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Thread: Red Baron RB-51 Unlimited Racer Revisited

  1. #1
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    Red Baron RB-51 Unlimited Racer Revisited

    I have been scanning some of my old Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides and came across these photos of the famous Red Baron RB-51 Mustang Unlimited Racer. The in-flight photo was taken at the 1978 Mojave Air Races (California). The ground photos were taken at Chino, California just before the 1979 "Gathering of Eagles" airshow. Steve Hinton flew the Red Baron in the airshow. As many of you may know, Steve was almost killed in the crash and total destruction of the Red Baron at the 1979 Reno Air Races, just a very short time after these photos were taken. I remember seeing photos of the crash remains and you simply couldn't believe that anybody could have survived such a crash.

    A fascinating aircraft, the RB-51 used a Rolls-Royce Griffon 58 as the basis for the highly modified engine which included a modified carburetor intake elbow from a Mk. XIX Spitfire. A Bendix PR-58 carburetor from a C series Pratt and Whitney R-2800 was mounted on top of the modified intake.

    I remember hanging around all day at Mojave in 1978 on a pre-race day and got to observe the Red Baron up close (I skipped my college classes). This was a long, long time ago, but I remember that there was at least one engineer from Lockheed there with a bunch of design data compiled in thick notebooks and I was privileged to get to take a look, spreading the notebooks open on one of the wings. At the time, this aircraft was by a wide margin the most professionally engineered racer in existence.

    The Red Baron apparently required custom-made supercharger drive gears and was plagued by drive gear failure throughout its life. It was calculated that the Griffon engine would provide enough power to at least get the aircraft on the ground in the event of supercharger failure, but a mechanical failure occurred that wasn't anticipated..............

    At the 1979 Reno Air Races, a supercharger drive gear failure occurred which resulted in the broken fragments jamming the oil pump. This resulted in rapid engine failure. With no oil pressure, Steve could not get the prop feathered. This was a catastrophic condition that resulted in the following crash and huge fireball. Steve was seriously injured but of course survived. I understand that Steve's last radio transmission just prior to the crash was "tell Karen that I love her," referring to Karen, his wife (the former Karen Maloney). Steve is a real class act, no?

    Enjoy the photos .

    Best,
    - octane130 -


    Last edited by octane130; 15th September 2007 at 04:14.

  2. #2
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    Gorgeous photos - thanks for posting.

    It has to be the ultimate development of the P-51 and there are some lovely 3 views in Paul Coggan's latest Mustang Survivors if I remember rightly.

    I remember seeing the crash on Dickie Davies "World of Sport" and how Steve Hinton survived is a miracle - very very glad he did.

    Cheers

    Jason
    Jason Webb
    www.361fg.com

  3. #3
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    Yes, thanks for posting. That a/c just looks so good.

    T J
    "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!!!"

    Jules Winnfield 1994

  4. #4
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    Octane,

    Those are really special shots. I still say the RB was the best looking racer of all time. I was out at chino around that same time, that first shot was taken in front of Sanders hangar and was shortly after it got new paint if i recall. I had many great shots of that plane in all its phases back when you would see many of the great racers of the 70's. I lost most of that material in a fire years ago and i just cringe at the thought.

    Here is the only surviving picture from that group at Mojave 79.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    Anthony
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  5. #5
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    Surely also a good advert for slide photography in a digital age?
    See how they wheel, bank and glide? Perfect. All in one.

  6. #6
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    RB-51.....In America

    Driving in California ? in the early 90,s ,we stopped off at a diner/gas station by the side of a desert airfield...While inside, I got talking to a very nice chap who on finding out that I was English was very interested in the English warplane scene, lots of questions etc,but then we got interupted by her indoors,who was driving....Saying we had to go!. The nice chap said hang on and produced from behind the counter a poster which he signed To ..... Watch for the One in the sun The Red Baron Ed. I thanked him and rushed out...If only i have had more time..Anyone who would like this poster FREE...(Please dont put it on evilbay etc..) reply to me. The poster was printed by the red baron flying service @ 1977..and shows the aircraft in a all red livery.

