Progress Report No4

by Roy S. Peters


As promised in version number 3 in this series, I now include a selection of cars from the past that have used MORE THAN ONE airplane engine to power it.

Taking some of the WLSR holders, - the cars and drivers were:

Firstly, at Daytona:-

     1927 203.79mph "Sunbeam "Slug"  2engines  HenrySeagrave
     1928 207.55mph Triplex Special  3engines  Ray Keech

Secondy, at Bonnevlle:-

     1937 312.00mph Thunderbolt      2 RollsRoyce GeorgeEyston   

     1938 345.49mph             Ditto       
     1938 357.50mph             Ditto
     1938 350.20mph Various Railtons    2 x Napiers    John Cobb 
       ..      to                         Ditto          
     1947 394.20mph                       Ditto
     1964 413.20mph Wingfoot Express    3 x J46 Jets   Tom Green 

Now some more details on each::

(a) The SLUG had two Sunbeam Matabele Aero-engines (each 22.5 litres) giving a total of 870BHP (although billed as a "1000BHP Car") and is currently on display at the Beaulieu Motor Museum in Hampshire.

(b) The TRIPLEX Special was one of the most mind-blowing of "conventional" engined cars. EACH of these three engines was 27 litres , so Ray had 81 litres (bigger than the average Mini!!) - 81188cc to be exact. The total BHP was only 1500, which is not much horsepower per litre!! Technology has improved since then.

(c) THUNDERBOLT versions were between 4700 and 5000 BHP with the two Rolls- Royce Typhoon (Type `R') engines - totalling 73164cc. It was a six-wheeler car driven by the rear two and steered by the front four!

(d) John Cobb's RAILTONs were normally 47872cc from the two supercharged Napier Lion engines. These were 4-wheel-drive cars, a 26.9 litre engine driving the front wheels and another 26.9 litres driving the rear two. Despite the engine-size, it was still only 2500BHP, - like an average-powered dragster of today!!

(e) Tom Green's car (well Walt Arfons's) had only 6200lbs of thrust from the three engines - and held the record for 3 days in October '64 (the first of the five WLSR marks set in THAT month alone)

Now a more up-to-date twin-engined possibility:-

Remember the all-conquering Sierra Cosworth? ( looked like an ordinary road-going Sierra - with better engine and improved chassis for dealing with the extra strains). I've been doing some feasibility studies for a twin-jet-engined Sierra to outpace the Cosworth (in a straight line!). There are quite a lot of engines from which could be selected some that could fit snugly into the Sierra chassis - my first of these being the Snecma Larzac 04. Two of these (each weighing 640lbs and having 2966lbs thrust) will give the refitted Sierra a Thrust to DryWeight ratio of 2.39.

A couple of these (maximum diameter 23" , length 46.4") behind the line of the front seats fed by air ducted via the left of the driver (in the Mark1 Sierra-Snecma with a 10 gallon tank) would make an excellent drag-race car as that amount of fuel would be exactly used-up in a standing quarter-mile. It would then be travelling at 261.986 in 6.362 seconds - but no use for the measured mile.

By modifying further and adding an extra 15 gallon tank it could do the measured mile (from 0.1 to 1.1 miles) with a terminal speed of 400.028mph. Average for the mile would be 313.413mph covered in 11.486 seconds. Due to this capability, another version with somewhat stronger, larger, stabilising fins will have to be investigated!
Not a WLSR vehicle - but an interesting unusual car!!


Have you ever wondered `Who's Who' in and around the Team? Here, I reveal a rough guide for you:::

Project Control & Management: Richard Noble
Designers:                    John Ackroyd
                              Ron Ayers
Chassis Designer:             Glyn Bowsher
Chassis Jig-builders:         Simon Kingdon-Butcher,
                              Gareth Robinson
Engine Group:            Sgt John Rowles (Leader)
                         Cpl Greg Tallet
                         Gordon Bruce
Systems Manager:              Flt Lt Andrew Day
Mockup cockpit builders:      Mike Lowman, Martin Hemming
Design Software:              Altium (Micro CADam)
                              Toshiba Information Systems
Computer Modelling:      Computational Dynamics Research Ltd
                         Cray Research
`Full-size-mockup' builder:        Geoff Luff
Frame checkers:               Andy Lemming & Steve Gosden
Engine Testing:               DRA Shoeburyness (P & EE)
Driver Selection:             DRA Farnborough (Human Resources)
Driver:                       Flt Lt Andrew Green
Where is it being built?

From the start, Thrust SSC is being assembled at G-Force (in Fontwell in Sussex).

