Gee Bee Junior Sporsters

The In-line Engine Junior Sportsters

  • With the Success of the Model X plans were made to market a new sportster.

    Complete drawings were made for the aircraft and it was decided to try for an Approved Type Flight Certificate. Advertising brochures were printed and sent out which claimed the Gee bee Sportster as,"The fastest and most maneuverable licensed airplane for its horsepower in the United States".

    The first Two customers to order the new Sportster's, were Harold Moon and George Rand, both members of the Harvard Flying Club at Boston.

    GEE BEE Sporter Model B

    The Gee Bee Sportster Model B, Serial No. X-2 had a manufacture date of 10-1-30, and was sold to Harold P. Moon by Zantford Granville on 10-7-30 for the amount of $4980. Mr. Moon had placed a $1000 deposit on the airplane with Granville Brother's Aircraft at the time it was ordered. It was equipped with a Cirrus Ensign 110 HP engine, Serial No. 309, and a Hamilton Standard propeller, Serial No. 13271, hub no. 7020. The gross weight was 1275 lbs, and the empty weight was 875 lbs. It had three fuel tanks with a 38 US gallon combined capacity.

    It took a great deal of communication between the Granvilles, Bob Hall, and Mr. Moon with the Department of Commerce for it to be granted a restricted license, and thus the license NR 854Y.

    By 1-22-31, the engine had already had a top overhaul. For "one dollar and other valuable considerations", Mr. Moon sold the Model B on 11-15-32 to Edith J. Bernson who had the Cirrus Ensign upgraded to 125 HP. With the engine upgrade, the fuel capacity was reduced to 30 1/2 US gallons due to weight considerations. The Model B still carried a restricted license, and was restricted to exhibition flights at Muller Field, Revere, Mass.

    On the Dept. of Commerce Operation Inspection Report dated 5-20-33, NR 845Y was reported to have only 150 hours total flight time. The next Operation Inspection Report dated 6-3-33 reports a total flight time of 152 hours. Ms. Bernson reported her change of address on 10-2-34. There are no further US records on the Model B, and it is reported to have been sold out of the country to a party in Spain.. The Model B when sold originally to Harold Moon was painted dark brown and tan separated by a deep red 1/2 inch stripe which were copied from the a 1930 Packard.

    Gee Bee Model "B" Harold moon's new Model "B" NR845Y "The Myodine Special"(click picture for a larger view)

    Gee Bee Sportster Model C

    NC 855Y had a gross weight of 1335 lbs, and the baggage compartment was placarded to limit its contents to 10 lbs. Total fuel capacity was 37 US gallons, and oil capacity was 3 gallons. On 10-1-31, Mr. Rand sold NC 855Y to Harry E.R. Hall New York, NY) for $800 plus the title on a J-5 Taperwing Waco, Serial No. A-88, DOC No. 8573. On 12-8-31, the DOC license NC 855Y was cancelled on because of an accident at Jersey City, New Jersey on 10-25-31 killing Mr. Harry E.R. Hall. The estate of Mr. Hall had sole heir and legal right to dispose of the aircraft. No further record of NC 855Y exists.

    Gee Bee Model "C" (click picture for a larger view)Picture provided by Mr. David Jackson.

    Gee Bee Model "C" (click picture for a larger view)Picture provided by Mr. David Jackson.

    Both Moons Model B and Rands Model C were equipped with a new shock absorbing landing gear system which was the main improvement over the model X.
    Some people speculate that Rand’s Model C was later converted to a Model D,
    855Y underwent the installation of a big fin and rudder as on the Model D, NC 11043 per Aircraft Type Certificate (ATC) 404 to satisfy the DOC to grant the NC license to 855Y. However, according to the original DOC paperwork, 855Y never received an engine change. It was built originally with a 95 HP Menasco B4 and crashed to its demise with the same engine.
    Photos of NC 855Y after the modification do not show the wheel pants which were also part of the certificated configuration under ATC 404. Therefore, NC 855Y was a modified Model C, but certainly was not a Model D as defined by the ATC 404 which defines the required configuration for a Model D. There was no ATC which covered the Models X, B, or C . . . thus the NR registrations for the Model X and Model B, and the continued effort to satisfy the DOC to obtain an NC registration for 855Y.

