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Monday
May072012

Jimmy Doolittle, The Curtiss R3C-2 And The Schneider Trophy Air Race (1925)

Jimmy Doolittle in the Curtiss R3C-2 that he won the 1925 Schneider Cup race with


 
The same Jimmy Doolittle that led the raid on Tokyo in 1942 (that we just remembered with the 70th reunion) also won the Schneider Cup air race in this Curtiss R3C-2 about 17 years earlier. He was an amazing man and pilot living in an amazing era... an era that I admit I wish I had been born to live in. Aviation from the 20's thru the 50's evolved in way that I honestly find hard to believe. And seeing airplanes like this Curtiss R3C-2 stirs my emotions in a way that honestly that no airplane designed in the 60 years can do. So many of the aircraft designed and built in the 20's and 30's have something that I believe is very, very special deep in their DNA. It's a Rocketeer quality of design and construction that today's aluminum or composite flying machines can't come close to touching. You may not agree, but to me, THOSE were the days!

 So this post is really about celebrating the design mentality that conceived and built a water-cooled, 665hp V-12 powered floatplane that looked stunning from every angle. Oh, and in 1925, the R3C-1 version (with wheels instead of floats) was the fastest airplane in the world at 248.9 mph! Interestingly, that wheeled version set a record that was only about 3 mph faster than the best record set by Doolittle in the float version at 245.7 mph.

 I've included two short videos here that I found with actual Schneider Cup racing footage. I find this to be incredible imagery to watch. To think of how far aviation had come in such a short time literally boggles my mind. I hope you get something out of all this incredible history that took place just 22 years after the Wright Brothers.

 Lastly, the RC3-2 was actually a military aircraft, and you can see a CoolPix of it with Jimmy Doolittle here that I posted back in July of 2010. And, if you wanna see the real thing, good news... it's at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. (more R3C-2 info here on the NASM blog)

 



 

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