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Travel Air Model R Mystery Ship

Catégories : Golden Age Models    Tags : paper paper model model

airplaneThe National Air Race or so-called "Unlimited Free-For-All Race" was basically a showcase for the larger aircraft manufactures and military pursuit aircraft during the late 1920s. In 1929 the racing fans were looking forward to the competition between the US Army Curtiss P-3-A and the Navy's Curtiss F6C-C Hawk as this was the first time since 1925 that the two services had flown against each other. Other entrants in the race were basically ignored at the moment but Herbert Rawdon and Walter Beech of Travel Air had other plans for the race with their new design of racing aircraft. The Travel Air entrant (the model R) was an exercise in cutting edge technology. She was not only a low-wing monoplane but also featured interchangeable wings to be used for different types of racing and powered by a 300 hp Wright Whirlwind (J-6 Series) R-975 engine. It was dubbed the "Mystery Ship" because when it arrived in Cleveland it was immediately moved to a hangar and covered with a tarpaulin.

During the race, the "Mystery Ship" piloted by Doug Davis, took the lead twice in spite of recircling a pylon that Davis cut short on the second lap. The rules required missed pylons to be recircled. This caused Davis to be passed by the rest of the field, but Davis was able to take the lead again and at the end of the race he was declared the winner. Davis completed the 10 mile, 5 lap course at an average speed of 194.9 mph. The P-3-A was second at 186.8 mph, a Lockheed Vega came in third at 163.4 mph, and the Navy's Curtiss Hawk was fourth at 153.4 mph. The fastest lap was 208.69 mph and 235 mph in the straight-aways. This was faster than any civilian airplane had ever flown in the U.S. The news people jumped all over the military and peppered them with questions of how could an off-the-shelf airplane beat the best U.S. military airplanes. Needless to say it was somewhat embarrassing.
The Italian government was so impressed with the Model R that it purchased one as a model for future military designs. In 1930 Capt. Frank M. Hawks had a Travel Air "Mystery S" built for him named "Texaco 13." Using this aircraft Hawks was a two time holder of the east-west transcontinental speed record. A total of six Travel Air Model Rs were built. Travel Air built five and the sixth was built from an incomplete fuselage and other parts acquired from Travel Air.