BuNo 88463  F2G-2

When the National Air Races resumed at Cleveland in 1946, Cook Cleland a local ex-Navy WW II hero
entered  a surplus FG-1 Corsair. The Corsair  was no match  for the Bell P-39, North American  P-51’s
and  finished  a disappointing sixth place. After the race Admiral Halsey asked Cook what it would take
to win the  Thompson  Trophy, the reply was "an F2G Sir". Within  days, an F2G was declared surplus
and  Cook was  on  his way  home with it, and  there would  be several  others to follow.  Dick Becker,
a  fellow  Navy  test pilot  would  join Cook’s  racing  team. Two more  F2G’s would  follow  for a three
plane  racing  team with  Becker as the  second pilot  and Tony Janazzo  as  third. Everything possible
was  done  to reduce  weight  and  drag. The  sub-rudder  was  removed  and the flaps were secured
 in the up position.


(Wes Hansen collection)
#74 at Cleveland 1947

The airplane was painted a medium blue with white leading edges, a white fuselage center
 stripe and a blue/white  checkerboard  cowl. Race number  74 was  also  painted in white.

         Pratt & Whitney R-4360

The brute power of the F2G’s, with their P&W-R4360 engines would take Cook Cleland
  to the winners cirCle in #74 and Dick Becker to second place in # 94. The joy of victory
 however, was overshadowed by the fatal crash of teammate Tony Janazzo flying #84.

      (Del Bryan collection)
       Being towed to the start line

Cleland about to pass Becker
 (Oil painting by David W. White)

      (Del Bryan collection)
         Cook, the happy winner of the 1947 Thompson

The 1948 Thompson Trophy Race looked very promising for the Cleland and Becker team.
This  year, Cleland would fly  #94 and Becker  #74. The Shell Oil Co. had developed a new
aviation  fuel called  triptane and  made it available to Cleland for his Corsairs. Hopes for a
 back-to-back victory for the team faded when engine backfires dislodged the air intake scoop
 on # 74 in the third lap and on # 94 in the forth lap, causing both to drop out of the race.

(Bill Meixner collection)
#74 Dislodged air scoop 1948

In  1949,  things again  looked  very promising  with  the addition of a third F2G flown by
Ben McKillen, and the team was again looking for a 1-2-3 victory. Again fate intervened,
when Becker qualified at an excellent speed only to have his gear reduction box strip it’s
gears  at  the  end of his qualifying lap.  Fortunately Becker was directly over the airport
 when the gear box failed and with his test pilot skills he was able to dead-stick the heavy
bird on to the runway.

(Robert Runyan)
#74 out after qualifying

With  no  way of replacing it  before the  race, it would be up to Cleland and McKillen
to bring the Corsairs back to the winner’s cirCle. The threat of the two highly modified
 Mustangs was eliminated when Anson Johnson’s landing gear failed to retract causing
him to withdraw and Bill Odom’s crashed fatally on the second lap.

Cleland came in first, winning the Thompson Trophy for the second time. Ron Puckett,
 was second in another F2G, and Ben McKillen, took third place for a F2G Clean sweep
 in 1949.

When  the  National  Air Races were  postponed  in early 1950, and later canceled
 of the war in Korea, the future of #74 looked grim. Cleland, a member of
 the Naval Air Reserve volunteered for duty in Korea where he became a hero again.
What do you do with no less than three racing Corsairs and no races? Cleland sold
 the grounded #74 to local collector Walter Soplata.

Soplata collection mid-‘80’s

With a passion for saving warbirds from the scrap pile, Soplata disassembled
#74 at Cleveland Airport and transported it to his property east of Cleveland.

Without buildings to house his collection, Soplata provide the cover he could and
oiled  the metal  parts to the best of  his  ability. Forty-some years later Soplata
sold  #74 to the Crawford Museum. With plans for a new museum building to be
 completed by the end of 2002, the Crawford put #74 into storage.


(Adam Snelly)                                        (Adam Snelly)       
        # 74 coming out of storage                              # 74 Wings                         

       Bob Odegaard in North Dakota was chosen for the restoration. # 74 was put on
          display at the Cleveland National Air Show during the Labor Day weekend of 1999.

(Al Bush)
# 74 attracted attention at Air Show

When the Air Show was over #74 was shipped to
Bob Odegaard for restoration.



Race 74.JPG (143294 bytes)

The racer was totally disassembled and restoration of the center
section was started.


                 74 center sect..jpg (81788 bytes)              74 r wing.jpg (97199 bytes)                 

"Wings and center section are blasted and corrosion free.


         #74 Virant 1.JPG (70888 bytes)

     (Dave Virant)
             Progress  report  by member  David Virant of Willowick OH  who
 visited with Bob Odegaard at his shop and provided these photos
    of center section as a progress report.

Work by Bob and sons has progressed and #74 is going to the paint booth

Starting to look good

Instrument panel

Wings painted

Engine installed

(Kevin Grantham)
Shortly after completion Odegaard flew No 74 at Reno 2011

Photo courtesy of Larry Perkins

On Sept. 07, 2012, Robert Odegaard tragically died when the restored F2G Corsair crashed while practicing for a local air show.


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Updated Monday, February 18, 2013