Published: 10-01-2008 photo #3981 1 comments 0 votes
The Virginia Aviation Museum's Vultee V-1AD Special (NC16099) pictured here in 2006 is the only known surviving V-1AD in the world. Powered by a 1,000 hp Wright Cyclone R-1820 radial engine driving a 3-blade controllable-pitch propeller, this aircraft was custom-built for publisher William Randolph Hearst Sr. In 1939 it was sold to a Panamanian airline, and during World War II served Central and South America for the American government. After the war, the Vultee passed through several owners until the 1960s when Harold W. Johnston discovered this sole remaining V-1A and, after five years of restoration, it flew again on April 30, 1971. Johnson sold this aircraft to Sid Shannon Jr. for display at the Shannon Air Museum in Fredericksburg, Va. Mr. Shannon named the aircraft the Lady Peace II to commemorate Capt. Dick Merrill and actor Harry Richman's 1936 roundtrip trans-Atlantic crossing.
The V-1A series was built in 1934 as an airliner for American Airlines. When the CAA (the forerunner of the FAA) ruled airliners had to have at least two engines, the V-1As were taken out of commercial service and used as executive airplanes. Nine deluxe versions (V-1AD), outfitted with plush interiors and a larger engine, were produced and used as executive aircraft. In addition to the Merrill/Richman record-setting flight mentioned above, in 1935 Jimmy Doolittle used a V-1A to set a transcontinental time record. At least 16 V-As and ADs including the Lady Peace were sold to Spain in 1937 for use in the Spanish Civil War. The last V-1A was built in 1936 for the Soviet government and flown 10,000 miles from California to Moscow.
Except for the fabric-covered ailerons and elevator, the aircraft is built of aluminum and covered with Alcad metal sheets. The flaps and retractable landing gear are operated by a single electric motor. The executive version's cabin was soundproof and featured plush reclining seats and a complete lavatory. All models were equipped with the latest radios and navigation aids of the time.