Model Airplane News|
Wedell-Williams No. 92 "The Utican"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for May, 1955
by Jo Kotula
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Jimmy Wedell built three original racers in 1930, the "Cirrus", "No. 44" and "No. 92". The least famous of the three was NR-536V or "No. 92". Nicknamed "WeWinc," it had been built as a two place sport plane with the possibility of developing it into a fast mail plane. It was a low wing job with the same type of wheel "spats" that were originally fitted to the Cirrus and No. 44. Its wing span was 30', length 22' and it carried the Wedell red and silver paint job. During the Nationals full skirts covered the entire landing gear assembly. Errett Williams piloted "WeWinc" to second place in the 1000 cu. in. event (159.07 mph ), second in the 800 cu. in. (161.73 mph) and sneaked in fourth in an additional 1000 cu. in. race (150.75 mph). Speeds for the winners of these events were 162.62 and 162.43 mph, indicating that Errett was always in contention. "WeWinc" was entered in the Thompson Trophy Race but was forced out by engine trouble on the eighth lap. Walter Williams flew No. 92 to second place in the 1000 cu. in. event, (219.50 mph). Walter placed third in the Thompson (208.38) and fourth in the Shell Dash (248.91 mph) with the same racer. Old No. 92 did not appear in the 1935 or '36 National Air Races.
The "Utican" -- No. 92 as represented on the cover...
Wedell-Williams No. 92 in earlier dress..
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In 1936 this ship was bought by Jack Wright of Utica, New York. Wright made no changes on the racer except to paint the name "Utican" on the cowl. He picked Art Davis as the pilot for the ship and entered it in the 1937 National Air Races. Unfortunately, Davis nosed the racer over on the way to the starting point of the Bendix and was unable to get the ship repaired in time for the balance of the '37 races. During 1938 the New York State Aviation School reconditioned the ship for the races. The paint job was all white and a new constant-speed propeller was fitted to the nose. A new cockpit and windshield also changed the looks of old No. 92. But trouble again hit and the "Utican" and Lee Gehlbach, who once again sat in the cockpit, was forced out of the Bendix. After the 1939 races, the now obsolete racer was abandoned in a Cleveland Airport hangar, amassing storage fees. In the spring of 1947, Fred Crawford acquired the neglected former champion for the Thompson Collection in exchange for paying off the storage bill. The 1963, the Thompson Collection was transferred to the Western Reserve Historical Society and became known as the Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.
Click Here for more information about the Wedell-Williams racing history.
Our review of Popular Mechanics from 1932-1939 turned up several interesting articles on air racing.
Articles on Air Racing From Popular Mechanics
"Racing the Man-Made Meteors" (February, 1937)
"Flying the Winged Bullets" (October, 1938)
"Secrets of Speed" (November, 1938)
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We have scanned these articles anmake them available to you as free downloads
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