2009-08-01: Bent Throttles! 100 Years of Air Racing

Curated by Tim Nelson. August – October, 2009.

A centennial celebration of the rich history of air racing. (Link to article)

Models on display


Curtiss Golden Flyer "Reims Racer" (U.S.A.)

Glenn Curtiss won the Gordon Bennett Trophy at the pioneering 1909 Reims race in this aircraft - with a world record speed of 46 mph.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Tim Nelson

Dormoy "Bathtub" (U.S.A.)

Etienne Dormoy won the 1924 Dayton Daily News Light Airplane race with this racer, which he built from hardware store supplies

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Mike Morrow

Parnall Pixie (U.K.)

An early 1920s British light aircraft design which was not particularly successful in competition.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Mike Morrow

Ponnier Monoplane (France)

Emil Vedrines flew this sporty little racer to a 2nd place finish in the 1913 Gordon Bennett Race.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Scott Kruize

Sopwith Scooter (U.K.)

Derived from the famous Camel as personal transport for Sopwith test pilot Harry Hawker in 1918. Sold to Dudley Watt who raced and aerobatted it during 1926-27.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Caudron C.860 (France)

One of many sleek, successful racing designs from Caudron in the 1930s. The C.860 was built to set city-pair speed records, especially Paris-Tokyo.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Laird Super Solution

Jimmy Doolittle won the 1931 L.A. to Cleveland Bendix Trophy race in this aircraft, quickly refueled, and continued to the East Coast to set a new transcontinental speed record.

Scale: 1/32 Modeler: John Summerford

Seversky P-35

Jackie Cochran, perhaps the most accomplished aviatrix in history, piloted this aircraft to a Bendix Trophy win in 1938.

Scale: 1/32 Modeler: John Summerford

Wedell-Williams 92

One of three examples of this famous design, this aircraft won the 1932 Bendix Trophy Race piloted by Jimmy Haizlip.

Scale: 1/32 Modeler: John Koon

De Havilland 88 Comet "Black Magic" (U.K.)

One of three DH-88s entered in the MacRobertson Race, "Black Magic" had to retire in Allahabad, India.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Douglas Moore

De Havilland 88 Comet "Grosvenor House" (U.K.)

The DH-88 Comet was purpose-built for the MacRobertson Race and this entry won it with a time of 71 hrs and 18 sec.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Robert Allen

Douglas DC-2 "Uiver" (Netherlands)

The Dutch airline KLM stunned the aviation world by winning the handicap division of the MacRobertson Race and placing 2nd overall (only 8 hrs behind the DH-88).

Scale: 1/200 Modeler: Tim Nelson Collection

Bugatti Model 100 (France)

Car designer Ettore Bugatti outsourced help to develop this aircraft to win the "Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe" race and break the world speed record. World War 2 intervened and it never flew.

Scale: 1/43 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Payen Pa.22 "Flechair" (France)

The unconventional "Flechair" ("Arrow") was being wind tunnel tested when France fell in 1940, and was later test flown by the Germans.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Jim Schubert

DHC-1 Chipmunk

The King's Cup Race is an annual British cross-country air race. The 1953 winner was De Havilland test pilot Pat Fillingham, averaging 140 mph in this Chipmunk.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Bob Hill

Formula 1 Racer "Nemesis"

Won 45 of 48 races in 1991-99, designed and piloted by Jon Sharp.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: John Summerford

Grumman Bearcat "Conquest 1"

Won multiple Reno national air races in the 1960s and 70s flown by Darryl Greenamyer, and set the world piston engine speed record in 1969.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Terry Moore

North American P-51 "Roto-Finish"

Raced as a stock Mustang in the 1960s, was modified into "Miss RJ", and won the Reno Unlimited championship in 1972. She gained even greater notoriety in the late 1970s as the "Red Baron".

