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Republic Seabee structure

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Republic Seabee structure

Old 25th May 2020, 14:50
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Republic Seabee structure

Hello folks,
I'm looking for any books or documents regarding a specific building technique for airplanes structures, namely the one employed by Republic when building their Seabee. It seems that it was used just once and that's all, which is a shame since it was purported to be very economical.
I was only able to find a short article about it, does have anyone have more information or can recommend a book on the subject?


Thanks in advance.
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Old 25th May 2020, 19:55
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This gives a different, if not more informative, take on the Seabee re-engineering for production (the prototype was conventional skin-and-stringers/ribs). RC-3 Specifications

As to why the production engineering has not been adopted broadly:

While it never hurts to consider corporate or engineering inertia - "We know how to do it this way and it works - why change?" - my guess would be that in focusing purely on construction costs, the Seabee approach may have resulted in higher operating and major-maintenance costs. Possibly due to weight (compared with competing aircraft).

Probably substantially cheaper to replace a damaged wing panel with flat aluminum skin, "shaped" by the simply process of riveting it to a curved rib, than to order a factory-formed unique wing piece. There may also be "redundancy" questions - the fewer parts there are, the more each one becomes critical - if it fails.

Because the Seabee was such a "niche" aircraft - personal amphibious flying boat - it is a bit hard to find a fair comparison. but an unfair comparison would be to a roughly-contemporary Cessna 170. Conventional construction. Equivalent range and seating, but higher speed and ceiling, with 70% of the horsepower and 60% of the fuel consumption (C170 7-9.6 gph, Seabee 13.5 gph). C170 can carry the same 3 people (possibly more cramped) with an empty weight of 1250 lbs vs. 1950-2150 lbs for the Seabees. And if one must add the feature of being able to operate from water, floats can be added to the Cessna - but the boat-hull is hard to remove from the Seabee.

One could also compare the Colonial Skimmer/Lake Buccaneer designs, which originate about the same time (1948) and use conventional construction.

BTW, I have always appreciated the simple engineering of the Seabee's main gear, compared to some of the complex folding "grasshopper-leg" contraptions used in other flying-boat amphibians.
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