Some of the most famous racing planes designed and built in the 1930's, were the Gee Bee's. Built by the Granville brothers of the Granville Brothers Aircraft Company, Springfield, Massachusetts. The Granville brothers: Zantford, Thomas, Robert, Mark and Edward came to Springfield in 1929 to the Springfield Airport located between Liberty Street and St. James Avenue. Their airplanes won many races and set new speed records. Their racing aircraft made use of new and bold design concepts to get as much speed as possible.
The brothers built many racing planes. Their most notorious was the: Gee Bee Super Sportster, models R-1 and R-2. James Doolittle won the 1932 Thompson Trophy race flying a Gee Bee R-1 at a speed of 252.686 miles per hour. The R1 had an 800-Horsepower Pratt&Whitney Wasp Senior engine installed.
The planes themselves became notorious for crashing, and some developed a reputation as 'unflyable'. The Model Z won several races, but during a record attempt a wing folded up on one Model Z and it crashed fatally. The barrel-like R-1 and R-2 were essentially the largest available engine with the smallest possible airframes behind them. Someone said a Gee Bee was 'a section of sewer pipe which had sprouted stubby wings'. In general the Gee Bees were shorter than their wingspans, made very fast landings and were extremely tricky for all but the most experienced pilots to fly. The Model Rs suffered several crashes. The R-2 killed its pilot and was rebuilt and crashed again not once but twice. Combined with parts of the R-1, the hybrid aircraft crashed fatally on its first test flight.