Corporate, 2017-03-28, 06:51 PM
Giving Bluebird its wings back
Five decades on from an accident that left a treasure of British engineering seemingly lost forever, materials donated by thyssenkrupp are playing a key role in a project aiming to restore it.
Leading industrial group thyssenkrupp, whose UK headquarters are in the West Midlands, has supplied the Bluebird Project with material including sheet metal and 350kg aluminium billets.
The project aims to restore the wreck of the iconic Bluebird K7, a revolutionary jet-powered hydroplane that had broken seven world records at the time of the fateful accident on 4 January 1967.
This January marks the 50th anniversary of Donald Campbell CBE’s ill-fated world record attempt. Campbell was bidding to break his own 276mph water speed record on Coniston Water in Cumbria.
He looked on course to shatter the record, with a newly-remodelled Bluebird K7 averaging almost 300mph. As he entered the measured kilometre, however, his unprecedented speed, combined with rough waters and an engine flameout, caused Bluebird’s nose to lift. The craft rose almost 50ft out of the water, somersaulted and crashed back into the lake, splitting in half on impact. Campbell was killed instantly.
In August 2000 a team led by Bill Smith, an engineer and part-time diver, located the wreckage of Bluebird. What started out, in Bill’s words, as a ‘winter project’ to find the wreck eventually became a large-scale recovery and restoration mission, with the blessing of Donald Campbell’s daughter Gina.
“Everyone was expecting it to have disintegrated into nothing, but when we found it, it was in a good condition,” Bill explains. “The decision was made, after talking to Gina, to take it out and to recover Donald’s body as well.”