Modellbaustudio 1/72 Gee Bee R-1/R-2






2 aircraft 


Scott Van Aken


Short run with resin prop and vac canopy


The Gee Bee is undoubtedly one of the most famous American air racers of the 1930s. This is undoubtedly because of the piloting skill of Jimmy Doolittle, because the racing record of the Gee Bees was generally pretty poor. It only managed to win one race and that was the Thompson Trophy race of 1932.

So why is the Gee Bee R-1/R-2 so etched into people's minds?  The Gee Bee was named for the Granville Brothers. Their aim was to put the smallest airframe possible around the biggest engine available. The R-1 was powered by an 800 hp Wasp engine. It was indeed a very small aircraft and an absolutely wicked aircraft to fly. The R-2 was identical, but powered by a less powerful 550 hp Wasp Jr. The R-1 was for high speed pylon racing and the R-2 was for the long range flights, so needed a more fuel efficient engine.

The career of the Gee Bees was fraught with a series of wrecks and accidents. Only Jimmy Doolittle's success stands out. After both had been wrecked, another R-2 with a longer fuselage was made from the remains of the two aircraft, but that was equally as unsuccessful.


It would be no surprise that a 1/72 Gee Bee is not a large kit. The sprues are shown at pretty near life size. The prop is a resin cast as the styrene one is a three part affair that wouldn't have been fun to glue together. Detail is finely engraved and will surely disappear with any sanding. All you need to build any of the Gee Bees is given in the kit. To do a very early R-1, simply sand down the small rudder until it is even with the canopy top.

There is no flash, but my engine cowling has a large dent/crack in the leading edge of it that will be fun to fix. The interior is quite small and nearly non-existant, consisting of but a floor, seat, and control stick. Nothing much will be visible through the tiny canopy so it probably isn't a big deal. The wheels are integrated with the gear legs and spats. All join surfaces are butt joins. 

The instruction sheet consists of a history and decal/painting guide. That is it. No construction information at all. No color info other than what is on the drawings and three view. This is definitely not for the beginner! The decal sheet is very well printed and nice and crisp. It is glossy and printed by MPD, which means it will be quite thin!

Overall it looks like a pretty simple kit, but I have spent months building 'simple' kits!

Here is a link that you Gee Bee fans may find of interest.

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! 

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