2012 Articles

OCT 18 2012
Air Museums >> USA: American Air Power Museum

Republic Field in Farmingdale was developed in the late 1920s by the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Manufacturing Company, and was first known as the Fairchild Flying Field. In 1931 Fairchild moved to Hagerstown, Maryland, but in 1932 the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation moved in, followed by Seversky Aircraft in 1935.

Grumman moved out to nearby Bethpage in 1937 but Seversky stayed at Farmingdale, changing its name to Republic Aviation in 1939. Republic went on to develop the P-47 Thunderbolt, with over 9,000 being built at Farmingdale. After World War Two, Republic developed the F-84 series of jets and followed this up with the F-105 Thunderchief, as well as the Seabee amphibian. All of these aircraft were designed and built at Farmingdale.

Republic didn’t have anything to follow the F-105 and consequently they were taken over by Fairchild in 1965, becoming the Republic Aviation Division of Fairchild Hiller.

Their next major project developed into the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and major assemblies were constructed at Farmingdale before being shipped to Hagerstown for final assembly.

Its last project was the T-46 Next Generation Trainer which, having being selected to replace the USAFs fleet of Cessna T-37s, was then cancelled in 1986 before production had actually begun. With no new projects on the horizon, the plant at Farmingdale was closed.

The Republic factory was situated on the northern side of the airport and following its closure most of the factory buildings were eventually demolished to make way for a shopping mall. However, a few remain on the north side of the road, but they are derelict, overgrown and fenced off.

Keeping Republic’s legacy alive is a small museum, housed in one of the original hangars on the east side of the airport. The American Airpower Museum first opened its doors to the public in 2000, and inside can be found a collection of artefacts and a number of aircraft, the majority of which are airworthy.

Most of the flying aircraft associated with the museum are owned by Jeff Clyman, who took over the Avirex clothing company in 1975 and turned it into a global brand.

In pride of place is an airworthy P-47D Thunderbolt, named “Jacky’s Revenge”. This aircraft wasn’t actually built at Farmingdale; unable to produce enough aircraft on the site Republic constructed a further factory at Evansville, Indiana, and this one was built there. Keeping it company are a former Canadian P-40M Warhawk named “The Jacky C II”, an FG-1D Corsair “Sky Boss”, a TBM-3E Avenger “Yankee Gal” and RB-25 Mitchell “Miss Hap”.

The latter airframe was modified as a VIP transport and used by General “Hap” Arnold as his personal aircraft. It was also used by Howard Hughes in the 1960s and is the oldest B-25 still flying.

Other airworthy aircraft include a former Israeli Air Force C-47B Dakota, an SNJ-5 Texan and a Waco UPF-7, whilst a PBY-6 Catalina is currently undergoing restoration. Representing the jet era and the Cold War is a former Czech Air Force L-39C, which is also airworthy.

The museum has a number of Republic's products on display, comprising an F-84E Thunderjet, an RF-84F Thunderstreak and an F-105D Thunderchief, as well as an F-111A that was formerly used as a ground instructional aircraft at Sheppard AFB, Texas.

It also has a number of miltary vehicles and is currently home to a recently retired EA-6B Prowler that is due to go on display at the one of the former Grumman sites nearby.

Trying to fit all the aircraft into one hangar means that they cannot all be displayed, and that the ones that are, are packed in quite tightly. However on a few occasions during the year the aircraft are brought outside and flown. The latest of these events happened over the Labor Day weekend (1st to 3rd of September) and coincided with the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour, which saw its B-17G “Nine-o-Nine”, B-24J “Witchcraft” and gorgeous P-51C “Betty Jane” at Republic Field.

This was a very low key event, but did allow the chance to see some of the museum's aircraft outside and in their natural environment. The airfield's proximity to JFK and surrounding built-up areas restricted the flying to a series of flybys, starting with a trio of Texans and followed by the Waco and the L-39.

Next up was the RB-25 leading the P-40 and the P-47. The Collings Foundation aircraft flew later in the day and there was the opportunity to purchase flights in their aircraft, including the P-51C; with an hour getting to know “Betty Jane” costing over $3000!

Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /var/sites/g/globalaviationresource.com/public_html/comments/displaycomments.php on line 8

Global Aviation Resource's photographic and written work is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without express written permission.

If you would like to discuss using any of our imagery or feature content please contact us.