Supermarine Rolls Royce Seaplane S6B S1595, 1931.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Detail. This plane was designed by Reginald G Mitchell (1895-1937), the designer of several world-beating seaplanes and the famous Supermarine Spitfire. It was a development of Mitchell's earlier S4 which had won the 1925 Schneider Trophy air race. The S6B was powered by a supercharged Rolls-Royce 1900 hp engine, and represents one of the major technical achievements in British aviation between the two world wars. Not only did the plane win the 1931 Schneider Trophy, but also, two weeks later, became the fastest vehicle on earth, setting an absolute speed record of 407.5 mph.