Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1

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owadays, it is di cult to envisage
that there was a time when the
fastest machines on the planet
were seaplanes. Competing for the
prestigious Schneider Trophy, these air
racers pushed the technology of the
day to its limits, inspiring designers
like Supermarine’s Reginald J. Mitchell
to produce a series of record breaking
aircraft. The sleek S6 ruled them all.
For many years the internationally
recognised test for a fast aircraft, was the
legendary Schneider Trophy Air Race. By
1925 it was time for Mitchell to unveil a
basic design that would go on to greatness
in the next 10 years. The S4  oatplane

Left: Supermarine S6B, S1596 being readied
for its record-breaking  ight.
 rst  ew on the 24 May 1925 and was a
quantum leap from the  ying boat designs
entered in earlier races. It featured a
wooden wing and a mixed metal and
wood fuselage, powered by a 680hp
Napier Lion VII. Over Southhampton
waters on the 13 September 1925, the S
set a new world Seaplane Speed record,
reaching a top speed of 226.7mph. This
success was followed the race, held in
Venice on 26 September 1927, when two
S5s were placed  rst and second. Mitchell
had achieved a world beater and regained
the Schneider Trophy for Britain for the  rst
time since 1922. But that was by no means
the end of the story.

Supermarine S

The need for speed
On 13 September 1931 Britain won
the Schneider Trophy outright
with Flt Lt John N. Bootham  ying
Supermarine S6B S1595 and setting
a course speed of 340.08mph. On
the same day, S6B S1596  own by
Flt Lt George Staniforth, set a new
Absolute World Speed Record of
379.05mph. On 29 September this was
further increased to 407.5 mph.

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