Gee Bee, Granville
NOTE: Gee Bee models were registered as Granville.
Gee Bee A [NC269V] (Edward J Young coll)
Ascender 1931 = 1pChwM; 26hp Aeronca E-107 pusher; span: 38'0" length: 19'0" to 23'3" (uncertain); ff: 12/1/31 (p: Z Granville). Zantford Granville, Robert Hall. Canard configuration with a forward rudder and elevator; used extended Aeronca wings. POP: 1 [X757N] c/n Q-1, claimed to have been built in about one week at a cost of $500. Crashed in a low-level spin on 1/1/32 and was scrapped.
Gee Bee B [NR854Y]
B Sportster 1930 = 1pOlwM; 95hp Cirrus C-4 Ensign; span: 25'0" length: 16'5" v: 140/120/50 range: 520. Sister ship of Model X as production version of Sportster series. $4,680; POP: 1, [NR854Y] c/n X-2. Reportedly exported to Spain and was still active there in the late '40s.
Gee Bee C [NC855Y]
C Sportster 1930 (404 2-299) = 1pOlwM; 95hp Menasco B-4; span: 25'0" length: 17'3" load: 480# v: 140/120/50 range: 600. $4,780; POP: 1 [NC855Y] c/n 3. (2-299) for 125hp Menasco C-4 installation in 1931.
Gee Bee C-6 model (Bob Granville)
C-4 Fourster, C-6 Sixter, C-8 Eightster 1933 - Project. 4-8pClwM with various motors: C-4 with 400hp P&W Wasp Jr, C-8 with P&W Hornet (?>700hp Wright R-1820); span: 45'0" (?>47'9") length: 33'9" (?>32'11") load: 3075# (?>3400#) v: 225/190/50 range: 870. Data are projected as this ambitious plan to expand the Sportster line into a series of private aircraft never came to be, but the idea warranted inclusion in AeroFiles since these would have been earth-shakers had the money held out. All looked very much like enlarged Gee Bee racers, as would be expected.
Pictured is the wind tunnel model that has been variously identified as either a C-6 or a C-8, but most often as a C-8. The number of windows match the Granvilles' three-view drawings of the C-8. Since it was a C-8 that was under construction, I believe that the wind tunnel model would most likely also have been a C-8. ( Scott Brener 6/16/02)
Gee Bee D [NC11043]
Gee Bee D [NC11043] (National Archives)
D Sportster 1931 = 1pOlwM; 125hp Menasco C-4; span: 25'0" length: 17'3" load: 500# v: 159/130/52 range: 500. $4,980; POP: 1 [NC11043] c/n D-1.
This had skywriting equipment installed for a time. In 1931 it was raced at Cleveland, earning the Williams trophy for first place (p: Bob Hall) and two second places in women's races (p: Mary Haizlip), both times ahead of a Model E (p: Maude Tait). It crashed in July 1936 when Channing Seabury lost control while practicing aerobatics; he was hit by the tail in bailing out and failed to open his 'chute. ( Scott Brener 6/16/02)
Gee Bee E [NC72V] (Frank Rezich coll)
Gee Bee E [NC72V] (National Archives)
E Sportster 1931 (398 2-317) = 1pOlwM; 135hp Fairchild 6-390; 110hp Warner Scarab; span: 25'0" length: 17'0" load: 488# v: 148/128/50 range: 550. $5,230; POP: 4 [NC46V, NC72V, NC856Y, NC11044]. Z D Granville died in [NC856Y] when its engine quit during a landing at Spartanburg SC in Feb 1934 and he crashed trying to avoid workers on the runway.
Gee Bee F [NC49Y] (Bob Granville)
F Sportster 1930 = 1pOlwM; span: 25'0" length: 16'9" v: 140/120/50 range: 500. POP: 1 conversion of Model X [NX49V].
