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Gee Bee Racer Kit

Williams Brothers 1/32 Gee Bee Racer Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2017 Manufacturer Williams Brothers
Subject Gee Bee Racer Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32711 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Unique subject Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $29.95

First Look

Gee Bee Racer Kit
Gee Bee Racer Kit

Granville Brothers Aircraft was founded in the mid-1920s with the intent of building a variety of light aircraft designs for the general aviation market. While over ten different designs were developed, none were ever produced in quantity due to the impact of the Great Depression. In an attempt to gain market recognition as well as win much-needed funding, the brothers developed a series of air racers starting with the Model Z, which won the 1931 Thompson Trophy. The following year, the Granville brothers debuted the Model R racer with two airframes built. The R-1 was designed for short endurance races/sprints with a Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine rated at 800 horsepower and limited fuel capacity. The R-2 was identical to the R-1 except for a smaller cowling that enclosed a 740 horsepower Wasp Junior engine and was equipped with a greater fuel load for endurance racing.

The Williams Brothers first released this kit of the Gee Bee R racer in the late 1970s and has been reissued a few times over the decades. The kit is molded in white styrene and presented on two parts trees plus one clear cockpit enclosure and two rubber (vinyl) tires. Like the aircraft, the kit is simple in design and features nice cockpit detailing that you won't see after assembly. The kit also features a nicely detailed Wasp radial engine that will be visible down the front of the cowling. The kit does offer your choice of cowlings and decal markings to render your choice of the R-1 or R-2 racers.

As you'll note in the parts image, this edition has a great deal of mold flash present, and on some parts, like the cowling, care will be required as the flash is thick enough that you don't see where the flash ends and the part begins. An experienced modeler will be able to clean these parts with some patience and lots of test-fitting.

This kit has been reissued fairly recently and may have less flash than some of the previous reissues (I haven't seen one yet) but it is available as kit number 32511. Assembly will not take as long as it will to paint this model. One of the challenges for painting the Gee Bee R or Gee Bee Z racers is masking off the scalloped areas on the wing leading edges and forward fuselage. Once you do achieve that clean demarcation, the paint scheme is very eye-catching.

If you want a fun project for your bench, this aircraft is small, even in 1/32 scale, and will make for a colorful build. Whether you purchase one of the newly released issues or acquire one of the earlier editions like this one, this is still the best Gee Bee racer kit in this scale!