JOHN COBB - 2 December 1899 29 September 1952
Design excellence: John Cobb's Railton-Mobil Special achieved 394.196 mph using two supercharged Napier Lion aero engines housed in a neutral teardrop body. Power was 1,250 hp @ 3,600 rpm per engine - the car weighed 3 tons. It is thought that this car inspired Ken Norris and indeed Ken once mentioned to the original BE3 designer, that research into what had gone before was an essential part of developing a modern LSR vehicle.
Teardrop bodyform of the Railton Mobil Special
You could be forgiven for thinking the lightweight aluminium body shown above was that of the Bluebird cn7, however, it is being lifted from the the Railton-Mobil Special, revealing smaller wheels. The car was designed by Reid A Railton who previously designed cars for Parry Thomas and Malcolm Campbell.
The petrol engine lost the wheel driven record to the jet powered Bluebird cn7, but shortly after the Summers brothers raised the record above that of the cn7's 403.1 mph to 409.277 mph using 4 V8 petrol engines, in Goldenrod.
John Cobb's Napier Railton at Donington Park
held the ultimate lap record at the Brooklands race track, driving the 24-litre Napier Railton at an average speed of 143.44 mph (230.84 km/h) achieved on 7 October 1935, having earlier overtaken the 1931 record set by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin driving Bentley Blower No.1, and regaining it from his friend Oliver Bertram.
The Napier Lion was a 12-cylinder aircraft engine produced by Napier & Son from 1917 until the mid 1930's. Although initially intended as an aircraft engine as it was the most powerful engine of its day it was used to power John Cobb's Railton Mobil Special in 1947 too 394 mph, a new car Land Speed Record which was not beaten until the 1960's, supercharged racing versions of the engine exceeded 1300hp output. The advanced design of the Lion resulted in an extended production period. Note the offset angle of the engines in the Mobil's frame, to allow the propeller shafts to reach the differential casings. A brilliant design solution that many engineers would steer clear of.
WATER SPEED RECORD
Cobb died in 1952, attempting to break the world water speed record at Loch Ness in the jet speedboat Crusader at a speed in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h). The boat hit an unexplained wake, which some believers of the Loch Ness Monster claim was caused by the wake of a large animal. Nearby, there is a memorial to him erected by the people of Glenurquhart. He is buried at Christ Church, Esher.
He was awarded the Segrave Trophy in 1947.
The Crusader - jet propelled water speed record boat 1952
John Cobb in his Napier LSR car
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