Some very talented and experienced people enabled the restoration of Hornet II to move forward, thoughtfully and carefully, toward the perfection we sought. We thank these people.


Restoration of the aircraft aluminum deck

Gary Larkins was responsible for restoration of the 1939 aluminum frame, deck and cockpit.

Mike Anderson (inside)
and Gary Larkins (with cigar)Mike (inside) and Gary (right)

Mike Anderson and Gary Larkins working on Hornet II's deck frame. Mike Anderson and Gary Larkins working on Hornet II's deck.

Gary Larkins and his associate, Mike Anderson, did a remarkable job bringing the aircraft aluminum frame and deck back to life. The rest of the Hornet II restoration project would have been meaningless without their efforts and the results they delivered. It was not an easy job, but Gary does not understand the words "hard" or "give up." Over the last 35 years or so, Gary has led his team, the "Air Pirates," to recover 69 WWII aircraft from the most challenging of places, under extreme conditions, all over the world. Gary and Mike have restored two B17's recently that looked really rough. Gary's rescued and restored planes are in air museums all over the world. It is always fun working with Gary and Mike, who also helped get the Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 engine ready for Hornet II. We were able to connect with Gary because of the efforts of Jeremy Davis and mutual friends Susie and Carlos Rodriguez.

Gary has rescued Kaiser's 1955 3-point hydroplane Scooter Too. Scooter Too, the 24-cylinder Allison 3420 engine (in terrific condition), its original Bath Iron Works gear box, all of the other parts and complete documentation from the original builder (Kaiser employee Bart Carter) are awaiting a sponsor for restoration. Please contact us if interested.

The Rolls-Royce V12 engine

John Jans and his friends enabled the Rolls Royce Meteor engine to come alive and work perfectly in Hornet II. John owns and operates Datum Precision, Inc. and Ilium Works in Grass Valley, CA.

John Jans
John Jans in Hornet II

John Jans is an extremely talented designer and machinist with a love of engines, new challenges and speed. John and some of his very capable buddies can make just about anything. John had the lead responsibility for making the vintage V12 Meteor engine Hornet II's present power plant. John's responsibilities including mechanical inspections and repairs, design and fabrication of its drive output system, all of the engine's component operating systems and installation. John has done an exceptional job, on many different levels.

Richard Voliva (left) and John Jans (right) Richard Farmer (right)
Richard Voliva and John Jans at John's shop with Hornet II Richard Farmer with Bill at HBW watching installation of modified carburetor.

John brought in some talented friends to help. Richard Farmer (as engine builder and mechanic) helped make sure the engine was getting what it needed and was adjusted to run properly. Richard Voliva (as electrical engineer and electrician) designed and installed the wiring harness and installed the fuel delivery systems. Denis Manning and his team at BUB Enterprises (, specifically Bob Infalt, did a very nice job with the design and fabrication of the water-jacketed, stainless steel exhaust system for Hornet II. Pete Davis was the go-to guy for fabrication and welding of numerous parts associated with installation of the Meteor engine and its cooling system (and other parts).

Jim Moser
Jim Moser working on the tail fin of Hornet II.

Jim Moser made the valve covers look like a work of art (body work, painting and lettering) and also applied his artistry to Hornet II's tail fin.

Some of these guys have worked together for 20 years, thanks in part to Denis Manning (BUB Enterprises, speed bike designer and sponsor). Together they designed, built and perfected a remarkable streamlined motorcycle that set, on two separate occasions, an absolute World Land Speed Record at Bonneville. The V-4 engine they designed and built, from scratch, for BUB Seven is roughly the size of a 1-liter V-twin and puts out 400+ hp. Check out the BUB Seven streamliner and its crew. These guys have all been great to be around. They did whatever was necessary to get the Meteor engine converted, installed and working perfectly in Hornet II.

Many others also helped make the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine conversion and installation successful:

