GDB
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50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:25 pm

50 years ago, an eccentric looking machine emerged in the UK.
An amphibious vehicle concept devised by a single inventor.

Like many developments in that era, the Hovercraft did not become a mass mode of transport, though two huge machines crossed the English Channel for over 30 years, until age, fuel costs and the end of duty free sales retired them.

However, there is a niche market in a range of roles, also unusually for a British invention, the role of UK companies in continued production and development is still very strong.
(Maybe due to the fact that it is a niche?)

Potted history and a couple of interesting videos-from the very start to the latest in Hovercraft;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8093421.stm

[Edited 2009-06-12 11:55:07]
 
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OA260
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:44 pm



Quoting GDB (Thread starter):
though two huge machines crossed the English Channel for over 30 years, until age, fuel costs and the end of duty free sales retired them.

Arr I never got to fly on one !! I always remember Hoverspeed used to call their services ''flights''.

I am sad I never got to go Dover-Calais on them. When I was last in Dover its a shame to see the old terminal and platform empty.

http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/anetpics2009/hoverspeed.jpg
 
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nighthawk
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:55 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 1):
Arr I never got to fly on one !! I always remember Hoverspeed used to call their services ''flights''.

Its a shame the idea never really took off  duck 
 
aznmadsci
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:00 pm



Quoting Nighthawk (Reply 2):
Its a shame the idea never really took off

Yeah ... it just seemed to hover around.  duck   biggrin 
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OA260
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:01 pm



Quoting Nighthawk (Reply 2):
Its a shame the idea never really took off



Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 3):
Yeah ... it just seemed to hover around

Just like your jokes LOL... Big grin  Wink
 
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RayChuang
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:02 am

What finally ended hovercraft service was the arrival of Eurostar high-speed rail service between London and Paris/Brussels. Especially now with only 2 hours 15 minutes travel time between St. Pancreas International and Gare du Nord stations.
 
ltbewr
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:39 am

In 1984 and 1988, I used the hovercraft to travel round trip between London and Paris. It was a 'different' experience. One of the successes of hovercraft are as large landing/attack platorms used by the USA and other military forces.
 
britjap
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:14 am



Quoting GDB (Thread starter):
two huge machines crossed the English Channel for over 30 years

Are there any left running passenger operations anywhere else??

I remember riding on one (a small one) across to the Isle of Wright for a week long school trip when I was a kid. I thought it was great.  Smile
 
CPH-R
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:36 am



Quoting BritJap (Reply 7):
Are there any left running passenger operations anywhere else??

I believe there's still hovercraft service between Portsmouth and Isle of Wight. Check out http://www.hovertravel.co.uk/
 
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OA260
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:26 am

Didnt SAS run hovercraft also??
 
Type-Rated
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:09 am

I have never been on one of these. It looks like the ride in them must have been kind of wavy, or was it smooth?
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GDB
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:56 am

This potted history shows how the US and Russia developed the hovercraft, for military use, starting in the US with license built British designs used in Vietnam, later moving on to the big LCAC types in use with the USMC today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hovercraft

The Royal Navy used similar early SRN-6 designs, the version license built by Bell for the US, over the years, now they use the modern Griffon craft.

Interesting to note that Russia also developed the Ekranoplan ground effect craft, but this development stalled and they used and have exported their own hovercraft designs.
 
AverageUser
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:16 pm

Finnish engineer Toivo J. Kaario, head inspector of Valtion Lentokonetehdas (VL) airplane engine workshop, began to design an air cushion craft in 1931. He constructed and tested his craft, dubbed pintaliitäjä (Surface Glider), and received its Finnish patents 18630 and 26122. Kaario is considered to have designed and built the first functional ground effect vehicle, but his invention did not receive sufficient funds for further development.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Hovercraft

Outline drawings of his crafts can be found in this M.A. thesis: http://tutkielmat.uta.fi/pdf/gradu01659.pdf

Kaario in the 1930s: www.tampere.fi/kuvat/5GAtv5ST7/802_19.jpg
 
CPH-R
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:49 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 9):
Didnt SAS run hovercraft also??

They leased one to operate between CPH and Malmö.
 
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OA260
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:55 pm

World's largest military hovercraft - The Russian Zubr class LCAC at 57.6 meters length and a maximum displacement of 535 tons. This hovercraft can transport three T-80 main battle tanks (MBT), 140 fully equipped troops, or up to 130 tons of cargo. Four have been purchased by the Greek Navy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hovercraft
 
BAViscount
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:07 pm



Quoting CPH-R (Reply 8):
I believe there's still hovercraft service between Portsmouth and Isle of Wight.



Quoting Type-Rated (Reply 10):
It looks like the ride in them must have been kind of wavy, or was it smooth?

I've taken the hovercraft between Southsea and Ryde (Isle of Wight) two or three times, it's an interesting little trip, but it can get a bit bumpy if the sea is choppy. I understand that was an issue with the old cross Channel service in that they couldn't operate if the sea was too rough, they were a lot less tolerant of rough conditions than the ferries. I remember hearing friends and family tell stories of some pretty uncomfortable day trips to France on the hovercraft!
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qantas744
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:50 pm

This is one of the two Hovercraft that operates between Southsea and Ryde on the Isle Of Wight:

http://matthew-taylor.fotopic.net/p55768499.html


The other craft was introduced in 2007 and is bigger than the one pictured. The service runs every half hour through the day (hourly off peak). And I can even see it from my flat!



Matt
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OA260
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:51 pm



Quoting Qantas744 (Reply 16):
This is one of the two Hovercraft that operates between Southsea and Ryde on the Isle Of Wight:

Is it still operating? I have to get on that sometime.
 
WrenchBender
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:44 pm

Did the channel crossing back in 1972, thrill of the trip was the Hovercraft couldn't care less about the rest of the month spent trolling round europe. Some things just amaze 11 year old boys more than others.

WrenchBender
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qantas744
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:07 pm

The Hovercraft service from Portsmouth to the Isle Of Wight still operates, it sometimes can be suspended if it gets too windy but other than that it is a very reliable service. As for the ride, it feels just like being in an aircraft during a take off run-except it goes on for seven minutes!
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dw747400
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:20 am

Remarkable vehicles. Sad to see the Super 4's being slowly parted out.

I'd love to see US hovercraft service at some point, but it seems like the economics continue to make operators prefer high speed catamarans. The ability to move on land has less value in commercial applications, so sadly most big future hovercraft will be military designs, leaving the Isle of Wright ferries and some tiny pleasure cruisers.
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qantas744
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:45 pm

Most, if not all, of the cross channel hovers were built at the Hovercraft factory in Cowes on the Isle Of Wight, and across the water at Lee On Solent is the Hovercraft museum, they have a an open day every year and the next is 24th-26th July 2009.
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skygirl
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RE: 50 Years Of The Hovercraft

Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:28 am

I crossed the channel at the age of 4 on the hovercraft. It was without a doubt one of my favorite memories of being in Europe. I would love to experience the thrill of it again one day. It's such a unique way of traveling...
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