Bluebird K7

Bluebird K7 visit

When Ken and Lew Norris came up with the design for Donald Campbell’s Beryl jet powered hydroplane, some assumed that it was based on the White Hawk hydrofoil boat, the flawed design of which Ken had tried in vain to rescue, but with sponsons added. In fact, as Ken explained to us many years ago, they went back to the original design for Bluebird K4 and began cutting away everything they could at the front in order to reduce front end lift. Which is how it ended up with spar mounted sponsons. At the early stage, the boat was to be Griffon powered but the switch to the Metrovick Beryl as used in the Saunders Roe jet flying boat drove further design changes which eventually evolved into the final K7.

As others before and since have found, getting new hydroplane designs to even plane in the first place takes a lot of head scratching, testing and cleverly contoured under surfaces before it can be achieved. And it was that we wanted to check out in detail on the rebuilt Bluebird K7.

Thanks to an invite from Bill Smith, we were able to just that before Christmas 2019. It’s only when you do that you realise how nuanced the Norris Brothers design really was. Here are a selection of photographs from the visit.