Donald Campbell and Bluebird : A Photo Gallery

bullet Donald Campbell : the Man in the Shadow
bullet Campbell Dies at the Wheel
bullet Donald Campbell and Bluebird Gallery

(Click on the thumbnails to reveal larger images)

Launched For The First Time Into Ullswater On February 8:
Mr. Donald Campbell's Turbo-Jet Hydroplane Bluebird.

Launch of the Bluebird, Ullswater, 1955The new turbo-jet hydroplane Bluebird, in which Mr. Donald Campbell is hoping to attack the world water speed record, was launched for the first time into Ullswater, Cumberland, on February 8. The launching had to be postponed for a day when it was found that the water at the end of the slipway was too shallow to take Bluebird safely. Mr. Campbell made his first trial run in Bluebird on February 11, but, at the time of writing, the actual date of his attempt on the record has not been announced. Mr. Donald Campbell, who is the son of the late Sir Malcolm Campbell, made some attempts on the world water speed record in Bluebird II. after his father's death, but on October 25, 1951, when travelling at speed on Coniston Water, that speedboat hit a submerged obstacle and was severely damaged. The present world water speed record of 178.497 statute miles per hour was established by Stanley Sayres, of the United States, on Lake Washington on July 7, 1952.

(Reprinted from the Illustrated London News February 19, 1955)

Bluebird on Trial

Preparing For His Attempt To Set Up A New World Water Speed Record:
Mr. Donald Campbell Streaking Across Lake Ullswater In His Boat, Bluebird.

Bluebird trial at Ullswater, 1955At Glenridding, on the shore of Ullswater, months of preparation culminated in the announcement, on July 17, that at last everything was ready for the attempt on the world water speed record, held by the American, Mr. Stanley Sayres. In a series of trial runs, Mr. Donald Campbell achieved high speeds, including a top speed estimated at 185 m.p.h. This is over six miles per hour faster than the official record of 178.497. but is not, of course, valid, since no authorised timekeepers were present. Bluebird has a turbo-jet engine generating 4000 horse-power and weighs 2 tons. The weather will determine when an attempt can be made.

(Reprinted from The Illustrated London News, July 23, 1955)

A New Water Speed Record : Mr. Donald Campbell In Bluebird.

Bluebird speed record at Ullswater, 1955Streaking past the marker buoy at the end of a run: Mr. Donald Campbell in Bluebird, during his record-breaking achievement on Ullswater on July 23. He made his first run at 215.08 m.p.h. and his second at 189.57 m.p.h., giving him an average of 202.32 m.p.h.
Donald Campbell in Bluebird for speed record at Ullswater, 1955Seated at the controls of his boat before starting on his record-breaking attempt Mr. Campbell gives the thumbs-up signal to his assistants.
Bluebird speed record at Ullswater, 1955The fastest piloted boat in the world: Bluebird has a Metro-Vickers turbo-jet engine generating 4000 horse-power, and weighs 2 tons.
Sir Malcolm Campbell and BluebirdA record-breaker of sixteen years ago: Sir Malcolm Campbell with the boat in which he set up a record of 141.74 m.p.h

The world's water speed record is once more in Britain's hands. Mr. Donald Campbell achieved an average speed of 202.32 m.p.h. in his turbo-jet hydroplane Bluebird on Ullswater on July 23 (awaiting confirmation). He made two runs over the measured kilometer, at 215.08 m.p.h. on the first and 189.57 m.p.h. on the second. This triumph followed a week of disappointment, during which Bluebird failed twice when flying spray put out the engine's flame, and months of exhaustive preparation by Mr. Campbell and his team of wholehearted experts, to whom he paid tribute after his attempt. In August 1939, Sir Malcolm Campbell, father of the present holder, broke his own speed record on Coniston Lake with a speed of 141.74 m.p.h. in a craft as different in appearance and power from the 1955 Bluebird as a Gladiator fighter aircraft is to a modern javelin. In view of Mr. Campbell's remarks on the " water barrier," it is interesting to speculate upon how much faster it is possible to travel over the surface of even the smoothest lake.

(Reprinted from The Illustrated London News July 30, 1955)

 Almost Leaving The Water During Its Record-breaking Runs On Lake Mead, Nevada:
Bluebird, Driven By Sir Donald Campbell

Bluebird speed record at Lake Mead, 1955On November 16 Mr. Donald Campbell broke his own world water-speed record during two runs of 239.5 m.p.h. and 193 m.p.h. respectively on Lake Mead, Nevada. The photograph shows Bluebird streaking over the mountain-framed lake, watched by a line of ducks.

