The Ryan O-51 Dragonfly was an observation aircraft developed alongside the Stinson O-49/ L-1 Vigilant, but that only ever reached the prototype stage.
The O-51 was designed as an entry in a design contest for a ‘short range liaison observation’ aircraft. 117 requests for bids were sent out and ten received. The Ryan design came third, and the selection board recommended that three each of the Stinson, Bellanca and Ryan designs should be placed. By September 1939 contracts had been placed for 100 Stinson YO-49s, three Bellanca YO-50s and three Ryan YC-51s.
The YO-51 was a high wing monoplane, powered by 440hp Pratt & Whitney R-985-21 radial engine. It had full width wing flaps to increase the wing area at low speeds and leading edge Handley Page slots, which could be used to lower its stall speed. It had tandem open cockpits. It was the heaviest of the three, at 4,206lb loaded weight, but could reach 130mph aircraft.
The O-51 was the most old fashioned looking of the three. A network of struts connected the wings with the sides of the fuselage and the main undercarriage, and more struts supported the tail.
The O-51 could take off in less the 100ft, a very impressive achievement.
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-985-21 radial engine
Loaded weight: 4,206lb
Max speed: 130mph