avatar_Daryl J.

WW-I era racers:

Started by Daryl J., June 28, 2008, 01:09:17 PM

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Daryl J.

What if relatively large budget air racing began in 1919 and WW-I era machines were used.    Technology, of course would be slightly advanced over 1917 but still erratic as engineering had yet to learn many things thus continuing the eccentric ideas of the day.

Race circuits would not be the American style "Turn Left, go fast, turn left, go fast" idea but rather would be a 3 dimensional 'Formula 1' type course.    Thus top end speed would not be the prevailing factor, an overall excellence would prove superior.

There could be numerous classes, the exact class created by you.   :party:

Such as:

Roden 1/48 DH.4 converted  to a low wing strutted monoplane with a wider chord, rounded fairing over the engine including spinner, tear drop shaped radiators on the sides of the fuselage, 4 blade prop.   Single seat only.   Red fuselage, natural linen wing with some white trim.       Bomber class

Roden 1/48 SE5a  wings clipped a bit, supercharged. Various steps taken to further lighten the airframe.   British Racing Green.     Fighter class

Round observation balloons in black/white to act as airborne referees.


Daryl J.

PS:  This doesn't follow the aircraft specific thread type used in the section below but if mods feel it is better there, feel free to move thread of course.   :thumbsup:


I believe Sopwith built some racers aroud that time, although I may be wrong (and I usually am).
There are no good kits, bad kits or grail kits, just kitbash fodder.

Daryl J.

Yes, the Sopwith Schneider; were there others?     :wub:   

Perhaps an Albatros D.V or Pfalz D.IIIa will get entered in the 1 Week GB to illustrate the idea.

One scratchbuilt air charger for a Mercedes engine coming up................ :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Daryl J.

Brian da Basher

The Dayton-Wright racer of 1920 has always been a favorite of mine.

Brian da Basher

Daryl J.

Wow, BdB!   After seeing this, perhaps the idea had better change to medium-to-low type budgets rather than large to allow the common adventurer a chance at speed in the skies.   This is an era of which Ye Olde Knowledge Base is seriously lacking.    Thanks for the pix.

Daryl J.


I've built sesquiplane versions of Sopwith Camels and SE5As, but only (so far) in military colours.

The US often had recing biplanes postwar, and some (Nieuport 28s) survived to the film "Dawn Patrol" ....2 films actually....and some were "clipped wing" Nieuport 28s with "I" struts replacing the original configuration.
I'm thinking of adding "I" struts to clipped-wing Camels, SE5As, etc., for operational examples.

I like the racing idea, though.
Once you've visited the land of the Loonies, a return is never far away.....

Still His (or Her) Majesty, Queen Caroline of the Midlands, Resident Drag Queen

Daryl J.

Again, this is ruminating aloud but:  what if a racing series for the common man happened for a couple of years, the idea stuck, and stuck around for decades and decades.    The rule would be that a racing machine had to be based on a certain WW-I airframe and identifiable as such, but after that  anything goes opening up the field to wild and crazy modificaions yet somewhat within the budget of Grundy Salvage.    Albatros D.V parasols, DH.4 monoplanes, etc. used in the 1930's, 50's, 60's---> perhaps even to present day.     After all there is a race series for the AT-6 Texan.

Hmmmm.....gotta think about this one a bit.

And thanks for all the factual info as well!!!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Daryl J.

Brian da Basher

Don't forget the U.S. Thomas-Morse Scout. This aircraft was often used to represent allied types in early movies such as The Dawn Patrol.

Brian da Basher


The first Gordon Bennet Cup air race was held at Rheims, France in 1909. No race 1914-19, resumed in 1920 and retired the same year.

The first Aerial Derby (Air Race Around London) was held in 1912. No race 1915-18, resumed in 1919 and ended in 1923.

The Prix Henry Deutsch de La Meurthe began in 1912, the contest was run in 1919/1920 and then closed.
Reappeared as the Coupe Deutsch de La Meurthe in 1921, but was only run in 21 and 22.

The Schneider Trophy races began in 1913, we know how that turned out.

The Pulitzer Trophy races started in 1919 and ran until 1925.
The 1920 Pulitzer had 65 entries:
Race numbers 1-12 and 14-19 were De Havilland D.H.4, mostly US Army but four were USN entries. All were built in the US.
Race number 65 was a D.H.4 Hospital plane painted overall white with red crosses.

Race numbers 21-26 were Vought V.E.7, Navy entries - three USN pilots and three USMC pilots.

Race numbers 31-35 were S.E.5, all US Amy.

The other entries were a mixed bag including:
Two Thomas-Morse M.B.3(including the first M.B.3 to fly - it came in 2nd)
One Fokker D-VII that didn't make it to the race (overturned in the snow at Buffalo, NY on the way to the race),
Two Loening M-80
One Loening M-81S Special,
Two Orenco Model D (one Curtiss built),
One Sopwith Dolphin (US Army entry but didn't report)
Three Ansaldo (two SVA, one A.1 Balilla, the Balilla piloted by Bert Acosta came in 3rd)
One Spad S.13,
One Morane-Saulnier AR
two Curtiss-Kirkham 18-T-1 triplanes.

The race was won by the Verville VCP-R piloted by 1/Lt. Corliss C. Mosely USAS.

Of the entries only four of the starters were non-military entries, of those, three had civilian pilots... the rest of the pilots in the race were

One privateer aircraft(non-manufacturer/non-military) was entered but did not show, the Young Special.

In 1919 the D.H.4 and S.E.5 were still main line equipment and the D.H.4, in various forms, remained so for several years.

The majority of the races, in all series, were run over a triangular course.

The book on air racing from 1919-1926 is "The Speed Seekers" by Thomas G. Foxworth.

Top level Air Racing was all about money and prestige right from the beginning.

Common man racing was more a feature of the Thompson Trophy races that started at the National Air Races in 1930 (the first Thompson sponsored race had been held in 1929, it became a permanent feature in 1930), the Thompson was the true forefather of Unlimited Racing.

The Thompson had three classes:
Commercial Aircraft i.e production 'sport' aircraft (Laird, Granville, etc) but late in the 1930s it took a twist with the Seversky 'racers'.
Military Aircraft, only one serious attempt was launched - the modified Curtiss-Page Hawk
Do-it-yourself custom racers i.e. folks like Keith Rider, Art Chester, Benny Howard etc.

The 2-volume "Aircraft of Air Racing's Golden Age" by Major R.S. Hirsch and Ross N. Hirsch is a pretty good graphical overview of US air racing from 1928 to 1939. Hirsch amassed an outstanding photo collection had a prodigious output of drawings over the years and while there are errors in the drawings, overall its a fascinating compendium.


p.s. The Sopwith racer that won the 1913 Schneider was the Tabloid, the 'fighter' developed from it was called the Schneider,
and the final improved version of that aircraft was called the Baby.