The Coupe d'Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider (commonly called the Schneider Trophy) was a competition for seaplanes. Inaugurated in 1911 by Jacques Schneider, a financier, balloonist and aircraft enthusiast, it offered a prize of roughly £1,000 to the winner. The race, held eleven times between 1913 and 1931, was intended to encourage technical advances in civil aviation but quickly became a contest for pure speed. The races, with laps over a triangular course (initially 280 km, but later 350 km), were very popular and some attracted crowds of over 200,000.
The Supermarine Sea Lion 1 was entered for the Schneider trophy contest in Monaco in 1920 by the Woolston-based Supermarine. The Italians won the race that year and the following year, but in 1922 Supermarine achieved its first win with the Supermarine Sea Lion II, flown by test pilot Henri Biard. The next three races were shared between the USA (twice) and Italy, before Supermarine won three consecutive races (1927, 1929, 1931) in planes designed by Spitfire designer R. J. Mitchell, and thus won the trophy outright. The last two contests were held at Calshot Spit. In the final contest in 1931 the Supermarine S 6B plane, flown by John Boothman, achieved a speed of 340 mph (compared to the 73 mph of the first winner in 1913). Since 1977 the trophy has been on display at the Science Museum in London.

Schneider Trophy

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The trophy now housed at the Science Museum in London.

Supermarine Sea Lion I

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The Sea Lion I in 1919.

See also

Mitchell, Reginald J

Further reading:
The Schneider Trophy Contest, by David Moldon. (HS/ph)
Schneider Trophy to Spitfire: The Design Career of R. J. Mitchell, by John Shelton. (HS/ph)
The Schneider Trophy Races, by Ralph Barker. (HS/ph)
Schneider Trophy: Diamond Jubliee, by Alan Smith. (HS/ph)


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