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Gee Bee Model R1 (48002) 1:48


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Gee Bee Model R1 (48002)

1:48 Dora Wings




The Granville Brothers Aircraft company  produced a number of racing aircraft under the Gee Bee name, starting with their Model Z that won awards in the 30s, and leading to the similar but shorter profiled Model R super sportsters of which the R1 was first, with R2 being a sister aircraft.  The R1 was flown by Jimmy Doolittle in 1932 and won the Thompson Trophy Race with a dash speed of rather healthy 296mph.  It was a difficult machine to fly, but Doolittle loved it dearly, however another racer was killed flying it when it stalled during the Bendix Trophy in 1933.  It was rebuilt with an extension to the fuselage to help counter its murderous tendencies, but even with wings transferred from R2 it still managed to crash very quickly after.  After that it was sold to its final owner, who modified it further by adding fuel tanks in the rear, but it crashed and killed him, never to be rebuilt again.


A replica was built more recently, which flew for several years before being retired to a museum, and there are also a few non-flying replicas in museums in the US.



The Kit

This is a new tooling from a relatively new company who have produced a small number of new kits with a healthy upcoming catalogue of new toolings in the works for the coming year.  Their kits are in the short-run tooling category, with nice detail once you have the parts off the sprues and have dealt with the moulding seams, which is much the same as many kits but with a little more preparation time.  This is of course time that repays you by easing your way later in the build.  The kit arrives in a relatively small box, as it is a small aircraft that was pretty much engine, wings and a space for the pilot.  Inside the box are four sprues of grey styrene, a small clear sprue, a sheet of copper-coloured Photo-Etch (PE), masks for the red and white colour scheme, a sheet of decals and the instruction booklet with colour scheme on the back page.












The R1 was a small plane.  I've said that already, but it bears repeating.  The instruction booklet is actually a single sheet of A4 folded into A5.  The instructions cover only one side of this sheet, with 19 steps to make the complete airframe.  Construction begins with the cockpit, which consists of three bulkheads that are linked by a series of tubes, with the seat placed against the rear bulkhead and the pilot's legs going through the central hole in the remaining two.  A simple instrument panel, throttle box, control column and rudder pedals are fitted, and before closing up the fuselage you can elect to remove a portion of the cockpit sidewall to depict the access door on the side of the fuselage, the job of which is done by a new part so you don't have to be careful to keep the cut-out intact.  The rudder is in two parts and fits to the rear of the fin, and a ventral fuselage insert with ribs matching the rest of the aft fuselage closes the bottom of the cockpit.


The Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp engine is supplied in six parts, with a further two for the exhausts, and this is enclosed in the two-part cowl with a PE ring at the rear before it is fitted to the front of the fuselage later in the build.  The fixed and spatted landing gear are made up around the two-part tyres, the wings and their ailerons are put together and fitted to the roots using a modified butt-join that has pins and depressions to register the join more accurately.  The elevators fit the same way, and the wings are braced by V-shaped PE wires that fit into holes in the wing upper and the fuselage top.  A small panel inserts into the top of the forward fuselage with delicate louver patterns moulded-in, and a further pair of V-shaped PE bracing wires are fitted under the wings, with an additional two smaller wires bracing the landing gear spats.  The canopy is supplied in two parts with separate windscreen, and the final part is the simple two-bladed prop that fits into the boss at the front of the engine's bell-housing, which should be able to be left spinning if you have been careful with the glue.






The R1 wore a rather striking scheme during its racing life, which began at the front with a red cowling, with red wing leading-edges which were scalloped into white, as was the fuselage.  This is a tricky scheme to paint, so the included masks will come in very handy.  They are vinyl and pre-cut for your ease, and while they're not as flexible as kabuki tape, they are less likely to stretch out.  You will need to burnish them down over the ribbing under the fuselage, and expect a little touching up to be required due to the edges of the ribs, but once done it should look stunning.  The decals cover the rest of the markings, which are in good registration, are sharp and have good colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  There are two instrument panel decals supplied, and with some decal setting solution should settle down over the lightly raised instrument faces on the styrene panel.







Interwar racers aren't everyone's thing, but then neither are Bf.109s.  Between the wars was a time of innovation that sometimes led to some quite nasty dead-ends, so racers and their aircraft were often short-lived, as demonstrated here.  The kit should go together well as long as you don't expect it to fall together without your help, and you will end up with a nice replica of this short, tubby little racer for your cabinet in a scale where you can actually see it!


Highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of



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I very much like the look of this and have heard that it's a reasonable price, so one will definitely be heading in my direction eventually. 

I assume the paint mask doesn't include a canopy mask?

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Take one P&W radial engine complete with nacelle and fit it with wings barely able to provide enough lift to get the thing off the ground. Control surfaces that struggled to counteract the massive torque generated at take off power and, as an afterthought, squeeze in a fuel tank and somewhere for the pilot to sit and you end up with a GeeBee racer.

Wonderful machine.



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12 hours ago, Threadbear said:

Good write up on a promising kit from a new manufacturer. The ultimate 1930s hot rod? I’m looking forward to the P-63. 

Thanks very much :) and wait no longer!


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  • 4 months later...

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