Peanut – Falcon Special II

Here is the long, Long, LONG tale of my old and new Peanut Falcon Special II Goodyear Racer.  I designed the first one at the request of Russ Brown.  The FAC Goodyear event was new in the late 90s and he chose the Falcon Special II as the one he wanted me to draw up.  CFFS was my first “home club” and Russ was a mentor to me.  I dedicate this new plan and short kit to him.  Here is what Russ wrote as editor of the Cleveland Free Flight Society’s “Crosswinds” newsletter.  And below Russ’ words, the story continues, with photos and all…


Extracted from Crosswinds #95 (with permission) – Oct 1999 – by Russ Brown

Flat Hattin’ on a Goodyear*

U.S. Post-WWII air racing resumes in Cleveland, Ohio in 1946.  Traditional Thompson Trophy Pylon Races and Bendix cross country races were entered with a wonderful collection of hot rod and stock looking aircraft.  The fine tuning aerodamnnamic (can’t spell dynamic) refinements to this high power hardware continues some 53 years and counting.  Now, the cost and extreme stress to engines far exceed the financial reward.

A pre-war decision to establish an air race event was set with rules devised to create economical, safe, and sturdy raceplanes.  A formula for the readily available stock Continental flat four C-85 engine was fixed with a maximum 66 sq.ft. wing area, pilot view angles, fixed down landing gear, and a 6G pull out stress check.

GOODYEAR sponsorship for the first three years at the National Air Races began at the 1947 race in Cleveland, Ohio.  Little time was left to be ready to race by the September 1947 date.  Modifications to pre-war race places contributed to deja-vu to the entry list.  Steve Wittman’s BUSTER flown by light weight Bill Brennand won at 165.867 MPH.  Bill was a feature speaker on Midget Air Racing at the 1999 annual Air Racing Historians Symposium in Cleveland.  GOODYEAR competition increased dramatically as the entries increased form 12 in ’47 to 38 in 1948.  With the exception of BUSTER, the ’48 finalists were all newly built to race specifications.  Fish Salmon’s refined Cosmic Wind MINNOW, race no. 4 won at 169.688 mph.  Steve Wittman followed in the new BONZO, no. 1, then art Chester in Swe’ Pea II, no. 2, and Bill Brennand, 4th in BUSTER, no. 20 at 167.063 mph.

Among the finalists was the FALCON SPECIAL II entered by Falcon Racers Inc.  Builders were Robert S. Hopkins and C.P. Smith of Reidsville, NC.  Pilot M.L. LeFevers flew the ’48 version with contrasting black and white diagonal color split wing, and sunburst ray horizontal tail trim.  (The first Falcon Special was a low-winger with GeeBee-type trim.)

After ’48 GOODYEAR modifications to the Falcon Special II altered the look a bit, without doing much for performance.  The large windscreen and cover panel were replaced with a one-piece bubble canopy.  Colors were changed to dull mid-blue, with cream trim and numbers.  The name was changed to LI’L REBEL (not to be confused with later Pack racer LI’L REBEL no. 47).  Earl Ortman flew the reworked no. 10 at Cleveland in the 1949 GOODYEAR.  Pilot M.L. LeFevers attended the ’49 race, where he greataly resented the switch.  He got really wasted (drunk) and went to the airport hangar, using his ’48 pilot’s pass to get in.  Determined to take out no. 10 if he couldn’t fly it, he was too blasted by booze to recognize it in blue paint.  LeFevers picked the Steve Bevile light gray no. 77 LI’L SPOOK in error, and cut the right wing fabric before being stopped by hangar security and sent to lock up.  Steve Bevile missed the second heat race as a covering patch was put on.  He placed seventh in the consolation race.

The Rebel no. 10 with race great Earl Ortman flying was real slow at 141.936 mph for fourth in the 4th elimination heat, and 140.763 mph in the second semi-final heat.  It also flew at Miami, FL in and in California in ’49 with modifications, but not good results.  Earl Ortman died shortly after.

Just in time for the 50 year anniversaries of the ’48 and ’49 Goodyear races, FAC GHQ II was inspired to offer a mass launch peanut scale race.  Several nifty Goodyear and Formula One models are flying in FAC contest competition.  FAC top Ace Gordon Roberts selected the IDGIT’S MIDGET for CROSSWINDS #91.  Both Gordon and Steve Griebling are flying this yellow beauty.  Meanwhile, we looked at the ’49 Goodyear Race three views in the February 1950 Air Trails for a good subject.  The no. 10 racer form looked especially good with a broad chord wing for area, and high mounting, just above the thrust line.  No wing struts or wires were present, and there were no wheel pants.  A much more dramatically painted version as the 1948 Falcon Special II was shown by Robert S. Hirsch in GOODYEAR & FORMULA ONE AIR RACING Vol. ONE.  Another attractive feature of the black and white ’48 Falcon Special II is the two piece bent plastic canopy. Short stack exhaust pipes exit through two near flush holes under the cowl cheek.