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Bill Glinski

Hawker Sea Fury "Miss Merced"

First appearing at Reno in 1966 and modified over the years, this aircraft was the first Sea Fury to be modified into an unlimited racer.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Terry Moore

SNJ-6 "Two of Hearts"

SNJ/T-6's race in their own class at Reno. This one won 2 championships (1978 & 1984) as "Miss Everything" and is now flown by Mary Dilda.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Al Sauer

Yak-11/T-33 "Mr. Awesome"

A highly modified Yak-11 with a Douglas Skyraider prop and a Lockheed T-33 tail. It has never been fully repaired following a 1989 crash.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Jacob Russell

Curtiss R3C-2 (U.S.A.)

Jimmy Doolittle added a dominant 1925 Schneider Trophy win to his growing aviation resume in this aircraft.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Mike Millette

Macchi M.33 (Italy)

The 1925 M.33 was the last of the early Italian flying boat Schneider racer designs.

Scale: 1/144 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Macchi-Castoldi MC.72 (Italy)

Not finished in time to compete in the final 1931 Schneider race, the MC-72 set a piston-engined floatplane speed record (440 mph) in 1934 which still stands.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Piaggio-Pegna PC.7 (Italy)

This odd 1929 Schneider design used a complex transmission to shift power from the hydro-screw to the air-screw at liftoff. Its clutch problems could not be solved and it never flew.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Sopwith Tabloid (U.K.)

C. Howard Pixton won Britain's first major aviation award at the 1914 Schneider race at Monaco.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Tim Nelson

Supermarine S.6B (U.K.)

Britain won the final Schneider race with the S.6B in 1931 against no competition.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Bell P-39 "Cobra II"

Owned jointly by Bell test pilots "Slick" Goodlin, Alvin "Tex" Johnston, and Jack Woolams, it surprisingly won the 1946 Thompson Race flown by Johnston. Johnston later gained further fame test flying for Boeing.

Scale: 1/32 Modeler: John Summerford

Goodyear F2G "Super Corsair"

Developed too late to fight against Japan, several massive "Super Corsairs" were converted into successful post-war racers such as Cook Cleland's 1947 Thompson Trophy winner.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: John Newcome

Folkerts SK-3 "Speed King"

Rudy Kling won the 1937 Thompson Trophy in this aircraft before losing his life in it 4 months later.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Tim Nelson

Gee Bee R1 "Super Sportster"

Jimmy Doolittle made the R1 world famous by winning the 1932 Thompson Trophy. It and its long distance racing sister-ship R2 gained a reputation as extremely tricky to fly.

Scale: 1/72 Modeler: Bill Glinski

Gee Bee Z "Super Sportster"

The Granville Brothers first major design won the 1931 Thompson Trophy race with Lowell Bayles at the controls. He was killed in the type later that year attempting to set a new land plane speed record.

Scale: 1/32 Modeler: John Koon

Howard DGA-5 "Ike"

Benny Howard's DGA-5 (Damned Good Airplane), "Ike", and brother DGA-4 "Mike", were huge successes in the 1932-1935 air race/show seasons. As a stunt, it set an unofficial 225 MPH inverted world air speed record, which still stands.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Jim Schubert

Laird Solution

The first "Thompson Trophy" race took place in Chicago in 1930, and was won by Charles "Speed" Holman flying this aircraft.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Mike Morrow

North American P-51 Mustang "Beguine"

Bill Odom's fatal crash in "Beguine" during the 1949 Thompson Trophy race ended major air racing in the US until resumed at Reno in 1964.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Don Conrard

Rider R-4 "Firecracker"

Subject to many modifications over its career, this racer won the Greve Race at the 1938 Nationals with Tony LeVier as pilot, but landing damage kept it out of the subsequent Thompson Race.

Scale: 1/32 Modeler: Mike Morrow

Thompson Trophy

Charles E. Thompson established this trophy in 1930 to encourage faster land planes, and the Thompson Trophy pylon race became the feature event of the U.S. National Air Races throughout the 1930s and late 40s.

Scale: Approx 1/12 Modeler: Tim Lawson Collection

Travel Air "Mystery Ship"

Doug Davis shocked the world at the 1929 US National Air Races by beating U.S. Army and Navy entries with this purely civil racer.

Scale: 1/48 Modeler: Stephen Tontoni

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