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The Cassutt Racer

By Alistair Heathcote

Some of you have seen my Orange Cassutt Racer at the field and asked what it is? It is the second one that I have built so here is the story of Tom Cassutt and the two models.

Tom Cassutt – a TWA Captain – designed the Racer in 1951. It was designed for Goodyear Formula 1 racing and other Midget Racer events. Goodyear Formula 1 racing was first proposed in 1936 as "midget racing". It was introduced as the open racing of the 1930’s had become very expensive to be competitive. The 190 Cubic inch engine capacity specification was set in 1946, and the first competition took place in 1947. Some smaller 1930s air racers, were retrofitted with this engine to compete. With the introduction of the Continental O-200 engine, the maximum engine displacement was raised to 200 cubic inches in 1968. Aircraft must have a minimum wing area of 66 square feet (6.1 m2), and an empty weight of 500 pounds (227kg) or more. The aircraft must also have fixed landing gear, and a fixed pitch propeller. Racers compete in a 3.19-mile (5.13 km) oval course.

The first Cassutt had a wing span of only 15ft (4.6 mtrs) and with the 100 hp Continental flat four engine, it had a top speed about 250 mph!(400km/hr). It is fabric covered over steel tube fuse and tail with wood structure for the wings. Despite the simple construction it is stress to take 12G!!!!!It was so successful in competition that Tom was persuaded to offer it for home build and, after about 5000 sold it is still available. A long wing version that was more aerobatic was also developed – 17 1\2 ft (5.3 mtrs)!

Tom Cassutt passed away on 23rd Nov 2015 aged 98!


General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 16 ft 0 in (4.88 m)
  • Wingspan: 15 ft 0 in (4.57 m)
  • Height: 4 ft 0 in (1.22 m)
  • Wing area: 68 ft2 (6.3 m2)
  • Empty weight: 500 lb (227 kg)
  • Gross weight: 850 lb (386 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-200, 100 hp (65 kW)

A few years ago I saw one at Duxford Imperial War Museum that really caught my eye. An internet search showed that it was owned by Richard Grace and was one of three that do the air show circuit in the UK as “The Dukes of Cassutt” (see Photo). Richard is son of Carolyn Grace who owns and flies a two seat Spitfire!! – (another interesting story)


Anyway, a quick scribble on a big piece of paper had a plan drawn up for a quick build scale like model. The one owned by Richard was a long wing and I decided to model that which came to 70 inches (1.78 m) for a one third scale.


This model is conventional build with a relatively thick wing to improve aerobatic performance, Saito 100 four stroke power, fuselage covered in aluminium Glosstex, wings and tail in Monocote – it was quick to build, looks the part and is light weight.

I gave it away to a friend in Ingleburn before I moved to Brandy Hill but missed it so much I built another – 60 inch (1.53 mtrs). The full size was built in the UK by Airmark Cassutt for racing there. The colour and markings are correct from photos as the aircraft was written off in the 1970’s. This time electric powered with a 1200 watt motor and 4S/3300mAh battery. All balsa and ply and covered with Sunland heat shrink film. Very sensitive on elevator with that big chord wing. But great fun to fly now it is tamed.

Enjoy the photos. Some pics courtesy Richard Grace web site.



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