This restored Globe Swift GC-1B is a fantastic example of what is unquestionably one of the most beautiful civilian aircraft designs to come out of the United States in the period just after WWII.
The Globe Swift has retractable landing gear, side-by-side seating for two, a low wing layout, and all metal construction that has stood the test of time. The example you see in this article is being offered for sale for $109,000 USD and it’s been on display at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Houston, Texas.
Fast Facts – The Globe Swift
- The design of the Globe Swift was penned by R.S. “Pop” Johnson in 1940, the aircraft was originally an essentially homebuilt plane that incorporated wood, fabric, and metal in its construction.
- The planned production of the Swift was put on hold by the United States joining WWII, when aircraft production was shifted over to helping the war effort.
- After the war, Johnson and Globe Aircraft Company engineer K.H.”Bud” Knox redeveloped the design as an all metal aircraft. The company advertised the aircraft widely and received thousands of orders from across the country. Production was ramped up, and Temco Aircraft was contracted to built Swifts in order to meet demand.
- Sadly, as demand was met production didn’t slow and as a result there were hundreds of Swifts parked up awaiting new orders. The Globe Aircraft Company went bankrupt but Temco took over production and continued building them until 1951 when their production was shifted over to assisting the US war effort in Korea.
R.S. “Pop” Johnson And The Swift
R.S. “Pop” Johnson was a prolific aircraft designer who would create and build the first Swift himself, before later going on to build the faster and more powerful Texas Bullet, Johnson Rocket, and the Regent Rocket.
The original design for the Swift was modified over time though its overall appearance remained much the same. It was a low wing monoplane with side-be-side seating for two, a small amount of cargo space behind the seats, and retractable landing gear.
His first Swift used the common construction methods of the time with fabric, wood, and metal all being used to create an airframe that was both lightweight and robust. The first prototype flew in 1940, proving the design, however the United States joining WWII essentially shutdown civilian aircraft production as capacity was shifted over to the war effort.
After the war in 1945 Johnson wasted no time in resurrecting the project, he convinced John Kennedy, president and founder of Globe Medicine Company, to put the Swift into production as the first aircraft produced by the new Globe Aircraft Company.
Johnson would work closely with Globe Aircraft engineer K.H.”Bud” Knox to productionize the design ready to be built in significant numbers, and it was decided to make the plane entirely out of metal as this would be a major selling point against the far more common wood and fabric competition.
The Globe Aircraft Company advertised their new plane broadly and orders poured in, thousands of them, and far more than the company could handle. In post-WWII America there were tens of thousands of newly trained pilots who had flown in combat, and many wanted to keep flying as civilians, so demand for private aircraft was off the charts.
The Globe Aircraft Company contacted Temco Aircraft to help, both companies were building Swifts just as fast as they could, with production numbers apparently reaching 15 aircraft per day at the peak. Unfortunately, production soon eclipsed demand, and hundreds of unsold aircraft were parked outside both factories.
The creditors came knocking and the Globe Aircraft Company shutdown. Temco took over the rights to the Swift and continued making them until 1951, when they switched to producing equipment for the Korean War.
The Globe Swift
The Globe Swift officially entered production in 1946 as the GC-1 variant with power provided by the Continental C-85 engine producing 85 bhp.
It was quickly decided that this was an insufficient amount of power and as a result the aircraft was upgraded to GC-1B specification, now fitted with the Continental IO-360-D engine producing a far more healthy 125 bhp.
The vast majority of Swifts built were in GC-1B specification, and many earlier GC-1 variants were upgraded with more powerful engines to improve performance.
The Globe Swift GC-1B was offered with an original price of $3,750 USD, the equivalent to $58,486 USD in 2023, making it remarkably affordable by the standards of the aviation industry. The all metal design offered few maintenance issues, certainly less than wood and fabric, however some owners did grow tired of having to regularly polish the gleaming alloy surfaces.
The GC-1B had an empty weight of 1,370lbs, a gross weight of 1,975lbs, a wingspan of 29 ft. 4 in., a length of 20 ft. 10 in., and a height of 6 ft. 2 in. The stall speed was 63 knots and the aircraft had a maximum climb rate of 1,500 fpm. a takeoff ground roll of 400 ft, a landing ground roll of 800 ft, and a cruising speed of 120 knots.
In total there were 1,521 Globe Swifts built, including early prototypes and the later aircraft that were built by Temco. Hundreds of them remain in the air today thanks to a dedicated ownership network across the United States.
The 1946 Globe Swift GC-1B Shown Here
The plane you see here is a 1946 Globe Swift GC-1B, one of the later variants with that upgraded Continental IO-360-D engine producing much more power. It’s been completely restored and presents in excellent condition throughout, with polished alloy bodywork featuring red and black paintwork.
This Swift has spent time on display at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Houston, Texas – which is fitting given the fact that it’s a Texan aircraft. It’s now being offered for sale through Platinum Fighter Sales with an asking price of $109,000 USD.
If you’d like to read more about this aircraft or register your interest you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Platinum Fighter Sales
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.