from day to day. Perceiving themselves as future enemies with Germany, France, England, and those worrying about their neutrality, were all potential clients for the US weapon industries. As the situation became urgent, the new fighters were still at the prototype stages, and among them was a new P-35 fitted with a turbo-charged radial engine, registered as XP-41 by the US Air Corps.  Kartveli tried to update his old 1936 model from the experience gained with the racers, and so was born the EP 1 (Export Pursuit 1 seat) having a slightly lengthened fuselage, and powered with a new 1050 HP radial engine, giving the plane a maximum speed of 500 km/h. The armament was strengthened from two to four machine guns. Presented by Republic's test pilot Franck Sinclair in many Capitals of Europe, and South America, the EP 1 was totally unsuccessful and no orders followed. The only country showing interest for the airplane was Sweden, which placed an important order of 120 machines. As half of these were being delivered, the American Government in October of 1939 put the second half of the Swedish order under on hold, and the Air Corps recovered 60 airplanes, registered as P-35 As, not really knowing what to do with them.

Finally, 12 ex Swedish fighters were sold to Ecuador and the other 48 were shipped to the Philippines Islands, where they contributed to modernise their Air Force. No one has ever registered the pilots' opinion or reports, about those airplanes which used the metric system for their flight instruments, and had their flight manuals written in Swedish! Anyhow, on December 8, 1941, the 48 P-35 As were engaged against the Japanese invasion, shooting down a few dive bombers, and trying to escape swarms of Mitsubishi  Zeros, having neither their agility, nor firepower...

This act of heroism concludes the story of the P-35. This tiny fighter, with its funny lines, was nothing more than a warbird for movie, news, and propaganda films. However, its surprising career did not totally end on December 1941. In 1944, the P-47 Thunderbolt  which escorted B-17 bombers over Germany, and the Reggiane 2005 which, according to some historians, defended the Berlin airspace, were descendants from the little airplane which landed at Wright Field on august 15, 1935. But, as one says, this is another story!

© Aerostories 2000.

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The 2PA " Convoy ", a two- seats fighter derivating from P 35 which was sold to the USSR and Japan. It was the main reason for Major de Seversky's withdrawal from his position of general manager.

The 60 P 35 A delivered to Sweden contributed to keep the neutrality of this country all along WW II. The last planes in service were converted into reco- planes before their withdrawal in 1951.
"Air Enthousiast" Document

Lieutenant Boyd Wagner's P 35 A at Nichols Field (Philippines), base of the 17th squadron. This snap- shot was taken during summer of 1941. A few weeks later, the aircraft got a green " olive drab " camouflage.

Many thanks to Françoise and Jean-Philippe who helped me in this translation.