Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury
Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury
Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury

Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury

 HOSLER'S GREATEST TRIUMPH
BY
PHIL KRAUSE
 

Russ Hosler's greatest air-racing triumph came at the Cleveland National Air Races in 1948 and oddly, the only thing Russ had to do with it is that he owned the airplane. This is the story of that triumph and the people who made it happen.

Bob Hallein, a former NACA employee, was spirited away from that organization by Russ Hosler, owner of Hosler Aircraft Corporation of Cleveland. One of Bob's responsibilities for the firm was to put together a racing team for the 1948 National Air Races. Hallein knew that Howard Lilly, NACA test pilot and racing pilot, had died in a tragic crash and that his P-63 racer was for sale. Bob contacted Ken Kleinknecht, a NACA engineer who was one of Howard's closest friends and the project engineer for Howard's racing efforts. Ken had been asked by the Lilly family to dispose of the airplane so arrangements were quickly made and the airplane became the property of the Hosler Aircraft Corporation.

Ken, to sweeten the deal, had offered the services of all the former crewmembers for one season. This would be a good solution to crewing the airplane since all the men were familiar with the airplane and knew just what had to be done to make it race-worthy for 1948.
 

Russell A. Hosler's Greatest Triumph

This left side view of race 55 in 1948 shows what a colorful paint job Frank Holt applied. It was a beautiful airplane.
Frank Holt photo

 
Russell A. Hosler's Greatest Triumph

Bob Eucker in the cockpit of race 55, the ever-present smile on his face. The helmet was borrowed from the football team of the high school Bob attended as a youth. Frank Holt photo

Soon an agreement was reached between Russ and Ken and the crew, and on the 23rd of July 1948 a contract was signed at Hosler's home in Rocky River closing the deal. Hosler and Hallein hired Cleveland native Bob Eucker as pilot. Ken was again the engineer, Mark Nelsen occupied his long time position as crew chief and Frank Heckman, Frank Holt and Al Eaton were assigned slots as mechanics. Tie down space was rented from Bill Martin of Sky Tech - a local fixed-base operator at the Cleveland airport and arrangements made for access to electricity and high-pressure compressed air supply. The boys were back in business, and Russ only need sit back and watch.

The airplane was due for a CAA airworthiness inspection. It had been out in the weather since the 1947 races so the first order of business was a thorough cleanup and systems check. A licensed CAA inspector who was also a NACA employee, Royal Boyd, was hired to do the inspection. Royal was very thorough man as Frank Holt remembers. "For instance, he found some small rust spots on a few bolts in the wheel wells and insisted we remove every speck of rust down to shiny metal and call him to inspect before we covered them with zinc chromate.

With the inspection complete, the airplane was scrubbed clean and prepared for a paint job. Holt painted it a beautiful high gloss black with bright yellow markings except for the white Hosler Aircraft Corporation logo on the forward fuselage and the name "Spirit of Tick" on the doors. These door markings were done on Ken's instructions in honor of Howard. When finished and rubbed out, this paint job made the airplane a standout at the 1948 races. Frank wanted to paint the entire airplane black, but the rest of the crew wanted the spinner painted yellow. Under duress, he painted it yellow. Later, when the airplane was flown, he said the yellow spinner was like a beacon; it was visible long before you could see the rest of the airplane. Because Frank's hobby was photography, a number of beautiful color shots exist of the 1948-paint scheme.

Russell A. Hosler's Greatest Triumph

Bob and Alice Eucker on the wing of race 55 just after Bob won the 1948 Sohio race. A policeman lifted Alice onto the wing after she told him she was the pilot's wife.
Frank Holt photo

 
Russell A. Hosler's Greatest Triumph

Bob and that smile, and the reason for the smile. Racing an unlimited airplane in the Nationals was a lifelong dream for Bob.
Frank Holt photo

 
Russell A. Hosler's Greatest Triumph

A right side photo of Race 55 in 1948. Race 55 was one of the most colorful ships in the National Air Races that year. Frank Holt worked his fanny off on this paint job and is justly proud of it to this day.
Frank Holt photo

 
Not all of the people who worked on the airplane in 1948 were named in the contract. One such person was George Glawe, a young NACA employee. George was later to gain international acclaim as a NACA engineer for his pioneering research in monitoring extremely high temperature gas flow. The "Glawe Probe" is a standard tool of the world aerospace community today. George had been introduced to Bob Eucker and would ride to the airport with him on the days he was able to get away. Changing spark plugs or cleaning carburetor parts on a racing plane was a great way to spend those lazy summer days for a young man who loved the excitement of air racing.

 
[ Introduction ] [ Hosler Fury 1 ] [ Hosler Fury 2 ] [Hosler Fury 3 ]

[ Greatest Triumph 1 ] [ Greatest Triumph 2 ] [ Greatest Triumph 3 ]

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Russell Hosler and the Hosler Fury

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