After decades of restoration, the iconic Bluebird K3 hydroplane speedboat has again taken to the water. And as these photos show, she is spectacular!
Nearly 80 years since Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird K3 speedboat broke the water speed record, the iconic boat has been put through her paces again.
The K3 hydroplane underwent a series of test runs on Bewl Water reservoir in Kent yesterday (26 September).
It follows years of restoration by Karl Foulkes-Halbard, whose late father, Paul, bought Bluebird K3 back in 1988.
Foulkes-Halbard piloted the speedboat during the test runs, reaching speeds of 52 mph.
When Sir Malcolm set the world speed record on 17 August 1938 at Lake Hallwyl in Switzerland, he managed to coax 130.93 mph out of Bluebird K3.
“It’s a pretty wild experience, even at just over 50mph.” Foulkes-Halbard told The Telegraph.
“I can only take my hat off to Sir Malcolm Campbell, who was doing more than double those speeds. He was an exceptionally courageous man and an extremely skilful pilot,” he added.
It cost Foulkes-Halbard tens of thousand of pounds to restore Sir Malcolm’s Bluebird K3, which had to be stripped right back to the framework.
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“It took a long time to get her up and running again. The hull was in a terrible state and had to be stripped right back and rebuilt,” he said.
“Then the engine, clutch, gearbox and drive system had to be reinstated. It was quite a job,” said Foulkes-Halbard.
According to the official K3 Bluebird website, the iconic boat was designed by F.W Cooper and was built by Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight.
Sir Malcolm had already broken the 300mph barrier on land in his Bluebird car, which was powered by a Rolls Royce R37 engine.
He initially used the same engine for Bluebird K3 but problems with overheating meant it had to be sent back to the car manufacturer for a rebuild and Sir Malcolm instead installed the lower powered R39 spare.
It was with this engine that Sir Malcolm set a new world water speed record of 126.33mph on 1 September 1937, beating the existing record of 124mph set by the American, Gar Wood.
The following day at Lake Maggiore on the border between Switzerland and Italy, he beat his own record, with a speed of 129.5mph.
In August 1938, Sir Malcolm and Bluebird K3 again returned to Switzerland, setting a new record of 130.93mph at Lake Hallwyl in Switzerland.
It was then decided the boat had reached its limits and it was retired.
Foulkes-Halbard said he is hoping to take Bluebird K3 back to Switzerland again.
“We want to show her off on the water where she made history,” he said.
“We’re not about trying to replicate her record breaking speeds. She doesn’t need to prove anything. We just want people to be able to see a bit of history in action,” added Foulkes-Halbard.