In September 1938 the British driver John Cobb set the third and final record of his 9 year land speed record career, this time taking his Railton Mobil Special to 353 mph. Read about the records, the car and the driver.
3 – the number of records set by Cobb during his land speed record career.
9 – the number of years between Cobb’s first and final record runs (9 years, 1 day).
15 September 1938 – the date on which John Cobb set the first new land speed record in the Railton Special, and became the first driver to exceed the 350 mph (560 km/h) barrier.
353.30 mph – the new record set on the occasion (568.58 km/h).
1 day – the length of time Cobb held the record, before it was recaptured by George Eyston in Thunderbolt.
341 – the number of days that Eyston held on to the new record, until Cobb successfully reclaimed it.
23 August 1939 – the date that Cobb re-took the record.
369.70 mph – the new record time set by the Railton Special (594.97 km/h).
9 days – the length of time after setting the record that the the Second World War began.
16 September 1947 – the date that Cobb returned to record breaking, following a lull due to the war.
394.196 mph – the new record time set for the flying mile (634.398 km/h).
385.645 mph – the speed recorded on the outward run (620.5 km/h).
403.135 mph – the speed recorded on the return run (648.781 km/h); although the record remained below 400 mph, being an average of the two runs, this was the first time a car had beaten that barrier.
24.5 mph – the amount by which Cobb exceeded his 1939 record (39.4 km/h).
393.827 mph – the new record time set during the same runs, for the flying kilometre (633.803 km/h).
Did You Know?
The post-war Railton marked the effective beginning of corporate sponsorship of the land speed record, with the Mobil Oil Company supporting Cobb’s 1947 campaign. As pat of the arrangement the car was renamed the Railton Mobil Special.
16 – the approximate number of years that Cobb held the land speed record (15 years, 10 months, 20 days) before it was captured by Craig Breedlove in Spirit of America.
2 – the number of power units used in the car, a pair of supercharged Napier Lion W-12 aircraft engines.
26.9 litres – the capacity of each engine (53.8 litres combined).
1,250 bhp – the power output from each engine (2.500 bhp total).
3 tonnes – the approximate weight of the car.
28 ft 8 in – the length of the car (8.74 m).
4 ft 3 in – – the height of the car (1.30 m).
Did You Know?
Cobb’s car was designed by Reid A. Railton, who also designed the Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird cars from 1931-1935.
8 ft – the width of the car across its widest point (2.4 m).
5 ft 6 in – the width between the front wheels (1.68 m).
3 ft 6 in – the width between the rear wheels (1.07 m).
02 December 1899 – the date John Rhodes Cobb was born, in Esher, Surrey, to parents Rhodes Hawtyn Cobb and Florence Harriet Darling Cobb (née Goad).
4 – the number of John Cobb’s siblings; Rhodes Stanley Cobb (M), Olive Constance Cobb (F), Gerard Rhodes Cobb (M), and Eileen Lucy Cobb (F). John was the penultimate child born to Rhodes and Florence.
8 – Cobb’s age when the Brooklands Motor Course opened in nearby Weybridge (1907), a development that would shape the future direction of his life. As a boy Cobb would cycle to Brooklands to watch and quiz the legendary drivers of the day.
10 April 1924 – the date Cobb gained his aviator’s certificate, aged 24, awarded to him by the GB, Royal Aero Club.
2 – the number of times Cobb married, to Elizabeth Mitchell-Smith (m: 1947-1948, until her death), and Vera Victoria Henderson (m: 1950–1952, until his death).
Did You Know?
John Cobb made his living as a director with the fur brokers Anning, Chadwick and Kiver Ltd.
29 September 1952 – the date Cobb passed away, killed when he crashed his jet boat ‘Crusader’ on Loch Ness, whilst making an attempt at the water speed record.
190 mph – the maximum speed Cobb said he would attempt to take the boat, after one of her designers expressed concerns about the weakness of the front planing shoe.
206.89 mph – the speed recorded on the outward run (332.88 km/h).
30 mph – the amount by which Cobb’s outward run exceeded the existing record (48 km/h).
240 mph – the speed Crusader was travelling on the return run (387 km/h), at which point the boat was disturbed by the wake of a spectator vessel, bouncing a few times on the surface before hitting the water nose-first and and disintegrating.
150 ft – the distance Cobb was thrown from the cockpit of Crusader. He was picked from the water alive but badly injured, and shortly after suffered heart failure.
52 – John Cobb’s age at his death (52 years, 9 months, 27 days). He is buried in the churchyard of Christ Church, Esher.
27 March 1953 – the date Cobb posthumously received the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
05 July 2002 – the date on which the remains of Crusader were located, 50 years after the accident, lying at a depth of around 200 metres, via deep water sonar scanning undertaken by The Loch Ness Project.