AIRCRAFT PROFILE No.39: THE SUPERMARINE S4, S5, S6 & S6B, WINNERS OF THE SCHNEIDER CUP WITH ADDED VALUE INFORMATION PACK
The last in the line developed by Supermarine, it followed the S.4, S.5 and the S.6. 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 and Britain's most successful interceptor of World War II.
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, two S.6s with new engines and redesignated as S.6As (N247 that won at Calshot in 1929 and S.6A N248, disqualified at Calshot in 1929), and the newly built S.6Bs, S1595 and S1596.
The improved aircraft was designated the Supermarine S.6B to differentiate the variant from the S.6A. 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 practice, N247 was destroyed in a takeoff accident, resulting in the death of the pilot, Lieut. G. L. Brinton, R.N., precluding any other plans with only the two S.6Bs and the surviving S.6 prepared for the final Schneider run.
The winning Schneider flight was piloted by Flt. Lt. John 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. Seventeen days later, Flt Lt. George Stainforth in S.6B serial S1596 broke the world air speed record, reaching 407.5 mph (655.67 km/h).
Forward fuselage and propeller detail of Supermarine S.6B, S1595 on display at the London Science Museum
The S.6B is hailed as giving the impetus to the development of the Supermarine Spitfire and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine