Supermarine: Call For Investors & Enthusiasts to Help Rebuild an Aviation Legend

Flight Lieutenant D'Arcy Greig in his Supermarine S5 N219 in which he attempted to break the world air speed record.   (Photo by Edward G Malindine/Getty Images)
Flight Lieutenant D'Arcy Greig in his Supermarine S5 N219 in which he attempted to break the world air speed record. (Photo by Edward G Malindine/Getty Images)

There is nothing quite like the romance of flight to make folks wax lyrical and the Supermarine S.5 has inspired poetic souls to great heights for almost a hundred years. The plane was conceived as a world speed record beater and it took the title with ease back in 1927 at the Schneider Trophy race in Venice with a speed in excess of 281 mph.

It was the forerunner of, and some would say the grandfather of the Supermarine Spitfire, which blew the Nazis out of British skies a decade and a half later. Very few were made, just enough to win the trophy, so in 1975, Ray Hillborne designed and built a replica for a Leisure Sport company.

Flight-Lieut D’Arcy Greig, the R.A.F. high speed pilot, is the challenger. He will use a Supermarine Napier S5 seaplane. Flight-Lieut DêArcy Greig in his machine at Calshot. Circa April 1928 P001024 (Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Flight-Lieut D’Arcy Greig, the R.A.F. high speed pilot, is the challenger. He will use a Supermarine Napier S5 seaplane. Flight-Lieut DêArcy Greig in his machine at Calshot. Circa April 1928 P001024 (Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

It was not a true replica, even though it was full-size. The new plane was 1,500 lbs lighter than the original and the cockpit and fuselage slightly wider. It took two and a half years to build at Thruxton Airfield in Hampshire and was registered on June 13th, 1975.

After weeks of water taxiing tests its first flight was made in August 1975 on Southampton Water by Captain Keith Sissons. The flight lasted just fourteen minutes, the throaty roar of the 210 hp Rolls-Royce Continental IO-360 splitting the air. It was an all wood construction with modifications made to the wing to lower the stalling speed.

Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus Kinkead (1897 – 1928) stands on the right at Calshot Seaplane Station, while his Napier Supermarine S.5 undergoes a final engine test before his air speed record attempt, 12th March 1928. Kinkead died the same day, when the plane crashed into the sea. (Photo by H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus Kinkead (1897 – 1928) stands on the right at Calshot Seaplane Station, while his Napier Supermarine S.5 undergoes a final engine test before his air speed record attempt, 12th March 1928. Kinkead died the same day, when the plane crashed into the sea. (Photo by H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It was flown regularly over the next few years until it crashed on take-off due to engine failure in September 1982 at Thorpe Water Park. The float support structure and the wings were destroyed, and the plane was written off after just seven years.

A Supermarine S.5 being readied for the Schneider Cup race in Venice, Italy in 1927. This particular plane, seen here in Calshot, England, was not entered in the race, but the model S.5 No. N220, flown by Lt. S. N. Webster, won the race with a speed of 281.65 mph. (Photo by © Museum of Flight/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
A Supermarine S.5 being readied for the Schneider Cup race in Venice, Italy in 1927. This particular plane, seen here in Calshot, England, was not entered in the race, but the model S.5 No. N220, flown by Lt. S. N. Webster, won the race with a speed of 281.65 mph. (Photo by © Museum of Flight/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

But then along came Cornish flying enthusiast Bill Hosie from Newquay. He took the remains of the Supermarine S5 replica to a workshop in Bodmin, Cornwall, in the far South West of the UK, where he rebuilt the aircraft from the remains of the rear fuselage. Three years later, in the spring of 1985, the S5 was registered as a seaplane to the Hosie family.

The plane that inspired such devotion amongst enthusiasts was originally designed by Reginald Mitchell specifically in order to win the Schneider Trophy. This was an all-metal monoplane racer with a semi-monocoque fuselage of duralumin, low braced wings with surface radiators made up of corrugated copper sheets.

Three were built for the 1927 race, with 1st and 2nd place taken by two of the planes. The winning aircraft was flown by Flight Lieutenant S.N Webster. A year later an attempt at a world air speed record went badly awry when pilot Flight Lieutenant Samuel Kinkead was killed.

Mitchell had taken the Napier engines to their performance limit and redesigned the plane as the S6 with a new Rolls-Royce engine for the 1929 Schneider Trophy race. Flying Officer H R Waghorn took first place with an average speed in excess of 282 mph.

Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus Kinkead’s Napier Supermarine S.5 leaves the hangar at Calshot Seaplane Station, prior to his air speed record attempt, 12th March 1928. Kinkead died the same day, when the plane crashed into the sea. (Photo by H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus Kinkead’s Napier Supermarine S.5 leaves the hangar at Calshot Seaplane Station, prior to his air speed record attempt, 12th March 1928. Kinkead died the same day, when the plane crashed into the sea. (Photo by H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The speed race trophy was eventually abandoned, only to be revived in 1987, when Bill Hosie’s replica S5 was once more taking to the skies in honour of its forbears. Sadly, the plane made its last flight on May 23rd, 1987 from St. Just in Roseland, close by Falmouth in Cornwall. The aircraft’s rudder separated from its mounting just after take-off and was followed by the tail surfaces, which resulted in a fatal crash.

The funeral of Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus Kinkead at Calshot, March 1928. Kinkead died during an air speed record attempt on 12th March, when his Napier Supermarine S.5 seaplane crashed into the sea. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The funeral of Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus Kinkead at Calshot, March 1928. Kinkead died during an air speed record attempt on 12th March, when his Napier Supermarine S.5 seaplane crashed into the sea. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

Visit www.supermarineseaplane.co.uk for details of how to get involved.

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Bill Hosie’s son , Will Hosie is now seeking to build a new Supermarine S5 and has put out a call for investors and enthusiasts who would like to get involved with a project that would be designed to celebrate the achievements of Mitchell, his pilots, Hillborne and Will’s own father.