Granville Bros R-1
Jimmy Doolittle and the Gee Bee R-1
The Granvilles and their new chief engineer, Howell “Pete” Miller, came up with two of the most powerful models yet—the R Series Super Sportsters, race numbers 7 and 11—tailor-made to win the 1932 Nationals. For the Bendix there was No. 7, the Wasp Jr.-powered R 2; for the 1932 Thompson Trophy event there was No. 11, the Gee Bee R-1.
The Granvilles needed a pilot, and Jimmy Doolittle needed a plane. Doolittle flew to Springfield for a look. The Granvilles rolled out their creation, in a scalloped, black-piped, red-and-white paint scheme, set off by red 11s and dice showing 5 and 6. The R‑1, essentially a scaled-up version of the Model Z, struck Doolittle as “all engine with minuscule wings and a bomblike fuselage.” The Granvilles had simply streamlined a Wasp Sr. engine with a modicum of bodywork, adding just enough wing and control surface area to keep it airborne, barely under control, and moving at nearly 300 mph.
Doolittle knew the airplane would be “extremely hot to handle.” After his one brief test flight, Boardman had reported severe directional instability, and the Granvilles had added two square feet of fin to the rudder. Doolittle clambered into the cockpit and asked that the engine be fired up. As the Wasp Sr. roared to life, one of the Granvilles, no doubt thinking ahead to locating the wreckage, asked where he was headed.
“I’m going to Cleveland, of course!” answered Doolittle. He took off and, without even a turn around the field, headed west. In less than two hours the Granvilles received a telegram: “Landed in Cleveland O.K., Jim.”