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History Hovercraft history and manufacturers

Saunders-Roe/Westland Aircraft/British Hovercraft Corporation

REF NR: 342

In 1958, the National Research and Development Corporation awarded Saunders-Roe a contract to build the first full sized hovercraft - the SR-N1 (Saunders-Roe - Nautical 1). On the 11th June 1959, the SR-N1 was launched and, only 5 weeks later - the SR-N1 became the first hovercraft to cross the English Channel from Calais to Dover.

 

Sam Saunders started work in the family boatbuilding business on the River Thames in the late 1870s. In 1901 Sam moved his own business building boats to the Isle of Wight. Always looking for innovations and willing to build "what the customer wanted", S.E. Saunders formed an Aircraft Department in 1909 and was involved in early British aviation, especially in sea planes and flying boats.


In 1929, the company S.E. Saunders was renamed 'Saunders-Roe' when A.V. Roe took a financial interest in the company. Through to the mid-1950s Saunders-Roe was mainly involved with high speed launches and flying boats. In 1958, the National Research and Development Corporation awarded Saunders-Roe a contract to build the first full sized hovercraft - the SR-N1 (Saunders-Roe - Nautical One). On the 11th June 1959, the SR-N1 was launched and, only 5 weeks later, the SR-N1 became the first hovercraft to cross the English Channel from Calais to Dover.

 

Craft: SR-N1 - SR-N2- SR-N3 - SR-N4 - SR-N5 - SR-N6 - BH-7 - BH-8 - Hover Freighter - AP1-88

 

The SRN1 was the first full-sized proof-of-concept hovercraft, built in 1959 by Saunders-Roe (Aviation) under commission from the British National Research and Development Corporation (NRDC). The craft was designed by the inventor of the hovercraft, Sir Christopher Cockerell. The craft astounded all on its first flights from its production factory at East Cowes, Isle of Wight, both on land and on the waters of the Solent.


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