Ralph Barker Titles

The Schneider Trophy Races


The first contest for the Schneider Trophy was no more than a single and apparently minor item in a 14-day hydro-aeroplane meeting at Monaco in April 1913; yet within ten years it had become the most coveted of all air prizes, the greatest international speed race of all time. 

Dominated at first by France, it was very nearly won outright by Italy-three wins in five years was what was required-in the years immediately after the first World War. A flying-boat modified by a young man named R. J. Mitchell saved the trophy at Naples in 1922, but in 1923 the Americans, fielding a well-trained military team and flying the incomparable Curtiss racer, outclassed all their rivals and carried off the trophy. Winning again at Baltimore in 1925, they seemed certain to capture the prize outright. But then came the Italians' greatest moment as the firms of Macchi and Fiat achieved the miracle of producing in seven months a new monoplane which defeated the seemingly unbeatable Curtiss biplanes at Hampton Roads, Virginia. 

A British victory at Venice brought the contest to England in 1929 for the first time for six years, and a thrilling race in which a new Supermarine design was powered for the first time by a Rolls-Royce engine ended in another British victory. The political, technical and economic background to the challenges of the various countries had been a fascinating one throughout, and now the need for economy decided the British Government against further official participation-a decision already taken by the United States. How Lady Houston kept Britain's chances alive with a gift of £100,000, and how Britain finally secured the trophy, makes a dramatic climax to a unique story of human progress and endeavour.



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