By Joe Beshar
Photos by Cindy Toth
(see photos below)
I always felt that the Shoestring in my model hangar was the best of all my models, having worn out at least six that were usually powered with a .91 4-stroke engine. They all flew with character, had a beautiful appearance and were a lot of fun and a joy to observe.
I was inspired when I learned that Bob Holman had the plans for a 41% scale version and just had to address building the mammoth model. Building was challenging, but it really was a pleasure. This model is not very simple to build, but it’s not impossibly difficult.
Rodney Kreimendahl, the designer of the full-scale ‘Shoestring” racer aircraft came from a broken home in Westfield, MA. He was one of those who were greatly influenced by Lindberg’s success. He loved airplanes, but was not a pilot. He was an avid modeler and won several awards for his creations and construction skills as a young man. Because of his family’s circumstances, he was not able to go to college and became a draftsman for Chance-Vought. However, one summer, he won a scholarship to Northeastern University. When Lockheed won the Hudson contract prior to World War II, he was recruited as a structural designer to Burbank, CA to work on the design of the YP 38 boom.
Prior to World War II, the Cleveland air races were a big thing for aviation enthusiasts. After the war, a new class of racers was started called Goodyear racers or “midgets.” There was a design team at Lockheed already starting to design a plane, which eventually became known as “Cosmic Winds.” There were enough of others who were interested in racers, so Rodney started up a new group. He did the configuration and all the design work on the midget racer.
His wife was asked what should it be named and she came up with “Shoestring”—because it was built on a shoestring budget. Eventually, the plane was built without an engine, the most expensive single item. In 1949, the plane was flown with an engine loaned by the first race pilot Bob Downey. Because of Rodney’s natural talent and love of aircraft, he worked for Kelly Johnson on the X-7, F 104, Vertical Riser and then the U-2. Rodney was killed in an airplane crash.
In 1965, a National Airlines pilot bought the Shoestring Racer and asked the other two people involved, Carl Ast, a talented mechanic and Paul Jones, a topnotch pilot and sheet metal sculptor (World War II B-25 instructor), to campaign the racer for one year. The airplane was brought back to Van Nuys Airport. Eventually, the crew got the airplane in winning condition once again and went on to successfully win several races.
The colors of the original Shoestring were Cadillac Chartreuse and Chinese Red. In 1950, its design was considered a classic of the era for the type of airplane and claimed to have won the most races in aviation history.
BUILDING THE “SHOESTRING” MODEL VIA A PICTORIAL WALK THRU
(52 construction views)
Photos by Cindy Toth show Steve Perlbinder demonstrating its flight
Wingspan 94 ½ in.
Finish semi gloss-latex
Cowl and wheel pants fiberglass
Landing gear 3/16 in. 6060T aluminum
Weight 36 lb., 14 oz
Plans-Bob Holman Plans (bhplans.com)
Balsa and plywood- Precision Cut Kits (precisioncutkits.com)
Wing Tubes-TnT Landing Gear Products (tntlandinggear.com)
Fibreglass Cowl and Pants –Paul Steiner
Instrument panel-Mike Plot
Vacuum forming of canopy-Bill Stevick
Latex painting –Bob Beshar