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British Industrial History

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Supermarine: S.6B

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November 1932.
Sept 1940. (S1596).

Note: This is a sub-section of Supermarine.

The Supermarine S.6B is a British racing seaplane developed by R. J. Mitchell for the Supermarine company to compete in the Schneider Trophy competition of 1931 supported only by private funds after the Air Ministry withdrew financial support after the 1929 victory. The S.6B marked the culmination of Mitchell's quest to "perfect the design of the racing seaplane" and represented the cutting edge of aerodynamic technology.

It was the last in a line of racing seaplanes developed by Supermarine, following the S.4, S.5 and the S.6. Mitchell and his team's experience in designing high speed Schneider Trophy float-planes greatly contributed to the development of the later Supermarine Spitfire, an iconic fighter and Britain's most successful interceptor of World War II.

The S.6B was refined in terms of reduced drag, increased fuel and oil capacity and higher engine powers available as a result of the use of Sodium-cooled valves and an exotic fuel mix devised by Rod Banks. Control mass balancing was introduced to ensure protection against flutter. The uprated Rolls-Royce 'R' engine passed its one hour type test at 2,300 hp, achieving this only one week before the race.

For the 1931 competition the British, somewhat controversially, raced with no opposition to win and permanently retain the Schneider Trophy.

The winning Schneider flight was piloted by Flt. Lt. John N. Boothman in aircraft serial number S1595 at a speed of 340.08 mph (547.19 km/h), flying seven perfect laps of the triangular course over the Solent, between the Isle of Wight and the British mainland. On the same day, another S.6B (S1596) flown by Flt Lt George Staniforth set a new Absolute World Speed Record of 379.05 mph and on 29th September this was increased this figure to 407.5 mph (S1595).


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