Model Airplane News
April, 1958

Model Airplane News Cover for April, 1958 by Jo Kotula Travelair Texaco No. 13

Travelair "Texaco No. 13"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for April, 1958
by Jo Kotula
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The 1929 National Air Race heralded a new era in commercial aviation in the form of a sleek racing job built by the Travel Air Company of Wichita, Kansas. This racer was called the "Travelair Mystery Ship" because its design and construction was a closely guarded secret. As it landed at the Cleveland airport to participate in the 1929 air races, the racer was hastily rolled into the hangar and hidden with a canvas cover. A total of five such airplanes were built. The fourth "Mystery Ship" was purchased by the Texaco Company and became the most famous as Frank Hawks' "Texaco 13".

 Frank Hawks, Aviation Pioneer

Frank Hawks, Aviation Pioneer
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Frank Hawks, an aviation pioneer, was the personal pilot of flown Mr. Hull, president of the Texas Pipe Line Co. as well as superintendent of aviation for the Texas company.

The Travelair Texaco No. 13      The Travelair Texaco No. 13

Photos of the Travelair "Texaco No. 13"
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"Texaco 13" was equipped with a cockpit full of special instruments for long distance flights, so the ship was heavier than the other racing versions. The cockpit was fully enclosed and almost flush with the top of the fuselage. The racer was painted red and white Hawks never did well at racing because "No. 13" was not set up for pylon type racing. However, in the the 1930 National Air Races, his "Texaco 13" was set up with shorter wings and had a promising start. However, Hawks pulled out of the race on the third lap. A piece of masking tape placed over the gas cap (for streamlining) caused a loss of pressure and the engine would not operate at full throttle.

Click Here for more information about the Travelair "Texaco No. 13".

The "Mystery Ship" was an instant hit and Cleveland rushed to offer a kit for the airplane. This design has proven to be very popular with folks who build gasoline powered models. It flies very well and is ultra-fast just like its real-life counterpart.

 Cleveland Model of the Travelair Mystery Ship     Cleveland Model of the Travelair Mystery Ship

Cleveland Model of the Travelair "Mystery Ship"

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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.

Cleveland Site Location of the Travelair Mystery Ship

Travelair "Mystery Ship" at the Cleveland Site
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Our review of Popular Mechanics from 1932-1939 turned up several interesting articles on air racing.

Racing the Man-made Meteors from Popular Mechanics, February, 1937    Flying the Winged Bullets from Popular Mechanics, October 1938    Secrets of Speed from Popular Mechanics, November, 1938

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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