  7. #7
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    Here are a few more photos of the fabulous Red Baron RB-51 that you might enjoy. These were taken in 1979, just a very short time before its total destruction at the Reno air races that year. Thankfully, pilot Steve Hinton miraculously survived.

    Best,
    - octane130 -




    Last edited by octane130; 27th September 2007 at 05:51.

  8. #8
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    Talk about coincidences, I saw a photo of this aircraft in a book I was browsing through in the local book shop this morning then come home and see it again. The book was about the Messerchmitt Me209 which held the absolute speed record for 30 years. There was also a couple of photos of Daryl Greenamyer's Bearcat which broke that record in 1969. Daryl also had a plane called The Red Baron but it was an F-104 he had built from odd parts and in which he set the ultimate speed record, if anyone has a photo of this I would love to see it as I have been unable to find any.
    Cheers Paul

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Thanks, jimflint80 for posting those photo links of Darrel Greenamayer's Red Baron Lockheed F-104! Old memories were brought right up to the surface. I remember seeing THIS Red Baron taking off from Mojave, California in what must have been 1978. First of all, even those that have been privileged enough to have seen an ordinary F-104 take-off would have just been blown away by a take-off from this extemely light-weight, home-built Starfighter! Darrel flew the F-104 at extremely low altitude for just a few seconds after takeoff and then, still in afterburner, pulled the aircraft vertical and performed an immediate "Immelmann." The aircraft then proceeded to intended destination in the opposite direction. Simply jaw-dropping! This is the kind of thing that U.S. civil pilots could get away with performing at a remote, "uncontrolled" airport such as Mojave on an ordinary day. This was and is strictly verboten at other airports. Mojave is an ex-US Marine Corps Air Station located just outside the limits of the famous Edwards Air Force Base.

    By the way, Darrel was banned by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) from flying the F-104 from his local base, Van Nuys Airport in SoCal, USA. One reason was that the F-104 could awaken the dead with its extreme noise levels from the General Electric J79 turbojet engine in a very dense population area and second, this was a dangerous aircraft----period. The F-104 had to be trucked up to Mojave for flight activities. Darrel was very vociferous in his complaints regarding this. I remember following this on the local television news broadcasts. There was the F-104 perched up on a flat-bed truck in the background.

    Darrel received the J79 engine for his project from an "anonymous" donor. Hmm, I wonder who that may have been .

    The ejection seat that he purchased in an Army-Navy surplus store in Oceanside, California was later responsible for saving his life when the landing gear on this aircraft would not extend. You really do not belly-land an F-104 and live to tell about it. Following the ejection and crash of the F-104, Darrel matter-of-factly carried his parachute out to the nearest Mojave Desert road and caught a ride from a local resident back to civilization. Hey, no big deal to him .

    Best,
    - octane130 -
    Last edited by octane130; 21st October 2007 at 18:03.

  11. #11
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    Hello Jim

    Thanks for the link, it would have been awesome to see that flying at 1000mph less than 100m from the ground, then again you may not have seen much at all!

    Octane130 - I am envious that you did get to see it flying

    Paul

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    Thanks to the generosity of an online friend (thanks, Anthony!), I have been recently provided with a bunch of video footage of the Red Baron RB-51. The below link is to a short video compilation of the Red Baron's 1979 world air speed record attempt that I edited. This video is totally unavailable commercially and I figured that it had been long lost until my friend came up with this great stuff! The video has gone through several generations of past video reproduction technologies and it definitely shows, but it remains as probably the only Red Baron speed attempt video in existence. I have a lot more if viewers are interested; let me know if you want me to post more footage .

