Temporary suspension of EU shipping, view details here.

The world's first hovercraft, the Westland SR-N1, 1959.

The world's first hovercraft, the Westland SR-N1, 1959.
3 0 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 22cm


The first known design for a hovercraft was made by Emmanuel Swedenborg as far back as 1716, but dismised as impractical. Sir John Thornycroft produced models in the 1870s, but as the internal combustion engine had not yet been invented, he lacked a suitable power source. In 1955 Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-1999) filed his first patent for a vehicle carried on an air-filled cushion, and in 1959 the SR-N1 became the first practical hovercraft. It used a gas turbine engine to power a large aircraft propeller, which drew air into a space beneath the craft. The air cushion was contained by a rubber skirt, and a second propeller moved the vehicle forward. Hovercraft have been succesfully utilised as ferries, asault craft, and survey vesels.

Image Details

Image Ref.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

buy a print

Select size
Select finish
How many prints?

buy a framed print

buy a canvas

buy a framed canvas