Gee Bee Z Super Sportster Airplane
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This is a commemorative set to celebrate the legacy of Granville Brothers Aircraft and the pilot Lowell Bayles. This LEGO set proposal includes the Gee Bee Z Super Sportster airplane and a pilot minifigure of Lowell Bayles.
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Difficulty of the build I would like to see in the official set would be Medium or maybe Hard.
Part Count: 521 bricks including the Lowell Bayles minifigure
Wing Span: 34 studs or 10.71 inches
Length: Approx. 27 studs or 8.5 inches
This iconic plane was originally designed in the golden age of air racing, 1931 by Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, Massachusetts USA. The name “Gee Bee” is short for the (G)ranville (B)rothers name. Designed in the middle of the Great Depression with money from investors, it was dubbed the “City of Springfield”. The Gee Bee Z won every race it had entered including the prestigious Thompson Trophy race. Shortly after the Thompson Trophy win, one of the pilots of the Gee Bee Z, Lowell Bayles, would beat the world speed record of 278.48 mph(448.17 km/h). He beat the record with 4 passes by going an average of 281.75 mph(453.43km/h). Unfortunately, in order to officially beat the record, the airplane had to go 4.97 mph(8 km/h) faster than the previous record. Bayles made his final attempt to beat the record on December 5, 1931. This final attempt would end in disaster. The plane crashed, ending Bayles’s life. On January 14, 1932, Lowell Bayles was posthumously awarded the world speed record of 281.75 mph(453.43 km/h) from his previous attempt.
I first saw this plane in the Disney movie “The Rocketeer” and thought it was such an incredible and unique design. The engine is massive and the airframe is very small. Building this in LEGO proved to be a major challenge for me. After a couple months of trying to get the overall shape of the fuselage correct and still allow a minifigure to fit in it, I gave up. I just figured the geometry was too complex for LEGO. Fast forward about a year later and I acquired some more LEGO bricks. I decided to give it another shot. After about 6 different versions of the main fuselage, I arrived at this solution. Getting clean transitions from the engine to the tail of this plane was my main challenge. The real plane is very sleek and I wanted to do it justice.
If you are interested in building this, I will be posting the LEGO Digital Design file on http://ldd.lego.com/en-us/gallery. I will post an update to this page once it is published. However, I am not sure if LEGO makes all these bricks in the designated colors. I also used photo editing software to add the decals. If you do build this, please tell me in the comments. If you post pictures somewhere online, feel free to post a link in the comments. I don’t have the bricks in my collection to build this in the appropriate color scheme, so I would thoroughly enjoy seeing this fully realized.