George Bredehoft worked up the Falcon Special II plan for this issue. An excellent first effort model was ready in time for the 3/28/99 CFFS indoor contest at Kent State Univ.  A great exchange of CRUD (CROSSWINDS RESEARCH UNDER DEVELOPMENT) for drawing changes followed to adjust the plan to the form and marking to fit photo detail.  We thank Robert S. Hirsch for sending additional file photos to Blue Fox Base to assist with the project.  A good source for more photos is the Mighty Mites article by Peter M. Bowers in May 1980, Part II, and Sept 1980, Part III of AIR POWER magazine.

Meanwhile the prototype peanut scale model by George Bredehoft was proven extremely competitive in FAC Contest action.  The black color is computer printed on white tissue.  Kendall Oil and SOHIO decals are color printed to scale size on the color page (of the Crosswinds newsletter – gab).  The SOHIO decals are optional on the 1948 black and white form, as photos taken at Cleveland show the SOHIO decal was added during the races.  It is so sad to report Bad Guy Squadron invaded SOHIO and switched the Red, White, and Blue colors to a slime bright green and rookie yellow BP standard marking.  The fuel virus also is into AMOCO Red, White, and Blue gas stations.  My car will not drink at green and yellow!

I digress for a well-deserved salute to George Bredehoft for persevering through the many detail adjustments to this curmudgeon at Blue Fox Base sighted to development this most accurate rendition of the forgotten Falcon.  It remains to see who will be first to build, fly and win with this Goodyear Peanut.  We can do so much better than the original Falcon Special Team!  The scatter pylon is in sight!  Go break a gum band!  – R.B.

* – Russ Brown was the editor for Crosswinds for many years.  His editorials were always entitled “Flat Hattin’ on” something (the subject of the newsletter).  According the Google sources, a loose definition of “flat hatting” is “to fly low in an airplane in a reckless manner”.

And the story continues…

Russ certainly did work a young me hard to get to “this most accurate rendition”.  Without counting, I have estimated I sent at least four revisions to him before none came back filled with red ink.  I truly appreciate the compliments he published all those years ago.  While the plan was published in 1999 and I think I have seen it online (for free), and I did sell a few of the Peanut plans over the years, I don’t recall ever seeing another besides (as Russ put it) my “excellent first effort model”.  I campaigned that model from 1999 (it “dominated” in Cleveland in 1999, winning 5 kanones in both Goodyear and Peanut in the summer season) until the fall of 2018.  I did take a bit of a break (12 years) in the middle, but it came back strong in the summer of 2012.  At McCook in Muncie, I took first in Peanut with a flight into the early summer soybeans.  I found it with an ominous “crunch” – I had stepped on the right wing and destroyed it.

I rebuilt the wing, printed the tissue for the LEFT wing, and flew it some more.  It never flew as well as it did in those old days, but it did total up 9 kanones over the years.  One memory was in the final round of the Goodyear in the 2015 Outdoor Champs when I broke my motor winding.  Undaunted, I took part and with a mighty leap (Click for Pic), launched with everyone and fluttered to 4th place.  In 2018 at the Outdoor Champs, my venerable model again raced in the Goodyear, but torque-rolled to the right on launch and smashed the left wing.  I set it aside; it was time to build a new Goodyear racer – 19 years was long enough.

While I have another Goodyear all drawn up, something inside made me return to the Falcon Special II.  I reworked the plan, making some slight tweaks, mostly to ease laser cutting.  The result is my “second effort model”.  I have been documenting the construction on Facebook (I will include everything here on my website).

I’ve created four galleries for the build process.  Anyone can use these as “help files” on how to build the model.  They are:





The kit will contain a two-page plan, laser cut sheets in 1/32” and 1/16” balsa, and a two-view color layout diagram.  Note that the Hirsch 3-view (I found this version online, but reference his Goodyear book mentioned above) is wrong with regards to the markings on the wing.  The extensive photo research that Russ Brown and I did was used to create the plan and color layout as provided.  In addition, there will be a 5-page printed tissue template available for free download.

On Thursday, I did testing at the Ultimate Arenas in Pontiac (at our Cloudbusters Monthly Indoor Contest).  I was flying the model to the right.  This is always a puzzlement to me – should I fly one way and stick with that direction, or should I switch and try it in the other direction?  It might fly better – OR worse.  Anyway, as I had limited time (it WAS a contest, after all), I got in maybe a dozen test flights starting with 3/32″ rubber and finishing with 1/8″ rubber.  Not only did I exceed my self-imposed minimum of 20 seconds (for selling products) but I exceeded 30 seconds.  The flights were slightly stall-y but the model always settled in for a soft landing.  I think the culprit in not getting better flights is my very pretty balsa prop – I think my carved props on Peanuts are not the best – but that is another article.

Anyway, it flies and has potential to do better.  Let’s head for that checkered flag!

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