Lowell Bayles and his partner, Roscoe Brinton, had converted Model X to a Fairchild after they bought it, so that became the sole Model F. Ironically, a loose starting crank in the cockpit fouled the controls and was responsible for the loss of the ship during an air show performance in Sep 1931. Brinton bailed out unhurt. Someone then tossed a lighted match into the wreckage and set it afire. ( Scott Brener 6/16/02)
Gee Bee R-1 [NR2100]
Gee Bee R-1 Doolittle 1931 [NR2100] (National Archives)
Gee Bee R-1/R-2 1933 hybrid [NR2101] (Frank Rezich coll)
R-1, R-2 1932 = 1pClwM; 730hp P&W Wasp T3D1; span: 25'0" length: 17'9" loads: (R-1) 1235#, (R-2) 2087# v (R-1): 294/260/90. POP: 2 famous record-breakers: R-1 #11 [NR2100], and R-2 #7 [NR2101]. In 1933 R-1 had rerated 900hp P&W Hornet. Winner of 1932 Thompson Trophy (p: James Doolittle, 253mph). Both planes were destroyed in crashes, but fuselage parts and landing gears from their remains were used by E Morgan Voelker of Tucson AZ to make a 1934 hybrid replica that bore the original R-2 numbersit, too, was destroyed, in a 1935 crash, marking an end to the original barrel-bodies. The photo is of the 1933 R-1/R-2 "longtail" that used the repaired fuselage of Boardman's R-1, lengthened by about 18" behind the cockpit, and the old 1932 R-2 wings, which had been replaced in the 1933 R-2. Powered by a 1,000 hp P&W Hornet, it had a tighter cowl with bumps for the rocker covers. On the R-1/R-2, it was decided not to repaint the wings and instead to use R-2's registration and racing numbers, so the photo may be #7 and [NR2001]. In August 1933, only a few weeks after the loss of R-2, it was badly damaged when Roy Minor overshot the runway and hit a drainage ditch. Minor was not injured.
In 1932, R-2 was powered with the same 535 hp Wasp Jr (#2) that powered Model Z in the 1931 Thompson. It had been removed when the Z was changed to a Wasp for Bayles' assault on the world speed record. In the 1932 Bendix, it suffered a cracked oil line and finished fourth, out of the money (p: Lee Gehlbach). At Cleveland, in the Free-for-All, Gehlbach was forced to cut a pylon to avoid a collision and finished fourth. In the Thompson, Gehlbach came in fifth after Doolittle and the three Wedell-Williams.
In 1933, R-2 received the same 730 hp Wasp T3D1 that had powered R-1 in its 1932 Thompson victory when R-1 changed to a Hornet. It also received a rudder extension, a new longer, wider chord wing, and landing flaps that lowered its landing speed to 65 mph. In the 1933 Bendix, Russell Thaw damaged a wing tip while taxiing and then failed to continue after witnessing Boardman's accident. He also refused to let Bob Hall to fly the ship to California and instead flew it back to Roosevelt Field himself. It was later destroyed when Jimmy Haizlip attempted a sideslip landing, dropped a wing to the ground, and cartwheeled three times down the runway. Haizlip was uninjured. ( Scott Brener 6/16/02)
Gee Bee QED [NR14307] (Frank Rezich coll)
Gee Bee QED [NX14307] (Eugene Palmer coll)
Gee Bee QED [XB-AKM] (National Archives)
R-6C aka QED ("Quod Erat Demonstratum") (GM&D) 1934 = 1pClwM; 675hp P&W Hornet SD; span: 34'3" length: 27'2" load: 3355#; ff: 8/15/34 (p: Lee Gehlbach). Plywood-covered wings and tails. POP: 1 [NX/NR14307] c/n 1, to Jacqueline Cochran for unsuccessful entry in 1934 MacRobertson race, then sold in 1938 to Francisco Sarabia in Mexico as [XBAKM] Conquistador del Cielo, set a new Mexico City-NYC speed record in 1939, but crashed on take-off from LaGuardia Field on the return flight. Remains of the plane were shipped to Mexico, rebuilt and placed in a museum. The original design for R-6C specified a liquid-cooled, turbocharged Curtiss Conqueror, but that engine was unavailable and the Hornet SD was used instead. Besides the 1934 MacRobertson race, QED was also entered in the 1934 Bendix (p: Lee Gehlbach) in which it finished too late to qualify, the 1935 Bendix (p: Royal Leonard), 1936 Thompson (p: Leon Atwood), and 1938 Bendix (p: George Armistead) but did not fly in any of them because of engine problems. Before Sarabia purchased it, aircraft dealer Charles Babb owned it and repainted it from "Lucky Strike green" to white.
