World's Fastest Four Engine Piston-Powered Aircraft, Story Of The Republic XR-12 Rainbow

Published: July 3rd, 2011     
Front cover
Front cover
Author: Michael Machat
Reviewed by: 
Phil Pignataro, IPMS# 17254
Company: Specialty Press
ISBN #: 978-1-58007-163-5
Other Publication Information: Hardcover, 8.5" x 11", 144-pp, 230 B&W & 20 color photos and illustrations
Price: $32.95
Product / Stock #: SP163

The Republic Rainbow has been a long-time favorite aircraft of mine. I grew up on Long Island, not far from Farmingdale where Republic is located, and my father worked there for twenty-five years. Even without that close association, I would still appreciate the sleek lines and tremendous performance of this machine. Mike Machat with his new hardcover book puts a spotlight on post-war aviation and on this interesting aircraft.

In October 1943, the USAAF issued a requirement for a long-range, high speed photo reconnaissance aircraft for use in the Pacific theater of operations. Republic Aviation and Hughes Aircraft were selected to build two prototypes each for this mission. Timing as they say is everything and unfortunately, with the end of WW II and the coming of jet power, official interest in these aircraft waned. The Rainbow and its competitor, the Hughes XF-11, became mere "footnotes" in aviation history. The author delves into the mission requirements that drove these designs and follows their progress until the contracts for both aircraft were terminated. Along the way, he provides a snapshot of the two aircraft companies, the state of the post-war economy, and the development of the two airframes. While he primarily focuses on theRainbow, Machat also describes the development of the Hughes XF-11, the competitor for the long-range photo mission

The chapters are as follows:

  • Foreword by Col Jack Broughton (USAF, Ret.)
  • Author's Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Mission Impossible
    • A brief history of the aerial reconnaissance mission through WW II
  • From Seversky to Republic
    • The evolution of Republic Aviation Corporation in Farmingdale, NY
  • Tough Decisions at Farmingdale
    • Republic's efforts to deal with the post-war economy
  • Contract, Mockup, and Rollout
    • Development of the XF-12 Rainbow with technical details of the machine
  • Ship One - Temporary Triumph
    • First flight and subsequent testing
  • A Competitor Emerges
    • Short look at the Hughes Aircraft Company and the development of the XF-11
  • Trial by Fire for the XF-11
    • Initial testing of this aircraft and its famous crash in the Los Angeles suburbs
  • Airliner Dreams and Realities
    • Hopes for a civilian version of the Rainbow as an airliner
  • Ship Two - A Different Breed
    • Operationally equipped aircraft testing and record breaking flights
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    • The end of this aircraft and Republic. A look at the current photo-recce mission
  • Color Portfolio
  • Bibliography
  • Index

There are numerous B/W photos throughout the book as well as a few color pictures. Many of these pictures would be very useful for the modeler since they show the components of both aircraft in close-up detail. An interesting section for me was three pages of color profiles depicting "what if" versions of the XF-12 like a radar picket aircraft and a tanker. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it has provided me with an excellent reference for the kits I want to build - both the XR-12 and XF-11. I wholeheartedly recommend this work to the modeler and to the historian. You can purchase this book directly from Specialty Press by calling 1-800-895-4585 or visiting their website listed above. There is a $6.95 S/H charge.

My thanks go to Marie Ray of Specialty Press for providing this book to IPMS for review and to John Noack for allowing me to take a detailed look into one of my favorite aircraft.

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Sample color profiles
    Sample color profiles