In the days of its debuts, Dayton Wright RB Racer was state of art of technology. In the 1920 monoplane with retractable landing gear, smooth skin, variable chamber wing, integral construction of fuselage and tail was far ahead of the biplanes with fabric covered surfaces, fixed landing gear and struts.

RB Racer

RB Racer

This start in January 1920 when Aero Club of America sent out invitation to American entries for the Gordon Bennet International Cup Race to be held next year in France and with hope that someone will bring trophy to USA. Dayton Wright Airplane Company from Dayton, Ohio, was one of those to get telegram and Howard Rinehart, decide to build entire advanced design to match the requirements. Howard Rinehart was owner of the company as well holder of the club’s certificate No. 266, was a top-ranking, seasoned flier for the Wright organization. Principal designers was he as well Milton Baumann, therefore RB was designation of the airplane. Valuable influence was given by Charles Grant, who was model builder and he has very extensive studies of the airfoil behavior with movable leading and trailing edges. Grant proposal was to built wing from three assemblies with leading and trailing edge to be dropped simultaneously. Idea was to make airplane in much clean flight configuration and reduce drag as much as possible and make possible flight at 200 mph.

Construction

Fuselage was built with multiple layers of wood veneer with add of fabric strips, each new layer crisscrossing layer underneath. Entrance was thought the hatch at the top of fuselage, behind the rear wing spar. Airplane did not have cockpit canopy but on side was provided two celluloid windows which could be also used as exit in emergency. This celluloid was soft enough that pilot can push his head there to have some limited forward visibility. Wing was entirely built of wood and plywood covered. Prototype has oversized constant chord wing, used just for retractable landing gear test and was later replaced with smaller wing with movable leading and trailing edge. It has no fillet with fuselage so it cause additional drag. Variable mechanism was connected with landing gear so when gear was down, leading and trailing edge was also lowered and raised when landing gear was up. To regret control mechanism and cables for wing was placed externally at the top of the wing and this also cause additional drag. RB Racer was powered by Hall-Scott L-6a, six cylinder engine, liquid cooled, rated at 250HP and driving two blade fixed wooden propeller. It size and shape resulted in deep front fuselage and flat radiator also provide additional drag. Landing gear was manually operated and crank was mounted at the center of instrument panel. It need some 12 turns to completely extract or inward landing gear. Landing gear was equipped with shock absorbers and it look similar as those used later Grumman F3F or Curtiss BF2C. Vertical tail surface was built integral with fuselage. Entire airplane was painted in silver paint and polished.

RB Racer

RB Racer

Operational use

First flight in racers configuration show some problems and it have poor directional stability. This resulted in adding of two small fins ate the horizontal surfaces to solve this problems. During elimination trials at 25th September 1920, Rinehart flew RB 165 mph and he even did not use maximum throttle. It was known it could flew faster but maybe control problems resulted to keep flight at lower speed. Due to the problem with front visibility, Rinehart was forced to fly zigzag and this also reduced maximum speed of the RB Racer. Airplane get blue number 2 at the fuselage sides, just behind the windows.

Dismantled and shipped to France, the RB-1 was flown by Howard Rinehart in the 28 September 1920 race. Rinehart take off first and retract landing gear, heading south on course but he return 20 minutes later with landing gear down. Cable was jammed resulting in not fully retracted landing gear and putting it into streamlined position.

RB Racer never flew again. It was returned to USA and today it is exhibited in Ford Museum at Dearborn.

RB Racer

RB Racer

Technical data

Span 21’ 2’’

Length 22’ 8’’
Height 8’
Empty weight 1400 lbs
Loaded weight 1850 lbs
Engine Hall-Scott L-6a, water cooled, six cylinder, 250 hp at 2200 rpm
Landing speed 64 mph
Estimated maximum speed 190+ mph
Range 275 miles
Top ceiling 15,000 ft

Srecko Bradic