Gee Bee Super Sportster

The ultimate 1930s American racing aircraft, the extraordinary Gee Bee R-1 and R-2 Super Sportsters were essentially engines with wings, offering a perilous but adrenaline-pumping ride to any pilot plucky enough to fly them.
Created by the Granville Brothers (hence Gee Bee) of Springfield, Massachusetts, the racers had rotund fuselages and massive Pratt & Whitney Wasp air-cooled radial engines. The cockpit was set far back, immediately in front of the negligible fin, where the designers
believed the pilot had the best visibility. The two machines were very similar, but the R-1 was intended for closed-course races, while
the R-2 was a cross-country racer.
Although notorious for their tricky flying qualities, the Gee Bees proved outstanding performers at American air races in 1932. On
3 September that year, during the National Air Races at Cleveland, Ohio, .Jimmy, Doolittle flew the R-1 to a world landplane speed record of 294.418mph. Two days later he took first place in the prestigious ten-mile, ten-lap Thompson Trophy Race, averaging
an amazing 252.7mph.
Both the R-1 and R-2 were eventually destroyed in fatal crashes. In 1934 a hybrid was constructed using their remains, but this also killed its pilot, tragically crashing shortly after take-off at the start of the 1935 Bendix Trophy Race.

Comments

comments