20 SUPERMARINE S
Max speed: 407.5mph (655km/h)
Engine: 1 x Rolls-Royce R
Wingspan: 30ft (9.14m)
Length: 25ft 10in (7.65m)
Height: 12ft 3in (3.8m)
The Supermarine S4 and S5 paved the way for
the all-conquering S6. This machine was of all-
metal construction and used the more powerful
and heavier Rolls-Royce ‘R’ engine. The latter
was developed from the Rolls-Royce ‘Buzzard’
and featured the addition of supercharging.
However, there were some major engine design
trade-o s which revolved around power output
and reduced engine life.
Two Supermarine S6s were ordered and
built at Woolston (N247 and N248). They were
initially operated by the RAF High Speed Flight,
a unit speci cally formed for competing in the
Schneider Trophy Races. The 1929 event was
held in the western corner of Southampton
Water at Calshot on 7 September and was won
by Flg O Waghorn, ying N247 at 328.63mph.
The second aircraft (N248) was disquali ed
when it turned inside one of the marker pylons.
But it was not to be denied its moment of fame.
After the race it went on to set the World’s
Absolute Air Speed Record of 357.7mph.
The following Supermarine S6B was an even
more powerful development of the design,
re ned in terms of reduced drag, increased fuel
and oil capacity and higher engine powers. Two
new S6Bs (S1595 and S1596) were built whilst
the two S6s were tted with new engines and
modi ed to a similar standard before being
The S6B’s rst ight took place on 21 July
1931 at Calshot, own by Sqn Ldr Orlebar.
That year’s competition was once again held
at Calshot, but this time under somewhat
controversial circumstances. Both the
competing French and Italian teams had
been forced to pull out of the race, but Britain
decided to continue anyway, meaning that
there was no real competition. Sadly, disaster
struck on one of the practice days, when the
1927 winner N247 was destroyed during take-
o , its pilot Lt G. L. Brinton being killed in the
accident. On the day of the race, the winning
run was own by Flt Lt John N. Boothman in
S1595, reaching a speed of 340.08mph.
Ultimately, the achievements of R. J. Mitchell
and his team competing for the Schneider
Trophy, was fundamental in the development of
another Supermarine aircraft – the Spit re.
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