G-Force was the company which was, formerly, the UK Operations side of Chip Ganussi's Indycar Racing Team. - and now handles many items of work for many Formula1 & Indycar teams. Sounds like a useful set of people! Club Members can apply to see it being built, but for safety (and operations) reasons the numbers are limited.

Unfortunately, I haven't received up-to-date copies of `Mach 1 News' & "Thrust SSC Bulletin" - so we'll just have to hope that things are progressing OK.

On the Simulation side - I have gone further now, - to a simulated Saturday 14th October 1995 with the highest proposed subsonic two-way run. The two runs used 5.0 & 5.6 miles of track respectively ( by starting the `measured mile' at 1.5 and 2.0 miles respectively. In each case, a progressive throttling-back to around 20000lbs thrust was employed to maintain almost constant speed over each mile. Thus, its averages for each were 665.317 and 668.355 mph. This makes SSC's average greater than Thrust 2's peak speed of 650.88 mph. Post-analysis showed Thrust2 to be within 15mph of take-off !!!

My next test simulation will accelerate to greater than Mach 1 and then decelerate without maintaining a supersonic speed.


No. I did not forget to include this promise from Report No3 !! Some cars were only plans in various degrees of detail, some were made, some tested, some abandoned. Here's a selection:-

1. Thrust 3 (1000mph plus) dealt with in ReportNo3

2. Peters-Olympus (1000mph plus) } Ditto

3 Sammy Miller's 900mph rocket-car:: This was mentionned in Note no1 and is now abandoned. It bears a striking resemblance to Tony Fox's "Proud American" car which was `shelved' in 1977. Fox's regular pilot (Dave Anderson) died in 1974 and Sammy became the replacement in "Tony's Team". Sammy carried on for another decade with the plans.

4. Gary Gabelich's Blue Flame (previous WLSR holder to Richard) which did 630.388 mph using only 16000lbs of its available 22000lbs thrust could well have been a Supersonic Car !!

5. Stan Barrett's (Hal Needham's) Budweiser Rocket car has been the ONLY car to-date to have gone supersonic - but as explained earlier, it was not sustained under the agreed Record conditions. Its main engine was a bi-propellant one (of Polybutadiene and Hydrogen peroxide) which develops 24000lbs thrust. It also incorporated a Sidewinder Missile as a booster, fired when at 640mph ( providing an extra 6000lbs of thrust). It reached a calculated maximum speed of 739.666mph (Mach 1.0106) at Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base in the early morning of 17 Dec 1979.

6. Bill Gaynor, of Atwood, Colorado, had a car built (called City of Sterling) in 1984 for `1000mph plus'. He has a degree in aeronautical engineering and lectured on very high level mathematics, aerodynamics and wind-tunnel practice. He started his vehicle's plans (Project 1000) in the early 70s and estimated its maximum speed as 1450mph using 63000lbs thrust. He planned to go to the Black Rock Desert in 1986 with someone else driving. I have heard nothing since. I have a photo taken in his workshop showing it near-completion -- but I have yet to analyse the problems of stopping safely from 1450mph in the confines at Black Rock.

7. Donald Campbell's death in 1967 (after completing a reverse-somersault in his boat at 300mph). halted his plans for the Mach 1.1 Car. It was designed by Ken Norris as the "CMN-8 Mach 1.1" and later would have been called "Bluebird" (what else??) - and a mock-up demonstration was displayed in 1965 outside Campbell's house. At a weight of only 4000lbs, it was to be propelled by two Bristol-Siddely BS 605 RATO (Rocket-assisted Take-off) engines mounted one above the other in the tail.

At one stage in the project, the Jamaican Government expressed an interest in constructing a 14 mile track for the attempt on its 840 mph objective. In 1973, Nigel McKnight took up the challenge with the plans (with Leo Villa's approval) and Ken Norris remained as Design Consultant from 1968-71 --- but it failed again due to sponsorship problems. These sponsors apparently re-appeared, lured by Richard Noble's superior Management Plans for the Thrust Project. (See Report No 3 re Project Thrust)

8. Johnny Conway planned a Mach 1 wheeldriven car in 1973 !! It was planned to use reverse-thrust jets for deceleration and an 18mile rubberised track at Lake Eyre. Sounds like a case of an overgrown PlexiTrack from the toy manufacturers ! Perhaps the car was as well!!

Roy S. Peters


April 1995 (Reformatted 3 May 1998)

and further editted on 7 March 2005.

Return to Roy's home page for full list of writings and travels either finished or under preparation
or go to WLSR Index .
or go to Newsletter No 5 .