Jim Moss’ Gee Bee Q.E.D. replica
BY CRAIG O’NEILL
UPON LEARNING THAT A new project is about to emerge from the
Seattle-area hangar of Jim Moss, longtime EAA Sport Aviation readers will know to expect something extraordinary.
His restoration and re-imagining of the one-of-a-kind 1938 MG- 2
biplane and his reproduction of the 1931 Laird Super Solution
Thompson Trophy racer each graced the cover of this magazine and
killed lots of grass during their respective award-winning
appearances at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 1997 and 2002. Both
projects revealed Jim Moss as an uncompromising craftsman, an
imaginative problem-solver, and a passionate student of golden age
But even by his previous high standards, Jim’s current project is
stunning: a full-scale replica of the 1934 Gee Bee Q.E.D., the last airplane designed by the Granville brothers of Springfield,
Massachusetts. Though sharing the portly proportions and general
appearance of the famous Gee Bee pylon racers, the two-seat Q.E.D.
is almost 10 feet larger in both length and span than the R-1/R- 2 and
tips the scales at an impressive 6,200 pounds gross.
The Q.E.D. was designed in 1933 as a touring aircraft, not a racer,
but Granville Brothers Aircraft went bankrupt before the prototype
could be built, let alone the commercial market for such an airplane
be tested. Ironically, the sole example of the type ended up being
built a year later by a new firm—Granville, Miller & De Lackner—
specifically to compete in the epic MacRobertson Trophy Race from
London to Melbourne, Australia.
The Q.E.D. indeed enjoyed a “distinguished” racing career,
though not in the way its builders and pilots had hoped. Its qualification for the record books is that it never finished a single race it
entered, including not only the MacRobertson but also three
This shot not only shows the massive size of the Q.E.D.
relative to its someday pilot Jim Moss but also reveals how
comparatively svelte the steel-tube structure of the aircraft is
beneath its barrel-shaped Gee Bee fuselage.
transcontinental Bendix Trophy races and
the 1936 Thompson Trophy pylon race. In
each race, minor mechanical problems
caused the Q.E.D. to drop out or—as in the
1934 Bendix with famed pilot Lee Gehlbach
aboard—fail to make it to the starting line.
The Q.E.D. was powered by a Pratt &
Whitney R-1690 Hornet. Due to its mission
as a long-distance racer, this 675-hp powerplant was fed by a prodigious 480 gallons of
fuel. Jim didn’t feel his replica needed that
much fuel for even the most ambitious
cross-country flying. He also wasn’t excited
about trying to find and maintain a Hornet—
an engine both rare and cantankerous
relative to other radials.
“I had bought a Pratt 1340 when I realized that the Wright 1820 had the same
diameter as the 1690 with twice the
The retractable boarding step from an A- 7 Corsair is visible
in its extended position behind and to the right of Gee Bee
Q.E.D. builder Jim Moss. A spring extends the step on the
ground; a geared hand crank pulls it back in for flight.