When Sarabia crashed, his face was thrown hard in between the windshield frames. Attempts to rescue him failed and he drowned. Had he had a shoulder harness he would have been unhurt as the ship was not damaged from the landing. Investigation of the crash found that a wiping rag had been sucked into the intake, shutting off air to the engine. The ship was restored to flying condition and is on display in a one-plane museum at Ciudad Lerdo, Sarabia's home town. ( Scott Brener 6/16/02)
Gee Bee X Lowell Bayles on tire [NR49Y]
X (Cirrus Derby Racer) 1930 = 1pOlwM; 110hp Cirrus Ensign; span: 25'0" length: 16'5" v: 145/125/50 range: 520. Prototype for Sportster series was also the first of the competition Gee Bees. With a rigid landing gear, it depended on its Goodyear "air wheels" for shock absorbers. $5,580; POP: 1 [NR49V] c/n 1-GBA, later repowered with 135hp Ranger 6-390 as Model F. Sister ship was Model B.
Gee Bee Y [NR718Y] (Frank Rezich coll)
Gee Bee Y [NC11049]
Y Senior Sportster 1931 = 1-2pOlwM; various 215-450hp; span: 30'0" length: 21'0" v: 160/135/55. First of the Granville two-seaters for sport and competition, available with cockpit canopies. Competition version with 420hp P&W Wasp. 1931 Aerol Trophy (p: Maude Tait, 187mph). POP. 2; prototype [NR/NX718Y] c/n YL-1, with 215hp Lycoming R-680, and [NR/NC11049] c/n YW-1. Both were destroyed in crashes.
The first Senior Sportster was YW-1 [NX11049] with a 300hp P&W R-985 Wasp Jr, soon repowered with a 420hp Wasp, and owned by the company until sold at a bankruptcy auction 1/13/34. It was lost over the Atlantic when it shed a propeller blade and vibration tore the engine from its mounts; the pilot successfully bailed out.
The second, the red and cream YL-1 [NR/NX718Y], was to be a test-bed for Lycoming's 215hp R-680. It had no canopy, but the front cockpit's windshield folded down to make it a single-place plane. Its ownership remains a mystery, but the Granvilles did transfer the ship's title to Lycoming Co on 3/21/32. In 1933, it went to Arthur Knapp, an industrialist from Jackson MI, who applied for a restricted license on 7/27/33a 450hp Wright R-975 supercharged J-6-9E3 and a new windshield and canopy were installed at that time.
Florence Klingensmith flew it to second place in the Women's Free-For-All at the 1933 Chicago International Races. In the Phillips Trophy race, she was holding her own when the fabric on the top of her right wing split open and some of its fabric blew off. The ship continued on in a straight line for about 400', then stalled and hit a tree, and she was killed. (Witnesses said her canopy was fastened from the outside, so she was locked in.) ( Scott Brener 6/16/02)
Re: Klingensmith, even if she had been able to jettison the canopy, in 400' at low altitude and high speed there would have been little chance of a successful bail-out. ( Peter Bergen)
Gee Bee Z [NR77Y]
Gee Bee Z [NC77V] (National Archives)
Z 1931 = 1pClwM; 535hp supercharged P&W Wasp; span: 23'6" (?>25'6") length: 15'1" load: 880# v: 270/230/80 range: 1000. First of the barrel-bodies to be flown in Nationals competitions; ff: 8/22/31. 1931 Thompson Trophy (p: Lowell Bayles, 236mph). POP: 1 [NR77V] c/n Z-1. Refitted with rerated 750hp Wasp, it crashed fatally in speed trials.