Racers

Supermarine S.6B Racing Floatplane

The Supermarine S.6B was a racing seaplane developed by Reginald Mitchell for the Supermarine company in order to win the Schneider Trophy on September 29, 1931 when it set an absolute speed record of 407.5 mph. The Supermarine S.6B was one of the major technical achievements in British aviation between the two world wars. The S.6B came from a line of racing seaplanes designed by Reginald Mitchell who later designed the Spitfire fighter. One S.6B survives and is on display at the Science Museum in London.

Supermarine S6B Seaplane Racer   

Supermarine S6B - 001

Supermarine

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de Havilland DH.88 Comet Racer

The de Havilland D.H.88 Comet, GACSS, was the winner of the 1934 England to Australia MacRobertson air race. Piloted by Charles Scott and Tom Black, the aircraft was named Grosvenor House after its sponsor, a luxury hotel in London and financed by Australian millionaire Sir MacPherson Robertson. The 11,000 mile race was part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Australian State of Victoria. The Comet GACSS won the race with an official time of 71 hours 18 seconds. The Comet was a two seat, all wood construction twin engine monoplane powered by 2 Gypsy Six R engines. The Comet had a range of 2,850 miles. Top speed was 235 mph. The Comet was the first British airplane with retractable landing gear, flaps and controllable propellers.

de Havilland Comet 88 Racer    

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De Havilland

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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.

Northrop Gamma Texaco Racer

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 northrop  Texaco

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Smirnoff Bearcat Racer

The Smirnoff Bearcat started out as a stock F8F-2 Bearcat USN carrier fighter plane that was declared surplus in 1958. Originally used as an aerial survey plane and it was acquired by Lockheed test pilot Darryl Greenamyer in the early 1960s. Renamed Conquest I and heavily modified by Greenamyer and his team, the plane won the Reno Unlimited Air Races in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1971. This plane also broke the world absolute propeller-driven speed record that had been held since 1939 by a German Messerschmitt ME-209 V1. Conquest I had all armament removed, the wings clipped, Cassidy racing wing tips were added to the clipped wings, aerodynamic fillets were added and the canopy replaced with a specially designed streamlined racing canopy. All of the hydraulic systems and components that were not essential for flight were also removed. The prop was replaced with one from an A-1 Skyraider and the spinner from P-51H Mustang. Conquest I is currently at the National Air and Space Museum. This model shows Conquest I in the special paint job of Greenamyer's sponsor Smirnoff Vodka in the 1967 Reno Unlimited Air Race. Also see the USN F8F Bearcat and the Bearcat group.

Smirnoff Bearcat Racer

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Smirnoff

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Miss Van Nuys P-51 D Racer

Miss Van Nuys, a WWII North American P-51 D Mustang, won the 1970 Unlimited Race at Reno at a speed of 387 MPH. Piloted by Clay Lacey, the 1970 win came after 3 third place finishes at Reno. Miss Van Nuys also won the last cross country race held for piston airplanes in 1971. Although retired from racing, Miss Van Nuys still flies today at air shows. Also see the El Salvadoran Air Force P-51 D and the USAAF P-51 B and the A-36 Apache and the USAAF P-51 D and the Mustang group page.

Miss Van Nuys P-51 D Racer

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NAA

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Gee Bee R-1 Super Sportster

The Gee Bee Model R Super Sportster was a racing aircraft made by Granville Brothers Aircraft (Gee Bee stands for Granville Brothers). The 1932 R-1 and its sister plane, the R-2, were the successors of the previous year's Thompson Trophy-winning Model Z. The R-1 featured a very unusual teardrop shaped fuselage. The fuselage was wider than the engine at its widest point and the cockpit was located very far aft, just in front of the vertical stabilizer. As it turned out, the fuselage also acted as an airfoil which allowed it to make tight knife edge turns without losing altitude. The R-1 won the 1932 Thompson Trophy race, piloted by Jimmy Doolittle. He also set a new world landplane speed record of 296 mph in the Shell Speed Dash. The R-2 finished fourth in the Bendix and fifth in the Thompson. The R-1 also rapidly earned a reputation as a very dangerous machine. The small wings, very low polar moment of inertia, and tiny control surfaces made for an aircraft that could rapidly get away from all but the most skilled pilots. During the 1933 Bendix Trophy race, pilot Russell Boardman was killed, flying Number 11. The R-1 stalled, caught a wingtip and crashed. It was repaired and added a fuselage extension of approximately 18 inches, creating the Long Tail Racer using the original wings from the R-2. This aircraft crashed in a landing overrun accident. After another rebuild the Long Tail Racer was sold to Cecil Allen who added additional gas tanks. Allen took off with a full fuel tank, crashed and was killed. The R-1 was never rebuilt. Several replicas of the R-1 exist. The Granville Brothers Aircraft went out of business in 1933 after making a total of 22 aircraft.

Gee Bee R-1 Super Sportster

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Gee Bee

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P-39 Q Cobra II Racer

The Bell P-39 Airacobra was one of America's first line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit. The Airacobra saw combat throughout the world, particularly in the Southwest Pacific, Mediterranean and Russian theaters. Because its engine was not equipped with a supercharger the P-39 performed best below 17,000 feet and it often was used at low altitude for ground attack missions. When P-39 production ended in August 1944, Bell had built 9,584 Airacobras of which 4,773 had been sent to the Soviet Union. Russian pilots particularly liked the cannon-armed P-39 for its ground attack capability. The P-39 also served Free French and British forces.

Cobra II (owned jointly between three Bell Aircraft test pilots, Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin, Alvin M. "Tex" Johnston and Jack Woolams) was an extensively modified P-39. The engine was changed to the more powerful engine of the P-63 and the prop was a prototype from the Bell factory. Al of the military equipment was removed, a new belly oil cooler from a P-40 added along with additional fuel and oil tanks. The supercharger intake behind the canopy was enlarged and extended. Cobra II #84 was flown by "Tex" Johnston in the 1946 Thompson Trophy race. Cobra II qualified for the race with a speed of 409.091 mph and won the race with an average speed of 373.908 mph. Johnston was ahead the entire race beating race modified P-51s and other P-39s. Realizing his large lead, he closed the throttle a little towards the end, to save the engine. Cobra II competed again in the 1947 Thompson Trophy race finishing 3rd. In the 1948 Thompson Trophy Race she was unable to finish due to engine difficulties. Cobra II did not race again and was destroyed on August 10, 1968 during a test flight prior to an attempt at the world piston-engine air speed record, when owner-pilot Mike Carroll lost control and crashed. Carroll died and the highly modified P-39 was destroyed.

P-39 Q Cobra II Racer

Imgp4912 (Copy)

Bell

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