    The below linked video shows Steve Hinton flying the Red Baron near Tonopah, Nevada in 1979 in his world piston-powered air speed record attempt, which he achieved with an average speed of 499.018 mph. That is Steve Hinton speaking on the radio in this video. The rules stipulate that the qualifying aircraft may not ascend over 100 meters above ground elevation; however, it appears that Steve was never really over appoximately 150 feet above the ground on the measuring portion of the course. This is really, really hairy at these speeds, which went as high as 508 mph in this record attempt!

    Enjoy the video!

    Best,
    - octane130 -
    RED BARON SPEED RECORD VIDEO LINK:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avcQOEpwq3k
    Last edited by octane130; 12th December 2007 at 23:30.

  13. #13
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    jeez, listen to the sound it makes

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    Nicely done Octane!!!! That is a sound that will haunt me til the very end

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    I've added a link to a video that I put together that features Steve Hinton giving a talk at the monthly seminar at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California, on February 3, 2007 about his career flying the Red Baron RB-51 Unlimited Racer. This is great, historical stuff! The Red Baron met its demise at the Reno, Nevada Air Races in 1979. You simply would not believe that anyone could survive such a crash but, of course, Steve thankfully did.
    All the best and enjoy this video,
    - octane130 -
    Steve Hinton/Red Baron Video Link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39scr3LcxsI
    Last edited by octane130; 12th December 2007 at 23:18.

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    precious metal

    WOW- THATS NOT NOISE, ITS MUSIC!!!- great photo's too!! found a site about another Griffon engined P-51 'Precious Metal' thats flying in the states now -www.warbirdaeropress.com/articles/PMmods/PMmods.htm -if anyone's interested- doesn't look as good as the Red Baron though!

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the video Octane, gave me goose bumps listening to that sound.

  18. #18
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    I wonder how many revs they were turning that Griffon at!? What a sound.

    I still think building a Starfighter from junk and flying it at 1000mph 150ft off the deck takes some beating though. The army surplus shops in the States must be a hell of a lot better than they are here!

    I would certainly be interested in seeing the crash video. No-one died, so I suppose it couldn´t really be said to be in bad taste.

  19. #19
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    In consideration of Steve, family and friends, I've decided not to post the Red Baron crash video. Better to focus on positive things!

  20. #20
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    Does anyone know of a 3 view or any drawings available of this aeroplane?

  21. #21
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    WOW !!!
    never fear, Smith is here

  22. #22
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    Fantastic! That sound is just.... awesome!

    I'm sure Steve wouldn't mind seeing that clip, if he's not already?
    There is nothing to fear but fear itself. And spiders. F**k spiders.

    Daren Cogdon

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    Oh and octane, the Lockheed engineer you saw walking around the RB-51, was probably Bruce Boland. You can read his story here: http://warbirdaeropress.com/articles/Boland/Boland.htm
    Ryan:
    It really had to be Bruce. For all these years I didn't realize I had been in such famous company. I was just some young guy that wandered up to the aircraft and was thrilled to be allowed to get to take a look at all the design data. Very sophisticated stuff! And thanks for the links to the Red Baron drawings.

    - octane130 -
    Last edited by octane130; 13th December 2007 at 04:21.

  25. #25
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    I hope I am not overdoing this Red Baron thread , but I have another video about the Steve Hinton's 1979 World Air Speed Record Attempt (piston) in the RB-51. This video presents the majority of the original television broadcast documentary which also featured actor Cliff Robertson doing commentary (Cliff was once an owner and pilot of a Spitfire IX). This is a really great video for unlimited racer and warbird fans. Enjoy the video!
    Best,
    - octane130 -

    Red Baron Video Link....The Complete Story of the 1979 Speed Record Attempt:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO87ssbtY48
    Last edited by octane130; 19th December 2007 at 01:40.

  26. #26
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    thanks for posting these video's as my nick states i'm a huge redbaron fan and even down under it had an impact (air classic was bought religisly for me by my father for the reno/airracing news)in 1979 i was heartbroken at the news of the crash.
    it's awesome to see video's of her in flight
    thanks again paul

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