#TheThrillOfSpeed – The Gee Bee Model R.

Unusual, that’s what comes to mind when looking at the Gee Bee Model R. Built by the Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, Massachussets, this airplane was a purpose air racer design and was the successor of the Thompson Trophy winning Model Z. Featuring a big fuselage for very tiny wings and a huge cowling, this was the result of three days of wind tunnel testing at the NYU in 1931 with aeronautical professor Alexander Klemin.

Gee-Bee-Model-R2-2

The basic concept was the teardrop shaped fuselage for lower drag resulting in the fuselage being wider at the wing attachment point than at the engine. Another unusual bit was the cockpit being located at the very far back just before the vertical stabilizer/fin in order to give the best vision possible to the pilot. Once put together, it was found that the body/fuselage also generated lift which allowed the airplane to make very tight “knife-edge” turns. A very good point for a pylon racing plane. All that was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine.

Gee-Bee-Model-R1

The design proved effective and the Gee Bee R-1 as it was then called went on to win the 1932 Thompson Trophy with pilot Jimmy Doolittle at the controls. The plane would also set a new world landplane record of 296 mph / 476 km/h in the Shell Speed Dash. Even if loved by Doolittle, the plane was referenced as dangerous for many pilots with many crashes and rebuild as well as Russell Boardman death during the 1933 Bendix Trophy Race. After the 5th major accident, it was decided not to rebuild it as it would be too dangerous to race.

The R-1 was later repaired and now incorporated a fuselage extension of approximately 18 inches, creating the “Long Tail Racer.” It was decided not to rebuild the wings but to use the original wings from the R-2, which had been removed in February 1933 when a new wing with flaps was built and installed. This aircraft crashed in a landing overrun incident soon after it was built but Roy Minor, the pilot, was not severely injured. After another rebuild, the Long Tail Racer was sold to Cecil Allen. Allen, against the advice of the Granvilles, modified it by installing larger gas tanks aft of its normal center of gravity, which apparently made the aircraft unstable in pitch from tail-heaviness. Allen took off with a full fuel tank, crashed, and was killed. After this final crash, the aircraft was never rebuilt.

Granville-Brothers-Aircraft-Co.-Gee-Bee-Super-Sportster-R-1-NR2100

But anyway, a brilliant design and a fantastic machine. We will stick to Jimmy Doolittle and his own words about the plane : “She is the sweetest ship I’ve ever flown. She is perfect in every respect and the motor is just as good as it was a week ago. It never missed a beat and has lots of stuff in it yet. I think this proves that the Granville brothers up in Springfield build the very best speed ships in America today.”

The Dude.

One thought on “#TheThrillOfSpeed – The Gee Bee Model R.

  1. hi…

    im from poland…

    what i want to say is:

    in 1930 polish engineur
    Zygmunt Puławski
    was make your pzl p6 aircraft

    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/PZL_P.6

    it was presented in paris and america…
    in 1931 it won American National Races in Cleveland…

    that was inspiration for american engineur bob HALL
    who was work with geebee airplanes…
    in 1932 he was make your BULL DOG aircraft…
    it was the inspiration for polish p24 aircraft…

    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/PZL_P.24

    pulawski died shortly after presentation in america
    in very oddly looking aircraft accident…
    in 1939 there was ww2 – you know…

    shortly before that he was make one not realized project…

    it was looking like geebee but in p6 and bulldog style…
    you know – high wing – similar fixed gear like in p6…
    general base for this construction was cylinder splashed on
    one end… they look like fish or somewhat… that was very
    budget construction… it was make because of supremation of
    german airforce in 1930s… just rectangular wing and tail,
    radial engine with 6-pistons – 150 KM or somewhat…
    3,2 m lengt, 3,2 m wing… without towend ring – like in
    your hot road cars… everything else like in p6 and geebee…
    vmax about 300 km/h… everything maked locally on very low cost
    – even the engine, gears – easy to make for amateurs with
    simply hardware!

    well… in my opinion we was one step to win ww2!
    2×50 kg of cargo under wing, bombs and rockets…
    but polish army was not interested… they just bay p6
    upgraded clones… eventually they was interested
    of super modern cosntruction like spitfire and hurricane…

    that was the mistake… in 1939 we was won fight but we lost the war…
    final score in the game with luftwaffe was 1,5:1… not enough
    unhelpfully… we could have 2500 p6/geebee/bulldog… instead of this
    we was have 350 p6,7,11,24…

    i think that pulawski p6/geebee/bulldog construction was much more
    better than geebee – with all due respect avcose…

    wing of bulldog and geebee are not properly fixed…
    they are fixed from upside and downside in 1-point…
    they should be like in oryginal p6 – 2-point fixed…
    because of something who aircraft engineurs call:
    aeroelasticall divergention of the wing or simply FLATTER…

    gears are not properly fixed to – geebee have that maked more properly
    while bulldog not…

    belive me or not – that design of pulawski looks very good,
    and much better than geebee… and it was very cheap…

    maybe i make one in some day…

    all that is just for your information only…

    have fun with wikipedia!

    with best regards…

    mgr ST

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