On November 19, 1931 Bob Hall resigned from the Granville Brothers Aircraft Company. He had been the chief engineer since 1929 for the sport plane manufacturer and his designs, including the Gee Bee Model Z, had achieved many successes.
Hall set out on his own to design his own aircraft and he didn’t have to wait long for his initial orders. In 1932, Russell Thaw, with the patronage of Marion Guggenheim, ordered one of the first designs from Hall, an air racer that he could use in the Bendix Transcontinental Race as well as the Cleveland Air Races. The Bulldog made its first flight on August 15, 1932 and after some initial adjustments, Thaw made his first flight later in the month.
Unfortunately Thaw was not happy with the airplane and declined to enter it in the Bendix race. Some think the air racer was too much aircraft for the young pilot, he had not flown anything with the same kind of performance up until that point. Eventually Guggenheim would consent to letting Hall race the Bulldog at the Cleveland Air Races much to the designer’s delight.
Hall qualified for the Thompson Trophy race in the Bulldog with a speed of 243 mph. But the Gee Bee flown by Jimmy Doolittle had qualified at 294 mph and ran away with the win in the race setting a closed course record at 252 mph. Hall’s old design was too much to compete with and Hall had to settle for 6th place at only 215 mph.
There was much discussion about what could be done to make the Bulldog faster, but in the end a frustrated Hall dismantled the airplane and it never flew again.
Recreating the Hall Springfield Bulldog
Our own Jim Jenkins became fascinated by the story of the Bulldog while he was building his recreation of the Gee Bee model E back in the 1980s. After a lot of research and tracking down every bit of information about the airplane he could, Jim was ready to get started building a Bulldog.
By 1990 he had started on the wing ribs and in 1992 he started on the fuselage. In 1994 Jim stopped working on the Bulldog to start the restoration of a Bellanca Cruisemaster. Unfortunately, it would be 15 years until the Bulldog received any attention again.
Today, after so many years of waiting, Jim says he is excited to finally see it finished. He envisions his recreation of the Bulldog to be what Bob Hall would have done after taking the airplane back to Bowles-Agawam Field and refining it for the races in 1933.
“I want to show people it was really a good airplane and a beautiful airplane that didn’t get the respect it deserved” Jenkins says. “I think Bob Hall really deserves it.”
Today, thanks to the generous help of museum founder Harold Hansen, the Hall family, Griggs Irving and several others, the Bulldog is back on the hangar floor and work is getting started once again. More help is needed and if you are interested in helping with the Bulldog project, donations are welcome. Please contact us for more information about how to donate to the museum and the Bulldog project.
Check back here regularly for updates about the Bulldog, including an extended history on Bob Hall and the airplane, as well as updates throughout the building process.
Hall Springfield Bulldog Recreation
Engine: Pratt & Whitney 1340 Wasp 600hp
Wing Span: 26′
Empty Weight: ~1800-1900 pounds
Gross Weight: ~2800-2900 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 120 gallons (original carried 210 gallons)