Supermarine S.6

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Supermarine S.6A N248.JPG
Supermarine S.6A, N248 on display at the Solent Sky museum.
Role Racing seaplane
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Supermarine
Designer R.J. Mitchell
First flight 1929
Introduction 1929
Primary user Royal Air Force High Speed Flight
Number built 2
Variants Supermarine S.6B

The Supermarine S.6 is a 1920s British single-engined single-seat racing seaplane built by Supermarine. The S.6 continued the line of Supermarine seaplane racers that were designed for Schneider Trophy contests of the late 1920 and 1930s.

Design and development[edit]

Following the success of the Supermarine S.5 in the 1927 Schneider Trophy R.J. Mitchell designed a successor, the Supermarine S.6, to Specification 8/28. Refining the design of the earlier S.5, Mitchell now used all-metal construction. The new design used a new powerplant: The 875 hp (650 kW) Napier Lion VIIB engine was judged to be incapable of further development, and the S.6 used the specially developed 1,900 hp (1,417 kW) Rolls-Royce R engine. With the problems of cooling attendant on such a high power output, the S.6 had surface radiators built into the floats as well as the wings, and Mitchell even arranged for airflow through the wing internal structure.[1]

Two aircraft (serial numbers N247 and N248) were built at Woolston and operated by the RAF High Speed Flight, delivered in August 1929.[1]

Operational history[edit]

The two S.6 racers were entered into the 1929 Schneider Trophy at Calshot, England. 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.[1]

The British government withdrew support for the next Schneider Trophy race in 1931 but due to a public outcry as well as private financing coming forward, mostly from the patriotic Lady Lucy Houston,[2] funding was restored, a mere nine months before the contest. All that could be done was to modify the S.6 to take a more powerful 2,350 hp (1,750 kW) version of the Rolls-Royce R engine and two were built as the Supermarine S.6B. The two existing S.6s were re-designated as S.6As with new floats, added cooling areas and statically-balanced control surfaces. All four S.6s were brought up to a similar standard with nine Rolls-Royce R engines shared between them.[3]

A view of the propeller, engine cowling and exhausts.

Although the British team faced no competitors, the RAF High Speed Flight brought six Supermarine Schneider racers to Calshot Spit on Southampton Water for training and practice. The aircraft were: S.5 N219, second at Venice in 1927, S.5 N220, winner at Venice in 1927, S.6A N247, that won at Calshot in 1929, S.6A N248, disqualified at Calshot in 1929, alongside the new and untested S.6Bs, S1595 and S1596.

The British plan for the Schneider contest was to have S1595 fly the course alone and if its speed was not high enough, or it encountered mechanical failure, then the more proven S.6A N248 would fly the course. If both S1595 and N248 failed in their attempts, N247 held in reserve would be used. The S.6B S1596 was then to attempt the World Air Speed Record. During training N247 flown by Navy Lt. G.N. Brinton was destroyed in a fatal takeoff accident, precluding any other plans with only the two S.6Bs and the surviving S.6A prepared for the final Schneider run. N248 remained as part of the team for the 1931 contest at Calshot but did not fly in the race.[3]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Some details of S.6A. Solent Sky Museum 2013

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.[4] 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.


 United Kingdom

Specifications (N247)[edit]

A view giving an indication of the limited extent of the pilot's forward vision

Data from [5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 25 ft 10 in (7.87 m) overall
25 ft 3 in (8 m) fuselage only
  • Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 3 in (3.73 m)
  • Wing area: 145 sq ft (13.5 m2)
  • Airfoil: RAF 27[6]
  • Empty weight: 4,471 lb (2,028 kg)
  • Gross weight: 5,771 lb (2,618 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce R V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) at 2,900 rpm for one hour
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 357.7 mph (575.7 km/h, 310.8 kn) (World speed record at the time)
  • Alighting speed: 95 mph (83 kn; 153 km/h)

See also[edit]

Aileron balance weight and wing details

Related development

Related lists


Supermarine S.6A 'N248' rudder
  1. ^ a b c Green 1967, p. 745.
  2. ^ Crompton, Teresa (2020). Adventuress: The Life and Loves of Lucy, Lady Houston. The History Press.
  3. ^ a b Green 1967, p. 746.
  4. ^ "Royal Pier, Southampton, Hampshire." Archived 27 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Heritage Trail, 1998–2008. Retrieved: 17 September 2009.
  5. ^ Andrews, C.F.; Morgan, Eric B. (2003). Supermarine Aircraft Since 1914 (2nd Revised ed.). London: Putnam Aeronautical. pp. 174–203.
  6. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Supermarine Aircraft since 1914, 2nd edition. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-800-3.
  • Green, William, ed. "Supermarine's Schneider Seaplanes." Flying Review International, Volume 10, No. 11, July 1967.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982–1985). London: Orbis Publishing, 1985.
  • Shelton, John (2008). Schneider Trophy to Spitfire – The Design Career of R.J. Mitchell (Hardback). Sparkford: Hayes Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84425-530-6.
  • Winchester, Jim. "Supermarine S.6B". Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes and Experimental Aircraft. Kent, UK: Grange Books plc., 2005. ISBN 978-1-84013-809-2.

External links[edit]