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The Strange Gee Bee Model Aeroplane

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It looks like a warped mock-up from a designer but the Gee Bee Model R Super Sportster is a real, classic airplane designed by Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, Massachusetts, and built specifically for the 1932 Thompson Trophy Race. The airplane was billed as “the fastest and most maneuverable licensed airplane for its horsepower in the United States”, and it kept up to its name winning the 1932 race for pilot Jimmy Doolittle, and setting a new world landplane speed record of 476 km/h. The Gee Bee Sportsters became a hit at airshows, attracting a lot of attention wherever they appeared.

The aircraft had a very peculiar design characterized by a thick stoutly fuselage complete with low-set monoplane wings and lack of a conventional empennage. The airframe was essentially built around the massive radial piston engine mounted at the extreme forward of the design. The cockpit was located very far aft, just in front of the vertical stabilizer, in order to give the racing pilot better vision while making crowded pylon turns.

The Granville aircrafts has a long history of crashes starting from earlier models – Model X, Model C, Model D, Model E, Model Y and Model Z, all of which ended with some catastrophe or the other killing many pilots in the process, including one of the Granville brother Z.D. Granville. Model R followed the same pattern. After the 5th major accident, it was decided that any further rebuilds would be pointless and potentially fatal for future pilots.

via Wikipedia, Air Racing History, HowStuffWorks, Military factory, Amusing Planet