Sir Malcolm Campbell's boat of 1937, K3 was to rival the Americans' efforts in the fight for the world water speed record.
Working in secret, Campbell commissioned naval architect Fred Cooper, the designer of Sir Henry Segrave’s Miss England boats, to design a single-step 23ft hydroplane which would be powered by the 2500 bhp R-Type engine No 37 from Bluebird V, whose designer Reid Railton would take care of the mechanical side, with the engine being fitted by Campbell’s trusted mechanic Leo Villa. The hull was constructed at Cowes on the Isle of Wight by Saunders-Roe, using a double- skinned mahogany hull, a similar form of construction to that used on their flying boats. Aeronautical practice was also followed in the upperworks, with a stressed deck covered in doped aircraft fabric; a conical tail like the end of a miniature airship was fitted. Drive from the R-Type engine was taken forward through a dog clutch to a V drive gearbox near the bows with a step-up ratio of 1 engine revolution to 3 propellor revolutions. The high-speed propellor was water tank tested by Professor R.W.L. Gawn, superintendent of the Admiralty Experimental Works at Haslar, Southampton.
She set three world water speed records. On 1 September 1937, at Lake Maggiore on the border between Switzerland and Italy, K3 set a record of 126.32 mph, breaking Gar Wood's previous 5-year-old record. The next day she improved this to 129.5 mph. Breaking the design speed of 130 would require another year, when on 17 August 1938 at Lake Hallwyl in Switzerland at 130.91 mph was achieved.
The original boat has been restored by Karl Foulkes-Halbard at Filching Manor in East Sussex and on Tuesday the 20th September 2011 at 11.16am, K3 went back on the water for the first time since her last record in August 1938.
A museum quality model immaculately produced
Blue Bird K3
34.5 L x 12.5 W cm
The base is 38 x 14.5cm