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Hydroplane (boat)

hydroplane boat races 2018, hydroplane boat plans
A hydroplane or hydro, or thunderboat is a fast motorboat, where the hull shape is such that at speed, the weight of the boat is supported by planing forces, rather than simple buoyancy

A key aspect of hydroplanes is that they use the water they are on for lift rather than buoyancy, as well as for propulsion and steering: when travelling at high speed water is forced downwards by the bottom of the boat's hull The water therefore exerts an equal and opposite force upwards, lifting the vast majority of the hull out of the water This process, happening at the surface of the water, is known as ‘planing’


  • 1 Hydroplane design
  • 2 Unlimited hydroplane engines
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 External links

Hydroplane designedit

Early designs of the 1920s were often built by amateurs, who employed the lightest materials available to them at the time, which were often glued timber boarding or plywood on the floor, 4-millimetre 016 in plywood topsides, and varnished canvas decks Most were about 4 metres 13 ft long and stepped hulls were employed with a 75-millimetre 30 in step to induce air under the hull, to enable the boat to float on air bubbles The concept of 'planing' was not fully understood Thus, hulls were flat bottomed with an upward curve at the bow and the step 2/3 of the way aft The sheer weight of a 100 hp engine was enough to keep the bow from digging in In Ireland the sport was managed by the Motor Yacht Club of Ireland which had a base at the Lough Ree Yacht Club near Athlone

One of the earliest examples can be seen in the Popular Mechanics issue, Vol 63, No 5, May 1935 the story of "Mile A Minute-Thrills of the Water" tells the story of the "No-Vac" by LeRoy F Malrose Sr aka Fred W McQuigg pen name LeRoy was the lead design illustrator for Popular Mechanics magazine, which at the time was located in Chicago, Il The No-Vac design and build actually began in 1933, when LeRoy Sr conceptualized an airfoil hull surface design which proved to produce far less drag than conventional "V" style boat hull designs of the time In June 1933 the No-Vac was put the test with professional racing driver Jimmy Rodgers at the helm That day the No-Vac set the world water speed record for an outboard powered boat of 78 miles per hour 126 km/h

The basic hull design of most hydroplanes has remained relatively unchanged since the 1950s: two sponsons in front, one on each side of the bow; behind the wide bow, is a narrower, mostly rectangular section housing the driver, engine, and steering equipment The aft part of the vessel is supported in the water by the lower half of the propeller, which is designed to operate semi-submerged at all times The goal is to keep as little of the boat in contact with the water as possible, as water is much denser than air, and so exerts more drag on the vehicle than air does Essentially the boat 'flies' over the surface of the water rather than actually traveling through it

One of the few significant attempts at a radically different design since the three-point propriding design was introduced was referred to as Canard It reversed the width properties, having a very narrow bow that only touched the water in one place, and two small outrigger sponsons in the back

Early hydroplanes had mostly straight lines and flat surfaces aside from the uniformly curved bow and sponsons The curved bow was eventually replaced by what is known as a pickle fork bow, where a space is left between the front few feet of the sponsons Also, the centered single, vertical tail similar to the ones on most modern airplanes was gradually replaced by a horizontal stabilizer supported by vertical tails on either side of the boat Later, as fine-tuning the hydrodynamics became more important, the bottoms of the main hull have subtle curves to give the best lift

Unlimited hydroplane enginesedit

The aviation industry has been the main source of engines for the boats For the first few decades after World War II, they used surplus World War II-era internal-combustion airplane engines, typically Rolls-Royce Merlins or Griffons, or Allison V-1710s, all liquid-cooled V-12s The loud roar of these engines earned hydroplanes the nickname thunderboats or dinoboats

Donald Campbell set seven world water speed records between 1955 and 1964 in the jet engined hydroplane, Bluebird The Ted Jones-designed Slo-Mo-Shun IV three-point, Allison-powered hydroplane set the water speed record 160323 mph in Lake Washington, off Seattle, Washington's Sand Point, on June 26, 1950, breaking the previous ten-plus-year-old record 141740 mph/2281 km/h by almost 20 mph 32 km/h

Starting in 1980, they have increasingly used Vietnam War-era turboshaft engines from helicopters in 1973–1974, one hydroplane, U-95, used turbine engines in races to test the technology The most commonly used turbine is the Lycoming T55, used in the CH-47 Chinook

Efforts have occasionally been made to use automotive engines, but they generally have not proven competitive

The "limited" classes of inboard hydroplane racing are organized under the name Inboard Powerboat Circuit These classes utilize automotive power, as well as two-stroke power There are races throughout the country from April to October Many Unlimited drivers got their start in the "limited" classes

Prior to 1977, every official water speed record had been set by an American, Briton, Irishman or Canadian On November 20, Australian Ken Warby piloted his Spirit of Australia purely on the jet thrust of its Westinghouse J34 turbojet to a velocity of 4645 km/h 290313 mph to beat Lee Taylor’s record Warby, who had built the craft in his back yard, used the publicity to find sponsorship to pay for improvements to the Spirit On October 8, 1978 Warby travelled to Blowering Dam, Australia, and broke both the 480 km/h 300 mph and 500 km/h barriers with an average speed of 510 km/h 31875 mph

As of 2005, Warby’s record still stands, and there have only been two official attempts to break it1

See alsoedit

  • Water speed record


  1. ^ "The Absolute World Water Speed Record History 1909 to 2005" Speed Aces Chronology 2005 Retrieved 2008-11-13 

External linksedit

  • pictures showing bow design evolution
  • HydroInsidercom
  • HydroplaneQuebeccom
  • Grand Prix Hydroplane Racing website
  • Canadian Boating Federation website
  • boat racing photos and information
  • local hydroplane club
  • The Home of the U-5 and U-7 Unlimited Hydroplanes
  • jet hydroplane information jet hydroplane, world water speed record

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