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Artefact of the Month

SUPERMARINE S.6 N247

Frenchman Jacques Schneider had the vision of the seaplane as the means of conquering oceans and uniting nations. In 1912, he presented a trophy in his name in an effort to develop fast waterborne aircraft.

In 1927, the Schneider Trophy was convincingly won in Venice for Britain by a Supermarine S.5, a single engined, single-seat seaplane designed by the company’s chief designer R J Mitchell. For the 1929 contest, Mitchell designed a successor, the Supermarine S.6. Refining the design of the earlier S.5, he used an all-metal construction and a new more powerful powerplant, the 1,900 hp Rolls-Royce ‘R’ engine. To manage the cooling required for such a huge power output, the S.6 had surface radiators built into the floats as well as the wings.

Two S.5s (serial numbers N247 and N248) were built for the RAF High Speed Flight at Woolston, Southampton for the 1929 contest, which started and finished off Ryde,Isle of Wight on 7 September. There were six entries, three each fromBritain and Italy. The speed contest was over seven laps of a four-legged circuit of fifty kilometres. Flying Officer H R D Waghorn won the contest in S.6 N247 at a speed of 328.63 mph.

For the 1931 contest, the British team included the two existing S.6s, re-designated as S.6As with new floats and additional cooling areas. Tragically, N247, flown by Lieutenant G N Brinton RN, was destroyed in a fatal take-off incident during training. Flight Lieutenant John Boothman went on to win the trophy outright for Britain in the Supermarine S.6B S1595.

A NEW PAINTING OF THE 1929 SCHNEIDER TROPHY WINNER S.6 N247 HAS RECENTLY BEEN COMPLETED BY MUSEUM ARTIST JACK FROELICH AND IS ON DISPLAY IN THE MUSEUM’S MERSTON HALL

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