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Gee Bee Super Q.E.D. II

By Stephan Wilkinson
11/13/2014 • Aviation History, Aviation History Briefing, Gear

The Super Q.E.D. II's Wright R-1820 engine gives it more than twice the horsepower of the original Q.E.D. Lyle Jansma/Aerocapture Images
The Super Q.E.D. II's Wright R-1820 engine gives it more than twice the horsepower of the original Q.E.D. Lyle Jansma/Aerocapture Images

The original Gee Bee R-6H Q.E.D. was the Granville brothers’ last and burliest completed design, but the late Jim Moss went them one better and built a modified replica of the Q.E.D., the Super II, with more than twice the horsepower, a bigger fin and rudder and 10 percent more wing area. This brute could share a flight line with P-47s and not look out of place; a carpenter’s stepladder for boarding and debarking is part of its minimum equipment list.

The Super II first flew in September 2013, and made its public debut at Oshkosh this past summer. Moss had died just 2½ weeks before his airplane’s first flight, but led by Rich Alldredge the project was completed by the same high-powered team that had helped build the replica from the ground up.

Although the original 1934 Q.E.D. (the letters denote the Latin for “therefore it is proven”) had a 675-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet, Moss discovered that his replica’s cowling could just as easily hold a more reliable 1,425-hp Wright R-1820 from a T-28 Trojan. Long a believer that there’s no such thing as too much horsepower, Moss made the obvious choice.

The Super Q.E.D. II was built as a high-altitude cruiser, and it would be happy at 30,000 feet, where it is probably capable of at least 300 knots with the two-speed supercharged engine at full boost. The original R-6H supposedly could do 196 knots, though at a lower altitude. It had no oxygen system or cabin heater, but the Super II has a gas heater and an integral oxygen system that uses components cannibalized from a 707. The highest it has ever been, however, is 11,000 feet, and that will probably remain its ceiling. “We’re flying it like a piece of history, not as an experimental airplane to find out what it will do,” Alldredge says. Jim Moss’ widow, Judy, hopes to find a museum that will acquire the airplane and keep it on public display as well as flying status. Now based at Olympia, Wash., it may fly some local airshows in 2015.

The Q.E.D. had been built for industrialist Floyd Odlum, who wanted it for his then-girlfriend (later wife) Jacqueline Cochran to fly in the London-to-Sydney MacRobertson Air Race. Cochran made it no farther than Bucharest, Romania, before mechanical problems grounded her, and the R-6H never finished a single one of the four Bendix and Thompson Trophy races in which it was entered. It did set five cross-country records in the hands of Mexican aviator Francisco Sarabia, but it also killed him, in a takeoff crash caused by a forgotten shop rag being sucked into the carburetor.


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