Model Airplane News
January, 1936

Model Airplane News Cover for January, 1936 by Jo Kotula Hughes H-1  Racer

Hughes H-1 Racer
Model Airplane News Cover Art for January, 1936
by Jo Kotula
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The H-1 was a racing aircraft built by Hughes Aircraft in 1935. It set a world airspeed record and a transcontinental speed record across the United States. The H-1 Racer was the last aircraft built by a private individual to set the world speed record; every aircraft to hold the honor since was a military design.

Hughes H-1 Racer     Hughes H-1 Racer Racing Wings (and Howard Hughes)     Hughes H-1 Racer in flight  distance wings

Real Plane

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Design work on the H-1 was done by Richard Palmer, and similarities can be seen in aircraft he later designed for the Vultee Company, including the BT-13 trainer. The aircraft was given many names, but is commonly known as the H-1. It was the first aircraft model produced by the Hughes Aircraft company. Design studies began in 1934 with an exacting, large scale model (approximately three ft in length) that was tested in Caltech's wind tunnel, revealing a speed potential of 365 mph.

Streamlining was a paramount design criteria resulting in "one of the cleanest and most elegant aircraft designs ever built." ]Many groundbreaking technologies were developed during the construction process, including individually machined flush rivets that left the aluminium skin of the aircraft completely smooth.

The H-1 also had retractable landing gear to further increase the speed of the aircraft including a fully-retractable hydraulically actuated tail skid. It was fitted with a 1,000 hp Pratt & Whitney radial engine Due to two different roles envisioned for the racing aircraft, a set of short-span wings for air racing and speed records and a set of "long" wings for cross-country racing were prepared

We were very fortunate to find a rather complete description of the H-1's record flight in Popular Mechanics:

 Hughes H-1 Racer in Popular Mechanics April, 1937

Story Behind the H-1 Record Flight
Popular Mechanics April, 1937
Click here to download a free copy of the article
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Here is a model of the H-1 that was sold by Cleveland.

Hughes H-1 Racer    Hughes H-1 Racer   

The Unobtrusive Box

Hughes H-1 Racer    Hughes H-1 Racer    Hughes H-1 Racer   

Plans and Kit Components
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As you can see above, the parts were really packed on the balsa. If you want to build this model today, you can order the plans from the Cleveland company and you'll receive the plates that were used to print the balsa sheets. You can lay them out on new balsa so that the grain is favorable for structural integrity.

Cleveland Site Location of Hughes H-1 Racer   

The Hughes H-1 Racer on the Cleveland Site

You can buy the plans and patterns that will enable you to make this model right now. Click Here to go to the exact location on the Cleveland Website to get them.

Here is a very good animation that will give you a feel for the Hughes H-1 racer.

Click Here for more information about the The Hughes H-1 Racer.

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