Fabric, Grumman G-22

One of the most exciting aerobatic aircraft of the 1930s and '40s, the Grumman Gulfhawk II was built for retired naval aviator and air show pilot Al Williams. As head of the Gulf Oil Company's aviation department, Williams flew in military and civilian air shows around the country, performing precision aerobatics and dive-bombing maneuvers to promote military aviation during the interwar years.

The sturdy civilian biplane, with its strong aluminum monocoque fuselage and Wright Cyclone engine, nearly matched the Grumman F3F standard Navy fighter, which was operational at the time. It took its orange paint scheme from Williams' Curtiss 1A Gulfhawk, also in the Smithsonian's collection. Williams personally piloted the Gulfhawk II on its last flight in 1948 to Washington's National Airport.