Model Airplane News
February, 1948

Model Airplane News Cover for February, 1948 by Jo Kotula Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer

Art Chester's "Swee' Pea" Racer
Model Airplane News Cover Art for February, 1948
by Jo Kotula
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Art Chester was one of the most successful race pilots of the 1930s. During the war years he was employed as a designer by North American Aviation. He scratch-built "Swee-Pea" especially for the 1947 Air Races. w It was immediately recognizable by the unusual Vee-tail and the spinner with its inlet for cooling air. Underneath, it wasrather conventional, with a steel-tube fuselage and plywood-covered wooden wings.

The Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer     The Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer     The Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer Model     The Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer Model

Photos of the Art Chester's "Swee' Pea" Racer
The two right photos are model airplanes
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Paul Penrose piloted "Swee-Pea" (race number 5) in the the new race sponsored by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. of Akron Ohio. The rules for this race were written for the "back-yard mechanic" without a lot of money to spend. The design had to be built around a stock 85 hp engine, fixed pitched propeller and a non-retractable landing gear. Due to the large number of entries the race was run in elimination heats of 10 laps, semi-final heats of 15 laps and final race consisted of 25 laps around the short rectangular course.

 The Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer at the 1947 Air Races     The Art Chester's Sweet Pea Racer at the 1947 Air Races

Art Chester's "Swee' Pea" at the 1947 National Air Races
Click Here to download a ".pdf" of the 1947 Air Races
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In the 1947 race, Penrose was narrowly beaten, with a speed of 165.4 mph, only a few tenths away from the winning time. After the race, Swee' Pea was purchased by Chester's mechanic, Lynn Kauffold, who then modified it with a conventional tail, aclling it "Sky Baby". Chester built another plane called "Swee' Pea II". Unfortunately the plane crashed in an air race at Sandiego in 1949, killing Chester.

Air racing was a very dangerous business. Here is a video about the races that contains some great footage:

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