Shoenfeldt Firecracker
Tony Lavier pilot

Shoenfeldt Firecracker

The Shoenfeldt Firecracker was my first of the 1/12 scale model replicas of the Golden Age Of Air Racing airplanes.

A three view drawing from the internet was all I had to start with. Using Photoshop I enlarged this 8 in. by 10 in. drawing to the one inch equaled one foot scale that I wanted. In my teen years, I built countless model airplanes, so developing the construction plan was not a problem. I made use of notes on the original three view drawing as well as old black and white photos to obtain more detail. Obtaining the colors for the registration numbers and racing numbers was a real challenge, as no color photos were made in those days. The model has movable control surfaces as well as retractable landing gear. After completing the model I realized I had made several errors in the details. However, these would not be noticeable to any one but myself.

The Shoenfeldt Firecracker started out as The Keith Rider R4. Built by the person of that name, who was very knowledgeable in the racing airplane business. The R4 was not a big money winner, placing third in the 1937 Grieve Trophy and seventh in the 1937 Thompson Trophy races.

Bill Shoenfeldt, a wealthy West Coast sportsman bought the airplane in late 1937. He bought the R4 without an engine. Later he purchased a late model Menasco engine and had a West Coast mechanic rebuild the engine, using state of the art methods the mechanic used to "hot rod" boat engines.

The R4 was renamed the "Firecracker" and the rest of the story is history. Tony Levier was not Bill Shoenfeldt's choice to fly the Firecracker, but Tony convinced him he could win races. Tony won the 1938 Grieve Trophy, but damaged the landing gear, which prevented entry in the Thompson race. However, In 1939 it was different story, he won the Grieve Trophy race an you ca read about the 1939 Thompson Trophy race by clicking below.

1939 Thompson Trophy Race

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