Shoenfeldt Firecracker Flight Simulation

Just Imagine

It is the year 1939 and you are Captain Pete Maxwell an Army Air Corps jock flying a brand new, out of the box, Seversky P35 to the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio. You were recently promoted and hand picked to show off the Army Air Corp's muscle over the Labor Day weekend. There will be movie stars and lots of pretty girls, this will be good duty.

You take another look at those two brand new silver bars on your shoulder, then you notice a little commercial job off your right wing tip. It is obviously a racer and has a number seventy on the side. The pilot grins at you and salutes you, you salute him back.

Where did this yellow ship come from, he had to come up on my tail, must be pretty fast. Does he want to play? You bump the throttle a little, the airspeed indicator shows 268 MPH. The yellow streak drops back and in a few seconds he is right back off your wing tip.

OK, lets see what you can do. You select Auto Rich mixture, prop selection to Increase RPM, and push the throttle to the stop, the Seversky shudders slightly and you watch the RPM, Manifold Pressure and AI climb. The yellow job is gone. This P35 should get 300 MPH plus. You watch the MP climb; 63 inches, AI climbs to 298 MPH and no higher.

Wow, there he is back now on my left wing tip. The pilot in the yellow streak waves and pushes his throttle to the stop. In minutes the yellow racer has disappeared on the horizon.

You think, God I would like to fly on of those, he has got thirty or forty MPH over this ship!

Captain Pete Maxwell, you will never have a chance. You will be killed in a mid air crash over Southern Alabama in the spring of 1942, while training in a Lockheed P38.

It is ironic and quite possible that the pilot of the yellow racer was Tony Levier. Tony was employed by Lockheed in 1941 and was assigned as a P38 test pilot in early 1942. He quite possibly flew as test pilot on the same P38 in which Captain Pete Maxwell was killed!

The Shoenfeldt Firecracker was probably the fastest airplane in the world at that time. Capable of speeds in excess of 330 MPH and even faster "down hill." It certainly was faster than any thing the US Military had until 1941. Roscoe Turner's Meteor may have been as fast. In 1939 Turner won the Thompson Trophy Race. Tony Levier flying the Firecracker finished second. A judgment decision on Tony's part cost the race for him. The photos I have used are of a scale model replica of the Shoendeldt Firecracker that I completed, more on this later.

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