THE Rainbow is the commercial adaptation of the XF‐12 photographic aeroplane the Republic Aviation Corporation completed for the Army Air Forces. In 1943, the Photographic Section of the A.A.F. issued specifications for a new multi‐engined, long‐range, high‐speed, reconnaissance aeroplane to fly at very high altitudes. The required performance was so much beyond anything in existence at the time that it posed a real problem to designers of high performance aeroplanes. Republic engineers, who for years had specialized in high‐altitude, high‐speed pursuit planes, eagerly accepted the challenge. After exhaustive studies it was found that the performance required by the specification could only be met with a four‐engined machine using Pratt and Whitney R‐4360 engines, supercharged to carry full military power to 40,000 ft. Other combinations would either fail in speed, or in range, or in desired rate of climb or ceiling. A proposal based on four 4360 engines was submitted to the A.A.F., and in March 1944, the Company was awarded a contract for two XF‐12 aircraft. The first prototype was completed in December, 1945, and made its first flight on February 4, 1946.
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