  • John Sofilos, Unlimited Marine, Clear Lake, CA. John supplied the engine and helpful suggestions along the way.
  • John Muszala of Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, ID. John supplied a set of Merlin engine heads to help fabricate exhaust manifolds.
  • Steve McAllister at Innovation Engineering in Monroe, GA. Steve supplied the flywheel, inertia ring and bell housing.
  • Earl Zimmer at Huber Marine in Baton Rouge, LA. Earl built the gear box.
  • Russ Cromer at Mr. Cool Marine Products in Wixom, MI. Russ designed and fabricated the three heat exchangers.
  • Roy Olivera ("Roy-Ol") in Shingle Springs, CA. Roy fabricated the three fuel tanks.
  • Jeff Boyle at "Boyle Future Technologies" in Auburn, CA. Jeff supplied advice, electrical supplies and batteries.
  • Ron Rupp in Lake Tahoe, CA. Ron flew me down to Eagles Nest near Ione, CA to visit his friend, Mike Brown - fellow pilot, and Unlimited Class Champion of the National Championship Air Races (2006) in Reno, NV. Mike, and his neighbors in Ione, Dennis Sanders (Sanders Aeronautics) and Jack Hovey ("Hovey Machine") provided advice and direction.
  • Jamie Griffiths of Aviation Jersey in St. Clement, Jersey, UK. Jamie supplied a new head stud for the engine.
  • Jim Murray at Chico Metal Finishing in Chico, CA. Jim did all of our powder coating and anodizing.
  • Paul Nixon of Oakwood, Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. Paul has a large collection of zero-hour Rolls-Royce engines, from Meteors to Griffins (mostly from Scottish Aviation in Prestwick who rebuilt piston engines under contract to Rolls Royce beginning in 1960). Paul provided parts and useful information.
  • Lew Dobbins in Grass Valley, CA. Lew loves old engines and boats, introduced me to John Jans, and generally got me into this mess.
        Lew Dobbins
Lew Dobbins in Hornet II helping out again with the Meteor engine project.

Others who helped restore Hornet II

  • Bryce Mitchell and Jeff Worms of Hoffman Metalcraft in Sacramento, CA. Bryce and Jeff helped with fabrication and welding of the stainless rubrail and other parts on Hornet II.
  • John Elliott of Design Development in Wichita Falls, KS. John evaluated the old, manual cylinder head temperature gauge and built a set of appropriate thermocouples (for each of the Packard's twelve cylinders). John also rebuilt and recalibrated the two fuel gauges.
  • Curtiss Aldrich of Aviation Antiques at Pine Mountain Lake Airport in Big Oak Flat, CA. Curtiss provided help and several of the pre-WWII aviation replacement instruments and gauges for Hornet II's dash.
  • Richard Anderson and John Perry of TGH "The Gyro House" in Auburn, CA. The guys at the Gyro House helped with gauges and the fuel senders.
  • Stanley Marshall (Sacramento, CA) and Joanne Paolillo (Kings Beach, CA). Stan and Joanne did the upholstery work for the crash pads and leather seating.
  • Joanne Paolillo (Kings Beach, CA) did a really nice job making a soft, padded cover for Hornet II, including a special, separate tail fin cover to prevent the hot, reflected sun from starting another fire in the crash pad (true story).
  • Eldon Penner in Gardnerville, NV. Eldon did a terrific job making the running lights (new slump glass lenses) for Hornet II.
  • Al Schinnerer of California Classic Boats in Signal Hill, CA. Al provided advice and made various contributions to the restoration of the Packard aero engine, provided Gar Wood hardware and the tachometer.

  • Tony Brown (Auburn, CA) and Carol Van Etten (Coleville, CA) of Western Runabouts. Carol and Tony worked to document and rebuild Hornet II's original Gar Wood step hull.
  • Sierra Boat Company (SBC) in Carnelian Bay, CA. SBC worked on the Packard aero engine and its installation in Hornet II.
  • Roush Engineering and Roush Aviation in Livonia, MI. Roush repaired the Packard aero engine crank case.

General support

The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. We appreciate services provided by the Bancroft Library at the University of California in Berkeley, CA to help search their collection of papers and documents from Henry J. Kaiser.

Tahoe Yacht Club ("TYC"). We appreciate efforts by the TYC, its members, and the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation to increase awareness, stimulate interest and provide accessibility to the wonderful old wooden boats on Lake Tahoe. Click here to read an article by Paul Cunha in the TYC "Block & Tackle" about Henry J. Kaiser, Commodore TYC 1938.

Tahoe Maritime Museum. We thank the Tahoe Maritime Museum for their efforts to discover, document and memorialize the history of boating on Lake Tahoe. The new museum facility, located in Homewood, CA on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, is a worthwhile stop if you are at the lake.

The North Tahoe Historical Society. We thank the North Tahoe Historical Society for their efforts to help preserve the history of Lake Tahoe and for providing access to local historical documents. The Gatekeeper's Museum and the Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum are located in William B. Layton State Park, Tahoe City, CA.

Photo Credits

Many people, beyond family members, have helped to photograph and document the restoration and return of Hornet II to Lake Tahoe. Some of those photos have been used for this website.

