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Supermarine: S.6

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Sept 1940.
Sept 1940.

Note: This is a sub-section of Supermarine Aircraft.

The Supermarine S.6 is a 1920s British single-engined single-seat racing seaplane designed by Reginald Joseph Mitchell and built by Supermarine against specification 8/28 for the Schneider Trophy Competition of 1929. The S.6 continued the line of Supermarine seaplane racers that had been designed for the Schneider Trophy contests of the late 1920s.

The concept followed that of the successful Supermarine: S.5 but the S.6 was of all-metal construction and used the more powerful and heavier Rolls-Royce 'R' engine. This engine had been developed from the Buzzard with the addition of supercharging as well as increased crankcase and component strengthening. There were also some major engine design trade-offs between fuel composition, power output, oil and coolant temperatures and reduced engine life. Ultimately, 1,900 hp was achieved although limited to one hour’s operation only.

Engine cooling required the installation of surface radiators in the floats and these also acted as fuel tanks. A greater volume of fuel was carried in the starboard float to help counter-act the engine torque on take-off.

The two S.6 racers were entered into the 1929 Schneider Trophy at Calshot, England. The first of the aircraft (N247) was first flown on 10th August 1929. N247 came first piloted by Flying Officer H. R. D. Waghorn at a speed of 328.63 mph (528.88 km/h). N248 was disqualified when it turned inside one of the marker poles, but nonetheless, set World closed-circuit records for 50 and 100 km during its run. After the race N248 set the World’s Absolute Air Speed Record of 357.7 mph.

Until the 1960s, S.6A N248 was displayed incorrectly as S.6B S1596 as a visitor attraction in a building adjacent to Southampton Royal Pier. Now restored since 1983 and repainted in its original 1931 scheme, the S.6A is on display at the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton, England.

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