All Things Aviation
Supermarine S.6B Scale: 1/20 scale model Wing Span: 18 inches Length: 26 inches The Supermarine S.6B is a British racing seaplane developed by R.J. Mitchell for the Supermarine company to take part in the Schneider Trophy competition of 1931. 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 for the era. The S.6B was last in a line of racing seaplanes to be developed by Supermarine, followed on from the S.4, S.5 and the S.6. Despite these predecessors having twice won the Schneider Trophy previously, the development of the S.6B was troubled by wavering government support, being promised, withdrawn, and then issued once again following a high-profile public campaign encouraged by Lord Rothermere and a substantial donation by Lady Houston. Once government backing had been secured, there were only nine months remaining until the race, thus Mitchell decided to refine the existing S.6 rather than pursue a clean-sheet design, thus the type's designation of S.6B. The principal design differences between the S.6 and the S.6B were made in its more powerful Rolls-Royce R engine and redesigned floats, providing much needed additional cooling; minor aerodynamic refinements typically aimed at drag reduction were also implemented. A pair of S.6Bs, serials S1595 and S1596, were constructed for the competition. Flown by members of RAF High Speed Flight, the type competed successfully, winning the Schneider Trophy for Britain. Shortly after the race, S.6B S1596, flown by Flt Lt. George Stainforth, broke the world air speed record, attaining a peak speed of 407.5 mph (655.67 km/h). Supermarine did not build any successive racing aircraft during this era, largely due to other commitments, including the development of a new fighter aircraft at the request of the British Air Ministry, known as the Type 224. Mitchell and his team's experience in designing high speed Schneider Trophy floatplanes greatly contributing to the development of the later Supermarine Spitfire, an iconic fighter aircraft flown in large numbers by the Royal Air Force; it has been viewed as Britain's most successful interceptor of the Second World War. Both the Spitfire and its Rolls-Royce Merlin engine drew directly upon the S.6B and its Rolls-Royce R engine respectively.