“The classic Thompson Trophy, however, remained elusive to the end. In this regard, Earl Ortman and the R-3 collectively, could be referred to as ‘often a bridesmaid but never a bride!’”
- Birch Matthews, NEAM News Vol. 18, no. 2 Fall 1978
One of the several racing planes on display at the New England Air Museum, the Marcoux-Bromberg R-3 “Special” was designed by Keith Rider in the early 1930s and later modified by two Douglas aircraft employees, Hal Marcoux and and Jack Bromberg. Qualifying for the Thompson Trophy in 1936, pilot Earl Ortman flew the plane at an average speed of 248mph, but unfortunately came in second place. First place continued to elude the aircraft, as the plane took second place during the following two Thompson Trophy races, and third in 1939. In other races the aircraft had better luck, winning the Golden Gate Trophy in 1936 and the Bendix Transcontinental in 1937.
The aircraft changed hands several times, and even appeared in the movie “Test Pilot” with Clark Gable, before the museum acquired it. The last owner, Rudy Profant, was at first reluctant to part with the plane, for fear that someone without the right skill set would try to fly the plane and reach a bad end. However, in 1978, Pratt & Whitney of United Technologies provided the financing, and the New England Air Museum came into ownership of the Marcoux Bromberg R-3. Under the direction of Crew Chief S.R. “Dick” Gilcreast (seen in photo at left) the plane was restored back to its 1939 race condition.
Click HERE to learn more about the New England Air Museum's Marcoux-Bromberg R-3.