(Reprinted from the Illustrated London News November 26, 1955)

A New World Water-Speed Record Mr. Campbell's Triumph In Bluebird

Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1957The record-breaking Bluebird at Coniston Jetty before the record runs. In the vessel is Mr. Leo Villa, chief technician.
Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1957In a flurry of spray, bluebird cruises out from the jetty to the starting point of the course on Coniston Water on November 7.
Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1957Bluebird at full speed during the record-breaking runs of 260.107 m.p.h. and 218.024 m.p.h., giving the final average speed of 239.07 m.p.h.
Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1957Bluebird on her toes: in this photograph it is quite clear that the hull is right out of the water, only the fins breaking the surface.
Donald Campbell and Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1957The record-breaker: Mr. Donald Campbell, standing up in the driving-seat, after he had triumphantly broken his own previous record.

On November 7, on Coniston Water, Mr. Donald Campbell established a new world water-speed record of 239.07 m.p.h., thus breaking his own record of 225.63 m.p.h. by 13.44 m.p.h. This new record-which is, of course, subject to confirmation by the Union of International Motor-boating in Brussels -was made in his hydroplane Bluebird, which is powered by a Metropolitan-Vickers jet engine. His first run over the measured kilometre was timed at 260.107 m.p.h., running from north to south; turning without refuelling, he made the second run at a speed of 218.024 m.p.h., the reduction in speed being due to the swell on the lake. This gave the average which constitutes the new record speed. 

After the two runs, Mr. Campbell said: "I had a real pasting. Bluebird was just leaping all over the place .... At one time Leo (Mr. L. Villa, chief technician of the Bluebird team) told me (by radio) the nose was up. If the nose had lifted three and a half degrees the boat would have gone over backwards."

(Reprinted from The Illustrated London News November 16, 1957)

Donald Campbell Breaking the World Water Speed Record

Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1958Donald Campbell streaking over the measured kilometre on Lake Coniston, Lancashire, on November 10, in his jetboat Bluebird, in which he achieved an average speed of 248.62 miles an hour.
Donald Campbell at Coniston, 1958Donald Campbell smiling shortly before he prepared to take his jetboat Bluebird for a run on Lake Coniston which, subject to official confirmation, constitutes a new record.

Mr. Donald Campbell, who established on November 7 of last year a world water speed record of 239.07 miles per hour, almost exactly one year later beat his own record and succeeded in reaching an average speed of 248.62 m.p.h. After this event, it was said that Mr. Campbell might in the ensuing days attempt once again to beat his own record. After his record-beating success, Mr. Campbell said : "This is not an individual achievement. It is a British achievement. We can now control the boat in conditions of water which were previously thought impossible." He added that he thought that he and his colleagues had made progress on the question of stability and hoped that they now had the information to make the next step. Campbell, who had earlier made a trial run, broke the record with only about nine minutes to spare because international rules lay it down that, in order to count for a record attempt, the double runs must be made within one hour. Mr. Campbell was singularly fortunate in his record bid of November 10 : quite soon after his record attempt, a strong breeze sprang up, making conditions impossible for record runs. In rather more than three years, Mr. Campbell has previously broken the record in his celebrated jetboat Bluebird four times. In July 1955 he reached 202 m.p.h. In November of the same year he touched 216 m.p.h. In September 1956 he averaged just over 225 m.p.h., and in November 1957 he reached 239.07 m.p.h.

(Reprinted from the Illustrated London News, November 15, 1958)

In Wordsworth's country at 260 m.p.h.

Bluebird speed record at Coniston, 1959Mr. Donald Campbell in Bluebird streaking across Coniston Water, in the Lake District, to break his own water-speed record.

In spite of being told by his chief mechanic to " feel his way gently " because of a slight swell, Mr. Donald Campbell achieved a speed of 275.15 m.p.h. on Coniston Water during his outwardmile run in Bluebird on May 14. On the return run he achieved 245.55 m.p.h. and so set up a new water-speed record of 260.35 m.p.h. In doing so he broke by 12 m.p.h. his own record set up on Coniston Water six months ago.

(Reprinted from the Illustrated London News, May 23, 1959)

Western Australia

Bluebird speed record at Lake Dumbleyung, 1965Donald Campbell's Bluebird (below) on its record-breaking run across Lake Dumbleyung. With his speed of 276.35 m.p.h. Donald Campbell becomes the first person to set up a new land and water speed record in the same year. He did it with only nine hours to spare.

(Reprinted from the Illustrated London News, January 9, 1965)

Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at wildturnip@gmail.com
Leslie Field, 2000