The Moss Super Q.E.D. II… And So It Is Proven
“Quod Erat Demonstrandum”, a Latin phrase which translates into English as “what was to be proved” has a universally accepted acronym: “Q.E.D.”. This is attributed to the Greek mathematician Euclid… and Euclidean geometry. It is used at the end of a “proof” of a proposition, proving the process’ validity.
Q.E.D. is also the name of the final model of distinctive racing aircraft attributed to the Granville Brothers (hence “Gee Bee”) of Springfield Massachusetts, during the 1930s. According to Jackie Cochran’s autobiography, the Granville Brothers translated Q.E.D. into “Quite Easily Done”, not exactly a direct translation from Latin.
Technically known as the R-6H (H due to its Pratt and Whitney Hornet engine), only one aircraft of this model was built – in 1934. The largest completed design to carry the Gee Bee name, it was actually built by a newly-formed company called Granville, Miller and De Lackner. It is one of only a few multi-place Gee Bee designs. Flown by Jacqueline Cochran and Wesley Smith, it unsuccessfully competed in the MacRobertson Air Race between Great Britain and Australia that year. Later purchased by Mexican pilot Francisco Sarabia, he would set a number of world speed records in it in 1939, including a non-stop flight between Mexico City and New York City in 10 hours and 47 minutes. Later that same year, the Q.E.D. crashed into the Potomac River after departing Washington D.C.’s Bolling Airfield. Sarabia was killed, but the aircraft (named “Conquistador del Cielo” or Sky Conqueror) was salvaged and restored; now it sits in a Mexican museum.
Eighty years after the original was built, a similar Q.E.D. was displayed at the National Air Races at Reno’s Stead Airport. The beautiful replica of the twin-seat Gee Bee Q.E.D. racer/sportster aircraft seemed right at home on the National Aviation Heritage Invitational ramp, as the 2014 air racers roared by behind it. Jim Moss, with a bit of help from a small team of volunteers, built the aircraft from scratch over a 10-year period. Moss, a respected aircraft builder from Washington, tackled the project after completing a Laird Super Solution replica; his intrigue of the Gee Bee aircraft led him into building a copy of the largest Gee Bee produced.
Officially known by the FAA as the “Jim Moss Q.E.D.” , it carries “Gee Bee Super Q.E.D. II” on its tail fin; a scale drawing signed by Moss notes it as a R-6W (Wright engine), but another source calls it a R-6C (Curtiss-Wright, or Cyclone engine?). The aircraft is a close copy of the original, although there are a few changes: a different engine, some missing fuel tanks, a larger tail surface, and its paint scheme. Moss used a Wright Cyclone engine instead of the original’s Pratt & Whitney Hornet due to its reliability and performance. The missing fuel tanks balanced out the added weight of the different engine, and the enlarged tail handled the extra horsepower that the Cyclone engine produced when compared to the original Hornet. The paint scheme is that of a more familiar pattern from a different Gee Bee racer; the original R-6H was flown in a green and orange scheme first, then a cream colored design later in life.
Sadly, Jim Moss never saw his Super Q.E.D. II fly. He died at 82 years of age just after taxi tests had commenced. A dedicated team of friends and family saw to it that the aircraft did fly, and on September 26, 2013 it lifted off from the Olympia (Washington) Regional Airport for the first time. Rich Alldredge, who flew the Super Q.E.D. to Reno from its home base in Washington, spoke about how one lands the aircraft, sitting so far back in the fuselage. Landings are the most difficult maneuver a pilot flying the Q.E.D. will face. One needs constant use of your peripheral vision to keep centered on the runway, as the big engine and wings limit forward vision. The trick to making a successful landing is to have the aircraft lined up correctly just before touchdown, as the empennage surfaces lose their effectiveness while the tail settles. Once on the ground, the aircraft will track in the direction you’ve set; there’s no correcting it.
Judy Moss, wife of the late builder, said that Jim always wanted to give back to the aviation community, and building the Q.E.D. replica was his gift to it. Including the Gee Bee replica, Jim built six airplanes, including that Laird Super Solution replica. The Mosses were regulars at EAA Conventions/AirVenture events in Oshkosh, and this year the Q.E.D. II received the first-ever Master Achievement Award for Vintage Aircraft at the gathering.
With accolades pouring in from the aviation community, Judy has been thrilled. Jim Moss’s Super Q.E.D. has proven to be an award winning recreation. Now, it’s time to move the aircraft into different hands to guide it in the future. Accordingly, this superb Gee Bee reproduction, with improvements made possible from advances made some 80 years after it was designed, is up for sale. Whether the aircraft will be flown by its new owner, or be displayed in a museum has yet to be determined (as of the writing of this story in September 2014 a sale hasn’t been announced). What we do know is that a breathtaking replica aircraft has been built and flown as it had been intended to.
Written by Ken Kula
Photos ©Mark Hrutkay/GLOC Aviation Photography and Dave Budd/Photorecon (except where noted)