    For the Model C to have become a legitimate Model D, it would have had to have a 125 HP Menasco C4, the large fin and rudder, the full wheel pants and streamlines, and especially would have had to have been inspected and found to comply with the certification package which was submitted for ATC 404 approval (i.e. including drawings, engineering stress reports, etc.). None of this is in the Model C, NC 855Y records . . . however, all of the data is in the Model D, NC 11043 records. The only documented change made to the Model C was to increase the fin and rudder area to improve longitudinal stability to satisfy the DOC that a NC license could be granted on a one time basis.
    Gee Bee Model "C" with modified vertical fin and rudder.(click picture for a larger view)Pictuer provided by Mr. David Jackson.

    Gee Bee Model "C" with modified vertical fin and rudder.(click picture for a larger view)Pictuer provided by Mr. David Jackson.

    Gee Bee Sportser Model D

    One more Gee Bee in-line Sportster was built and because of various improvements that were made to get an Approved Type Certificate it was designated as Model D.

    Only one Model D was built.

    The improvements were a fully faired landing gear and a larger vertical fin and rudder, this aircraft was serial number D-1,NC 11043

    As ATC 404 was cancelled after the Granvilles went out of business, no other Model Ds can ever be built under it. Thus, there was only one Model D, was certificated under the original ATC 404. Any other Model Ds built will either have to be built under another FAA approved ATC to be certificated, or will have to be licensed as experimental.

    Only small bits of the original Model D, NC 11043 remain today.The owner says:"In time, history will fly again, and the Model D. NC 11043 will be resurected to once again take its proper place . . . in the air."

    Model DSpecifications
    Span: 25 ft
    Length: 17' 3"
    Engine: 95 h.p. Menasco C-4
    Max Speed: 159 mph

    Gee Bee Model "D"(click picture for a larger view).

    Gee Bee Model "D"(click picture for a larger view).

    R/C Gee Bee Model "D" (click picture for a larger view).

    The Gee Bee Radial Sporsters

    Gee Bee Sportser Model E

    As the fourth production Sportster was powered by a Warner Scarab radial engine and was designated a Model E. Later.

    Model E Specifications
      Span: 25 ft
      Length: 17' 3"
      Engine: 110 h.p. Warner Scarab
    Weight: 912lb
    Max Speed: 148 mph

    Gee Bee Model "E"(click picture for a larger view).

    Gee Bee Model "E" Replica.(click picture for a larger view).

    The B,C,D and E Models were Sporty little aircraft,they were very fast and frequently shown off at airshows by their owners and attracted attention every where they appeared.

  • The following is a transcript of a 1931 Gee Bee Sporster Sales Brochure

    I would like to thank Scott Brener for taking the time to transcribe and provide this very educational and interesting piece of historical literature.

    The Gee Bee Sportster

    Exerts from the 1931 Sales brochure by Z.D. Granville

    Hop off in this trim little Gee Bee Sportster. Up 5000 feet in less than five minutes. Speed along at 125 mph. Give her the gun to 150 if you wish. Cut the gun, drop the controls - she's in a 60 mile per hour glide. Open the throttle. Level flight again. Speed. Stability. You never knew so much fun. You'll marvel at her maneuverability. And does she stand up! This little ship came in second in the Great All American Air Derby - first of all the stock planes.

    Note her trim streamline beauty. Admire her sturdy safe construction.

    Here's the airplane you would love to own. Ideally adaptable for sport, speed, business or pleasure. Consider the many exclusive features of the new Gee Bee Sportster. The careful engineering and workmanship which make it so fast and safe. Note its extremely low price for such a beautifully built airplane. Here is the speed ship that will give you the greatest thrill in flying.

