Site hosted by Build your free website today!

GEE BEE Model Z Super Sportster Page

Last Updated 1/25/99

Below are photos of my 33% scale Gee Bee Model Z Super Sportster in several phases of construction. The airplane is being built from Vern Clements plans and has a 94" wingspan with a 15.5" diameter cowl but is only about 62" long. It will be powered by an Aerrow Q100XL 6.0 cubic inch engine that has been modified by Ken Laski. I plan to use Stits cloth covering for scale realism and the incredible strength I have heard it provides. I have been working on the airplane since the middle of June '97 and I am hoping to have it in the air by the first of the year in preperation for next year's USRA Thompson Trophy races. The project is going MUCH slower than I expected but it is my first scratch built project and I am spending a lot of time just trying to determine what order things should be done in.


After cuttung 54 ribs from about 13 different patterns out of 1/8 balsa, I began to assemble the wing panel. I used carbon fiber laminates on top and bottom of both spars and webbing between every rib on the front and back of both spars.


I built the wing in one piece laminating the spars together in the center section with long pieces of 1/8 ply and then wrapped with Kevlar thread. I'll be REALLY pissed if this wing folds on me.


Once completed, I sheeted the bottom side with 1/8 balsa and installed the aileron's and their servos. Kind of concerned about the large surface area on the ailerons and the potential for reversal. I plan on keeping the throws small.


I deviated from the plans and built the fuse on a single taper crutch. I'm very worried about the vibration a single cylinder 6 cube engine will produce. One of the hardest parts was creating the wing saddle as the plans called for plug-in wings.


Added the stringers to the bulkheads and completed the wing saddle.


One of my favorite photos. My wife asked "Is it a plane or a boat?"


Pulled the fuse off the building board and began installing the upper half of the fuse bulkheads and vertical stabalizer.


Here is the Heartbeat of the project! This is my Laski Modified Aerrow Q100XL mounted on Merle Hyde's latest "non-separating" mount.


I sure hope we don't see this attitude in flight:) This photo was taken while the epoxy & fiberglass resin used to secure the firewall were drying. It kind of shows the tail section, the wing fairings, and the top of the fuse planking. Lots of pieces of 1/2 by 1/8 balsa!


I filled in the front of the fuse between the first bulkhead and the firewall and then sanded it to rough shape. I have built up the cockpit cover and canopy area where I plan to put all the switches and charging jacks. I tried here to use a canopy from a GP Super Sporter 40 because it was as close as I could find to what I needed. But after looking at it for a while I realized it just wouldn't work. So I began building up and sanding a plug to have a custom canopy formed. I bet your all wondering why the heck does he continue to build on top of that stupid plastic saddle. Well it is because I have tried about four different landing gear designs trying to get the best mix of strength and light weight. I now have a fifth idea and I hope the next photos will show her standing on here own wheels!


Well after MUCH deliberation and advise we finally decided to try this design. I heli-arced these struts from chrome-molly tubing from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty. It will hopefully provide both support for the fiberglass wheel struts and pants as well as enough strength to take my landings.


Here she is just about ready for covering. I have the trash can sized cowl (16 inch diameter) installed as well as the radio gear. I have chosen to use dual PCM receivers & battery packs. One will control the left aileron, left elevator, and rudder while the other will control the right aileron, right elevator, and throttle. The idea is if I loose one MAYBE I can get her home on the other.


This photo shows one of my favorite views from the tail before covering. I hope this is how my racing buddies get to see her at the finish line:)


This is my first Stits "Poly Fiber" covering experience. I began covering the rear wing fairings and the bottom stringered portion of the fuse first. The covering is much easier to use than I expected. Never having done this before, I read as much as I could and called F&M Enterprises frequently. They were VERY helpful during this process. The ability to control the shrink rate of the fabric through Iron temperature allowed me to remove all of the wrinkles without warping the stringers.


As I progressed I learned more about overlapping seems and trimming the fabric. Here is the fuse partially covered.


Here the fuse almost covered. I chose this photo because it shows the tail control surfaces after covering. The Poly Fiber fabric is very easy to use even in tight areas as you don't have to worry too much about the wrinkles as you apply it and you can control the adhesive.


OK I have to admit I slacked off on the picture taking (and web site updates) during final covering and painting. I was rushing frantically to get the plane ready for the Rialto race in May. I actually let the deadline take some of the fun out of the final phases of construction, and learn. After missing Rialto, I set my target on the final race of the year in Jean. This photo was taken at a flying field about 1/4 mile from my house. As you can see by my smile, I'm happy she is done.


This snap gives you some perspective of how big the 33% Gee Bee is. I am about 6'-4" tall. She came out weighing about 30 lbs which, I'll admit, is heavier than I wanted but I think will still be OK for the 94" wing to support. Let's see many G's will she pull going around that pylon?


All the paint is Poly Tone from F&M enterprises. I chose Lemon Yellow and Dakota Black for the primary colors with Pontiac Red for the trim pin stiping. This was my first attempt at using a spray gun but everything went pretty well. I purchased the graphics from Model Graphics in Texas. Very good quality vinal graphics and the package was very complete.


Well......Here she is. I'm happy with the way she turned out but as of this posting I don't know if she will fly. I hope to take her out to the dry lake bed in the near future to find out. But for right now.......... I think I'll just look at her for a little bit longer:)


I flew the Gee Bee Z three times. The plane flew very well almost like a pattern ship once in the air. Straight take offs required a LOT of right rudder. On the third flight I was flying in about a 25 - 30 mile wind blowing from my right to my left. I had the Gee Bee down on the imaginary race course and she was doing well. When it was about 100 yards down wind to my right the engine roared and I chopped power. By this time it is maybe 150 - 200 yards to my right but still pointed into the wind. Then I made a fatal mistake. Instead of just trying to keep the wings level and set it down into the wind I thought it was too far away and truned it back towards me. She began to sink rapdily and about six feet off the ground I ran out of up elevator. She pancaked pretty hard. Hard enough to drive the landing gear up through the wing and sever the front spar on both sides of the fuse. Then she tripped on her wheel pants and fliped over breaking the vertical stab, rudder, turtle deck, and canopy. I hope you aren't disappointed but I don't want to post pictures of her all broken up. I don't know what her future is. It would be fairly easy to convert her into a static model but to race her would require a new wing. I have re-played this crash a million times in my head hoping I can convert what I have learned into instinct that will guide me if this situation presents it self to me again. I guess only time will tell

Thanks for your interest in my Gee Bee Z project!

Return to Main Page