  • We thank Tom Batchelor in Reno, NV (visit Vintage Car Stuff) for the pictures of Hornet II (as Fleur du Lac) taken when the boat was first "discovered" in Tracy, CA in about 1996.
  • We thank Steve Lapkin, in particular, for providing the outstanding overhead photos of Hornet II and Mercury on Lake Tahoe. Steve also took terrific photos of The Lady Gambles and other Gar Wood boats at play on Lake Tahoe. For more information about his photos and photographic services, visit his website
  • We thank Gary Larkins and Mike Anderson for photos associated with their restoration of the aircraft aluminum deck on Hornet II and their work to restore a couple of old B-17's.
  • We thank Wes Schimmelphennig and Nancy Cunningham for their assistance with chasing Hornet II for video and photo events.
  • We thank Bill Lindemann and Fred Taylor for taking Mercury out with Hornet II one early morning for a photographic opportunity to capture the boats running together after a 70 year hiatus. We thank them for sharing some personal photos of this event.
  • We thank Jim Koch and Roy Dryer for some of the early photos of Hornet II and its Packard engine (before restoration).
  • We thank Robert ("Bob") Griffin for his generous contribution of numerous photographs and video tapes of Hornet II immediately after her restoration.
  • We thank Robert Neal for the original photo of our Packard Model 1237 Capitol Marine Conversion.
  • We thank Carol Van Etten for sharing several historic photos of Hornet II (especially the 1939 photos from David Bienert) and for her photos of Hornet II's early hull restoration work.
  • We thank Richard "Dick" Carter for making available his collection of photos and other memorabilia documenting his father's construction of Scooter Too, the history of the boat and its driver Jack Regas.

Source Materials

Henry J. Kaiser

  • Books
    • Foster, M. S. (1991) "Henry J. Kaiser: Builder in the Modern American West," University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
    • Heiner, A. P. (1991) "Henry J. Kaiser: Western Colossus," Halo Books, San Francisco, California.
    • Adams, S. B. (1997) "Mr. Kaiser Goes to Washington, The Rise of a Government Entrepreneur," The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
    • Mayo, A. J., Benson, M. and Chen, D. (2008) "Henry J. Kaiser and the Art of the Possible," Harvard Business School Case No. 408-072, Harvard Business Publishing, 2008.
  • Life Magazine
    • June 29, 1942 "Henry J. Kaiser: No. 1 Shipbuilder" by Gerald Piel.
    • Aug 10, 1942 "Air Cargo Transport" by Henry J. Kaiser.
    • Aug 11, 1947 "The Hughes Story goes into Act 2" (p. 34, no author identified).
  • Websites with useful information
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Hornet II and Mercury

Information about the 1926 duraluminum race boat Mercury (owned by California State Parks) was provided by California State Parks, Sierra District, Lake Tahoe Sector, Sugar Pine Point State Park (William N. Lindemann, District Interpretive Specialist and Mercury Project manager). We thank Mr. Lindemann and the Sierra State Parks Foundation for their efforts to help restore and operate Mercury. For more information about Mercury visit their website and see the original "Interpretive Plan" to restore and display Mercury.

Major contributions to Mercury's story (and also the history of Hornet II) were made by Carol Van Etten, Lake Tahoe historian and author of several books focused on Tahoe and its wooden boats. Visit her web/blog site (Carol's "ethermag"). Some of Carol's books are listed below. They are important contributions to the preservation of Tahoe history and are fun to read:

  • Van Etten, C. (1985) "Prewar wood: Speedboats of Lake Tahoe, 1910-1941." Sierra Maritime Publishing.
  • Van Etten, C. (1987) "Tahoe City Yesterdays." Sierra Maritime Publishing.
  • Van Etten, C. (1992) "Lakers and Launches: Launches, cruisers, sedans and marine miscellany of Lake Tahoe." (1992) Sierra Maritime Publishing.
  • Van Etten, C. (1994) "Meeks Bay Memories." Silver Syndicate Press. ISBN-13: 9780913814291.
  • Van Etten, C. (1999) "Lake Champions: In Pursuit of Tahoe's Racing Title, 1914-1958." Sierra Maritime Publishing.

Visit the Tahoe Maritime Museum or see their website to obtain the video, Mercury: The Legacy Lives. The museum is located in Homewood, California several miles north of Sugar Pine Point State Park on the west shore of Lake Tahoe.

The Packard Model 1237 V12 Aeroengine

Most of the historical information about Hornet II's Packard Model 1237 engine was obtained from Robert J. Neal's book "Packards at Speed." Mr. Neal's books on Packard and Liberty engines are nicely written and well illustrated. They are listed below:

  • Neal, Robert J. (1995) "Packards at Speed" Aero-Marine History Publishing Company. ISBN 0-9647483-0-4.
  • Neal, Robert J. (2000) "Packard: Master Motor Builders" Aero-Marine History Publishing Company. ISBN 0-9647483-1-2.
  • Neal, Robert J. (2009) "A Technical & Operational History of the Liberty Engine" Specialty Press Publishers & Wholesalers. ISBN-13 978-1-58007-149-9.