Granville Brothers Aircraft

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Granville Brothers Aircraft
Aircraft Manufacturer
HeadquartersSpringfield, Massachusetts
Key people
Zantford, Thomas, Robert, Mark, and Edward Granville
ProductsSportster Racers
Number of employees
Airworthy reproduction of the Gee Bee Model Z "City of Springfield" at the Museum of Flight in Seattle

Granville Brothers Aircraft was an aircraft manufacturer in operation from 1929 until its bankruptcy in 1934.[1] The firm was located at the Springfield Airport in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Granville Brothers, Zantford, Thomas, Robert, Mark and Edward, are best known for the production of the three Gee Bee Super Sportster air racers, the Models Z, R1 and R2, which are synonymous with the golden age of air racing.[citation needed]


Data from:Aerofiles[1]

The Granville Brothers built only 24 aircraft. Only two original aircraft are known to exist.[2]

Granville Brothers Model A
  1. Crashed February 1934, Z.D. Granville killed, Spartanburg, South Carolina.
  2. Crashed August 1932, Russell Boardman suffered a severe concussion.
  3. Crashed February 14, 1931 airshow at Candler Field Atlanta. Johnny Kytle killed.
  4. Destroyed in crash. The wing is currently kept at the EAA AirVenture Museum.
  1. Warner radial, propeller came apart and the aircraft spun in.
  2. Lycoming test bed, later fitted with a Wright Whirlwind engine. Florence Klingensmith killed in 1933 National Air Races crash.
  • Model Z Super Sportster, Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" powered, 1931 Thompson Trophy winner (one built, destroyed December 5, 1931, Lowell Bayles killed).
  • Model R-1 Super Sportster (1931), Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" powered, 1932 Thompson Trophy and Shell Speed Dash winner, Jimmy Doolittle pilot (one built, destroyed July 1, 1933, Russell Boardman killed).
  • Model R-2 Super Sportster (1931), Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" powered, (one built, destroyed late 1933, Jimmy Haizlip injured).
  • Model R-1/2 Super Sportster, Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" powered, built from remains of R1 and R2 (one built, destroyed 1935, Cecil Allen killed).
  • Gee Bee Model Q, Aeronca powered tractor canard built to test configuration (one built, crashed 24 December 1931, Mark Granville injured)[7][8].
  • Gee Bee Q.E.D., Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" powered (one built, crashed June 7, 1939, Francisco Sarabia killed, aircraft rebuilt and retired to a museum in Ciudad Lerdo, Durango, Mexico).

Unfinished aircraft[edit]

GeeBee C-8 Eightster — 1930s and 1940s rare airliner

Replica and reproduction Gee Bee aircraft[edit]

Flying reproduction of the Gee Bee Model Z at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida
Flying reproduction of the Gee Bee R-2 Super Sportster at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida

In 1970 Ken Flaglor began building a replica of the Florence Klingensmith's Model YL. Completed in 1984, this reproduction is powered by a 300 horsepower Lycoming R-680. Jack Venaleck now owns this aircraft.

Scott Crosby of Antelope, California and Jim Jenkins of Connecticut have built reproduction E Models. Crosby crashed several times with an E model re-built prior to the second owner's donation to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

Dennis Emms of Australia is building an E model replica.[9]

Gee Bee Model Z — Bill Turner made a replica of the 1931 Model Z with the consulting assistance of Rob & Ed Granville. It was completed and flown on November 25, 1978. This aircraft was ultimately purchased by the Walt Disney Company and was used in the film The Rocketeer (1991). In the film, the Gee Bee Z appears with the same paint scheme and tail number "NR77V" as the original. It is now on display at the Seattle Museum of Flight.

A Gee Bee Z replica has been completed by Jim Kimball Enterprises then sold to Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, Florida.

The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio has an R-1 replica, currently on display as of June, 2018.

The New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut has a R-1 reproduction built with much assistance from the surviving Granvilles and Pete Miller, qualifying as a replica aircraft, utilizing the original 1932 drawings and since people working for the original Gee Bee firm helped in its construction. This R-1 reproduction even sports a Smith-manufactured propeller, just as the one with which the original won the 1932 Thompson Air Race. The reproduction's propeller was donated by Harold Smith, the supplier of the original propeller in 1932.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Museum of Springfield History has a full scale, unflyable fiberglass replica of the Gee Bee R-1 hanging in the atrium.[10]

The most famous flying replica of any of the Super Sportsters was the Gee Bee R-2 example built by Delmar Benjamin and Steve Wolf, which was test flown December 23, 1991. After being flown for many years, the plane was sold to Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida alongside the Model Z replica.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum has completed a reproduction Gee Bee R-1, using original plans supplied by the Granville family. The plans were supplied under the agreement that the aircraft will never be flown or sold.

A highly modified replica of the Gee Bee Q.E.D. R-6 was built by Jim Moss and assistants, powered by a 1,425 hp (1,063 kW) Wright R-1820 Cyclone. The aircraft made its first flight on 26 September 2013



  1. ^ a b "Gee Bee". Aerofiles. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2015-08-15.
  2. ^ Graves, Darrell and Scott Brener. "The Granville Brothers Gee Bee.", D&C Aviation Limited, 1998. Retrieved: June 3, 2009.
  3. ^ "Granville Brothers R-1 Supersportster Replica part of the New England Air Museum aircraft collection.", Retrieved: January 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "Local Flier Killed in Crash at Detroit." Springfield Daily News, December 5, 1931. Retrieved: December 26, 2008.
  5. ^ "The Gee Bee Sportsters - Holcomb's Aerodrome" The Gee Bee Sportsters - Holcomb's Aerodrome. Retrieved: October 22, 2009.
  6. ^ "The Gee Bee Model's B,C,D&E" The Gee Bee Model's B,C,D&E. Retrieved: May 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Harrison, Ronald W. Gee Bee Ascender, Journal AAHS Fall 1984, pp. 190–191.
  8. ^ Hannan, Bill, le Gee Bee qui volait a l'envers, Le Fanatique de l' Aviation, No 161, page numbers unknown.
  9. ^ "Dennis Emms Gee Bee "E" Model Project.", Rotec Engineering. Retrieved: June 3, 2009.
  10. ^ "Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History." Retrieved: August 30, 2010.


  • Benjamin, Delmar and Steve Wolf. Gee Bee. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Co., 1993. ISBN 0-87938-820-X.
  • Bowers, Pete M. The Gee Bee Racers — Number 51. Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1965.
  • Granville, J.I. Farmers Take Flight. Springfield, Massachusetts: Copy Cat Print Shop, 2000. ISBN 0-9702493-1-4.
  • Haffke, Henry A. Gee Bee: The Real Story of the Granville Brothers and Their Marvelous Airplanes.Colorado Springs, Colorado: VIP Publishers, Inc., 1989. ISBN 0-934575-04-5.
  • Mendenhall, Charles A. and Tom Murphy. The Gee Bee Racers: A Legacy of Speed. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 1994. ISBN 0-933424-05-1.
  • Schmid, S.H. and Truman C. Weaver. The Golden Age of Air Racing: Pre-1940, 2nd rev. edition (EAA Historical Series). Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Co., 1991. ISBN 0-940000-00-8.
  • Those Incredible Gee Bees (VHS 60 min). Springfield, Massachusetts: Studio 16, 1992.

External links[edit]