1937 and 1940, Seversky produced seven single-seat airplanes which
were derived from the P-35. These were in addition to the prototype
SEV-1XP, also converted into a racer under the registration S1 and
which was Major de Seversky's personal plane.
The story of the Seversky racers is linked with famous names of
the "world of flying" in the Thirties. One of them, Franck Fuller
Jr, a wealthy heir of the Fuller Paint Company. In 1937, he purchased
the S2 a civilian P-35 fitted with a 100 HP Pratt and Whitney
radial engine, and showing some aerodynamic refinements with a
lowered cockpit. The S2 ranked first at the 1937 Bendix
Trophy race between Burbank California and Cleveland Ohio
(3300 km). The distance was covered in 7 hours 54 minutes with
an average speed of 415 km/h (258 mph). In January 1938, at the
Pacific Air Races , Fuller won the Oakland California
to Seattle Washington race, in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 4 seconds.
As property of the paint firm, the S2 got a blue paint scheme
with yellow arrows, emblematic of the roaring Thirties .
During the summer of 1938, the S2 went to Hollywood, rented
by Metro Goldwyn Mayer for the making of the film "Test
Pilot" . It was returned to its natural metal finish
and bearing the inscription " Drake Bullet " on each
side of the fuselage, the plane opened the film, with Clark Gable
at the controls. With the production of this film, the S2
was probably the aircraft that most contributed in establishing
the reputation of Major de Seversky's firm.
But the saga of the Seversky racers was above all, linked to the
name of Jacqueline Cochran. The famous woman pilot flew the firm's
AP7 and AP9, both fitted with 1200 HP engines. Flying the AP 7,
she won the 1938 Bendix Trophy, leaving the second place to Franck
Fuller's S2 . In 1940, Jacqueline Cochran flying the
AP9 entered a feminine challenge on a flight from California to
New Mexico, completing the distance in 3 hours, 4 minutes and
47 seconds, at an average speed of 535 km/h (332 mph), a noteworthy
achievement for that time.
Races, movies...The Seversky racers moved with their time, the
era of an America who tried to forget the Great Depression, wanting
to believe in the progress of a peaceful world, having fun with
Jazz, swing, and marvelling at the first coloured movies of the
Luc Fournier, Aerostories 2000.
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