Northrop Gamma Texaco Racer
The Douglas / Northrop Gamma was a sleek, all-metal aircraft that led to a series of military light-attack airplanes. John K. Northrop returned to Douglas to build six Gammas between 1932 and 1937. A second batch of Gammas was built from 1934 to 1936. Of the 61 Gammas built, 49 were produced for the Chinese and others were custom-built for private owners, including the Texas Company (later Texaco). The Gamma 2B, called the "Polar Star," was delivered to Lincoln Ellsworth Nov. 29, 1932, for a flight across the Antarctic. Skis replaced the main and tail wheels, and twin floats replaced the main undercarriage. The Polar Star in 1935 was the first airplane to cross the Antarctic continent, mapping islands, fjords and mountain peaks. Piloted by Herbert Hollick-Kenyon, with Ellsworth, it flew 2,400 miles, sometimes at 33,000 feet. The Polar Star now rests in the National Air and Space Museum. The Gamma flown by Captain Frank Hawks June 2, 1933, broke several speed records, including flying 13 hours and 278 minutes at 181 mph nonstop between Los Angeles and New York. A Gamma owned by Jackie Cochran, and leased to Howard Hughes, set a new transcontinental nonstop record Jan. 13 to 14, 1936, flying at an average speed of 259 mph. This model shows the Gamma flown by Texaco pilots on several long distance record breaking flights. This aircraft later crashed while competing in the 1936 Bendix air Race.