    Overcoming all sorts of hardships in the long dangerous grind over mountains and deserts of the west, pilot Lowell R. Bayles of Springfield, Mass. brought in his stock Gee Bee Sportster to win second place in this national classic. The Gee Bee Sportster was the first stock ship to finish.

    The great victory of the Gee Bee Sportster over 18 famous ships and famous pilots is the best recommendation for the many unusual characteristics of speed and endurance described within this folder.

    (There are photos of a Model D built under ATC 404 and a Model E built under ATC 398)


    The Menasco Pirate C-4, 125 hp or Warner 110 hp or Fairchild 6-390 130 hp or Cirrus Hi-Drive 95 hp engines are used in all stock Gee Bee Sportsters. Other engines will be furnished on special order. Engine mounts built especially stiff, reducing vibration to a minimum.


    With an aspect ratio of 6.9 the wings of the Sportsters are tapered to such a degree as to give unheard of maneuverability. The structure is built to withstand the strain of any known maneuver. Rate of climb in inverted flight is nearly equal to that of normal flight. Load factors of 6 inverted and 8.6 in normal flight are maintained throughout with wide margin of safety at all highly stressed points.


    Spars and ribs are made from carefully selected Sitka spruce. Dural compression tubes impart great torsional stiffness. Note the design and strikingly rugged appearance.


    Hydraulic shock struts with six-inch Oleo travel and rubber for taxiing, combined with full air wheels, size 20 x 9 or 650 x 10 make the roughest fields easily navigable. The whole landing structure is enclosed in streamlined "pants" reducing drag to a minimum.


    optional $100 extra.


    The gasoline is carried in two wing tanks and one cowl tank, the

    contents of the wings being pumped by a hand wobble pump to the cowl tank where it is fed to the motor by gravity. A special line and jet is installed to supply fuel to the engine automatically when upside down.


    All controls are extremely light and are effective far below stalling

    speeds. The load on the stick is extremely light in any maneuver.

    Comfortable rudder pedals of the hanging type.

    All control bearings are oversize with many ball bearings to prevent wear. Push pull tubes and straight cables eliminate pulleys.


    The fuselage construction is of welded chrome-molybdenum steel tubing throughout, making the structure extremely compact, light and rigid.

    There are no welds in tension members. A detachable motor mount allows use of any inverted, inline or radial engines.


    An inverted jet is built into carburetor with gravity feed from either

    wing tank. A wobble pump brings the gas from wing tank to fuselage tank.

    A baggage compartment of 2 cubic feet capacity and pockets for logs and maps add great comfort and unusual storage facilities for such a small plane. The inside of the cockpit is attractively upholstered. A hand

    starter can be installed if desired


    The instrument board is of burled dural with a complete set of Consolidated instruments including an air speed indicator, bank

    indicator, compass, altimeter, tachometer, oil pressure and temperature gauges, switch, choke, altitude control and booster. A turn and bank and rate of climb indicator may be installed on the same instrument board at additional cost.


    The fabric is the finest grade Dartmouth-tex finished with 9 coats of Berryloid pigmented dope. Early orders allow choice of color combination.

    (the brochure includes a chart containing data on the different Sportster models)

    Span .............. 25 feet

    Wing area ...... 95 sq. ft.

    Length ....... 17 ft. 3 in.

    Height ............. 6 feet

    Fuel capacity .. 40 gallons

    Oil capacity .... 3 gallons

    Model      Motor          H.P.            Weight     LandingSpeed      CruiseSpeed      TopSpeed

    B     Cirrus Hi-Drive        95           900                50                       120                   140

    C      Menasco B-4           95               900                   50                       120                   140

    D      Menasco C-4           95               922                   50                       130                   159

    E      Warner Scarab       110               912                   50                       128                   148

    F      Fairchild 6-390       135               960                   52                       135                   160

    Model Climb to 5000 from standing start with Price (1931)

    B           6 minutes $4680

    C           6 minutes $4780

    D           4 minutes $4980

    E          4-1/2 minutes $5230

    F           3 Minutes 48 seconds $5580

    © 1998

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