What if England postponed the 1931 Schneider Cup Race


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18 March 2008
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In 1924 America postponed the Race because of lack of competitors.

Per http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/schneider.html?c=y&page=1

"first the French and then the Italians decided to withdraw from the 1924 race at Baltimore. The British produced a promising contender known as Gloster II, but only five weeks before the race the little biplane porpoised savagely just after touching down, turned over in a wall of spray, and sank. With the last of the 1924 challengers gone, the U.S. Navy team could have flown sedately around the Baltimore course unopposed to claim their second win. Given the extent of the U.S. preparations, which had also involved the loss of an aircraft, the despondent Europeans were astonished when the Americans canceled the race. The Royal Aero club at once cabled "warmest appreciation of the sporting action."

In the 1931 Race per http://www.historynet.com/aviation-history-schneider-trophy-race.htm
"The Italians petitioned for the race to be postponed, but Britain refused, effectively eliminating Italy and France — whose entry was not ready, either — from participating in the 1931 race."

"September 13, turned out sunny and clear. The two contestants, both Supermarine S.6Bs, prepared to take off from Lee-on-Solent to begin the 217.48-mile course before an audience of nearly a million, crowding the coast of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. As his blue and silver S.6B, S1595, was pushed off its barge near Calshot Castle, Flight Lt. John N. Boothman speculated on whether he would complete the triangular 33-mile laps seven times as planned."

"Taking off at 1:02 p.m., Boothman ran the first lap in 5 1/2 minutes, averaging 343.1 mph and reaching nearly 380 mph in the straightaways. From then on, however, his average speed gradually went down, until his seventh lap average was 337.7 mph. By that time, uneven fuel consumption had altered the trim, causing his plane to list to the left, but that was not enough to stop him from streaking over the finish line and then making a triumphant circling turn over Calshot Castle to the sound of a cheering crowd and ships’ bells and whistles."

"Although Italy’s ambitions were dashed in regard to the Schneider Trophy, Castoldi continued to work on his M.C.72, in which Warrant Officer Francesco Agello finally completed a successful test flight over Lake Garda on April 10, 1933. A series of increasingly fast flights reached their climax on October 23, 1934, when Agello flew four laps in the M.C.72, at a maximum of 442.081 mph and an average of 434.7 mph, setting an absolute speed record that would not be broken until April 29, 1939, when a specially redesigned Messerschmitt Bf-109V-1 reached 469.22 mph, and an official seaplane record speed that would stand until October 1961, when a jet-powered Soviet Beriev Be-10 flying boat flew at 547 mph. Trophy or no trophy, the Italians had the last word on the subject of speed."

In the end the Schneider Races became more about powerplants then floatplanes. If England had postponed the 1931 Race would there have been turbojets at beginning of WW II?
Only if you can engineer a meeting between P/O Whittle and Lady Houston. Agelo's record was overthrown by the He 100 V8 flown by Flugkapitan Hans Dieterle on 30th March 1939. The He 100 was a fighter aircraft adapted with a souped up engine, fuel and a smoothed airframe , not a machine specifically designed for record breaking or racing. The specially designed Messerschmitt was the 209 V1, which had no relationship whatsoever to the bf-109 that lost the Battle of Britain. The He 100 generarates it's own what ifs, having a far superior performance and range than the 109 even with a conventional radiator
DT: a meeting between P/O Whittle and Lady Houston. That's sublime! and rests on the point that technological evolution is dependent both on us moving up the tree of knowledge, and on assigning resources to move from laboratory to production shop floor. Speed Records/prestige, good, but maybe wholly irrelevant to actually making and selling things. See the Space Program, see Formula 1 - claims of spin-off into the real world are always tenuous. A line of continuity is claimed between (prestige) Schneider power and Merlin; between (prestige) Britain First and the combat family from Blenheim to Buckingham (between Apollo and teflon; F.1 and ABS on affordable cars). But... Govts. and/or Boards assign (money, thus) resources only where they sniff payoff.

So: Gannet's surmise: the impact of an air-marine speed contest renewed in, say,1933, on actual evolution of reaction thrust 1935-38 in Germany and UK. My view: metallurgy - boring, grinding, reaming - turned theory into hardware. Neither v.Ohain nor Whittle (nor Griffiths, nor others) had a Eureka! monopoly on gyres - it was plod and slog: 1936-or-so breakthroughs that led to combat power in 1943/44 were in swarf-riddled teams producing hot-yet-light discs and cans. If modest money for a fast air-marine Prize had been dangled in Sheffield in 1933, I doubt much interest. Dopey Air was then a by-way in business terms: industrial, not aero-turbines offered market for metallurgists.
Thanks Deadtroopers & AlertKen for your comments

Per http://www.historynet.com/aviation-history-schneider-trophy-race.htm
"A.F. Sidgreaves, managing director of Rolls-Royce, declared that it had compressed 10 years of engine development into two years."

From http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/4515/engine1.htm
"In America a very significant piston engine was developed for use in the Curtis Navy racers. Built to take part in the Pulitzer races and later modified to compete in the Schneider Contest. The Engine that powered them was the Curtis D-12, combined with a special all-metal Curtis/Reed propeller. With a very compact and small frontal area, it developed 480 hp. When Britains Richard Fairey first saw this engine propeller combination he realized immediately its great potential and obtained license rights to build it in Britain. It was installed in a new two seat day-time bomber and proved to be very successful, for the Fairey Fox as it was called, could outrun any contemporary fighter aircraft in service. For Italy, too, the Contest spurred development of a number of exceptional engines. The Penultimate Contest in which the Italian team competed in 1927, produced Fiat in-line engines of 1,000hp. At Calshot, in 1929, the Macchi M.67s were powered by Isotta-Fraschini engines of 1400 hp. The ultimate of Italian in-line engine was the Fiat AS.6, a 24 four cylinder Vee-type, in its final form installed in a Macchi MC.72 seaplane and burning an exotic fuel prescribed by Britain's F Rodwell Banks, it developed 3,100hp. With this aircraft/power plant combination Italy set a world speed record of 440.68mph, which remained unbroken until mid-1939. In Britain Rolls-Royce began developing an engine known as the Buzzard to power the new Supermarine S.6 Seaplane to take part in the 1929 Schneider Contest at Cowes. A Vee-12 liquid cooled engine, it had developed 925hp on bench tests in July of 1928. Just over a year later, Rolls-Royce engineers advanced this engine to produce 1,900hp. Two years later, the same basic design know as the "R" (for racing) developed 2,350hp when it powered the Supermarine S.6B to carry off the trophy for Britain. This aircraft/engine combination had considerable influence on the Spitfire/Merlin configuration which by World War II expoits won a permanent place in the history books."

And from http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4306/ch1.htm

"As early as 1937 John Jay Ide, the NACAs technical assistant in Europe, warned of the results of German advances. He reported that Germany was producing extraordinary airplanes and engines that had enabled them, with their ally Italy, to set a "holocaust of records". Ide noted that in the development of aircraft engines there had been no spectacular breakthroughs. Steady incremental improvements were nevertheless pushing European engine development to new heights. Both England and Germany had developed liquid-cooled engines with two-speed superchargers to power fighter aircraft."

To me the "steady incremental improvements" were in existence back 1931 Scheider Cup Racers and that aircraft engine improvement was stifled when England retired the Schneider Cup Race.


  • Schneider Cup - Engine Development.jpg
    Schneider Cup - Engine Development.jpg
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