Gee Bee Model-Y Senior Sportster

  • The Gee bee model-Y was built in 1931,this aircraft was slightly larger than the previous Warner powered Gee Bees.

    The Y model was a two seat version, just two were built, NR11049 and NR718Y.

    NR11049 was built for woman pilot, Maude Tait.
    The Tait family were major backers of the Granville Brothers ,so the model Y was considered as a company airplane, and was used by the Granvilles and employees for personal and business trips, This aircraft was also used as a support aircraft for the R-series racers.
    The Granville company was not very sound during this period and air racing was so popular that the model Y was raced often by Maude Tait and Russell Boardman, It rarely finished out of the money since it was so much faster than most of the light airplanes that were racing at that time.

    NR718Y was built for E.L Cord Corporation as a test bed for it's Lycoming division for 215 HP, Lycoming R-680 engines.It was later purchased by Art Knapp who hired designer Bob Hall to engineer installation of a Wright Whirlwind, a new windshield and landing gear fairings. The aircraft was raced in 1933 Chicago International Air Races.Florence Klingensmith flew the aircraft in the feature race, but unfortunately a large piece of fabric came off of the inboard section of the right wing, she flew off of the course for a distance, and apparently stalled the aircraft and tragically died.

    Noted Gee Bee authority, Henry Haffke, says that the Model Y's won more races and made more money than the better known, purpose built Gee Bee racers.The Model Y's had a 30 ft., wing span,a length of 21 ft,. And weighed around 1,400 pounds in their original configuration with the 215 h.p. Lycoming radials.

  • By March of 1931 the great Depression had world wide scope and was continuing to deepen and the market for single place sport planes was non-existent.

    Including the Model X that was purchased by Lowel Bayless only 8 Gee Bee Sportsters were built: one Gee bee Model X,a model B, a model C,one Model D and four Model E's.The prototype 'D' and 'E' were retained by the factory for a time and were very successful in production class racing. Unfortunately, the prototype E would be the airplane in which Granny Granville would lose his life in a landing accident in February of 1934 at Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was just 32.

    The Gee Bee Sportsters were expensive airplanes,the 'D' cost: $4,980,and the 'E' cost: $5,230, which compared unfavorable with other aircraft.

    None of the eight Sporsters survive today,However, there is at the Sport Aviation museum at Oshkosh, Wis the right wing off of NC72V,serial #8) Bill Sloan, . This wing was originally built for and installed on NC 856Y . . . the blue and yellow Model E that Zantford Granville crashed and died in. When the Granvilles retrieved the body and wreckage, the right wing was all that was salvageable. Later when Don Walters needed a right wing built for NC72V after flying into a fence, the wing off 856Y was stripped, recovered, and painted to match Don Walters Model E.

    Replica Gee Bees

    In 1970 Ken Flager started building a replica of NR718Y and finished it in 1984. It is full scale and is powered by a 300H.P. Lycoming R-680.This aircraft received The Champion award for replica aircraft at Oshkosh "84" and "85".Jack Venaleck now owns this aircraft.
    Scott Crosby of Antelope, California and Jim Jenkins of Connecticut built replica E Models.

    Another Menasco powered D Model should now be about completed by Al Lathum of Valdosta, Georgia.

    GEE BEE "Y" Specifications
    Wing Span: 30 ft
    Length: 21' 0"
    Engine: 215 h.p. Lycoming R-680
    Weight: 1400lb
    Florence Klingensmith's Gee Bee "Y" NR718Y, prior to her fatal crash at Chicago September 3,1933 during the Frank Phillips Trophy race.This aircraft was originally designed for a maximum 250 hp, but it had been fitted with a 450 hp Wright Whirlwind with no attention given to rib spacing,rib stitch spacing or other structural beefing up. It was modified without the Granville brothers influence or approval. (click picture for a larger view).
    Gee Bee Model "Y" NR11049,(click picture for a larger view).
    Gee Bee Model "Y" NR718Y, Replica(click picture for a larger view).


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