During 1934, the Fairchild company designed a business or executive aircraft with five seats, designated the Model 45. It first flew on 31 May 1935. The Model 45 was a low-wing cantilevermonoplane with a conventional cantilever tail unit and a retractable tailwheel landing gear. The aircraft was powered by a 225 hp (168 kW) Jacobs L-4 radial engine and had a luxury five-seat interior as standard. Flight testing showed that the aircraft performed well although it was described as sedate.
The company predicted that the Model 45 would have only limited market appeal in that form, so only the prototype was built.
Fairchild then upgraded the prototype with a larger engine, the Wright R-760 radial, for evaluation. In this configuration it was designated the Model 45-A. This configuration was placed in production, with about 16 units being completed.
In 1997, Greg Herrick requested drawings of a Fairchild 45 tail section for an ongoing restoration project. The request was refused, citing the design was a trade secret. This led to a FOIA request, and lawsuit that was debated in the United States Supreme Court. The effort led to the "Herrick amendment" added to the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012. The amendment released the ATC type certificate information for 1,257 aircraft first certified in 1927 through the beginning of WWII in 1939.